Is WWE Once Again Trying to Extinguish Sasha Banks’ Flame?

On July 13 2015, WWE would bring up Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair to join the “Divas Revolution” and still to this day it seems like no matter how big Banks may get or what attention she might get the company she just can never seem to get ahead of either Lynch or Flair. Over the last year, we thought that might finally happen but is WWE once again trying to extinguish Bank’s flame? Lets explore.

Let’s go back to that night years ago on July 13, 2015 when Banks, Flair and Lynch all debuted on the main roster on Monday Night Raw. It was pretty evident that Banks was the most popular one of the three at the time but Flair is who the company chose. As a matter of fact in Flair’s own book she wrote that she needed the title moreso than Banks because Banks was already a star and Flair needed to be elevated to her level. Here is a picture from Flair’s book.

The WWE knew Banks was the more over of the two but wanted Flair to be the one to dethrone then champion Nikki Bella for the Divas championship. There would be Monday Night Raws where the crowd would chant “we want Sasha” to remind the company of who we wanted at that time.

Hell, the crowds would chant we want Sasha in arena’s and matches she wasn’t even apart of!. Here’s a look below at the match that did not invole Banks at all yet you could hear the “we want Sasha” chants. The chants got so prevalent that the company would actually remove Banks from TV trying to cool her off because they were behind Flair.

Lets fast forward a bit to January 2016 at the Royal Rumble and the ovation that Sasha Banks would get from the crowd. It was once again fans telling WWE this is who we want. What more do we need to do? It was the fans telling the company no we did not forget about her even though you tried to make us.

It looked like Flair and Banks were on a collision course for WrestleMania 32 in Dallas Texas that year. However, WWE went and added Becky Lynch to the match someone Flair had beaten multiple times already. Why did they do this? They did it because they could “protect” Banks from taking the pin so that Charlotte could win the match even though almost everyone wanted Banks to win that night. Why would a company go as far as to protect someone from taking a pin? Isn’t that basically just admitting we know what we should do we’re just not going to do it? Banks would return in the Summer to yet another very loud ovation and finally start her 1 on 1 singles feud with Flair. Banks would win the title to a raucous ovation from the crowd for the very first time. Finally, the company listened to what we have been telling them for a full year!. However it did not last, Banks and Flair would exchange the title numerous times and Flair would ultimately win the feud. It was reported that “Banks style leaves her prone to injury” and that’s why the company went with Flair. Isn’t it odd that the one who is “injury prone” wrestled the most matches in 2015/2016? The truth is the company wanted Flair still at the time no matter what the fans wanted. This brings me to my next point, why did the company want Flair? They wanted Flair because the other horsewomen member Bayley was coming up from NXT and was touted to be the next “John Cena”. Needless to say that did not happen as Banks beat her at every level. Why would you take a risk on the next John Cena when you already had a super popular Sasha Banks right in front of you? Banks was so popular at this time that she was selling merchandise at a record level for a female performer. This at a time where the WWE had John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, and a debuting AJ Styles so the competition was fierce and Banks was more than holding her own. Why would you not just continue to go with her?

Let’s move on to 2018 when Banks and Bayley were looking like they were on a collision course for WrestleMania after Banks in a everyone for themselves Royal Rumble match eliminated Bayley. However, we did not get that singles match at WrestleMania despite the crowd being very into their feuds and clamoring for it. Why did we not get this feud at this time? Why were both relegated to the battle royal at WrestleMania? It is baffling!

The following year Banks and Bayley who spent the last year teaming up in tag matches that were going nowhere won the newly introduced WWE women’s tag team titles. They promised to defend them on every brand but never defended them once on a Smackdown or NXT and lost them at Wrestlemania, yet another loss for Banks. Now this time there was a reason at least. On an episode of Sasha Banks chronicle she admitted that she was burnt out, frustrated with her direction and just no longer had the passion for wrestling so she had to step away and take a mental health break. The WWE accounts were flooded with “where is Sasha Banks” tweets because the women’s division was absolutely floundering even with Becky Lynch at the helm off a victory over Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania that same year. Sasha would return about four months later attacking Natalya in her home county of Canada turning heel for the very first time in almost 4 years. She would get “thank you Sasha” chants for turning heel and beating up Natalya and then Becky Lynch when she came out for the save. It was then that Banks would move into a feud red hot off a heel turn against Lynch for the Raw women’s title. Did they ride that momentum? They didn’t, they once again had Banks put over Lynch and moved her to the Smackdown brand killing her momentum as a heel in the process.

Since moving to Smackdown, Banks has definitely been treated a lot better than she was ever treated before. Her and Bayley then known as the Golden Role Models would run Smackdown in the absence of Roman Reigns, Becky Lynch who was pregnant and Charlotte Flair who was at the time the NXT women’s champion. Banks and Bayley would be at the forefront of the women finally but there was one problem, everyone they had relied on up to that point was not around so they had no one else to turn to. The golden Role Models in both their tag team and their subsequent feud had the best ratings of anyone in wrestling (even with Roman Reigns back). The biggest win of Banks career came against Bayley at Hell in a Cell in 20220 in a virtual ThunderDome. The rematch between Banks and Bayley two weeks later was the highest rating throughout the entire Pandemic (and still is to this day other than a fluke NFL led Christmas show). Thats right, the WWE has brought back Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, Ronda Rousey and even John Cena and none of them have been able to topple that number.

Banks would go on to have about a 6 month run as Smackdown womens champion culminating with a main event match at Wrestlemania with Royal Rumble winner Bianca Belair. She had finally achieved her dream. It didn’t even matter that she lost because it was the main event and also people were saying she will get rewarded for it next year.

Here we are in 2022 and Banks at the moment has checked every box imaginable that the company looks for and we are once again asking this question? It’s got to be insanity at this point! Lets look at the boxes Banks checks off right now.

