If you’ve watched WWE NXT any time in the past year (and you really should be watching WWE NXT), you’ve likely noticed something: The women’s division is really damn good.
Bolstered by out-of-nowhere performances by the likes of NXT Women’s Champion Sasha Banks and more, the ladies of NXT have blown up to main-level attractions under the guidance of WWE COO Triple H. As NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable approached, and just hours before Sasha and Ric Flair progeny Charlotte main-evented NXT’s first Live Event in Philadelphia, Charlotte, Sasha, Bayley and Becky Lynch sat down for a roundtable interview with WWE.com. The division’s “Four Horsewomen” opened up on how they got to where they are, where they see themselves going (hint: WrestleMania) and why someday they’ll tell the boys to “Follow that.”
So without further ado, sit back and enjoy some straight shooting from the show-stealin’, wheelin’-dealin’, high-flyin’, revolutionizin’, hug-givin’, match-winnin’ and (onetime) Irish-jiggin’ women — key word — of NXT.
BAYLEY: So we’re talking about women’s wrestling?
WWE.COM: Yeah. It’s a pretty big time for women’s wrestling, don’t you think?
SASHA BANKS: It’s crazy to see how far women’s wrestling has come. Just to find out that me and Charlotte are main-eventing tonight in Philadelphia …
BAYLEY: I didn’t even know that! Oh my God!
BECKY LYNCH: Unbelievable.
SASHA: It’s humbling, but at the same time, who would ever guess? Who would ever guess when I was 10 years old that I’d be main-eventing an event as big as this?
BECKY: Especially with everyone on the card.
SASHA: It’s insane.
BECKY: Dude, we have Finn Bálor, we have freakin’ Rhyno on the card and they get to [compete in the main event] … that’s so cool.
CHARLOTTE: You know the phrase, “Be the hardest worker in the room”? That’s hard with the NXT women’s division, because I can honestly say every girl is the hardest worker in the room. This sounds corny, but if you think of destiny, we’re all here together. Triple H hired Sara Del Rey, and then all of us got hired together at the same time. Considering the chemistry and how much we all want this together and work well together, it’s perfect timing. I don’t know, I get goosebumps just thinking about it.
BECKY: Same. Nine years ago, I stopped wrestling because this wasn’t a possibility. There were never girls like Bayley or Sasha or Charlotte. It’s funny, because I was saying this the other day: I walked down the hallway in the Performance Center and there are all the pay-per-view posters all along the walls, right? And on all of them, every single one, there’s not one single female wrestler. Stephanie McMahon was on one of them, but you’ve got Randy Orton, you’ve got Sheamus, you’ve got Bray Wyatt, you’ve got everybody but you don’t have any women. And I know, I know, in five years when I walk down that hall I’m going to see Bayley; I’m going to see Sasha; I’m going to see Charlotte. Hopefully I’ll see myself, too, but I know I’m going to see them, and it’s not just because they’re good forgirls. They’re just good. Just really good, and we’re just changing —
SASHA: We’re good. [Everyone laughs] We’re doin’ it!
BAYLEY: I want people to buy tickets to see us. People want to see John Cena, they want to see all these guys, but I want people to buy tickets because they want to see the girls and they’re looking forward to the Divas matches. There are two women’s matches at TakeOver for a reason. It’s not just like, “give it to them,” and it’s a short time. It’s a two-hour pay-per-view. It’s hard enough to just get one match on any wrestling show for women. Two? That’s freakin’ awesome, and we’re all involved in it and we’re all so supportive of each other. It’s freakin’ cool.
CHARLOTTE: What makes this group of women so special is that when you watch NXT, each female stands out. You’ve got Bayley, who basically, every single person in the stands at NXT can relate to. You’ve got Sasha Banks, “The Boss,” probably the best villain in the company at the moment. You’ve got Becky Lynch —
SASHA: Rock star.We’re not just good for girls. We’re just good.
CHARLOTTE: She has delts for days, basically plays the part of this fitness model —
BECKY: I do? [Laughs]
CHARLOTTE: Every single person can’t come and say, “Oh, they’re eye candy or the popcorn match.” No, we’re either semi main-eventing or —
CHARLOTTE: Or main-eventing tonight, where there are two Divas matches [alongside Bayley & Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch & Dana Brooke]. It goes to show we’re just as big a part of the brand as the guys are, and it has a lot to do with how hard we worked. The more they give us, the more we deliver, and the sky is the limit for this group of women.
