On July 13 2015, WWE would bring up Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair to join the “Divas Revolution” and still to this day it seems like no matter how big Banks may get or what attention she might get the company she just can never seem to get ahead of either Lynch or Flair. Over the last year, we thought that might finally happen but is WWE once again trying to extinguish Bank’s flame? Lets explore.
Let’s go back to that night years ago on July 13, 2015 when Banks, Flair and Lynch all debuted on the main roster on Monday Night Raw. It was pretty evident that Banks was the most popular one of the three at the time but Flair is who the company chose. As a matter of fact in Flair’s own book she wrote that she needed the title moreso than Banks because Banks was already a star and Flair needed to be elevated to her level. Here is a picture from Flair’s book.
The WWE knew Banks was the more over of the two but wanted Flair to be the one to dethrone then champion Nikki Bella for the Divas championship. There would be Monday Night Raws where the crowd would chant “we want Sasha” to remind the company of who we wanted at that time.
Hell, the crowds would chant we want Sasha in arena’s and matches she wasn’t even apart of!. Here’s a look below at the match that did not invole Banks at all yet you could hear the “we want Sasha” chants. The chants got so prevalent that the company would actually remove Banks from TV trying to cool her off because they were behind Flair.
Lets fast forward a bit to January 2016 at the Royal Rumble and the ovation that Sasha Banks would get from the crowd. It was once again fans telling WWE this is who we want. What more do we need to do? It was the fans telling the company no we did not forget about her even though you tried to make us.
It looked like Flair and Banks were on a collision course for WrestleMania 32 in Dallas Texas that year. However, WWE went and added Becky Lynch to the match someone Flair had beaten multiple times already. Why did they do this? They did it because they could “protect” Banks from taking the pin so that Charlotte could win the match even though almost everyone wanted Banks to win that night. Why would a company go as far as to protect someone from taking a pin? Isn’t that basically just admitting we know what we should do we’re just not going to do it? Banks would return in the Summer to yet another very loud ovation and finally start her 1 on 1 singles feud with Flair. Banks would win the title to a raucous ovation from the crowd for the very first time. Finally, the company listened to what we have been telling them for a full year!. However it did not last, Banks and Flair would exchange the title numerous times and Flair would ultimately win the feud. It was reported that “Banks style leaves her prone to injury” and that’s why the company went with Flair. Isn’t it odd that the one who is “injury prone” wrestled the most matches in 2015/2016? The truth is the company wanted Flair still at the time no matter what the fans wanted. This brings me to my next point, why did the company want Flair? They wanted Flair because the other horsewomen member Bayley was coming up from NXT and was touted to be the next “John Cena”. Needless to say that did not happen as Banks beat her at every level. Why would you take a risk on the next John Cena when you already had a super popular Sasha Banks right in front of you? Banks was so popular at this time that she was selling merchandise at a record level for a female performer. This at a time where the WWE had John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, and a debuting AJ Styles so the competition was fierce and Banks was more than holding her own. Why would you not just continue to go with her?
Let’s move on to 2018 when Banks and Bayley were looking like they were on a collision course for WrestleMania after Banks in a everyone for themselves Royal Rumble match eliminated Bayley. However, we did not get that singles match at WrestleMania despite the crowd being very into their feuds and clamoring for it. Why did we not get this feud at this time? Why were both relegated to the battle royal at WrestleMania? It is baffling!
The following year Banks and Bayley who spent the last year teaming up in tag matches that were going nowhere won the newly introduced WWE women’s tag team titles. They promised to defend them on every brand but never defended them once on a Smackdown or NXT and lost them at Wrestlemania, yet another loss for Banks. Now this time there was a reason at least. On an episode of Sasha Banks chronicle she admitted that she was burnt out, frustrated with her direction and just no longer had the passion for wrestling so she had to step away and take a mental health break. The WWE accounts were flooded with “where is Sasha Banks” tweets because the women’s division was absolutely floundering even with Becky Lynch at the helm off a victory over Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania that same year. Sasha would return about four months later attacking Natalya in her home county of Canada turning heel for the very first time in almost 4 years. She would get “thank you Sasha” chants for turning heel and beating up Natalya and then Becky Lynch when she came out for the save. It was then that Banks would move into a feud red hot off a heel turn against Lynch for the Raw women’s title. Did they ride that momentum? They didn’t, they once again had Banks put over Lynch and moved her to the Smackdown brand killing her momentum as a heel in the process.
Since moving to Smackdown, Banks has definitely been treated a lot better than she was ever treated before. Her and Bayley then known as the Golden Role Models would run Smackdown in the absence of Roman Reigns, Becky Lynch who was pregnant and Charlotte Flair who was at the time the NXT women’s champion. Banks and Bayley would be at the forefront of the women finally but there was one problem, everyone they had relied on up to that point was not around so they had no one else to turn to. The golden Role Models in both their tag team and their subsequent feud had the best ratings of anyone in wrestling (even with Roman Reigns back). The biggest win of Banks career came against Bayley at Hell in a Cell in 20220 in a virtual ThunderDome. The rematch between Banks and Bayley two weeks later was the highest rating throughout the entire Pandemic (and still is to this day other than a fluke NFL led Christmas show). Thats right, the WWE has brought back Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, Ronda Rousey and even John Cena and none of them have been able to topple that number.
Banks would go on to have about a 6 month run as Smackdown womens champion culminating with a main event match at Wrestlemania with Royal Rumble winner Bianca Belair. She had finally achieved her dream. It didn’t even matter that she lost because it was the main event and also people were saying she will get rewarded for it next year.
