Here at With Spandex we’ve got hyperbolic opinions, and they change on a dime. One person we haven’t wavered on, however, is WWE Superstar Bayley.
From her humble beginnings as a naive, too-handsy rookie obsessed with meeting and glorifying her idols to her current spot as a former NXT Women’s Champion and anchor of the Raw women’s division, Bayley’s torn it up in WWE rings for years, and shown that good guys can actually be good. Socially and professionally.
This year marks Bayley’s first appearance in a WWE video game — WWE 2K17, released on Tuesday — and we had a chance to talk to her about that milestone. We talked to her about her favorite games, her WrestleMania dream entrance, what it takes to be a member of fictitious Team Extreme — spoiler alert, it involves cargo pants — and the best and worst huggers in WWE.
With Spandex: I guess I’ll ask you the obvious question that I think you’re probably going to have to answer a million times, how the heck does it feel to be in a video game with the rest of the Four Horsewomen and everyone?
Bayley: Yeah, it’s pretty crazy. Because honestly I was expecting and hoping to be in last year, but then, like you said, the Four Horsewomen, none of us were on there and I was like, oh God, like, this has to be our year, this has to be our year. And now we’re all in together at the same time. It’s all of our first time, which makes it very cool. I would have felt a little left out last year if it was them and not me. It’s cool because I just used to play the WWE games all the time. I bought a game system just to get SmackDown vs. Raw, and like, Just Bring It.
I used to play with my brother all the time. It was just us and we’d have friends come over, we’d have all our crazy matches and I’d be creating all these characters and now that I’m actually in the game. I have friends that think this is the coolest thing ever because they are so into video games. They don’t necessarily watch the product or anything, but they play video games still. They think it’s really cool that I’m this virtual character now and yeah, it’s been amazing.
Have you actually gotten a chance to sit down and play as you yet?
No, not yet, I’m hoping to soon. I’ve seen videos of just my entrance and … there’s a match between myself and Sasha, a falls count anywhere match, so I’ve seen it go down and I’m really excited to be able to actually play it.
Did they get your entrance right?
They did. I didn’t hear anything, there was no sound on it, but they have the wacky wavy inflatable tube men, they have the high fives with the crowd and everything. It’s really detailed.
Do you think you’re going to be critical playing as you in the game, you’re going to like, “I wouldn’t do that move that way.” Because I know motion capturing is kind of weird, right?
Probably. They’ll probably have a few extra moves in there that I don’t necessarily do, but I think that’s a plus.
You’ll get like a burning hammer or something.
Yeah. Yeah, but it’s going to be cool.
Did you used to make yourself in the games?
Yes. I was thinking earlier, I was such a tomboy and so weird that I was creating myself as a guy most of the time, and I think it was just so funny. I wanted to be a Hardy Boy. I wanted to make a character that was kind of like a third member of them.
Yeah, I used to go to Gadzooks and buy those weirdly tight shirts with the tribal around the arms, I wanted to be a Hardy Boy too, I think.
Oh yeah, I bought the ball necklaces that they wore and I bought the pants that they wore. My sister would buy the red ones so I’d buy the orange ones I’d just have these crazy outfits but I wanted to be them, so I would create them in the video games and I would be a different mixture of them, and be my own version.
I was going to say, were you a Matt girl or a Jeff girl?
I was a Matt girl. It started out where my sister was so in love with Jeff, so I wanted just to spite her. I didn’t really notice them or care about them, but I was like, “No, Matt, he’s way better, he’s cuter!” Then I started becoming real fans of them, and really was obsessed with them, and I ended up really liking Matt, like over Jeff, but … yeah, I was a Matt girl. I was one of the few, I know Jeff was the more popular one with the ladies.
Do you remember what you named yourself in the game, did you have a cool wrestler name, like a favorite finishing move, anything like that? I always gave myself the Diamond Dust because I like Masato Tanaka. So I always had the Diamond Dust, I don’t know why.
The Diamond Dust? That’s a good one. Mine’s stupid. I would call myself Falcon.
I thought it was a cool name, I kind of thought it was a unisex name, like it’s kind of girly but it’s not. I don’t know, I was such a loser. (laughs)
I guess you probably had a lot of high-flying moves if you were the Falcon.
Yeah, yeah. I could fly just like the Hardy Boyz.