WWE.COM: How often does Triple H comment on what you guys do? Does he ever give you guidance or does he let you do your own thing?
BAYLEY: He’s amazing. He’s like a papa.
SASHA: Papa Hunter.
BAYLEY AND SASHA: Awww.
BECKY: Oh, man. Right before the Fatal 4-Way, he came up to us and said, “OK, girls, go change history.” Or, “go make history.”
BAYLEY: To all four of us, right before we went out. And at the first show in Columbus, Ohio, that was our first NXT show outside Florida, and he had everyone together, all the Superstars and Divas. He said, “We’re gonna show everyone why NXT is so special.” And he said, “We’re gonna show everyone why we’re revolutionizing women’s wrestling.” And for him to say that in front of everybody in the meeting right before one of the biggest shows we’ve ever had is like, “Man, he believes in us.” Individually, he just shows so much interest in each person. Each woman.
SASHA: Each woman.
BAYLEY: He cares.
SASHA: He cares, and you can see it whenever he has a conversation with us. It’s like, “You don’thave to tell me that, but for you to do that and take the time to …”
BAYLEY: And he gets in the ring with us and helps us. He’s got a million things to do but he shows us how we could be better. It’s amazing.
BECKY: That’s our boss!
BAYLEY: The Game!
WWE.COM: Do you think of this as a revolution, or is it just going out and doing your job?
BECKY: Well, that’s what you always want, right? I don’t know. This was something I always dreamed and wanted to be part of, when women’s wrestling was freakin’cool, and now it is. And I guess there would have to be a revolution for that.
BAYLEY: I’m talking way too much, but this is really fun. I was thinking about it on the plane, I think since we’re so in it, we can’t really take a step back and realize that we’re part of it because we’re just doing it. But remember in Daytona, Fla., there was this fan named Megan who loves Becky. She loves her, like she was in tears, she loves her so much. But she had all these signs for all of us. And Sasha said, “That’s how we used to be!”
BAYLEY: We were Megan! We were all Megan at some point, but now we’re the Lita to the Megan, or to the Bayley, you know? It’s crazy. [Sighs] Never thought that would happen.
SASHA: We don’t feel like we’re famous. We just feel like we’re doing what we love.
BECKY: We’re the luckiest people in the world.
WWE.COM: Were you worried you’d initially be judged purely on your looks, or at least on different merits than the Superstars?
BAYLEY: Yeah, it was, super,super different. I never really felt like I would fit in, just because I was honestly all about wrestling, which, I know all of us are. That’s why we get along so well. But it’s really weird. Even two years ago, how it used to be compared to now is so different. I don’t even know how to explain it.
SASHA: When I came in two years ago, it was nothing like this. It was everything I dreamed of, but it wasn’t going down the path that we are on now. Just to see all these girls come in and put in such hard work … we don’t want to do it likegirls. We don’t want to do it like guys. We just want to do it the best that we can, because we know that we can.
CHARLOTTE: Women are known to be catty, women are known to … [Laughs] you know, it is what it is. But for instance, I didn’t have to work the independents. I didn’t have any kind of wrestling background. Just because my dad was a wrestler didn’t mean I knew anything about the business. But it just goes to show how much we work together that every single woman in our locker room has helped me learn. I didn’t have three or four years [experience]. That’s part of why we’re so good, because every single girl is willing to do what’s best for business, to teach each other, help each other and make the best product possible. And that’s very hard to find within an entire group of women that all want to be on top.
BECKY: Yeah, that’s because that’s what it is. It’s all not just one person. It’s because of all of us at the one time —
BECKY: It wouldn’t be getting this much attention if it was all about one person. I don’t think anybody feels like that. I don’t think anybody is like, “Oh, I just want to make myself look good,” or whatever. We’re changing the way people are going to look at wrestling, women’s wrestling, forever. Forever. And we’re at the start of it? That’s unbelievable. That’s unbelievable! Unbelievable. Like, main-eventing in Philadelphia? What? This is ridiculous. Stop the lights. Stop the lights.
