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Breaking Down the Deeply Personal Women’s Title Matches at WrestleMania 40

Both women’s championship matches at WrestleMania have been a long time coming!

By Chris Phelan
Bayley smiling as she stands in the ring

It seems like only yesterday that Bayley made their shocking return to WWE at SummerSlam 2022 – with a few new friends in tow.

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The debut of Damage CTRL – a trio consisting of Bayley, IYO SKY, and Dakota Kai – sent a clear message to the women's locker room. The intent was clear from the beginning: they arrived to take over the women's division, no matter the cost.

But what a difference a year and a half makes.

Ahead of her WWE Women's Championship match against her former friend, IYO SKY, Bayley took to social media to share something of sentimental value to the WWE Universe. The WrestleMania challenger posted a screenshot of a conversation from early 2022, predating their debut as Damage CTRL by about five months:

In a way, it's heartbreaking to see Bayley post that screenshot. It's a rare behind-the-scenes view of how Damage CTRL came to be – Bayley clearly had big aspirations for the group, and it's a shame that their alliance has been thrown to the wayside in the form of one of the most anticipated matches in WrestleMania history.

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In fact, both women's title matches at WrestleMania 40 have gotten increasingly personal in the buildup to the event, and we think today's the perfect day to break down each matchup. Let's dive in.

What is the Backstory of IYO SKY vs. Bayley at WrestleMania 40?

Split of Iyo Sky and Bayley

After Bayley won the women's Royal Rumble match in January, she seemed genuinely torn on who to challenge at WrestleMania. The WWE Universe thought she would elect to face Rhea Ripley because, well, why would she want to fight her friend?

But Bayley knew something the WWE Universe didn't. Thanks to her picking up a bit of Japanese from spending 24/7 with IYO SKY and Asuka in recent months, Bayley discovered that a plan was in motion to unceremoniously eject her from Damage CTRL in a shocking moment on SmackDown. While Bayley had been one of WWE's main villains for nearly two years, the multi-time champion took it upon herself to get back into the fans' good graces – turning on Damage CTRL before they could do it to her.

At WrestleMania 40, IYO SKY's title defense against Bayley is more than just the Royal Rumble winner challenging the reigning champion – it will be the culmination of nearly two years of hard work and friendship that came crashing down the second Bayley noticed Damage CTRL laughing behind her back.

Bayley has had a rollercoaster career that has comprised two halves. A sugary-sweet, fan-favorite persona marked her early years, while the latter part of her career has been time spent aligning herself with some of the most iconic villains in WWE. Will the WWE Universe be behind Bayley on the Grandest Stage of Them All? Can fans look past Bayley's villain tendencies over the past four years and go back to supporting – at one time – the most beloved WWE Superstar on the roster?

Only time will tell. But if you ask us – IYO SKY needs a miracle if she wants to walk out of Philadelphia as champion. 

What is the Backstory of Rhea Ripley vs. Becky Lynch at WrestleMania 40?

Split of Rhea Ripley and Becky Lynch

While Bayley is looking for revenge against one of her closest friends, the drama surrounding the Women's World Title is far more straightforward – Becky Lynch is simply looking to once again prove she's the best.

There's one problem, however – Rhea Ripley has been doing just that for nearly a year as WWE Women's World Champion. Becky Lynch hasn't held a main roster singles title since she lost the championship at WrestleMania 38 against Bianca Belair. After winning the chaotic Elimination Chamber match in February, though, The Man successfully put her plan to regain the title in motion: she officially became the number one contender for Rhea's championship.

The video above exemplifies how personal the feud has become; this is no ordinary challenger versus champion rivalry. Both women have been unafraid to take potshots at the other in recent weeks. Rhea is even bringing up Becky's real-life daughter into the proceedings – breaking an unwritten rule in the locker room. Previous encounters between the two women have been just as explosive. If it's not Becky accusing Rhea of coasting as champion for the past year, it's Rhea declaring that Becky is a former shell of herself, destroyed physically and emotionally by motherhood.

With trash talk like that going back and forth, it shouldn't surprise anyone that Becky and Rhea need multiple referees to pull them apart every time they get in the ring together.

We're not afraid to declare that the Women's World Championship match would be the headlining main event at WrestleMania 40 if it wasn't for Cody Rhodes, Roman Reigns, and The Rock. Rhea Ripley and Becky Lynch deserve the coveted "final match" slot, but alas, it's not in the cards. (That's what happens when WWE is in the middle of one of its greatest hot streaks in company history.)

Don't count the women out at WrestleMania 40 – there's a good chance they outshine their male counterparts!

You can tune in to Peacock to watch WrestleMania on April 6 and 7. In the meantime, catch up on all things WWE Universe on Peacock.