  • Main Stream attention – Going back to WrestleMania 37 and her main event with Belair and even before that, Banks has been doing nothing but giving the company main stream attention. In Feb of 2020 Banks and Roman Reigns would appear on a Super Bowl Pizza Hut commercial. About 8 months later Banks would appear on Star Wars season 2 of the Mandalorian as Koska Reeves one of the most streamed shows on the planet. It just kept coming for Banks over the year; from opening the Daytona 500 race, to appearing on the red carpet for the Spider Man No Way Home premiere, appearing on the Espys with Bianca Belair for their historic Wrestlemania main event, and this year opening the national title game between Alabama and Georgia. She has been a whirlwind of media publicity for a company that right now is severely lacking in talents that can give them that. Speaking of the Mandalorian, it took a full year for the WWE to even acknowledge it on their television show Smackdown. Why is this? When Becky Lynch appeared on Billions, the company promoted it before it even aired. When Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss made a cameo in the new Punk Brewster remake they told you about it on Monday Night Raw that week. So what took so long with Banks and something even bigger with Star Wars? Was it because she used her real name Mercedes Varnado and not Sasha Banks? Was the company slighted because of that? If so that is extremely childish because Banks is still a wrestling talent signed to WWE and the more exposure the better.
  • Merchandise – Going back to 2016, Banks has always done very well among talent in moving merchandise. If you go to arenas and live events, you see plenty of Sasha Banks t shirts, glasses, blue and purple wigs, boss chains and whatever else. Her meet and greets sell out so quick that most don’t even have a chance to get one. Her cameos when they were allowed were going for $475 and fans had no issues paying the price just to chat with her. As mentioned above she is also Koska Reeves in Mandalorian. She had an autograph signing with Star Wars Autographs Universe and sold out as Mercedes Varnado the very first time she ever signed as herself. She sold out Koska Reeves action figures. She has people paying $270 for a Koska Reeves sixth slide scale collectible through hot toys. It’s even to the point that her fans complain about WWE shop being lazy with designs yet they still are flocking to buy merchandise to support her. This does not happen for Charlotte Flair but we wont get into that.
  • Social Media Engagement – Banks in 2021 was the third most tweeted about women in the world even surpassing Serena Williams. She was the most searched woman in the company throughout the year 2021 in both the United States and Worldwide. She gave them MASSIVE mainstream attention from that WrestleMania main event from the likes of people, Espn, CNN and countless others. She is constantly trending every day for no particular reason even on her days off. When Banks only lasted 8 minutes in the Royal Rumble this January, she still garnered more attention from her Sailor Moon gear and a split that she did to mock WWE legend Melina. A random twitter account now no longer available had almost 700K views from posting a 5 second video of Banks doing the split. A picture that Banks posted from her own 2.3M followers has more likes than anything from the WWE Royal Rumble and the WWE account that has 11.8M followers.
  • TV viewership – In a time where wrestling as a whole is fading with television viewers both WWE and AEW there has been one full time talent that has constantly stood out at more than holding her own; that is Banks. We have mentioned already that she has the highest watched 30 minutes of the last year, but that’s not even close to it. She appeared on NXT twice in 2020 and both times easily beat the AEW main event one with Chris Jericho in it and the other with Cody Rhodes. Banks and Bayley throughout their team and feud would weekly outdraw Roman Reigns on Friday Night Smackdown. After their feud Banks would still more than hold her own with Carmella and then Bianca Belair. When Banks is on TV simply put people watch her. I have actually already wrote an entire article about this that you can refer to. https://thesportingbrews.com/2021/12/05/sasha-banks-drawing-the-best-numbers-in-wrestling-since-return/. When Banks is having better TV numbers than the likes of Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar and even John Cena, that is truly something special.
  • In Ring work – This is where Banks shines. Even the biggest hater can usually admit that when Banks is in the ring in a big match you know a great match is coming. The company itself has given Banks the match of the year runner up on four different occasions (2015, 2019, 2020, 2021). When Banks is in a big match, she simply does not miss.
  • A connection to the audience – We have already talked about her social media engagements, her follower count, her reactions she was getting in 2016 and 2018, but what about now. After all we are in 2022 what if something changed? Well lets look at when Banks returned to Smackdown in July of 2021 , and confronted Charlotte Flair before the Royal Rumble in 2022. Does it sound like anything has changed to you? In fact, banks might be even more over than she has ever been. So why did she last only 8 minutes in a Royal Rumble match that many fans at one point considered her a big favorite?. Why was she kept off TV the very next Smackdown despite being in the arena? Is it again WWE attempting to cool down Banks because now they want to go with Ronda Rousey who by her own admission has a hard time with fans booing her? Why would you try to coach up Ronda Rousey to be a babyface the fans can get behind when you have Banks right there?

There are many Sasha Banks fans who continue to show anger and hatred for the company. Is their anger justified? Why Does it seem like no matter what she does Banks just can’t seem to pass the likes of Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair despite being a bigger star than them? Is the WWE really afraid that Banks is going to leave them like Rock did for Hollywood full time? What other reason can there be? As you can see, Banks checks every box the WWE wants and here we are once again six years later near WrestleMania and the WWE once again appears to favor the less popular, less followed, less interaction star in Charlotte Flair. Some will argue its racism and maybe it is, but there is something up. Almost any other company who had a goldmine like this would have gone all the way in not only 2016 but also now. There is not a more strike while the iron is hot woman in wrestling right now than Banks so at the moment once again on the outside looking in is criminal. The truth is her flame is only going to grow with or without WWE backing but its just stupid business.

WWE will never give you lasting change. Its time to accept it or leave

There are many journalists and fans in the WWE that will continue to defend everything and anything the company does because they are making record profits. They will tell you that a certain talent just held a championship or got a push to the top and its someone else’s time. The truth is it all happened at a time while the golden children Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Brock Lesnar and even Ronda Rousey were away and they had no one else they could turn to. Lets check some examples.

Sasha Banks – Banks and best friend Bayley were absolutely a huge part of the last year and a half. They were the main acts of WWE Smackdown for about 4-5 months without Roman Reigns around due to the pandemic while carrying empty arena shows and then helping Roman Reigns with carrying the Thunderdome shows after his return with their Golden Role Models team and their subsequent break up and feud. Banks and Bayley would at times appear on all 3 WWE shows in the same week. They would elevate others and give the spotlight to others. Some of these examples are Asuka, Shayna Baszler, Nia Jax, Tegan Nox, Shotzi Blackheart. Banks especially would be part of the majority of the highest rated segments on the shows (that’s where the WWE gets the majority of their revenue, tv deals). Banks would main event Wrestlemania with Bianca Belair in a history making first time ever match that 2 African American wrestlers would main event WrestleMania. The match was highly praised and garnered the WWE the most mainstream media attention they have gotten in so long. Before and since then, Banks herself would also get the company some much needed attention appearing in a Super Bowl commercial, starting the Daytona 500 race, appears on the ESPYS with Belair, opening the national title game between Alabama and Georgia and most of all appearing on one of the most streamed shows in the world Disney’s The Mandalorian season 2. It looked like we were heading for Banks vs Charlotte Flair for a while for the title at WrestleMania 38 until Ronda Rousey came into the picture and Banks’ Wrestlemania 38 plans look to be up in the air despite carrying the WWE women’s division through the hardest times during the covid pandemic and despite being by far the most popular woman on the roster today.

Bianca Belair – In 2021 Belair had one of the best years ever for a wrestler in their very first full year on the roster. She would win the Royal Rumble, main event WrestleMania with the aforementioned Banks and win the Smackdown Women’s championship for the very first time. Belair became a star a few months into 2021. After that Belair would have a feud with Bayley that was going well until Bayley would tear her ACL. After that Belair would have mostly throw away matches with the likes of Carmella. After those matches, Banks would make her return to SD and turn on Belair setting up the most anticipated rematch from their history making Wrestlemania main event. That storyline would get a good amount of time and build and it was highly anticipated. Then what happened next is almost unfathomable. It was rumored that Banks would not be able to compete at Summerslam for to this day still unknown reasons. The WWE however would continue to promote the match up to the introductions and then they would tell the crowd that Banks was not there. Following that, Becky Lynch would make her return and beat Belair in 26 seconds. For everything Banks and Bayley did for Belair, it was all undone in 26 seconds just for a shock factor and for one of the golden children to once again get the title back that she never lost due to pregnancy. They didn’t care that Belair was having a run, they didn’t care about the mainstream attention Belair was receiving, nope it was all about Lynch. They had another rematch and Lynch also won that one. Now there are rumors that Belair might finally get her win back, but at this point, whats the point?. Belair is already a star isnt she? or did Sasha Banks have yet another WrestleMania loss for no reason?

Drew Mcintyre – I will admit I’m not the biggest fan of Drew Mcintyre however he was saddled with carrying a dying Monday Night Raw show through its hardest times during the pandemic as well. His moment was taken away from him at WrestleMania 36 when the pandemic hit and he won in the main event of the show with no crowds at all in a performance center. It looked like Mcintyre was being set up for his big win again this time in front of crowds at Wrestlemania 37 but he would lose in the opening match. He hasn’t won the championship again and has been relegated to working with mid card talent on Smackdown and guys like Baron Corbin and Riddick Moss and just some random throw away matches. It’s looking like Mcintyre’s Wrestlemania 38 plans are up in the air as well because Brock Lesnar is back and he’s facing Roman Reigns for the 3rd time at a WrestleMania.