SASHA: Philly cheesesteaks on me after!
BAYLEY: It’s crazy, because when Emma and Paige were at the top of the game, running the Divas division in NXT at the first pay-per-view, they had their title match. I remember watching it and just thinking, “Dang, I wanna be in that spot someday,” because everybody loved them. And they helped me, and they built this division because that match was so awesome, and it just keeps getting better and better. Now there’s us and there’s our group, because we came together and we’re doing this together and having freakin’ historic matches, but we also have the other up-and-coming girls that are just as good. It’s just going to keep going and going, and as long as we keep passing on the good vibes and they see us working hard, they’re gonna keep working hard. It’s like a cycle and it’s gonna be never-ending, good women’s wrestling. That’s what we want. We just want a path to keep going higher and higher and making it so amazing!
SASHA: You mean a Diva [live special]?
BECKY: Why not?
BAYLEY: They’re main-eventing in Philly, they’re a main draw, who’s to say there’s not a WWE [live special] soon where we could be main-eventing those?
BECKY: Well, I told you! I’m gonna walk down the hallway!
BAYLEY: I know, we talked about this! We’ve main-evented NXT Live Events!
SASHA: Yeah, hello!
BECKY: I remember when I got signed, I told my friend, “I wanna one day main-event WrestleMania.” And he said, “It’s good to have dreams, but come on. Be realistic.” One day that’s gonna happen! Hopefully a Fatal 4-Way at WrestleMania 33? [Pauses] 34? 33. I like how that sounds.
SASHA: [In an Irish accent] Thirty-three.
CHARLOTTE: Honestly, people ask all the time if we feel pressure to deliver, or do we feel pressure from people putting us in these positions. But I don’t think any of us feel the pressure, just because we’re able to lean on each other. I don’t know how to explain it; you all know what I mean?
SASHA: I feel the pressure.
CHARLOTTE: You feel it, but it’s [collaborative].
SASHA: We wanna do good. It’s good pressure.
CHARLOTTE: We want the opportunities. We want to take the risks.
BAYLEY: Doing it together is what makes it. You know you’re going to be OK if we have each other. It sounds so cheesy, but you know it’s gonna be OK. We can do this.
CHARLOTTE: Like the Fatal 4-Way.
WWE.COM: It just goes to show, people are putting you on the same level as the men. Is there ever any competition with the guys in the locker room?
BAYLEY: I don’t know …
BECKY: I don’t think so.
BAYLEY: You know what? I feel like they kind of cling to us more.
CHARLOTTE: I think they respect us more.
SASHA: It’s crazy how much they respect us.
SASHA: When I was in the indies, the guys would be like, “Ugh, a women’s match. I’m not gonna watch that.” And to come back here, at every single Live Event to have a guy come up to you and say, “That was amazing,” I feel so accomplished. That was always my goal, to have a guy come up to me and go, “That was frickin’ good. I have to follow that?” And I’m like, “Yeah, you do, dude.” It’s such a good feeling. And girls just keep doing it, you know?
BAYLEY: I think NXT as a whole is kind of like a family, so we’re not competitive. We’re supportive. It’s like she was saying, you have Tyler Breeze come up to you after a match and tell you just the littlest things he liked about it, you feel so cool. You feel the love.
WWE.COM: Is this whole growth of the women’s division something Triple H wanted from the beginning, or did it just happen on its own?
CHARLOTTE: Well, he hired Sara Del Rey. So he obviously wanted some kind of focus on the women’s division. But I do think that Paige and Emma’s match at ArRIVAL was kind of [the starting point].
BAYLEY: It demanded the attention. It just kind of happened naturally and we just went with it.
BECKY: I think he wanted it.
CHARLOTTE: I think, especially having three little girls, I think he wants it, but I definitely know now that his main – not that we’re the main focus, but it’s like –
WWE.COM: A big part of it.
CHARLOTTE: We’re a big part of, “OK, NXT, women’s wrestling.”
BECKY: Just society-wise.
CHARLOTTE: Ronda Rousey.
