Mercedes is still Monè

Mercedes Monè FKA Sasha Banks in WWE was always a needle mover in the company. She would routinely have the highest rated TV segments, sell merchandise, create traffic on social media and anything else you can think of. The question then was it the WWE machine and not Sasha Banks? Well Sasha Banks is gone and Mercedes Moné is here in New Japan and nothing has changed. The evidence continues to mount up that she continues to be a needle mover.

In Nov of 2022, Mercedes would create hype on her IG saying “something so fucking crazy is coming”. We would soon find out what that was as Mike Johnson of PWI Insider would break the news that New Japan Wrestling would be bringing her in for their biggest event known as WrestleKingdom. The rumors would persist until they became a reality when Mercedes Monè appeared at WrestleKingdom. That event with rumors of Mercedes appearing would generate 92K unique viewers which was a record number as well as 40K+ new subscriptions to NJPW World streaming service to watch the event. NJPW would immediately say that Monè was a huge part of the subscriptions and viewers. Mercedes was also the main thing trending under WrestleKingdom all hours of the night.

On Feb 18th at Battle in the Valley in San Jose CA, Monè would challenge Kairi for the IWGP title in a match announced at WrestleKingdom. In just 4 days, the event would sell out with tickets going for as high as $500 due to the Ticketmaster price surging for hot events. New Japan Wrestling would again credit that Monè was responsible for selling out the arena. The same show in the same arena 2 years prior to this event would only sell 65% of the seats. The event with Monè vs Kairi as the only match announced was a 💯 sell out. The CEO of NJPW Takami Ohbari would bring attention to it as well by tweeting the seat map with every seat sold.

Following Mercedes winning the title at Battle in the Valley she would defend the title on April 8 at Sakura Genesis. The event would start around 3AM ET and all other hours all over the world. Yet again, people would subscribe to NJPW world to watch Moné defend her championship against Azumi and Hazuki. The event would trend all hours of the early morning with NJPW trending top 5 in the United States with Monè once again being the key factor.

Two weeks later, the partner company Stardom Wrestling would hold their biggest all women’s pay per view that had a dream match of Monè vs Mayu Iwatani . Hours before the event, social media was again buzzing with excitement. During the event, commentary would acknowledge that it was Stardom’s biggest gate for wrestling ever and that Monè was the biggest factor as the biggest star on the show. After the event, Stardom would tweet out that the event had 5X more buys than any of their other events in history.

Since leaving the WWE, Mercedes Monè has continued to become one of the most successful and popular female wrestlers in the world.

Mercedes Monè is also a fan favorite. She has a huge following of fans who tune in every week to watch her matches and cheer her on. She is an inspiration to many young wrestlers and an example of what hard work and dedication can accomplish.

Mercedes Monè is a true superstar of the wrestling world and is sure to continue to make waves in the industry for years to come.

Sasha Banks was always a needle mover in WWE and outside of WWE now known as Mercedes Monè it continues. The media is even finally starting to acknowledge it the way they never did with WWE in the past to fit their own agendas. However, there’s only so much facts you can ignore. Mercedes is still indeed money.

Sasha Banks Naomi and The Systemic Problem Facing WWE

The WWE has been around for many years. It has developed into a global empire with record breaking profits. However, over those years, there have been walk outs, many talents requesting releases, releases during a pandemic despite the same record profits, WWE talents sitting backstage doing nothing after being called up from developmental NXT and accusations stemming from domestic abuse and unprofessional behavior, a business deal with Saudi Arabia, the company ignoring what fans want, and most importantly the talents being independent contractors. The recent situation with talents Sasha Banks and Naomi is just yet one more example of how the company needs to address the systemic problem they have.