Big E – This talent is one of the most unselfish and loved talents they have in that locker room. Everyone adores him. He has been in the tag title scene almost his whole career until the last draft when they would break him away and let him focus on his singles career. He would win the IC title and even the WWE title against Bobby Lashley after cashing in his money in the bank shot on Monday Night Raw. What happened after that however is that he would have some random title defenses. Big E would then start to garner some main stream attention while opening for a Tyson Fury fight and also for a college football game. Does this sound familiar to you? It should, it’s what Banks and to an extent Belair were doing. Yet again the same thing happened, Big E would defend his championship in what was supposed to be a fatal 4 way at Day 1 in January of this year. It looked like he was going to retain his championship and head into Wrestlemania 38 as the WWE champion however Roman Reigns would contact covid and Brock Lesnar would end up in the fatal 4 way instead and dispatch of Big E rather easily to win the WWE title despite already being in a storyline with Roman Reigns over the Universal Title on Smackdown. Big E would never get another shot at Brock Lesnar as champion and he would be sent back to the tag division where he had spent the majority of his career.

Now we’ll fast foward to the Royal Rumble in January of 2022, the winners were a returning Ronda Rousey, and Brock Lesnar to get his match with Roman Reigns. Two talents who simply did not need a Royal Rumble win to get to their Wrestlemania stories. Did WWE do something different with either one? No they did not; Lesnar is fighting Roman Reigns still in what very way may end up in a title for title match, and Rousey at the moment is facing Charlotte Flair, meanwhile Becky Lynch is still the Raw women’s champion and the company brought back Lita to have a title match with her. The WWE has also brought back Goldberg to have a match with Big E his hero? Nope, Roman Reigns the absolute last person who needs to beat Goldberg. There will be fans who scoff at this and say “its WrestleMania season you need these part timers and legends” but the truth is just like the WWE itself has grown, WrestleMania is going to be full of fans simply because its the biggest event in sports entertainment

You see, there’s nothing wrong with a pecking order in wrestling. There has always been tiers. However, the WWE doesn’t even try to hide it. They will give the fans what they want here and there (especially when they are forced to and have no choice), but when the biggest event of the season comes around they always return to the legends and part timers and bring back as many as they can despite the full timers last year having a very successful WrestleMania. The WWE for better or worse are all in on part timer Brock Lesnar, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair (who has never actually been worth it at all). If even main stream talents such as Banks and Belair can’t break through and pass those who else on the roster can?. The morale in the locker room is said to be the lowest ever and who can blame them. The truth is when the golden children are around Vince McMahon will always lean on them. This will be even more relevant when Lynch faces Rousey next year and Roman Reigns faces another legend The Rock. This likely wont matter much to Banks who very soon will likely break away from the WWE, but for the rest of the roster its going to be an uphill battle to ever realize their full potential.

Sasha Banks Drawing The Best TV Numbers in Wrestling Since Return

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 10M views on Youtube. The following week the highest segment on the show according to WON was the supposed to be 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 occurred 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 9M 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 and 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 women’s 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 200K viewers. This would lead to a feud between the two where Banks would defeat Bayley to win the Smackdown women’s 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 2.60M which was the highest of any wrestling show for the last 7 months.

Sasha Banks vs Carmella
The feud with Banks and Carmella would start on November 13th and last through the Royal Rumble on January 31. The December 11th Smackdown show built around Banks opening and closing the show with Carmella 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 women’s 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 the prior week’s show opened and closed by Roman Reigns. The final Smackdown numbers during Banks vs Carmella would average 2.20M.

Sasha Banks vs Bianca Belair
In October of 2020 Bianca Belair was drafted to Friday Night Smackdown. Immediately, fans would think about what would a storyline with Banks and Belair look like over the Smackdown women’s championship. It just so happens fans would witness that when Bianca Belair would win the 2021 Royal Rumble. The story between Banks and Belair would begin on the following Smackdown and last through WrestleMania 37 where they would main event night 1 on April 10th. During the Banks/Belair story, Smackdown would average 2.20M. Following WrestleMania, Banks has been on a break from television, during that time, the WWE has had a Retro Smackdown show, a title vs career match with Roman Reigns vs Daniel Bryan and a feud with Bianca Belair and Bayley. During this time, Smackdown is averaging 2.02M viewers which is a substantial drop of 180K viewers during the Banks vs Belair feud

As mentioned above, Smackdown is down considerably since before WrestleMania. I see all kinds of reasons from dirt sheets most notably guys like Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez pointing to the NBA and fooling fans as that being the only reason or “TV is down all over”. Wait, in the span of six months going back to late 2020 through WrestleMania, TV has dropped 250 to 300K viewers? As for the NBA being the reason, despite the NBA having some effect Smackdown has also only gone up against the NBA playoffs two times what about the other six shows? Also, lets take a dive into how Sasha Banks does against the NBA playoffs; the numbers are as follows.

On August 21 2020 the debut of the Thunderdome, 2.2M viewers would turn into Smackdown. The segment between Banks/Bayley/Naomi and the two beat the clock matches would do 2.25M up 110K viewers from the 30 minutes before going against Boston/Philly (1,813/.70) and Clippers/Mavericks (2,270/.93)

On September 4 2020, 2.1M viewers would turn into Smackdown. The women’s tag title match between Banks/Bayley and champions Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax and the subsequent break up between Banks and Bayley would hit a show high of 2.36M up substantially (220K viewers) from 2.14M. This went directly against Lebron James and the Lakers vs the Houston Rockets (3,896/1.58) and also the Bucks vs Heat (2,222/.85)

On September 18 2020, Banks would return to Smackdown via a satellite interview with former best friend Bayley attacking her. The segment would gain 100K viewers (2.12M) up from the previous 2.01M. Smackdown as a whole would do 2.03M. This went up once again against Lebron James and the Lakers; this time vs the Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals. (4,921/1.98)

On October 9th 2020 Smackdown would see 2.18M viewers watch the show, the 5 minute exhibition match between Banks and Bayley which was more of an angle setting up the upcoming Hell in a cell match would have 2.22M viewers watching. The last 30 minutes would drop substantially for a Fiend vs Kevin Owens main event all the way down to 2.02M (200K viewers) This went against not only Lebron James in the NBA finals against the Miami Heat (8,890/3.2) but also against an elimination New York Yankees playoffs game (3,723/.89).

Sasha Banks and her return to Friday Night Smackdown

Over the Summer, Friday Night Smackdown would struggle to maintain 2M viewers despite having Roman Reigns and Bianca Belair among others on TV. Sasha Banks was on a vacation since her WrestleMania 37 main event. The 3 shows since (including 2 vs the Olympics) have all been over 2M viewers. On July 30th Banks would make her return to Friday Night Smackdown and team with Belair in the main event ended up with almost identical viewership to the contract signing with Roman Reigns/John Cena/Finn Balor. The following week Banks was advertised and the show went up 120K overall and 100K in 18-49 on a show that she opened. The next week Banks and Belair would sign the contract for Summerslam in the main event and it would actually out draw Roman Reigns and John Cena opening the show. Don’t get me wrong John Cena is HUGE obviously and him being back has helped, but when Banks can equal or out draw the biggest star in the last 15 years in wrestling this needs to be more of a talking point in the media. One very big key in all of this is Banks actually makes Smackdown younger as she does very well in not only 18-49 (exceptionally well), but also 18-34 .

Smackdown with and without Sasha Banks in the Thunderdome.

The Thunderdome with Sasha Banks on screen averaged 2,218,030 viewers. On the other hand the Thunderdome without Sasha Banks averaged 1,990,750 viewers. That is a difference of 227,280 viewers. In the coveted 18-49 demo the difference is .61 with Banks and a .51 without Banks (100K difference).

Sasha Banks face turn is doing BIG viewership numbers

Sasha would shows signs of turning face on October 1st during the main event match with Bianca Belair that would gain almost 150K viewers and a whopping .67 in 18-49. The highest on the show. This would lead SD to increases in every demo and overall from the previous week. Smackdown would move to FS1 for the October 15th show with a Banks vs Becky Lynch non title Main Event. That match would gain 80K viewers and out draw the final 5 minutes of the show which was a contract signing between Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar. On the November 26th edition of Smackdown a tag match between Banks and Naomi vs Shayna Baszler would gain a whopping 300K viewers from the previous 30 minutes (2.3 to 2.00 with a peak of 2.35). The following week Smackdown would maintain their viewership for Banks vs Baszler coming off a Brock Lesnar appearance which is almost impossible to do. For context, Randy Orton vs Drew Mcintyre and Bobby Lashley vs Rusev both lost 314K and 422K respectively immediately after a Brock Lesnar appearance on Raw.