I know from UpUpDownDown that you were a PlayStation kid ,and I know you like Crash Bandicoot. Did you have a favorite PlayStation game? Because I was always a Here Comes the Pain fan. I think that’s probably the best one from that era.
Oh. No, I never played that one, it was just all Crash Bandicoot and then, what was it called? There was a dancing game, Bust-A-Groove? I don’t know if you ever played that?
Mm-hmm, I was terrible at it. Those rhythm games I’m miserable at.
Oh, okay. Yeah, I was so good at that game. I played it recently, though, like a month ago, because I re-bought it. And I’m terrible at it. I talked a big game and I played with my friends and I was terrible. You know how you have to push the button on every fourth beat, so it’s like … [demonstrates], and I was just so off, and it was really bad.
But I love that game. It was that one, Crash Bandicoot, and Croc. I loved Twisted Metal. Yeah, there was a few of them.
How did you feel about the fan outcry last year when you guys didn’t make it into the game? How’d you feel about people’s responses to that? Because I know I was real mad.
(laughs) It was cool that they actually cared and wanted us in, and you know what I thought was the coolest thing was, they weren’t asking for any one of us individually. It was all four of us together and I wasn’t even in WWE yet, so the fact that they were still including me in that kind of group and wanting us all there together, they were calling us the Four Horsemen, they wanted us all. It’s cool for all four of us as a group to have that support. Now, maybe the wait, the anticipation kind of made the fans just go out and buy this, pre-order this game first thing, this year.
You were the last one of that group called up. How was that? How was that adjustment for you? Because everybody else got sort of dumped into that Stephanie McMahon, “this is the revolution,” and you were just kind of killing it down at NXT, and you don’t get included. How did that feel?
Yeah, it was fine. [pause] At first-
Because you’re doing it up big now, so it doesn’t matter now.
But I remember the night that they debuted, and sitting on my couch at home and I couldn’t … I was so emotional, I couldn’t be more proud and happy for them because it was just, it wasn’t the fact that I wasn’t there, or with them. I was really upset that I wasn’t there backstage for them. I feel we all kind of helped each other get to a level where we were and even myself at that point. I was at the top of my game and ready to have this big match with Sasha, so I felt fine with where I was in my career. I just hated that I wasn’t there for them.
But I think we all helped ourselves get to that level and they all sent me nice text messages just to …. It felt like they appreciated me, and knew that I kind of helped them get there. I was kind of wishing that my debut happened a little bit sooner than it did at that point, but now in hindsight, when I think about it, I’m very grateful that I had the extra year with NXT. Because I think that’s where I grew the most, being able to work with younger talent and people like Asuka, and Nia Jax, just different kinds of competition. And I think if I didn’t have that year, then I wouldn’t be who I am today without it.
That’s really cool. I know you guys were just in South America, right?
Yeah. We just got back last night.
What’s it like going from wrestling just in front of that Full Sail crowd where you pretty much know everybody in the building, to wrestling in front of tens of thousands of people all around the world? What’s that been like?
Man, it’s so cool. It’s really surprising, actually because being the newest member on the roster, I feel like nobody’s going to know who I am when I step into these buildings especially somewhere like South America. But they’re huge NXT fans there, so they knew exactly who I was. They had my shirts, there were some signs, so I felt so welcome. That’s normally my fear, coming out on Raw or anything, is that no one’s really going to know who I am yet, because I’m still so new.
Aw, everybody loves you Bayley, come on.
No, but I think it surprises me all the time because I know how big NXT is because I’ve seen it grow, and seen where it’s going and all, everything that it’s done. But I think I don’t realize how big of an audience it really, really has, because everybody everywhere around the world knows NXT.
Are you really excited for the absolute landslide of Bayley Halloween costumes you’re about to get? You know so many people are going to be you for Halloween this year.
Yeah, I’m so excited. They’re my favorite, I swear. I was getting from grown men to little babies to kids, and I’m excited because now I have a bigger audience so we’ll see what happens this year.
Have you been keeping up with the SmackDown women’s division?
Oh yeah, totally. I watch it every Tuesday night live. I’ve got to see my girl Carmella and Becky. It’s just been incredible. Part of me really is jealous of … I think I just want everybody to … Part of me wants to wrestle everybody on that side, but then I love everyone on this side. So I’m missing out, but then I’m having a great time anyway. They’re just doing an amazing job. When they had that five … was it five-way? I think, or the six-way or whatever it was. They had such an incredible match. It was really cool to see how much, how good they’re doing.
