Bayley can play a pure babyface because she is one in real life

Fan reaction for Bayley's debut was heart-warming (4:09)

WWE superstar Bayley joins Jonathan Coachman on SportsCenter to explain what the fan reaction was like when she finally debuted on the main roster and how watching Hall of Famer Randy Savage helped her become a wrestler. (4:09)

If there's a bigger babyface in all of professional wrestling than WWE superstar and former NXT champion Bayley, it just might be the woman behind the character.

Pamela Martinez, 29, who adopted the Bayley gimmick in 2013 shortly after debuting in WWE's developmental territory, has never quite quenched her undying passion for the product, which ultimately might be the greatest secret to her success.

With her colorful attire and sunny attitude, there's an almost irresistible quality to Bayley's character that's helped her connect with WWE fans in a unique way.

"Honestly, it's an insane, weird connection that I really feel with fans instantly when I come out, because I'm still very much a fan myself and I still can't believe that I get to do this every single day," Bayley told ESPN.com. "So when I come out, I think they read that and they feel that. And I totally still remember what it feels like to be on the other side of the barricade and how important each moment is, just being able to be in the same building as your favorite superstars."

A lifelong WWE fanatic and a native of Newark, California, Bayley grew up attending as many autograph signings and pro wrestling shows as her family would allow.

Even her look is completely authentic to who she is outside the ring, down to the tiniest of details, including her bright clothing.

"It's totally me -- this is who I was when I was 10 years old, even with the hair and everything," Bayley said. "I hated having my hair down because it got into my face when I was playing sports. My mom would always put my hair down and make it all pretty, and by the time I got to school I would have it up in a ponytail."

Among the many firsts Bayley has experienced as her career has taken off over the past few years, she admits the debut of her own video game character via last week's release of WWE 2K17 ranks right up there.

"It's something that I still don't quite believe is happening," Bayley said. "Having a toy [of myself] was really, really cool, but they are so easily breakable. Kids love playing with them [but] my nephews have already broken off the ponytails and stuff. That's cool, but I think a video game is just incredible because it's going to last forever and it's always going to be out there."

Bayley's ascension to the top of NXT was a slow and steady build over the course of four years as she worked hard to become a key face of the brand. Along the way, she took part in a series of memorable matches against the other three members of the Four Horsewomen --Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch. As a collective, they proved to be the catalyst in WWE's evolution away from the Divas era.

As beloved as Bayley became with NXT in the tiny Full Sail University arena in Orlando, Florida, there was some concern about whether her wholesome and pure gimmick would work quite the same on the main roster. She had gotten big reactions during NXT's occasional showcases, such as NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn, but let's not forget -- this is an era in which a "white meat babyface" has become almost extinct, with "good guys" like John Cena and Roman Reigns hearing just as many boos as cheers.

Among the many doubters was Bayley herself, who worried how things would go in her Raw debut on Aug. 23 in Brooklyn, New York. Two nights after losing to Asuka in Bayley's final NXT match on SummerSlam weekend in the very same arena, Bayley's Raw debut was a smashing success as she entered the Barclays Center to a rousing pop that has yet to die down among WWE crowds.

"As the weeks went on, I was scared almost every night," Bayley said. "But I think that's definitely a challenge that I was prepared to take on. I was prepared for everyone to boo me and say, 'Yeah, who is this chick?' But I was lucky to debut in the Barclays [Center], which is like a second home to me. I was lucky to have that first reaction."

Bayley's connection with the Barclays Center goes back to NXT Takeover: Brooklyn in August 2015, the brand's first major show outside of Florida, when she defeated Sasha Banks in an instant classic that truly solidified her status as one of the best in the world at what she does.

That match almost got derailed before it even started. Bayley nearly lost her focus entirely when she walked through the Gorilla position backstage and realized she was standing behind Vince McMahon, whom she had met only briefly once before.

"I was like, 'Oh my God! Why is he here! Why is he here!'" Bayley said. "I started freaking out. I was standing behind him so he had no idea I was there and I was like, 'Oh gosh, I wish I didn't see him.' It just made me a million times more nervous. I was real intimidated."

Bayley said she eventually shook the hand of the WWE chairman and thanked him for coming, while secretly hoping he didn't know who she was. After her match with Banks, it would become impossible for anyone backstage to overlook her.

"When we came back, he was laughing and he shook our hands and said, 'Thank you, that was amazing,'" Bayley said. "And I just broke down. That was something that I would always remember."

In October 2015, Bayley defeated Banks again in a 30-minute Ironman match at NXT Takeover: Respect that was recognized not only as one of the best matches overall in 2015 but also as one of the finest women's bouts in history. The match was the first time two women headlined an NXT TakeOver event. Recalling it brought back an incredible stream of emotions for Bayley, who began to tear up when asked about it.

"Having Stephanie McMahon and Lita sitting out there for [the Ironman] match, that was a huge deal because for the 10-year-old inside of me, Lita is my favorite ever," Bayley said. "And then having [Triple H] come out at the very end, he said, 'You guys made this happen.' It was the whole atmosphere of having the whole locker room out there [applauding]. Probably once he said that and I looked around, that's when it all set in."

The relatable nature of Bayley's character isn't an act. She admits that she is forced to overcome fear and doubt in herself "pretty much every day." But, asked to locate a turning point in the building of her confidence, she points to a backstage conversation with former WWE star AJ Lee during Bayley's first week with the company.

As much as she remembers joining NXT with full confidence in her wrestling ability after four years on the independent circuit, it was the concept of living up to the image of a WWE Diva that scared her.

"I kind of felt like maybe I didn't have what it took to look like a supermodel and wear high heels all the time and my nails," Bayley said. "That was something that I was struggling with, but AJ was actually someone who was there when I was kind of down on myself. She was somebody who made her career off of just being herself. She kind of let me know that it is OK, that I can be myself and that I could be successful just doing what I believe is right.

"That's something that always stuck with me and really, really helped my career," she continued. "Whenever I got down after that, whenever I had doubts about anything that I was doing -- and sometimes people can get in your head on Twitter or whatever -- you sort of have to just brush it off because you believe what you are doing is how you feel and what you believe in."

Less than two months into her run on the main roster, Bayley has the same goals for the future of the WWE women's division as for her sisters in the Four Horsewomen -- to be a main event of a pay-per-view and, ultimately, of WrestleMania.

She said the recent title match in the Raw main event between Charlotte and Banks was a "huge step in the right direction," and she had the same reaction to Charlotte's corkscrew moonsault onto the floor as many watching at home.

"Everything that Charlotte does -- and sometimes Sasha -- always freaks me out, because they are just incredibly athletic and so daring," Bayley said. "I had no doubt she was going to land [the moonsault] perfectly because she's, like, insane. She's in a whole other world."

Bayley would like to see WWE take things one step further, allowing a greater variety of women's matches, including "tables" matches and "falls count anywhere" matches. Banks and Charlotte will get their chance to make history at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view on Oct. 30 as they vie for the WWE Raw women's championship inside of the cell. If Bayley is called to a similar opportunity in the future, she is more than ready.

"If I had to do something insane to win a championship match, then I would push myself to do it," Bayley said. "There's a little daredevil inside of me. Growing up watching Lita do these things is what really inspired me. Maybe I'll save it for my WrestleMania moment."

In the meantime, Bayley is focused on giving back to fans exactly what she took from so many years attending live events.

"Any moment that I can give to a fan or to anybody in the arena, I want them to be able to walk out with some sort of memory," Bayley said. "I think that's maybe why I feel like my connection with fans is so strong. Personally, I'm still very much a fan myself and I know what it's like. I'm enjoying this just as much as they are."