Sasha Banks is outdrawing former UFC star Ronda Rousey’s return in 2022.

Sasha Banks made her return from injury on the go home edition of WWE Smackdown on Jan 28, 2022 a day before the Royal Rumble. That show would do 2.217M with Banks in the opening segment doing a 2.34. The following week with Rousey’s WrestleMania decision would do 70K less at 2.151M. From then on Banks and Rousey would be on the same show twice and Banks would outdraw her yet again. The biggest example being on the March 18th show where she would gain 273K viewers in a tag match with a 2.295 opposed to Rousey and Charlotte which is the rumored WrestleMania night 1 Main Event doing 150K less viewers. This show was against 4 NCAA March Madness games.

While dirt sheets will continue to mostly discredit or ignore her contribution to TV viewership, its clear from late 2019 through March 2022 that Banks has been able to swing some big viewership numbers for wrestling no matter what show she is on, what talent she is working with, and also no matter the competition she is up against.

It’s time we stop trying to put Sasha Banks into the same category as the other Horsewomen.

The women’s revolution in the WWE is often times given credit to the emergence of Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks and Bayley in NXT; collectively known as the 4 Horsewomen. Over the course of the next 5 years they have rightfully (and not rightfully) been credited with both elevating and burying the women’s divisions. However, it’s time we stop putting Sasha Banks into the later category.

Lets start off with their debut on the main roster in 2015. In July of that year Lynch, Flair and Banks would all make their main roster debut on Monday Night Raw. While Banks was clearly the biggest of the 3 at the time and the most over, it was Flair who got the immediate title shot vs then champion Nikki Bella and won the title almost immediately. Banks and Lynch would be “sidekicks” to to speak for Team Bad vs Team PCB vs Team Bella. It got to the point that Banks (a heel) would be showered with “we want Sasha” chants. What happened next? it was still ignored. Flair would still dominate the women’s division while Banks would disappear from TV for a few months except rare appearances.

The following year in 2016 Banks would make her return at the Royal Rumble and attack Lynch and then Flair and make her intentions clear she wanted Flair’s championship. Banks and Lynch would have some number one contenders matches (despite Lynch losing multiple times to Charlotte already before including at the Rumble) with all of them ending either in a draw, double pin or DQ. A triple threat was then made for WrestleMania 32 in Dallas Texas. Banks at the time was the clear fan favorite to walk out champion. She was introduced by her cousin Snoop Dogg to a huge ovation, surely she would be walking out champion with that kind of entrance right? Well not exactly, Flair would retain when Lynch took the loss. The WWE knew they made a mistake because banks was removed from TV until July of the same year where she returned and finally got a 1 on 1 championship match with Flair. She would win the women’s title on Raw that same month. She would face Flair at Summerslam the following month and lose it back to Flair. She would be taken off TV for a month and the 4th member of the horsewomen Bayley would arrive to the main roster. She would get put into the Banks/Flair feud much like Lynch did. They would have a triple threat at Clash of champions where again Banks didn’t take the pin but didn’t win the match as Flair pinned Bayley. Banks would get a 1 on 1 match with Flair on Raw a few weeks later and once again win the championship. The following month banks would face Flair in her rematch in at Hell in a Cell in Boston Massachusetts in the very first women’s HIAC match, surely the hometown hero would walk out champion right? They couldn’t do it again could they? Nope, Flair won the match and the championship. A few weeks later Banks would face Flair in Flair’s hometown of Charlotte, NC. She would actually win the championship and after the match she would get a ringing endorsement from Ric Flair himself. Surely banks was set up to be the top star of the women’s division. The final battle between Banks and Flair would be at Roadblock end of the line. I wont even get into the ridiculous booking of this match (and the following night), just know that Flair won the match and ultimately the feud.

Moving on to 2017 Banks would feud with Nia Jax to begin leading to a 4 way match at WrestleMania with Flair, Jax and Bayley who was the champion at the time. Did WWE do anything to even tease the history of Banks and Bayley? Of course they didn’t, Banks would actually be eliminated second and Bayley would beat Flair. Banks would spend the rest of 2017 in the upper mid card scene until she won the championship from Bliss at Summerslam in Brooklyn. She would lose it 8 days later in a clean fashion to former champion Alexa Bliss. Following that Banks would move into a feud with Alicia fox for almost the remainder of the year.

In 2018 Banks would compete in the very first women’s Royal Rumble, lasting 54 minutes eliminating the likes of Trish Stratus and Bayley. It seemed like it was gonna be a good year where she might get that “horsewomen” booking. She would compete at the elimination chamber in an elimination chamber match. It came down to Bliss the champion, Banks and Bayley. You would think from the Rumble they were heading towards Banks vs Bayley for WrestleMania 34. During the match Banks would kick Bayley off one of the pods betraying her but did she win the title to set up that match? nope Bliss retained when she pinned Banks. From there Banks and Bayley would end up in a battle royal at WrestleMania while Flair faced and ended the 900 day winning streak of Asuka. Over the next two months Bayley would attack Banks but did it lead to a match between the two of them? It did not; instead it lead to them going to counseling and reconciling. The two of them would be in tag matches for the next 4 months to end 2018. The company even had a chance to book Trish Stratus vs Sasha Banks at Evolution and instead chose Alexas Bliss (this will be relevant later).

The following year Banks/Bayley would become the first ever women’s tag team champions at elimination Chamber 2019. They were to defend the women’s tag titles at WrestleMania 35 in a 4 way against Beth Phoenix and Natalya, Nia Jax and Tamina and the Iiconics. During the buildup to this match Banks and Bayley actually showed up at a NXT house show saving the Sky Pirates (IO Shirai and Kairi Sane) teasing a future big match. However, at WrestleMania that year Banks and Bayley would drop the titles to the Iiconics, we never got the match teased with the Sky Pirates. Meanwhile Lynch and Flair (shoehorned) were in the first ever women’s main event with Ronda Rousey with both women’s titles on the line that Lynch won (screwing Smackdown women talent in the process). Banks would then take a hiatus to deal with mental health issues and even ask for her release from the company. After Summerslam the same year, Banks would make her return and turn heel for the very first time on the main roster on Lynch. She had huge momentum that would be derailed when she lost another hell in a cell match to Lynch. As for Charlotte, she would beat Trish Stratus at Summerslam and Bayley for the SD women’s title at HIAC.

From then on through April of 2020 Banks would play a “sidekick” role to Bayley while Bayley was in the midst of a 200+ day title run. Banks and Bayley were supposed to face each other at WrestleMania 36 for the SD women’s title but plans once again changed. It would turn into a 5 way match with Naomi, Lacey Evans and Tamina also added. Would it come down to Banks and Bayley? nope, again just like WrestleMania 33 she was eliminated before the end and Bayley pinned Evans to retain making Banks 0-5 at the biggest PPV the company puts on. While Banks lost this match, Flair would defeat a red hot up and coming NXT star in Rhea Ripley for the NXT title and Lynch would defeat another NXT star in Shayna Baszler. To the company’s credit they would stick to the plan and in October of that year Banks would beat Bayley for the SD women’s championship ending her 350+ day title reign.