BECKY: Ronda Rousey changing the game for MMA, you know? Dana White said he’d never have a girl in the Octagon. Ronda Rousey comes along and she’s the main event any time she’s on. The women I feel in the UFC are stealing the show. With women empowerment and women coming together, it’s not about being better than the guys or whatever. It’s just about collaboration, it’s about being equal people and having more of a highlight on women’s athletics and just women being equal in every aspect. I think that sometimes people can make the argument, “Oh, well, they’re not as good.” But, can’t say that about us, you know?
BECKY: That’s why [people who make those arguments] aren’t getting the opportunities. Can’t say that about us. We’re here!
WWE.COM: You guys also seem like you’re encouraged to be yourselves. Becky, you had a character initially –
BECKY: Oh, stop it.
SASHA: I liked the jig dance!
BECKY: People liking the jig dance was why I did it. That was terrible! It killed my soul. When they said, “We don’t like it,” I was like, “Oh, thank God.” [Everyone laughs] Can that be burned?
WWE.COM: Scrub it from WWE Network?
BECKY: Please, if we could.
WWE.COM: But to that point, being allowed to be yourselves does seem to help with how you perform and connect with the audience
SASHA: It does, but we had to build that opportunity for ourselves. We didn’t have that in the beginning.
CHARLOTTE: I don’t think we knew who we were. Like, Sasha and I came in – I’m gonna get emotional – we were tag partners, had no idea, so generic. There was one match in Tampa at FCW and it was against Bayley & Emma. I’d only had about six matches. We were the good guys and people were booing us. Sasha ended up getting her nose broken in the middle of that match, but we didn’t know who we were, there was no substance. But seeing other girls get opportunities, and someone like Becky Lynch coming in, we were just like, “No, give us a chance!”
SASHA: We had to grow.
BAYLEY: You were asking us earlier if we thought we were going to fit into the mold. When I got here, I felt like I had to be a certain way, so I tried to be this Diva.
BAYLEY: It just wasn’t working out and it wasn’t getting me anywhere. And then I just, somehow, turned into myself, and I’m just myself, and that’s what’s making me successful and that’s what’s working for all of us. We’re just ourselves and we’re just doing what we believe in and that’s what’s working.
BECKY: Especially Sasha. [Everyone laughs]
BAYLEY: Deep down inside, she really thinks that about herself.
SASHA: That I’m what? A boss?
BAYLEY: She’s related to Snoop Dogg! [Sasha brushes imaginary dirt off her shoulder] She’s got it in there, she’s related to [“Drop It Like It’s Hot” style] SnoooooooooOOOOP! You have to believe in what you’re doing.
SASHA: I do.
WWE.COM: At this point, it’s almost a foregone conclusion you’ll be ready for the main roster eventually. Are you worried you’ll be called up before the audience has caught on to what you’re doing down here?
CHARLOTTE: They just need to see us one time. All four together.
WWE.COM: That’s it? That’s all it’s going to take?
CHARLOTTE: Yeah. I just feel like we’re all so established as individuals and you can’t deny our chemistry. If they just give us one moment, all four of us together, say – I would like to say The Four Horsewomen, NXT invasion, whatever – that’s all it would take. Just our stature alone and how each character carries herself once she goes through a little entrance, that’s all it would take. They’d be hooked. They just haven’t seen it before.
WWE.COM: Why do you think they haven’t seen it before?
CHARLOTTE: Because there hasn’t been this many women at one time as talented and gelling together. It’s special.
BAYLEY: You can’t explain it. When people ask about it, you just can’t explain it. It’s just there. We all have differences or whatever, we come from different places, but once we get together we have one goal. You can see it, and you can feel it.
CHARLOTTE: Yeah, you wanna say, “Follow that!”
WWE.COM: Have you ever said that?
CHARLOTTE: Ummm, maybe mentally. Not out loud. [Pauses] OK, yeah, after the Fatal 4-Way, I did.[Laughs]
WWE.COM: Who’d you say it to?
CHARLOTTE: Myself. [Everyone laughs]
SASHA: I don’t know. I’m ready for it. We’re ready to take over.
WWE.COM: Last question: Do you call it Divas wrestling or women’s wrestling?
CHARLOTTE: I say woman, so. Women’s wrestling.
BAYLEY: That’s what I grew up watching.