Superstar Breakdown: Sasha Banks
Sasha Banks plays a critical role in WWE television as one of its biggest women's wrestlers.
In today’s edition of Superstar Breakdown, we look at one of WWE’s biggest female performers, Sasha Banks. She was instrumental in WWE’s transition from the ‘Diva-centric’ approach to women’s wrestling in WWE by performing at a level that hadn’t been seen before in a WWE ring.
Even though Sasha hasn’t put on as good a match on the main roster as those she had in NXT, one cannot deny that Banks is one of the most important women in WWE today.
Sasha Banks’ look just screams ‘Superstar’. Not only does she dress like an actual wrestler (and not like a model without any wrestling experience of any kind, like some of her predecessors), but she also enters an arena decked out in bling and looking like a million dollars. She clearly has ‘Superstar’ written all over her.
Because of this, WWE clearly sees dollar signs in her and thus push her as a regular performer on RAW. Banks’ overall presentation as a performer doesn’t have any flaws in it, making her an excellent addition to the RAW roster, especially as the company seeks out new female role models for their growing female demographic.
Sasha Banks is a women’s wrestler, first and foremost. This comes off in her in-ring style, which is far more influenced by traditional wrestlers than any sort of ‘Divas’ that may have come before her. Banks has cited Eddie Guerrero as her favourite wrestler, and she has paid tribute to him many times during her career.
She also mentioned that she grew up watching All Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling (AJW), which was once home to the best women’s wrestlers on the planet. It seems that had a major influence on her, as Banks’ grappling ability is top-notch.
One needs to only look at Banks’ best matches over the past few years: her matches with Bayley, Charlotte, Becky Lynch, just to name a few. These have been among the best matches in WWE’s women’s division in a very long time, making Banks one of the most reliable workers in WWE right now.
Banks has the potential to become the ace of the women’s division, provided that she doesn’t get injured. WWE have already alluded to the possibility of Banks having back problems, and she must also be putting her knees in tremendous danger by constantly doing that diving double knee attack from elevated positions.
While that move does get a solid reaction from the crowd, it shouldn’t be something Banks does regularly, lest she end up with needing major knee surgery by the time she’s thirty years old.
Promo skills & charisma
Banks exudes both charisma and confidence. This is seen in everything from her promo work to her facial expressions as well as her ability to control a crowd. She has a fantastic ability to keep the audience glued to her every movement, making her both entertaining and mesmerizing.
However, like most WWE performers, even Banks is vulnerable to forgetting lines, especially when they’re over-scripted and void of any of her own creative input. In one promo during her feud with Charlotte last year, Banks forgot her lines and tried to force herself to cry to make up for it. This plan failed, and Banks looked obviously flustered in trying to recall what she had to say.
This isn’t entirely her fault, as the RAW roster, in particular, is notorious for having a controlling environment in which the wrestlers have a little creative freedom, if any. Banks, quiet like everyone else, has to tow the company line and regurgitate generic promos with her own slight twist on them to give herself a tiny sliver of uniqueness in her promos.
Because of this, Banks’ promos remain a far cry from what she used to say while in NXT.
Sasha has been a fixture of the Women’s division for the better part of two years, having wrestled in several high-profile matches since arriving on the main roster. Her match series opposite Charlotte Flair have been especially praiseworthy, with the two women working incredibly hard to bring the women’s division to new heights and to instil a new level of respect among female athletes.
While Banks hasn’t had any glaring problems in terms of her booking on the main roster (especially when compared to other NXT call-ups), there have been a few issues with her overall presentation and creative direction nevertheless.
Her initial booking as part of team BAD (which deserves an award for one of the worst trio names in wrestling history) was disappointing beyond belief. Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Banks were shoe-horned into a series of tag matches opposite other teams, which did little to improve the impression of women’s wrestling at the time. It wouldn’t be until WrestleMania 32 that the women’s division would really start to take off.
Secondly, Banks hasn’t had as many opportunities to put on stellar matches as she did in NXT. On that program, Banks was involved in some of the greatest matches ever seen in a WWE ring, period!
In particular, her now-famous match against Bayley at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn was among the best matches of 2015, and stands out as one of the best women’s wrestling matches of all time. Yet on the main roster, Banks has not been given the chance to perform at that same level.
We as fans have not gotten the chance to see the women perform the same kinds of athleticism as their male counterparts, and – with a few notable exceptions – the women’s main event matches have been mostly gimmicked and void of simplicity.
All of this stems from the notion that Vince McMahon still does not see women as athletes who can rule the main events despite everything that Sasha Banks and her co-workers have done to change the perception of women’s wrestling.
Because of this, Banks does indeed have something of a glass ceiling above her. Until Vince McMahon changes his view of women’s wrestling, the idea of Sasha Banks having an NXT-style match in the main event spot of a major PPV isn’t very likely to happen.
Lastly, there is something about Banks’ booking that doesn’t make her a believable babyface. Banks comes out to hip-hop music, decked out in bling and looking like she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth.
Everything from her swagger to her most minute of mannerisms in the ring and outside it makes her far more suited to be a heel than as a babyface. In fact, many fans recall Banks’ NXT days, during which she was an obnoxious heel who acted like she was better than everyone else and has the look and skills to back up said claims.
It also helped her attempt to portray a babyface underdog that her first cousin is none other than Snoop Dogg, a WWE Hall-of-Famer and award-winning artist. I, for one, find it impossible to believe that Banks would’ve had any trouble obtaining tickets to WWE events given this fact.
This might simply be nitpicking, but Banks’ run as a babyface appears to have hit its peak, and going forward she’d be better off reviving her heel persona from NXT so that she can engage in more interesting feuds going forward.
At only 25, Banks is probably the closest thing WWE has (other than possibly Asuka) to one of the AJW Joshi wrestlers of the early 1990s. Not only does she have the look and non-wrestling aspects of a WWE Superstar down to a T, but she wrestles at such a high standard that she makes almost everyone around her look like a rookie by comparison.
While this is a good thing, she is unfortunately at the mercy of a creative team directed by a man that still has very strong reservations about women as main-eventers, as seen by Vince’s rumoured disappointment with the first-ever women’s Hell in a Cell match.
Nevertheless, one can expect Banks to be the centrepiece of WWE programming for a long time to come, provided she doesn’t destroy her knees by the time she’s Charlotte’s age.