Fast forward to 2021 and the emergence of Bianca Belair another rising NXT star. At the Royal Rumble, Belair would last almost an hour and win it getting a chance to main event WrestleMania 37 against Sasha Banks in a very historic first ever time two black women would main event a WrestleMania. What would happen is Banks would do what she always does and that’s put over the rising talent in Belair creating another star. Here we are 4 months later and Banks and Belair are scheduled for their rematch at Summerslam 2021. The WWE is heavy on promotion (t shirts, video packages, interviews, promos, television build anything you can think of). This match doesn’t even happen and the company says Banks can’t compete as the match is about to start. This would eventually lead to the return after 16 months of Becky Lynch?? who also has a brand new t shirt ready? and is reportedly turning heel? I wont speculate but something smells. What happened next was appalling and completely destroyed the historic main event at WrestleMania between Banks and Belair. The bell would ring and 16 seconds later Lynch is the champion ending the reign of a rising star of Belair. On this same night, Flair would win her 12th championship. So once again Lynch and Flair would leave a big pay per view as champions and Banks would not.

Banks has had an illustrious hall of fame career. She has been part of many first ever matches and also won many championships. She has probably become their biggest women’s star despite the lack of the same booking as the other Horsewomen. If you want to argue the “horsewomen” are responsible for hurting the division as some would claim fine just leave Sasha Banks out of it. Without her there would be no division for others to tear down.

From “Villian” to Hero?

For many years now, WWE women’s superstar Sasha Banks who is confident, brash, even cocky and arrogant at times has always stated how her work that she has put into the company allows her to call herself the best that has ever done it. This at times (along with dirt sheet reports designed to tear down) can turn some people off, but she continues to be unapologetic about believing it which is even a tougher sell today as an African American woman in what has been known as a white male dominated sport professional wrestling . Is it possible one fateful April night in Florida has changed many people’s opinions. Lets explore!.
First lets return to the Summer of 2019 after WrestleMania 35 when Sasha Banks lost the women’s tag team titles asked to leave the WWE due to many personal issues she was going through both professionally and personally in her life. She said “this has become too big for me, its swallowing me, I don’t even know who I am anymore” on a recent podcast with hall of famer Stone Cold Steve Austin who also has been in the same predicament when he admitted he refused to take a loss to Brock Lesnar in 2003. Also, much like Austin, it was met with people both for it telling them to stand up for their worth while others would say suck it up and do your job at the expense of your worth. She would take a 4 month break to re evaluate priorities, find herself again and find her love for wrestling once again. There were many podcasts, tweets, even some former wrestling personalities saying ” she is not needed, let her go” If she comes back she will just get her way and bury the division because she’s a horsewoman and the company revolves around them only.
Sasha Banks would make a return in August of 2019 and there were many both ecstatic about it and there were also doubters about it because she was thrust into the women’s title position right away. A lot of fans said “so she’s going to get what she wants” but what happened? At the expense of her own momentum coming off a red hot return and turning heel for the first time in 4 years, she would lose her first big feud to Raw women’s’ champion Becky Lynch before being moved to Smackdown on Fox. Surely, she would win the title right away since “she will get what she wants”? Well, turns out that’s also wrong, not only did she not win the title for a full year, she would only have one title shot until October at WrestleMania 36 in a fatal 5 way match where again many thought surely she’s going to win the championship right?. Well no, the money was in the singles match with then Smackdown women’s champion Bayley down the line and she understood that despite what many of her fans wanted as she has never won at WrestleMania.
Following WrestleMania 36 is where they really started to start the Sasha Banks vs Bayley storyline. Yes there will be one side that argues that “they were holding up a division” because they tried to keep waiting for live fans to return for the match because its been a match wrestling fans had been waiting for so long. On the flip side, you could argue it became of the best things on TV going being universally praised and what really kept the WWE going while missing some stars such as Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns and Becky Lynch. Fast forwarding Banks and Bayley would also win the tag titles where they could go to every brand. Many would argue they don’t need the tag titles for their upcoming feud, but there are far more that argued they would raise the credibility of the titles which is exactly what they did. They gave some shine to NXT talents like Tegan Nox and Shotzi Blackheart, IO Shirai and for one night when they dropped the tag titles making Shayna Baszler look like an absolute star that night as she beat both at the same time when they dropped the tag titles. Banks would also win the Raw women’s title from then champion Asuka who was floundering, they would hold all the gold, but the destination was trying to raise Asuka (on tv) to the level where fans wanted her to be. Not only did Asuka end up beating both, take her title back, she was actually the catalyst on TV for breaking up the friendship that nobody else could do, she felt like the biggest babyface in the company at the time. There was an outcry from Banks fans to “keep the title on her and forget the Bayley story” because she had never actually defended a championship successfully but again, she knew the bigger picture was better. While there will be people who argue the Banks/Bayley feud was too short, there’s no denying it hit with most fans, it was a ratings bonanza and the Smackdown women’s championship felt like the biggest championship in the company
Lets fast forward to that fateful night in April of 2021 in Tampa Florida, Banks was the champion, she was in Star Wars, she was the green flag waiver at Daytona, basically she was one of the biggest stars in the company, she was made. However, she was going into WrestleMania the stage she has never won at despite her star status against the hot upcoming new talent Bianca Belair the 2021 women’s Royal Rumble winner. There were dirt sheets and fans claiming “Banks needs a WrestleMania win” “its too soon”, ” the story isn’t good enough” but none of that mattered that night. The main event of WrestleMania was Banks vs Belair, one of the biggest stars vs a new upcoming favorite. What happened was a thing of beauty, they crafted a damn near perfect match, Banks played her role perfectly trying to get the crowd behind Belair throughout the match for the big happy moment at the end when Belair beat Banks to win the title and a new star was born.
However, its the aftermath, and while talents do not book themselves there has been a strong belief among many non 4HW fans that the division just revolves around them, no one else is going to get any shine but them; and for the longest time they were right. You see there were many people that thought Shayna Baszler would beat Becky Lynch at WrestleMania 36 she did not. There were many people that thought Charlotte Flair another horsewoman won the 2020 Royal Rumble chose to face Rhea Ripley to make Rhea a star. She did not, instead she went over Ripley also at WrestleMania 36. So here we are WrestleMania 37, Banks a horsewoman against Belair the Royal Rumble winner, there were some that thought history would repeat itself. It however did not, there was no way that Sasha Banks of all people was going to steal someone else’s moment, no matter how many of her fans wanted it to happen because she never won at WrestleMania before. It was Belair’s moment and it was a historic match, she was always going to do the right thing. While there are some who will admit “they just want to see the division push forward” Banks has showed it time and time again her actions.
The follow up to this historic WrestleMania match has been amazing to see, Belair looks like the star she could be, and Banks has been getting nothing but flowers and praise universally for doing the right thing “and what no other HW would do”. Is it possible one match, one moment created on that one fateful night in Tampa Florida has completely changed the reputation of Banks? Well if you look at social media, articles and even dirt sheets it certainly appears that’s a case that can be made.

Sending Sasha Banks to Raw is just more of the same from WWE

One of the easiest things to lose in wrestling is momentum. You dont have to even look back far to see what has happened to Rhea Ripley since losing to Charlotte at WrestleMania 36 and where she is right now in WWE NXT’s pecking order. After having one of the best few months late 2019 and until April of this year, she isn’t even looked at as a challenger for IO Shirai’s NXT womens championship. The biggest example however is Sasha Bank’s WWE booking which has constantly hurt her momentum and might do the same thing yet again. The WWE draft is coming up this week and there are some swirling rumors that WWE might send Banks to WWE Monday Night Raw in order to keep her away from Smackdown womens’s champion until WrestleMania season. On the surface, this sounds like a good idea, but lets look at the facts.

Fact 1. Sasha Banks momentum has already been stopped on numerous occasions in WWE.