Two of the most known walk outs of all time in the company are Stone Cold Steve Austin and now AEW wrestler CM Punk both citing creative differences. In the year 2002, Stone Cold Steve Austin would no show a Monday Night Raw when asked to do the job to Brock Lesnar in an unadvertised match on Monday Night Raw. The following Raw, the WWE would advertise that “He” would be on Raw leading fans to believe that Austin would be on to tell his side of the story. Instead, The Rock showed up trying to humiliate Austin by telling him if you don’t like being here “get the F out”. On January 27, 2014, CM Punk would no show Monday Night Raw and according to Punk told Vince McMahon and Triple H that they have “stifled him and created a very toxic environment and he no longer wanted to be there” During the Summer of Punk in 2012, he was given a 434 day title reign working through many injuries but still WWE never really let Punk get to the absolute top with the likes of John Cena and others despite selling merchandise like them and audiences globally reacting as such as well. The following year despite Punk carrying the WWE on his shoulders he would be pushed aside for a John Cena vs The Rock WrestleMania 28 Main Event. After Punk walked out on WWE there was a Raw in Chicago Illinois his hometown. The company would blare his music over the speakers but out would walk Paul Heyman which was an attempt to humiliate Punk much like WWE tried to do with Stone Cold in 2002.

Here we are in 2022, in yet another situation with a walk out however with social media much more prevalent than during Austin and Punk this has actually received National news attention. In May of 2022, two African American women talents walked out before Monday Night Raw (though WWE is claiming they walked out during the show). However, unlike previous times, the WWE has purposely turned this into a public mess. They released a statement citing not only the walk out but that Sasha Banks and Naomi refused to work with two talents in a 6 woman match because they were “unsafe” despite facing those same talents many times before. In typical WWE fashion they went above and beyond to try to humiliate two women who have both taken time off to focus on mental health issues in their career. On live TV, the WWE would announce they are indefinitely suspended and they “let millions of people down”. The truth is this match was not even advertised so WWE didn’t even have to announce the match knowing both talents were leaving the building. These same talents were promised major matches at WrestleMania 38 which means a bigger payday and both matches were taken away from them when Ronda Rousey returned. Despite that fact, these two women came up with the idea to team up and got very over as a team and became merch pushers and in turn WWE treated them as second rate. The lack of disrespect was apparent with them getting 3-5 minutes of TV time most weeks, no stories and not letting them appear on Pay Per Views even being champions.

While actions have consequences please find me another sports or business that tries to publicly smear two talents over a labor dispute. The NFL just this year has faced many trade requests or release requests and did they handle it with a public smear campaign? No they did not. They handed it in a professional way. WWE wants to tout “unprofessional “ behavior but then want to publicly try to tear down and smear reputations of two women that in the last few years have dealt with mental health issues

The WWE in the last 5-10 years have tried to sign every free agent that became available from the Indies, Japan, and other wrestling companies in an effort to hoard talent and keep them away from the upcoming AEW that was coming in 2019. One of the same women who recently walked out Sasha Banks in 2019 actually requested her release from the company citing “burn out” and “this place has just become too big it’s swallowing me”. The company would decline the request and tell her to take 30 days to re evaluate. There have been numerous other talents to have request their release from the company only to be denied yet again. The most recent one was Mustafa Ali who publicly on Twitter announced that he had requested his release. Despite the WWE not even really using him at all they denied the request. They left him off TV for about 6 months before they brought him back due to the public support he had to get released with a #freeAli movement and still have really done nothing substantial with him.

During the global pandemic over the last few years, the company would release over 200 personnel from talents to producers. Why would they do this during a pandemic when they would always refuse to let them out of contracts beforehand? You choose the worst economic time in many years to grant those wrestlers who asked (and others) their release? Many of them luckily were able to catch on in AEW, Impact and other places however there are still quite a few that are not employed. Don’t get me wrong, a business has to be able to survive themselves but this was a business that despite the hundreds of releases would tout record breaking profits. How many NFL, MLB, NHL and other athletes were fired during the pandemic? What a terrible look.

Another major problem with the WWE system is they have no plans in place whatsoever. They can’t even give their main talents ample notice for what they will be doing on TV that week. This is even worse for talents who were thriving in NXT only to be called up to Raw or Smackdown with no plans in place for a lot of them. There were actually some called up during the global pandemic with no creative plans in place who ended up released in the many mass releases the company had. For those who weren’t released what are they doing? Let’s take women like Shotzi Blackheart and Xia Li two prominent talents in NXT; Shotzi barely gets on television and when is the last time Xia Li made an appearance? Is it possible they are going to be released in the near future despite getting no real chance to prove themselves?