Here we are in 2022 and Banks at the moment has checked every box imaginable that the company looks for and we are once again asking this question? It’s got to be insanity at this point! Lets look at the boxes Banks checks off right now.
- Main Stream attention – Going back to WrestleMania 37 and her main event with Belair and even before that, Banks has been doing nothing but giving the company main stream attention. In Feb of 2020 Banks and Roman Reigns would appear on a Super Bowl Pizza Hut commercial. About 8 months later Banks would appear on Star Wars season 2 of the Mandalorian as Koska Reeves one of the most streamed shows on the planet. It just kept coming for Banks over the year; from opening the Daytona 500 race, to appearing on the red carpet for the Spider Man No Way Home premiere, appearing on the Espys with Bianca Belair for their historic Wrestlemania main event, and this year opening the national title game between Alabama and Georgia. She has been a whirlwind of media publicity for a company that right now is severely lacking in talents that can give them that. Speaking of the Mandalorian, it took a full year for the WWE to even acknowledge it on their television show Smackdown. Why is this? When Becky Lynch appeared on Billions, the company promoted it before it even aired. When Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss made a cameo in the new Punk Brewster remake they told you about it on Monday Night Raw that week. So what took so long with Banks and something even bigger with Star Wars? Was it because she used her real name Mercedes Varnado and not Sasha Banks? Was the company slighted because of that? If so that is extremely childish because Banks is still a wrestling talent signed to WWE and the more exposure the better.
- Merchandise – Going back to 2016, Banks has always done very well among talent in moving merchandise. If you go to arenas and live events, you see plenty of Sasha Banks t shirts, glasses, blue and purple wigs, boss chains and whatever else. Her meet and greets sell out so quick that most don’t even have a chance to get one. Her cameos when they were allowed were going for $475 and fans had no issues paying the price just to chat with her. As mentioned above she is also Koska Reeves in Mandalorian. She had an autograph signing with Star Wars Autographs Universe and sold out as Mercedes Varnado the very first time she ever signed as herself. She sold out Koska Reeves action figures. She has people paying $270 for a Koska Reeves sixth slide scale collectible through hot toys. It’s even to the point that her fans complain about WWE shop being lazy with designs yet they still are flocking to buy merchandise to support her. This does not happen for Charlotte Flair but we wont get into that.
- Social Media Engagement – Banks in 2021 was the third most tweeted about women in the world even surpassing Serena Williams. She was the most searched woman in the company throughout the year 2021 in both the United States and Worldwide. She gave them MASSIVE mainstream attention from that WrestleMania main event from the likes of people, Espn, CNN and countless others. She is constantly trending every day for no particular reason even on her days off. When Banks only lasted 8 minutes in the Royal Rumble this January, she still garnered more attention from her Sailor Moon gear and a split that she did to mock WWE legend Melina. A random twitter account now no longer available had almost 700K views from posting a 5 second video of Banks doing the split. A picture that Banks posted from her own 2.3M followers has more likes than anything from the WWE Royal Rumble and the WWE account that has 11.8M followers.
- TV viewership – In a time where wrestling as a whole is fading with television viewers both WWE and AEW there has been one full time talent that has constantly stood out at more than holding her own; that is Banks. We have mentioned already that she has the highest watched 30 minutes of the last year, but that’s not even close to it. She appeared on NXT twice in 2020 and both times easily beat the AEW main event one with Chris Jericho in it and the other with Cody Rhodes. Banks and Bayley throughout their team and feud would weekly outdraw Roman Reigns on Friday Night Smackdown. After their feud Banks would still more than hold her own with Carmella and then Bianca Belair. When Banks is on TV simply put people watch her. I have actually already wrote an entire article about this that you can refer to. https://thesportingbrews.com/2021/12/05/sasha-banks-drawing-the-best-numbers-in-wrestling-since-return/. When Banks is having better TV numbers than the likes of Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar and even John Cena, that is truly something special.
- In Ring work – This is where Banks shines. Even the biggest hater can usually admit that when Banks is in the ring in a big match you know a great match is coming. The company itself has given Banks the match of the year runner up on four different occasions (2015, 2019, 2020, 2021). When Banks is in a big match, she simply does not miss.
- A connection to the audience – We have already talked about her social media engagements, her follower count, her reactions she was getting in 2016 and 2018, but what about now. After all we are in 2022 what if something changed? Well lets look at when Banks returned to Smackdown in July of 2021 , and confronted Charlotte Flair before the Royal Rumble in 2022. Does it sound like anything has changed to you? In fact, banks might be even more over than she has ever been. So why did she last only 8 minutes in a Royal Rumble match that many fans at one point considered her a big favorite?. Why was she kept off TV the very next Smackdown despite being in the arena? Is it again WWE attempting to cool down Banks because now they want to go with Ronda Rousey who by her own admission has a hard time with fans booing her? Why would you try to coach up Ronda Rousey to be a babyface the fans can get behind when you have Banks right there?
There are many Sasha Banks fans who continue to show anger and hatred for the company. Is their anger justified? Why Does it seem like no matter what she does Banks just can’t seem to pass the likes of Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair despite being a bigger star than them? Is the WWE really afraid that Banks is going to leave them like Rock did for Hollywood full time? What other reason can there be? As you can see, Banks checks every box the WWE wants and here we are once again six years later near WrestleMania and the WWE once again appears to favor the less popular, less followed, less interaction star in Charlotte Flair. Some will argue its racism and maybe it is, but there is something up. Almost any other company who had a goldmine like this would have gone all the way in not only 2016 but also now. There is not a more strike while the iron is hot woman in wrestling right now than Banks so at the moment once again on the outside looking in is criminal. The truth is her flame is only going to grow with or without WWE backing but its just stupid business.