Lets take a stroll back to memory lane shall we?. It’s July 13 2015 and NXT Divas Sasha Banks, Charlotte Flair, and Becky Lynch are called up to the main roster. At the time, Banks was still NXT divas champion and was on a collision course in NXT with Bayley at NXT Takeover Brooklyn 2015. It was there where she would drop the title to Bayley, as well as losing the rematch to Bayley at NXT Respect in the Main Event that following October. There was no issue with that as Banks was already on the main roster. The issue came after those matches with Bayley in which Banks got such respect from the fans for her performances that they would chant “we want Sasha” on numerous occasions including matches she wasnt even in. Despite this, WWE would actually remove Sasha from TV here and there in hopes the chants would die down, instead they just got louder. The WWE was forced to turn Banks babyface the following year when she returned at the Royal Rumble to a big pop attacking divas champion Charlotte Flair. Banks and Flair would spend almost all Summer through Winter that year feuding over the Raw womens title. In that feud Banks would not only lose at WrestleMania 32, she also lost in her hometown in Boston as well as losing the final match at WWE Roadblock a few weeks after Charlotte’s own father Ric Flair gave her an endorsement as the face of the womens division.

Fact 2. Sasha Banks was already moved from WWE Raw to WWE Smackdown not even a year ago.

Sasha Banks returned in August of 2019 from a 4 month hiatus to WWE Monday Night Raw and turned heel on the main roster for the very first time. She returned with red hot momentum as fans finally were getting a taste of the boss as a heel on the main roster. She attacked Natayla in her own country in Canada the night after Summerslam before beating down Raw women’s champion Becky Lynch. She had a mini feud with Becky Lynch that culminated at WWE Hell in a cell 2019 where Becky Lynch won the feud and Banks was drafted to WWE Friday Night Smackdown as the 3rd overall pick (1st among women). However, it wasn’t until June of 2020 that WWE actually really did anything with Banks when they won the Womens Tag Team titles for a second time and also won the WWE Raw womens championship to become a double champion, which was shortly lived once again. So in essence, they absolutely hurt all the momentum of her heel turn to draft her to WWE Smackdown and now they’re gonna tempt fate with her as a babyface and do the same thing to move her back to Raw a year later?

Fact 3. Sasha Banks won the Raw womens title before actually winning the Smackdown Womens Championship.

Yes, you read that right, Sasha Banks won the WWE Raw womens championship despite being drafted away from Raw not even a year ago before she won the top womens title on the brand that she was the top womens draft pick of. With her and partner and at the time best friend Bayley they were able to win the WWE womens tag titles allowing them to jump to any brand. She would use this loophole to win the Raw women’s championship via count out only to lose it again less than a month later back to the same person she won it from. Why is the biggest women’s star on Smackdown and the woman who was their top draft pick winning the Raw womens title before the Smackdown womens championship? Why is it a year later and Banks has still not won the title that makes her the second womens grand slam champion? Well there’s a few answers, most of it has to do with covid 19 and wrecking plans for WRestleMania 36 as well as Summerslam in Boston which again hurt the momentum of Banks as WWE was building towards her clashing with Bayley at both events ultimately for neither to happen.

Fact 4. Sasha and Bayley did NOT have to break up so soon

When Banks and Bayley won the WWE women’s tag titles for a second time on June 5th, it was the start of a pretty special run. They would be constantly praised as being the best act thats going on any of the 3 shows that they would appear on. So the big question here is if you’re not willing to go all in on a feud between the two yet, why would you willingly break up a red hot act in September when WrestleMania is in late March over 7 months away? Why wouldn’t you keep the act together for a few more monts as we get closer to the Royal Rumble and then do the big break up angle? What did they gain doing the break up angle if they’re not actually going to go all in on this feud yet?

Fact 5. Bayley has nothing else to do on Smackdown

Due in part to the WWE constantly trying for the perfect time to run this feud (WrestleMania 36 this year, and then Summerslam this year), WWE would have Bayley go through the whole Smackdown women’s roster. She has faced Charlotte Flair 3 times, Lacey Evans 3 times, Nikki Cross 6 times, Alexa Bliss 3 times, Tamina 2 times, Naomi 2 times and heck even has had 3 matches with Raw women’s champion Asuka including at Summerslam and recently at Clash of Champions when Nikki Cross was unable to make the event due to covid concerns. Yes you read that right, at the PPV where “all titles must be defended” WWE would AGAIN go to Nikki Cross because there’s simply no one left, and when Cross couldn’t make the show, they again used Raw women’s champion Asuka, because yet again, there was nothing else left for Bayley. As a matter of fact, there’s nothing left for Bayley on Smackdown period besides the storyline with Banks.

Fact 6. There’s nothing on Raw for Banks to do

Over on Monday Night Raw, talented women like Shayna Baszler and Bianca Belair can’t even get into the title picture against Asuka. On the Raw side, they have a lack of heels that they’re using Zelina Vega to face Asuka twice despite never winning a match before facing off with her. Why on earth would you bring over someone you just turned face in Banks when you need heels to face off with Asuka over the Raw womens championship? Also, moving Banks to Raw, once again will take the spotlight away from Asuka despite her being the Raw women’s champion because Banks just has a presence about her. What would Banks even do on Raw even for a few months with no real heels on the actual Raw roster that she can have a filler storyline with until Rumble season? Wouldn’t it make more sense for Bayley the heel who has nothing left on Smackdown to be the one to move to Raw with Banks staying on Smackdown to freshen up both womens divisions?

Fact 7. Banks winning the Royal Rumble at this point is just an accolade for her, it should go to someone who needs it.

I will admit, I am a big fan of Banks and as a fan it would be cool to see her win the Womens Royal Rumble in January. The fact of the matter is tho, it would simply just be another accolade. She is far past that “moment” with the star she is. As a matter of fact her buzz right now is maybe the strongest its ever been with the storyline with Bayley. You can argue her momentum is hotter now than it will be at WrestleMania next year. Also, I have to admit someone like Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, IO Shirai, or Sonya Deville if she returns would get much more out of a Royal Rumble win than Banks would at this point in her career.

Fact 8. Banks can use the momentum right now and go mainstream.

I know what you’re thinking, how would she get acknowledged mainstream? Well let me tell you. You see she’s about to appear in the most watched stream TV show since it debuted; Star Wars The Mandalorian season 2 which is streamed on Disney plus which just happens to have some connection to Fox where Friday Night Smackdown also airs. Why on earth would you willingly take your biggest women’s star off the show that has more people viewing just to keep a storyline that you didn’t even need to start yet apart for many more months? It makes no sense!. Why wouldn’t you use the momentum she has right now to garner more mainstream attention for not only herself, but also for the company? Imagine if she does press (even virtual) and you can announce her as Smackdown womens’s champion Sasha Banks playing whatever character she will be playing. The buzz and the mainstream attention it could get could do great for her career. Why wouldn’t you capitalize on this momentum?

Yes I get it, as a wrestling fan WrestleMania is the “pinnacle” of a wrestling moment to wrestling fans. I get that you would want to have live fans if possible for such a big moment to take place. However, there are also a few more problems. 1. WrestleMania is a stacked show that is usually filled with many big matches, who is to say this will get a chance to stand out?. 2. Who is there to guarantee the world wont get worse and we still wont be allowed a packed stadium full of live fans? and most important 3. Will the momentum be hurt too much by then as outlined by all the facts above? Momentum is very easy to lose in wrestling and hard to gain back just look at all the people struggling to gain theirs back, sending Banks to Raw and prolonging this story is simply too much of a risk to take in this person’s opinion.

WWE is taking a risk waiting for Sasha Banks vs Bayley at Summerslam

First off, I will tell you I am a fan of long term storyline builds where you have to pay attention to detail. However, there comes a time when there’s too long of a build up that wrestling fans today will get tired of waiting seeing the same stuff over and over. Understandably the WWE wants a crowd for this match and so do the women. The Summerslam date is also the 5 year anniversary of NXT Takeover Brooklyn where they had the greatest womens match ever in North America. So while commendable, there are a few reasons why WWE is taking a risk waiting to do Sasha Banks vs Bayley at Summerslam.