There have been numerous accusations against WWE men stars such as Matt Riddle who is currently in one of the top main event programs with Randy Orton and the Bloodline. They have been tag champions and featured prominently on TV despite the allegations. There has been pictures providing physical proof. The company did nothing but reward the talent. One other talent being prominently featured is Jimmy Uso (husband of Naomi) who has had many DUI arrests and even got into altercations with police from them. He received no punishment and him and his brother Jey are part of the biggest story in the company and now are undisputed tag team champions. For a company that touted “unprofessional” recently to two black women walking out before a show, it sure seems like they have turned a blind eye to other unprofessional behavior from the men recently.

Then of course there is the billions of dollar deal with Saudi Arabia that actually started the year a United States reporter was murdered in Saudi Arabia. For years a company that preaches “equality” and a “womens revolution” could not even have women perform on those shows due to situations in Saudi Arabia. The men therefore were the only ones getting premiere paydays. Thankfully that has changed and women are now allowed to perform there tho they have to cover up every part of their body to do so. This business deal doesn’t look to professional for “equal opportunity” does it?

Another issue facing the WWE is booking of talents and ignoring what fans want in order for the WWE to push their own agenda. The company has seemed to forget just why they became a global empire in the first place and it’s because the fans have stuck with them. However, today the ratings are record low, tv events attendance is the lowest it’s ever been as are live events this despite the WWE still making record profits. The WWE recently is going as far as to piping in crowd noises to trick fans into thinking the ones they want are “over” (popular) and that it’s because of them that WWE is the juggernaut it is. However, there is data out there that proves this to be a fallacy. In fact, one of the women Sasha Banks who recently walked out, has been proven to do more for the company than others who have been pushed over her. In 2020, she would actually appear in season 2 of the Mandalorian and WWE not once would mention it on Raw or Smackdown despite being the Smackdown Women’s champion no less. However for talents like Roman Reigns (Hobbs and Shaw), Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss (punky Brewster reboot appearance) they went out of their way to mention it on TV.. As the Wrestletalk podcast stated about Sasha Banks “they want you to be a crossover star as long as it’s not Sasha Banks”. They also said “they want you to be a crossover star as long as they want you to be one”. Funny enough, the WWE also never really promoted Dave Bautista years ago when he first appeared as Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy. Furthermore, unless you are a champion in WWE women have very little chance of getting on a Pay Per View unlike the men who have multiple non title matches despite clearly doing less business for the company which further denies women a payday.

Finally, we come to “independent contractors”. The talents are responsible for everything. They are responsible for their own insurance, lodging, travel cars, scripted to say what they can and can not say, what to wear. The company treats them as if they are an employee but with no perks or responsibility to the talents to go with it. The WWE can release a talent and break the contract but a disgruntled talent isn’t allowed to do so themselves. How can a company who is making billions tout unprofessional behavior then turn around and pretty much ignore talent’s concerns over their careers that it gets to the point they want to be released or just walk out?

Sasha Banks and Naomi walking out recently of Monday Night Raw is just yet another example of the systemic problem in WWE. They are making record breaking profits and because of it think there’s nothing wrong going on in the company. If that were true, why are many talents asking for a release, why are talents still walking out, and why are tv viewership numbers record lows? It seems that with WWE becoming a global empire they have forgotten what made that possible. The talents that give their all for them and the fans that gave them their hard earned money. For a company that wants to tout some talents are unprofessional due to creative differences they might want to look in a mirror.

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. 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.

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.

Cape May Brewing Devil’s Reach Review


Cape May Brewing Company is a relatively new face in the brewing industry. They were founded in 2011 in Cape May, New Jersey and are still a very local beer, only being found in the New Jersey and Philadelphia area. They currently offer over 10 beers and seem to be branching out and growing every year. Up for review today is Devil’s Reach, a Belgian-Style Ale.

The can informs the drinker that this is “easy drinking with fruity esters.” The beer pours a cloudy, hazy pale gold with a thin but creamy white head. The fruity esters definitely can be found on the nose but the aroma of wheat, bread, malt, and cracker also come through. The nose is definitely what you would expect out of a Belgian-style ale with notes of fruit. There also isn’t much carbonation seen but if you get closer you can see the tiny bubbles racing to the top.

The first sip is very good. There are notes of apple, pear, and orange but none dominates. The slightly spicy or peppery note of the phenols compliments very well. There are pleasant notes of malt and bread, as you would expect with a Belgian-style ale. It is medium-bodied and finishes dry but is very smooth with just the right amount of carbonation.

