Bayley Returns With Dakota Kai And Io Shirai

Bayley made her surprise return at WWE SummerSlam 2022, and she didn’t come alone.

Shortly after Bianca Belair’s win over Becky Lynch to retain the WWE Raw Women’s Championship, Lynch’s subsequently showed a sign of good sportsmanship with a handshake and warm embrace. The warmhearted moment didn’t last, however, as Bayley’s music played, causing fans to erupt. Bayley was joined by a returning Dakota Kai, who was released in April, and Io Shirai.

Shirai was subject of rumors that she was on her way out of WWE, but Shirai scoffed at the Dave Meltzer scuttlebutt with a puke emoji on Twitter. In the end, it turns out Shirai knew something the wrestling media didn’t as she made her main roster debut to flank Bayley in an apparent new stable. After Bianca Belair was upstaged at last year’s SummerSlam with the return of Becky Lynch in a controversial 26-second loss, this year it was Bayley’s turn.

Bayley, Kai and Shirai faced off with Bianca Belair and newly minted babyface Becky Lynch. The five women teased getting physical until the heel side backed down.

The return of Dakota Kai was more than just a “welcome back” moment. It felt like the official start of the Triple H era. Dakota Kai was a top star of NXT 1.0, where Triple H presided as the head booker. Once Triple H lost power following NXT’s loss to AEW in the Wednesday Night Wars, Kai was one of many casualties from the Black and Gold era, which gave way to NXT 2.0.

With Vince McMahon forced to retire/resign, however, and Triple H back in the saddle on the main roster, Kai’s return should be emblematic of a new WWE in Triple H’s vision. Triple H and WWE brass are reportedly trying to reconcile with Sasha Banks and Naomi, who placed their Women’s Tag Team Championships on John Laurinaitis’ desk and walked out of WWE during a Raw taping. Banks and Naomi were promptly admonished on-air for what WWE described as “unprofessional” behavior. Unsurprisingly, WWE did not give that same energy to Brock Lesnar when he walked out.

Banks and Naomi’s exit stemmed from creative differences. With both McMahon and Laurinaitis out of the way, a Banks and Naomi reunion with WWE couldn’t be too far behind. In fact, Banks and Naomi as Bianca Belair’s backup against Bayley’s triad almost makes too much sense.

One of Triple H’s next big moves will come when WWE NXT goes head-to-head with AEW All Out on September 4, 2022. That show will need many more big splashes to seize viewers’ interest from AEW in what may be a reclamation project for Triple H.