Lets get the biggest one out of the way first, most wrestling fans know this is being done because Vince McMahon is hoping there’s a crowd to be allowed for Summerslam where it ultimately would be a much bigger impact and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. However, nothing about this world right now at the moment is perfect. What happens if things open back up and there’s a second wave of the virus? What happens if someone in WWE contacts the virus? What happens if either of the women were to end up exposed? The whole thing blows up. I will say definitely these two women 100% deserve a crowd but there is no guarantee no matter how long they wait this year they will have one.

The second issue is what happens if there is an injury or either one gets wary of performing with the virus? We all have heard the dirt sheets claim how Sasha Banks is injury prone; while thats always been extremely overblown the truth is she did get hurt in a hell in a cell match with Becky Lynch and then in a tag team match in January which already derailed plans for this once. Its wrestling, its not ballet, wrestlers get hurt/nicked up all the time. What happens if one of them decides the reward is not worth the risk like Roman Reigns did for WrestleMania 36?

The last issue is where can you take the storyline until then and how do you continue to stall?. I will say last week with the inclusion of Charlotte Flair the WWE took a step in the right direction, but you can’t use Charlotte every week and they shouldn’t want to, this is their story. However, you can’t keep booking Smackdown and pay per views every week where Bayley costs Sasha a big match while Sasha helps Bayley retain the title. That simply has already been played out. Another big issue is Bayley has already defeated everyone else on the Smackdown roster, multiple times so where does she go from here? Where does Sasha Banks go? You can’t just keep having her stand by Bayley, sooner or later you have to split them up, but then how do you pro long the match? Does Bayley make Sasha jump through hoops and beat everyone on Smackdown like she has? What happens after the feud then though if Sasha has already beaten everyone to get the title shot?

Perhaps the better way to do this story would be for them to have their first match at Extreme Rules and let it end in a no contest/DQ match (WWE’s specialty of the challenger never beating the champion on the first try). That way you can do the turn after the June pay per view Backlash, and you dont have nine more weeks of finding a way to stall. If you do the turn at Backlash or the Smackdown after, then you have 4 weeks to build up the match at Extreme Rules, and then another 4 weeks after that for Summerslam. You still need a reveal, a turn, and ideally Sasha would win some big matches before she ultimately clashes with Bayley.

While the idea of waiting for Sasha vs Bayley to take place at Summerslam is admirable and quite clearly the much preferred option, there are some hurdles to it.  With this pandemic holding everything up and nobody knowing what happens next there are no guarantees fans will even be allowed in wrestling arenas for shows by August. There is also the hurdle that the champion Bayley simply has no challengers left without just doing more rematches that frankly haven’t been great. In a perfect world Sasha vs Bayley would be able to happen at Summerslam wherever the WWE decides to hold it with hundreds if not thousands of fans in attendance. However, the world is not perfect and while it might not be ideal, the first Sasha Banks vs Bayley match might need to be moved up to the July pay per view Extreme Rules. If WWE ends up not having fans at Summerslam, then you stalled the whole Summer to do a match the same way in front of no fans in attendance.

Why Sasha Banks is the female Shawn Michaels

sasha-banks

The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels is known to wrestling fans throughout the world as one of if not the best pure talents its has ever had. With his brash and confident charisma and his in ring prowess and his ability to play either a beloved hero or a hated villain, he would go on to have a hall of fame career. In my opinion, Sasha Banks is the female Shawn Michaels and here are 7 reasons why.

Big Match Performers

First of all, they are both big match performers. You would usually hear it in Shawn’s matches, there isn’t a better big match performer in wrestling than Shawn Michaels. From his classics at WrestleMania with the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, and his final 2 matches with the Undertaker, to his classic feud with Triple H there wasn’t a big match that Shawn didn’t excel in. The same can be said about Sasha Banks who has had many classics of her own. Lets start in 2015 in NXT, She would go on to produce 5 straight 4 star matches (and in my opinion some are ranked low) in a row; a fatal 4 way where she won the NXT title against Charlotte, Bayley and Becky Lynch, her 2 NXT title defenses against Charlotte, her takeover unstoppable match with Becky, as well as her 2 matches with best friend Bayley at Takeover Brooklyn and Takeover Respect. She would also go on to have many top tier matches in all of 2016 with Charlotte on the WWE main roster in which PWI would vote it the feud of the year as well as voting Banks the top female of the year. Finally, in 2019 Banks would put on 3 more classics in big matches with Ronda Rousey at the Royal Rumble and Becky Lynch at both Clash of champions and Hell in a cell (IMO the womens match of the year).

Their Ability to make stars

One of the biggest needs to be able to consider yourself a star in the wrestling business in my opinion, is the ability to not only become a star yourself, but also make a star. While a lot of people would credit Shawn Michaels with helping many including Stone Cold Steve Austin become a major star in wrestling, the same can be said about Sasha Banks. In NXT in 2015, she had what I consider the best womens championship run ever in only 5.5 months. Her relationship with Becky Lynch (Team BAE) as well as her match with Becky at Takeover Unstoppable put Becky Lynch on the map. Her matches with Charlotte Flair (2014/2015) as well as their year long feud in 2016 on the main roster made both of them stars. Pro wrestling Illustrated actually voted Banks the #1 female in wrestling and her vs Charlotte the top feud of 2016.  Then there’s Bayley, who in 2015 NXT had THE greatest North America womens match (voted NXT match of the year men included) with Banks and would become the biggest star that NXT had at the time.  That historic match would also set the stage for women in wrestling to main event not only tv shows, but pay per views. They are now main eventing house shows which is something no one ever thought would happen.  Finally it led to 2 other historic things, Ronda Rousey joining the pro wrestling world and women main eventing WrestleMania.

Their ability to stay relevant despite questionable booking. 

There is one thing the WWF/WWE (especially WWE today) is known for and thats their odd booking of many top tier talents. While Shawn Michaels is known as Mr. WrestleMania how many realize he’s only won 6 of the 17 matches he’s had? How many big matches has he lost to Triple H, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Bret Hart, among others, it hasn’t hurt him. The same can be said about Sasha Banks who really only has a few signature wins to her resume, however much like Shawn, she has been able to overcome questionable booking and it hasn’t hurt her star power at all.. While many of her fan base (the krew) will disagree with that statement, lets just look at the facts. How many big time babyface stars lose a feud in the end to the heel and overcome it?.  How many big time babyfaces could go on TV basically denounce her character and 2 weeks later come out to one of the biggest pops the women have gotten that year? How many women could survive a 2018 booking where she would lose almost as much as she won and in matches that really served no purpose. Finally, how many women could be dragged through the mud after rumors swirled of a 2019 walk out and return to one of the biggest pops of the year as well as split a crowd with the top star at the time as a villian no less? Her merch sales, quarter hour ratings, and fan base continue to rise above any questionable booking the WWE throws at her.  Oh by the way, Banks also now has appeared in a Super Bowl commercial in 2020 (the only wrestling woman to do so) along side Roman Reigns and is also rumored to be playing a role in the upcoming Star Wars Mandalorian season 2; that my friends is what a star is.

Their ability to make anyone they are in the ring with look good. 

One of the most common things wrestling fans will tell you is that you need a dance partner, and while that is partly true, there are just some who stand out and are able to create a special dance with the lack of a great dance partner: Shawn Michaels was able to do it, and Sasha Banks is also able to do it. While both have had many big time classics that I have outlined already, I would like to point out just a few times that Sasha Banks was able to create magic without a real dance partner.  In 2017, with a green Nia Jax, Banks would go on to produce three solid matches including one in her hometown of Boston. She’s also credited by most wrestling fans with the accolade of getting the best match out of any woman she’s in the ring with, which is what Shawn Michaels was great at. In the art of wrestling, you have to also be able to make your opponent look good by selling moves , and both Michaels and Banks excel at selling the other’s moves whether they are playing a babyface or a heel.

