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.

Is Aaron Judge The Next Captain Of The New York Yankees?

The year is 2013, the New York Yankees are on the clock in the first round of the 2013 MLB draft with the 32nd overall pick. The commissioner Bud Selig announces the next Yankees draft pick. They have chosen a 6 foot 7 inch 3 sports star from Fresno State University, center fielder Aaron Judge. Who would have thought that one day he would be the leading candidate to perhaps one day follow in the footsteps of Don Mattingly and future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter as captain of the most historic franchise in sports history the New York Yankees.

Three years later, on August 13, 2016, Aaron Judge made his Major League Debut and in his 1st at bat hit a gigantic homerun into monument park where ironically one day he might have a plaque himself there. The hype was real, the buzz was real, New York was envisioning the next great Yankee. What happened next tho?  The season did not go well for Judge, not only did he get hurt early into his career and missed the rest of the regular season after his call up, but, he also struggled mightily striking out 50% of the time which resulted in fans saying he was a bust and the hype was unwarranted and shattered with boos from Yankee Stadium crowds. What happened next? The arrival of Aaron Judge to the New York Yankees, their fans, and the city.

The very next season Judge won the starting RF spot over Aaron Hicks in Spring Training. What Judge would do in this season was a remarkable feat. He carried a rebuilding New York Yankees team in the 1st half of the season to a record that no one saw coming quite yet. He won the HR derby in a landslide, hitting majestic shot after shot in Miami.  He was awarded Rookie of the Year unanimously with hitting the most homeruns in MLB history by a rookie with 52, and oh yeah, he was also the runner up as the American League Most Valuable Player all in his rookie season.

Over their iconic history, The Yankees have had some amazing ballplayers from Babe Ruth, to Mickey Mantle, to Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, but what makes Aaron Judge special isnt just his immense talent with superhuman power or the ability to hit majestic home runs, steal bases, play gold glove defense or any of those things, it’s how he represents himself and the team, much like Derek Jeter did when he was named the captain of the New York Yankees in 2003. He would go on to be the longest captain in Yankees history until he retired after the 2014 season. In my opinion, much like Derek Jeter, there’s a certain feel to Aaron Judge that you just embrace as a teammate.

You see, this is New York where fans have a love/love and hate/hate relationship. They love you when you’re performing and hate you when you’re not. That however was different for guys like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. They both got shattered with boos at times, but there was no hate at all for them among fans. They were Yankees at heart and New Yorkers through and through. They knew how to represent the Yankees and with honor, prestige and class. Aaron Judge not only hits majestic homeruns, provides gold glove defense in RF, steals bases, helps the Yankees win ball games, but he does it much like Derek Jeter did, with pure class and always with a smile on his face and no matter what he always gave 100% whether it was a routine ground ball to 2nd base, or a homerun that travels 495 feet when he put his head down and just simply ran around the bases refusing to show up the pitcher.

Sure, this might seem like I’m putting the horse before the wagon, because Aaron Judge is only 2 seasons into his Yankee career. There’s also the belief of General Manager Brian Cashman who said that Derek Jeter should be the last ever Yankees captain.  The thing is tho, when Brian Cashman said that, did he know what he had in Aaron Judge? Did he know he had the next not only great Yankee, but most beloved one since Derek Jeter? At the ripe age of 25, Aaron Judge  has the ability to even get better as he’s still 4 years away from his prime baseball years. New York is clearly behind the gentle giant, there is a Judge’s chamber in Right Field at Yankee Stadium because he is so adored by fans and the Yankees, and if he continues to improve even more then one day, like Don Mattingly and future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter, New York wont just be saying “all rise the Judge is in session, no, they’ll simply be calling him Aaron Judge, captain of the New York Yankees.

Top 10 NFL Mock Draft.

  1. Cleveland Browns –  QB Sam Darnold. Yes its true that GM John Dorsey loves his big arm QBs, he traded up last year and took QB Patrick Mahomes because of his big arm. I think in the end tho, Dorsey goes with who most believe will be the best QB in this class even if maybe Josh Allen has the highest ceiling.

2. New York Giants – RB Saquon Barkley. The New York Giants are the Wild card here and could change the direction of the 1st round if they go QB here. They could also go Bradley Chubb the DE from NC State. In the end tho, the Giants pass on the QBs and Chubb and go for the highest player on their board and best talent in the entire draft in Barkley and gives Eli Manning that dynamic RB he has never had before along with Odell Beckham JR.

3. New York Jets – QB Josh Allen. I’ve heard the rumors here time and time again about how much the Jets love Baker Mayfield, but I think that has to do with the belief that the Browns are taking Josh Allen at #1. Josh Allen is a guy with a big arm who has played in cold temperatures before, and while his accuracy has been an issue he perhaps has the highest upside in the draft because of his physical tools.

4. Cleveland Browns – DE Bradley Chubb.. With the Giants taking Barkley at 2, the Browns go for Chubb and put him on the opposite end of Myles Garrett in hopes that they can develop a pass rush that will making opposing QBs fear playing the Browns.

5. Denver Broncos –  G Quenton Nelson.  While the Broncos will be tempted here to take perhaps their future QB in either Baker Mayfield or Josh Rosen, the Broncos ultimately stick to their plan to try to win now and go with Case Keenum who played pretty well for the Vikings and add a potential hall of fame lineman in Nelson.

6. Buffalo Bills via Indianapolis Colts – QB Baker Mayfield. The Colts are unable to get 2 of their top targets in Bradley Chubb or Quenton Nelson after trading the #3 pick to the NY Jets so they opt to trade down again and Buffalo takes what they hope is their next franchise QB while the Colts collect the Bills 2 first round picks.

7.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers – CB Minkah Fitzpatrick.. With Barkley going to the Giants at 2, the Bucs opt for what some consider the best overall defensive player in the draft and for sure the best CB in the draft.

8. Miami Dolphins via the Chicago Bears  QB Josh Rosen- With Quenton Nelson already gone there goes the Bears chance to replace Sitton at their hole at guard. If Nelson were to be there, the Bears would absolutely take him to help protect QB Mitch Trubisky.. In this mock, he is not there so the Bears opt to trade down 3 spots with Miami.  Dolphins take what they hope is their next franchise QB in Josh Rosen who should have no problem going from California to florida weather and producing.

9. San Francisco 49ers – LB Roquan Smith.  The 49ers might be losing last years late 1st round pick Rueben foster due to problems with the law, and even if they don’t, can they really trust that guy to stay healthy?.. The pick here for the 49ers is Smith.

10. Oakland Raiders – LB Trumane Edmunds.  Roquan Smith has been mocked to the Raiders almost in every draft I’ve seen, the Raiders badly need help on the defensive side of the ball, with Smith going to the 49ers, the Raiders take the next and perhaps best LB in the hole draft in Edmunds.