Before we get into this lets make one thing clear, if you’re talking about on the level of a Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, John Cena nobody draws like that today for various reasons. The biggest reason being wrestling simply isn’t as popular anymore. However, if you’re talking about someone who consistently moves numbers no matter who they are paired with, Sasha Banks has a very good case of being the best in wrestling at doing just that. Here is a list of wrestlers she has swayed viewership with and some examples of just how much.
Sasha Banks vs Natalya/Becky Lynch August 2019 – October 2019
Lets start with her return on August 12 when she made her return to Monday Night Raw interrupting Natalya and turning heel on both her and Becky Lynch. That segment would gain over 300K viewers which gave Raw 2.729 viewers opposed to the week before of 2.473. The return also has over 9M views on Youtube. The following week the highest segment on the show according to WON was the supposed to King’s court with Sasha Banks which ended with The Fiend attacking him. Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch would continue to feud through the October 6th Hell in a Cell pay per view before she would move on to Smackdown. That feud generated a 2.5 or more 4 times on Raw (2.534, 2.528, 2.507, 2.570) respectively. After Hell in a cell, Banks would move to Friday Night Smackdown on Fox. Even before the pandemic occured the highest Raw would reach would be 2.439 on Dec 30 2019 with Banks no longer on Raw. The next highest would be a show that had Becky Lynch, Randy Orton, Edge, Brock Lesnar, Drew Mcintyre and more that would only hit 2.437M. The following feud that Lynch had with Asuka from Nov through January of 2020 (with Charlotte and even Kairi Sane involved at times) would actually most of the time lose the TV audience for whatever reason.
Sasha Banks vs Lacey Evans
After heading off to Friday Night Smackdown in the draft, the post Survivor Series PPV Sasha Banks w/ Bayley would move into a feud with Lacey Evans that was preparing for Evans to go into a feud with Smackdown womens champion Bayley. The post Survivor Series segment with Banks, Bayley and Evans would gain 225K viewers something Evans never accomplished on Raw all Summer that she was pushed in 2019. The following two scheduled matches with Banks vs Evans that resulted in one being a double count out and the other with Banks no showing were part of the highest numbers on the Smackdown shows. There are also 2 videos on Youtube at the moment of Banks making fun of Evan’s daughter which are both closing in on 8M views on both the WWE account and the WWE on Fox account.
Sasha Banks on NXT
While Charlotte Flair went to NXT after WrestleMania as someone who was supposed to help the ratings war against AEW, the truth is she failed to do so. In fact, the only times NXT beat AEW in overall viewership was when Flair wasn’t even apart of the show. The only real time Charlotte moved viewers was when she was with Bianca Belair and Rhea Ripley who before Charlotte were even moving numbers on their own in NXT. Charlotte had a 1 month build up to a title match defending against IO Shirai that failed to crack 700K viewers. Meanwhile when Banks went to NXT on June 17th with Bayley to defend the womens tag titles against Shotzi Blackheart and Tegan Nox NXT would defeat AEW in the main event battle with Chris Jericho headlining for AEW. The very first time Chris Jericho would be beaten head to head by anyone in NXT. That tag team mach would gain NXT over 80K viewers. The second time Banks would head to NXT would be for the Great American Bash special on July 1st against IO Shirai with a match that ended with 900K viewers and a gain of 120K from the previous match with Santos Escobar. This match also obliterated the Omega and Page vs Best Friends AEW main event that night by almost 250K viewers overall. That is something that neither Charlotte Flair, Rhea Ripley, Bianca Belair or any other woman that faced Shirai has done and they did it with a 3 day build with a match announced via social media. This would be the highest main event NXT has ever had on the USA network until only a match between Adam Cole and Keith Lee title vs title with a spoiler beat it.
Sasha Banks vs Auska
After the Great American Bash, Banks would go into a feud with Asuka over the Raw women’s championship. Almost every Raw, Banks/Bayley/Asuka (and then the addition of Kairi Sane towards the end of the feud) would be in the highest hour of the show OR have the highest demo on the show. On June 29th, Banks would be in a contract signing with Asuka, as well as Ziggler and Mcintyre to open Raw to their highest opening in quite some time. On July 28th, 2020, Banks would face Asuka for the Raw womens championship. They would have a great match that would end in a count out win and title change for Banks. However, the interesting thing is after that match Raw would drop over 250K viewers for the rest of the 3rd hour where Drew Mcintyre was booked to be in the Main Event in a TLC match against Dolph Ziggler. Again unlike feuds with Lynch and Charlotte and recently even Shayna Baszler, Banks would gain, while others would lose viewers for whatever reason.
Sasha Banks vs Bayley
Talk to pretty much any WWE fan and they would tell you the story between Banks and Bayley pretty much carried WWE throughout 2020 and through the pandemic and the numbers would show it. Banks and Bayley would consistently be part of the highest numbers on 80% of Smackdown episodes during their friendship over 2020. They would open the very first WWE pandemic show from the WWE performance center with no fans to 2.83M against Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss. They would dominate the Summer appearing on all 3 brands with the highest viewership or the 18-49 demo. On September 4th in a rematch against Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler for the WWE womens tag team titles they would gain 120K from the match (2.14 up from 2.02 for the previous 30 minutes) and the after the match break up of Banks and Bayley would add another 230K with it peaking at 2.37 up from 2.14 which is yet another gain over 300K viewers. This would lead to a feud between the 2 where Banks would defeat Bayley to win the Smackdown womens championship at Hell in a Cell. On the Nov 6th edition of Friday Night Smackdown against 50M viewers watching election coverage across all platforms, Banks would defend her championship against Bayley opening Smackdown at 2.52M which was the highest of any wrestling show for the last 7 months.
Sasha Banks vs Carmella
While this feud hasn’t been going on too long or been given ample time before last weeks Smackdown, the December 11th Smackdown show built around Banks opening and closing the show would have almost a 100K overall increase from viewership compared to the prior week where Roman Reigns opened and closed the show. The opening with the contract signing between Banks and Carmella would hit a high of 2.41M (2.30M overall) and the ending with the SD womens title match between Banks and Carmella would have a high of 2.25M (2.16M overall). These are both significantly higher than the opening (2.16M) and closing (2.14M) of last week’s show opened and closed by Roman Reigns.
While wrestling fans can point to Becky Lynch and Bayley as big stars, and perhaps even IO Shirai and Asuka, what about the likes of Natalya, Evans, Nox, Blackheart and now Carmella? The common denominator in all these viewership swings seems to be Banks. While dirt sheets will continue to mostly discredit her contribution to TV viewership, its clear from late 2019 through 2020 that Banks has been able to swing some big viewership numbers for wrestling no matter what show she is on or what talent she is working with.