Their ability to play a babyface or a heel

Speaking of, there are 3 characters that a pro wrestler can play in wrestling, a babyface, a heel, or a tweener (which is basically a babyface with some heel tendencies). In my and many others opinions, both Michaels and Banks excel at both. Lets start with Michaels, he orginally was part of a tag team known as the Rockers with tag team partner Marty Janetty as a beloved tag team. However, in 1992, on an episode of the barber shop, Michaels would end up throwing his then partner/friend through a barbershop window turning heel. His heel run would include a feud with Bret Hart in which he would make many disparaging remarks about Canada and end with putting over Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania 14 before he took a long hiatus returning to WWE again and starting a feud once again as a babyface with Triple H. In 2005, Michaels would turn on Hulk Hogan going into Summerslam playing a tweener role, he would still have his babyface persona but he would make fun of Bret Hart in Canada and run away from Hulk Hogan. In the same way Michaels could play all 3 roles well, so can Sasha Banks. In 2013 Banks would debut in NXT as a go happy girl just happy to be there. However one day that all changed and Banks decided she needed something different and turned heel, added some swag to her character, put on some shades and called herself the boss and became one of the best heels going. From 2016 to 2018 Banks would play the role of a babyface and was one of the most over talents on the roster In 2016; a roster that included John Cena who no one in wrestling is as big today. In January of 2019 while in a tag team with Bayley, Sasha would play the role of a tweener in a feud with then Raw womens champion Ronda Rousey where she would use both her boss persona from NXT in 2015 but also play the character she has been playing then at the time teaming with Bayley a beloved babyface.

The emotional and physical issues they dealt with thanks to pro wrestling and how it changed both

Lets start of by going back to Survivor Series in Montreal Canada in 2017 Shawn Michaels vs Bret Hart. What happened that night is something most people thought wouldn’t happen, a script was broken, Michaels put Bret Hart in the sharpshooter and owner Vince McMahon called for the bell without Bret tapping out. Thats right, Vince screwed Bret (or Bret screwed Bret). Over the years of wrestling, Michaels would deal with drugs and alcoholism before he found Christianity.  One thing both share in common is back injuries, back injuries is what made Shawn have to retire from wrestling for many years, and while they aren’t as bad as his, Banks herself has dealt with back injuries in the past (probably from carrying a division for years LOL). As with Shawn, Banks one day decided that her love for wrestling was gone and she needed to take a break in the summer of 2019 due to depression, burn out and other issues stemming from the accident with fellow wrestler Paige in 2017 that forced her to retirement. That incident led to many questioning just how good she is, including herself. You could tell she just wasn’t the same after that especially with all the criticism she would face from social media fans. She has since returned and has returned to being as great as she has always been, some would claim even better and she seems more happy than she’s been in a long time. Sometimes you just need time away from what is destroying you no matter how much you love it.

Their overall impact on the business

While many wrestlers from the past and even the present have said they became a pro wrestler due to Shawn Michaels, the same can be said for Banks. Lets go back to the Summer of 2019 when it was rumored that Banks was leaving WWE, you had women pro wrestlers from every promotion asking for a match with her. That is still happening today as even impact stars like Tessa Blanchard and Rosemary are wanting to have a match with Banks. While Michael’s was known to use his pull backstage (kliq, his feud with Bret Hart, etc), Banks is known for something else. With her match with Bayley at NXT Takeover Brooklyn, they not only changed the game for women in North America but they raised the bar. That match set the stage for the likes of Ronda Rousey one of the biggest women stars in the world to venture into pro wrestling after years of being a fan, as well as mentioned before setting the stage for the WrestleMania 35 main event. Without that match with Bayley at Takeover Brooklyn, there is no guarantee that the womens revolution comes as far as it has.

While some would consider Banks to be more like the likes of Eddie Guerrero which is who Banks credits to wanting to be a pro wrestler or Randy Savage as my friend believes (flamboyant, fans made her turn babyface, willing to ruffle feathers and stick up for herself among other things), I believe she’s more of a Shawn Michaels, she might not retire with the accolades of a Triple H (13 time WWE champion, RR winner, etc), she will however retire one day being known as a star creator and much like Michaels, one of if not the best pure in ring women talents ever.

Oskar Blues Death By King Cake Review

Oskar Blues King Cake

Oskar Blues Brewery out of Colorado has produced quite a few beers that are imaginative and outside the box. One of those is definitely Death By King Cake, an adventurous take on a white porter that is brewed with vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa nibs, orange peels, and pecans.

The beer pours a deep gold color, almost an orange-gold. There is a nice, foamy white head that stood around two fingers tall at its height, though it did start reducing fairly quickly. The aroma is one of vanilla, cocoa, and a touch of nutmeg. There are also notes of hops and malt on the nose. It looks and smells good.

The first sip was a little surprising. I expected sweetness overload and that was not the case. This had a malt forward taste complimented by touches of vanilla, nutmeg, and cocoa. I didn’t notice too much cinnamon flavor. There is just a touch of citrus from the hops and orange peel. If you have ever had a king cake, a Louisiana staple around Mardi Gras, you expect an overwhelming sweetness. This beer still manages to keep its identity as a beer while also offering a unique flavor.

The mouthfeel is lighter than you would expect from a porter. Then again, this is a white porter and prior to this brew I had never experienced a white porter. I would call this on the light side for mouthfeel certainly. Like a deadbeat father heading out for a pack of cigarettes the head didn’t stick around long and was gone almost completely after just a few sips. No big loss, however, as the flavor profile remained strong and consistent.

Overall, this was a fun take on a porter. I’m not entirely certain what a white porter is even to this point but it was a good, flavorful beer that didn’t overdo it on the sweetness. It is good enough to drink any time of the day, though at 6.5% ABV you might want to take it easy. This was a fun session that didn’t overwhelm and didn’t underwhelm either. I would certainly get this again if I saw it in the store. It might be fun to pair with an actual king cake.

Victory Brewing Cloud Walker Review

Victory Cloud Walker

Unfortunately, we are living in unprecedented times with about one billion people around the globe staying at home due to Covid-19. However, that doesn’t mean we are going to stop doing our reviews. We here at The Sporting Brews will try to keep delivering fun beer reviews and maybe some other content to help fill the void. With that said we hope this finds you well and hopefully life will return to normal sooner rather later.

Victory Brewing Company was founded in 1996 in Downingtown, Penn. by childhood friends Bill Covaleski and Ron Barchet. They opened a larger brewery in 2014 in Parkesburg, Penn. and now serve their craft beers in over 30 states across the Union. Up for review today is Cloud Walker, a hazy juicy IPA.

Cloud Walker pours a hazy, golden yellow with a white, foamy head that stood about one finger tall at its height. The aroma of citrusy hops fills the nostrils and tantalizes the taste buds for what is about to come. There is a nice even citrus smell that doesn’t overpower but is rather welcoming. It is sweet and teases the hops.

The first taste is sweet citrus hops followed by a touch of malt on the back. It feels very light in the mouth and finishes slightly on the dry side. It is actually a very pleasant first experience. There is isn’t too much carbonation but just enough to enhance the experience. It definitely leaves you desiring another sip.

Throughout the session Cloud Walker stayed consistent. A nice, refreshing citrus hit up front, followed by a mellower malt, then a dry, hoppy-citrus finish. The head didn’t stay very long and as the beer drank the color did change to a paler yellow which was odd but didn’t affect the overall experience. The taste was always there and always the same to the very end. The hops weren’t overwhelming so if you aren’t big on hops this might be a nice IPA for you to try.

Overall, this was a good beer. The flavor profile was consistent and inviting. This could be a great session beer but at 6.8% ABV it does pack a punch but it does not have an alcohol taste which is pleasant but can be dangerous. I would definitely buy this again, especially in the summer at a ballgame or BBQ. This is worth giving a try.