Overall, this beer is exactly as advertised on the can. It definitely is a Belgian-style ale. There are definitely fruity esters noted. It is also easy drinking. However, the name, Devil’s Reach, is also appropriate. It clocks in at a healthy 8.6% ABV and packs a significant punch. It is also really easy to drink, especially if you are a fan of Belgian-style ales. This could sneak up on you when you least expect it so caution is needed. This is a very good beer and worth giving a try, especially if you enjoy Belgian-style ale.

Lagunitas Super Cluster Review

Lagunitas Super Cluster
The Sporting Brews

Lagunitas Brewing Company has been churning out craft brews since 1993. It is located in Lagunitas, Calif. but is now owned by Heineken International. Despite that they have stayed true to their craft roots and in 2017 became the third-best-selling craft beer in the United States. They were on the ground floor for the craft beer craze and have helped foster America’s renewed interest in beer. They produce a wide variety of beers but up for review today is their Super Cluster, an homage to the Citra hop.

Super Cluster pours an orange-tinted copper color. There was some sediment in the beer but not enough to kill it. The head was not huge, standing only at about one finger tall but it was nice and foamy. The aroma was one of hops and citrus, as one would expect with the Citra hops. There were some notes of biscuit as well.

The taste follows the nose for the most part. Up front there is a mellow sweetness, like a caramel with notes of biscuit. Then there are citrus notes of orange and grapefruit on the back end. It is a pretty interesting flavor profile that goes from mellow sweet to citrus sweet as the brew rolls over your tongue. It is kind of fun. The beer feels on the lighter side of true medium with a fair amount of carbonation. It finishes a little dry and a little refreshing, a result of the Citra hops.

This could have easily been heavy on the hops and been well into the IPA range. However, the up front notes and then the dominant citrus make this a really enjoyable brew that doesn’t sway too far into the IPA range. The hops still play a predominant role but they don’t kill the experience as some hops do to IPAs and the like. Also, for a beer that clocks in at 8% ABV there is very little alcohol taste to this beer. Super Cluster does a great job of showcasing the hops without killing the trip. This was a fun brew to drink.

The Truth Of Why Sonny Gray Isn’t Made For New York.

Many New Yorkers and beat writers alike will tell you that Sonny Gray needs to pitch to back up catcher Austin Romine. They go so far as to say not only does he need to be behind the plate for Gray, but he needs to be his personal catcher every start he makes. This is completely bogus and an excuse for those looking to explain Gray’s struggles as a Yankee so far. The truth is like many others that have come before him, he has the stuff but he’s unable to handle New York’s bright lights.

Sonny Gray was one of the better pitchers in the AL in 2014 and 2015 before suffering some injuries in 2016 that pretty much gave him an up and down season. During those years, Sonny Gray did not have a personal catcher while he was one of the better pitchers in baseball during that time. At that time, Sonny Gray wasn’t a member of the New York Yankees, so why all of a sudden does he need Austin Romine behind the plate? I’ll tell you why, because he’s a mental case, he like many others that have come before him can not pitch in the bright lights of New York. Why is it that Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka have no problem pitching to Gary Sanchez? Why is it that last year the Yankees rotation had a better ERA with Sanchez behind the plate than with Romine? Why is that none of them have asked for a personal catcher? Why is it that his homeruns and his walks have skyrocketed while being a Yankee? Why does Sonny Gray have an ERA approaching 5 with the Yankees when he was one of the better pitchers for 2 straight years before coming here?

Many fans and media will tell you that Gray needs to stay down in the zone to be effective and thats why he needs Romine behind the plate. However with a 95 mph fastball and a wicked slider to go along with a curve ball why does Gray struggle so much no matter who is catching him in New York?  Why are the homeruns and walks way up in New York opposed to when he pitched in Oakland? Why are the ground balls not coming? I’ll tell you why its because Sonny Gray doesn’t trust his stuff. He is constantly nibbling and getting in hitters counts where he has to come over the plate and results usually aren’t good. If this sounds familiar to you its the same exact issues that plagued Phil Hughes In New York.  The issue with Sonny Gray is not Gary Sanchez or a personal catcher. The issue with Sonny Gray in New York is he’s become afraid to trust his stuff and when things go wrong he just gets down on himself and it further snowballs; again much like many others that have come here before him that have been unable to sustain success.