Yeah, it’s really great to see the female talent prospering to the point where there are so many women on different shows who, you’re just like, “Aw man, I wish I could see that match.” Because right now, I would kill for a Bayley/Ember Moon match. And we’re not going to get that for a while, at least.
Yeah (laughs). I don’t even think I was in any matches with her. I don’t think I had any at all. I might have teamed with her once, on a live show or something. But I was kind of hoping, I was telling people who was doing the shows, please let me have a match with her. But no, it wasn’t the right time, so once she gets here, I’ll be waiting.
So since you’re known for hugging, my good friend Bill Hanstock wanted me to ask you who the worst hugger on the roster is. We decided that Big Show would probably be the best, because you would be sort of child-sized, and he would make you feel like a dad was hugging you. Who’s the best and the worst hugger that you’ve hugged so far?
Let’s see …
Assuming that even a bad hug is pretty good.
You know, there are some good hugs, but actually Xavier Woods is a great hugger, because he really holds you in, you know? He really cares. So sincere, so tight. It’s not one of those quick hugs, or the side hugs, it’s a real hug. So he’s my favorite hugger, I would say, on the roster.
The worst one probably has to be, I’m going to say Lana, because-
Lana’s not much of a hugger?
She’s a side hugger, she just, yeah, she gives you one of those little arm hugs that, she doesn’t really want to do it, and it’s like a cold hug. I should just leave her alone at this point.
Yeah, I would imagine Lana would be a very cold hugger. I guess that makes perfect sense.
But at the same time, Rusev seems like he’d be a great hugger. So it seems like maybe that’s a bad team.
I haven’t tried yet, so we’ll see.
I’m thinking about just the way that you came from NXT and you became almost like a cult hero. I was at the San Jose NXT show. That first San Jose NXT show, and I saw, and I was part of it, the reaction that you got, and it felt like the world’s biggest celebrity had just walked into the building, and now you get to be on TV every week–
Well, that was my hometown!
Well, sure, I know. But you deserved it, I mean it wasn’t just that it was your hometown. A lot of people wrestle in hometowns. When Wesley Blake comes back to Texas, people aren’t like, “Yeah, Wesley Blake is the coolest person of all time!” But Bayley got that. No shade to Wesley Blake, he’s a real live cowboy, but you know.
Yeah. Well, thank you.
You’ve got a WrestleMania coming up and that’ll be your WrestleMania debut, presumably. Are you going to bring 100 inflatable tube men? What have you got planned?
Well, yeah. I’m hoping. I’ll tell you my WrestleMania entrance dream.
Oh, let’s hear it.
I would love to have just 100 inflatables everywhere and kind of zig-zag through them. You know those fun houses or those little slides and stuff that you play on as a kid? If it’s something like that where they can get me darting through all of them.
That would be really cool. But one of my biggest dreams is to have Paramore play my song at WrestleMania.
Yeah. I don’t want to say that’ll happen at my first one, but someday I would love for that to actually come true. We’ll see.
Well, I am a huge Hayley Williams fan. I happened to be wearing a wrestling shirt when I met her the first time, so I got to talk to her for 10 minutes about wrestling, which was my dream come true. So I will personally do anything I can to help make that happen.
We’ll make that happen. You’ll be zig-zagging through a fun house of inflatable tube men while Hayley Williams sings your song.
Oh my gosh, that would be incredible. Please message her and tell her that I need to meet her. She’s tweeted me twice and that’s been like the greatest day ever. She’s my favorite.
You haven’t met her?
How have you not met her? She likes wrestling and you’re a huge Paramore fan, and you’re Bayley.
I know, but I’m never around! I don’t know, we just haven’t crossed paths. Yeah. Let’s make it happen. Every time I get on this media stuff I try to slip her name in there so she can get annoyed and just be like, all right, let’s meet already.
So what do you think the chances are we ever get [Bayley superfan] Izzy in a game? Because we need Izzy for your entrance, right?
Oh, wow. I think there’s a great chance of that actually happening. Maybe not an entrance but I think we can get her some VIP thing for WrestleMania or something. Maybe get her backstage or, let’s see. I don’t know, there’s definitely going to be something someday. I think as a fan she’s earned it.