Why Sasha Banks has nothing left to prove in WWE
Rumors have swirled over the circumstances surrounding Banks' absence and also her future prospects.
What appears to be undeniably true is that the woman born, Mercedes Kaestner-Varnado has had enough of the company that made her a star.
A divorce is in the offing, and truth be told, Banks has nothing left to prove in the company that made her a star.
Her bone of contention, or rather what appears to be the straw that broke the camel's back, is WWE's apparent last-minute decision to relieve Banks and Bayley of the Women's Tag Team Championships at WrestleMania 35.
Much attention has focussed on her reaction to that booking decision, but Banks' frustration, in my opinion, goes back much further than a week ago.
In truth, Banks' issues date back at least two years. Following her epic series of first time matches with Charlotte Flair which included a Falls Count Anywhere, Iron(wo)man and Hell in a Cell bout in the fall of 2016, Banks' status in the company was substantially reduced.
Banks, one of the true breakout stars of NXT had already cemented a legacy on the main roster. However, with the physically imposing Flair established as the "chosen one", long before WWE accepted as much on television, Banks was pushed aside in favor of the well-liked (backstage) Alexa Bliss.
A feud with longtime ally, Bayley, was teased for the whole of 2018, but never went anywhere, which greatly damaged her aura and interest in the Banks character. This longtime creative neglect of her character appears to be the issue that really rankles with the former four-time Women's Champion.
Banks (and Bayley for that matter) were granted a reprieve when they were chosen to become the inaugural Women's Tag Team Champions at Elimination Chamber in February.
The expectation was that this reign would be a lengthy one to establish the belts with top-line acts as champions. However, on Vince McMahon's whim, it appears, plans changed at the last minute on the day of WrestleMania.
The emotive reaction of Banks at ringside following the bout originally appeared to be good selling on her part but is proven now to be entirely genuine.
The fact that she has reacted negatively to the booking changes will not endear her to management. This is pro-wrestling. Plans change all the time.
Case in point: Kevin Owens.
Owens returned in February to prepare for a WrestleMania title bout (and possible win) versus Daniel Bryan, but the organic, positive crowd reactions to Kofi Kingston during February and March ensured WWE inserted Kingston into the bout instead. Owens was left off the main card of 'Mania entirely.
However, there are no rumblings anywhere that Owens has complained about his spot.
The WWE mantra is: 'Don't complain and your time will come'
Owens will come to prominence once again, and Banks' 2019 has actually been much improved over her booking in 2017 and 2018. She likely would have been best served to keep her frustrations to herself if she viewed her longtime plans to be inside of the WWE bubble.
Her Royal Rumble Women's Championship bout with WWE's top star, Ronda Rousey, greatly enhanced her aura, and it would not have been inconceivable to see her feud with Becky Lynch post-WrestleMania.
However, it appears that will not happen now, and it also seems as if Banks' seven-year tenure in the WWE system is at an end.
If this is it for Banks, then it will likely suit both parties, truth be told.
She has nothing to prove in WWE. In addition to the aforementioned first-time women's bouts she appeared in with Flair, she also competed in the first ever Women's Royal Rumble match as well as the inaugural Women's Elimination Chamber bout.
She put on quite possibly the greatest WWE women's match ever with Bayley at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn in August 2015, and leaves a substantial imprint on the WWE Women's Revolution.
At the time of writing, she is still a WWE employee and is enjoying a deserved holiday while she mulls over her future in the company.
It remains to be seen what her decision will be, but if she decides WWE has carried her as far as it is going to, a fresh start with All Elite Wrestling or New Japan, for instance, would prove to WWE what they are missing.
Banks incredibly is still only 27 years old. Time is on her side.
The time is right for a parting of ways. Banks' future is not in WWE. She has nothing left to prove or achieve there, but that won't stop her showing up elsewhere and demonstrating to the world why she remains a world-class talent.