WrestleMania 33 is finally here. Over weeks and months of action on Monday Night Raw, SmackDown Live, 205 Live and a variety of pay-per-views, we've reached the pinnacle of the year in the world of professional wrestling.
For those casual viewers who need to get caught up ahead of diving back into the WWE ahead of WrestleMania, or those just seeking a refresher because of the sheer volume of programming it took to get here, we have everything you need to know leading into some of the biggest matches on the card. We'll be dropping them throughout the week, and we continue our coverage with a look at Raw women's championship Fatal 4-way elimination match between Bayley, Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks and Nia Jax.
For a look at the full WrestleMania card, click here.
If this match was one of those cheesy detective-show bulletin boards with photos and push pins, this match would have string going in pretty much every direction. These interconnected conflicts date back as far as four years ago, to the NXT runs of all four women, although never between all four at the same time. Flair and Banks were initially together as part of a trio called the BFFs (along with Summer Rae), and then Flair became the second woman ever to win the NXT women's championship in a tournament in 2014. Flair had rivalries with both Bayley and Banks and ultimately lost the championship to Banks in February 2015.
Bayley defeated Banks for the title in August 2015 in a show-stealing match at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn and stuck around in NXT while Banks and Flair, along with Becky Lynch, moved up to the main roster. One of Bayley's last rivalries in NXT pitted her against Nia Jax, one of her toughest opponents up until the time she lost the NXT women's championship to Asuka in Dallas. Both Jax and Bayley ultimately moved up to Raw in the months that followed the brand-separation draft.
Meanwhile, Banks and Flair continued their conflict the moment they hit the main roster and fought in one way or another leading up to a triple-threat match at WrestleMania (along with Lynch) for the new WWE women's championship. Flair won the landmark battle and, after the title, became the Raw women's championship. Flair and Banks went on to battle tooth and nail for months, exchanging the title no less than six times. Bayley ultimately beat Flair for the title in February and followed that up by ending her 16-match pay-per-view singles-match win streak in March (with some help from Banks).
A match that was originally supposed to be Flair vs. Bayley at WrestleMania saw Banks and Jax, who had laid several beatdowns on both Banks and Bayley, earn their own spots in this match by defeating Bayley in nontitle matches on Monday Night Raw.
This is where it gets tough. Bayley, at least at the beginning, lost some of her luster over her first few months on the main roster while basically sitting on the sidelines while Banks and Flair wrapped up their individual rivalry. She's been increasingly strong since winning the Raw women's championship, and a win in this match would be both a crowd-pleaser and another big step toward legitimacy.
For Jax, just being in this match is a big step in the right direction, and she'll have some big moments over the course of the match. With the introduction of the "elimination match" format, she could pull off an unexpected fall and make a moment for herself.Banks won't likely win, but she can benefit in other ways with a big performance here. The dark horse is Flair, who will undoubtedly try to top her instantly iconic moonsault from the top rope to the outside from WrestleMania 32. After seemingly endless chaos, having Flair return to her role as the anchor to the division as all of the "good girls" chase her would likely be a solid foundation going forward.
On a card on which there's likely to be some unrest with fans, the WWE can't go wrong with either Bayley or Flair, provided the match is as good as anticipated. But I'll lean slightly in Bayley's direction.
Banks won't likely be the winner of this match, but her buddy-buddy relationship with Bayley is seemingly laying the foundation for a turn to the dark side and a revisiting of the Grade-A rivalry between her and Bayley in NXT on Monday Night Raw. Whether it'll be for the Raw women's title or not remains to be seen, but it would be far more effective if it is.
It becomes a little trickier when it comes to Flair and Jax. While a Flair win would likely carry the Bayley rivalry on for a little while longer, it might be interesting to give her character a chance to be something beyond the clear-cut villain -- and a conflict with someone like Jax could do just that.
The wild card in play is whether or not Asuka moves up from NXT in the aftermath of Orlando, which would create chaos but ultimately could light a fire under the division as a whole.