They say that the best heels are the ones who are fundamentally in the right. So when the ring general of NXT and current women’s champion Sasha Banks makes a claim that she will match and surpass legends like the Fabulous Moolah as the greatest women’s wrestler in history well… there’s evidence that points to Banks becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The phrase “Sasha Banks is the rock of NXT’s women’s division,” can be read as a metaphor or an allusion and still be a true statement. Banks is the foundation of the success of the division, inside her toolbox of wrestling abilities there’s a fix for every opponent in her way, and her adaptability means a high rate of must-watch matches. She can match Becky Lynch’s innovative submissions, be as athletic as Charlotte and go blow for pummelling blow with Bayley. Most of all, Banks has the personality to go with all of that- she is a distinguishable presence who not only talks smack but backs it up. And like The Rock, Banks comes with her own catchphrases, nicknames, and unique personal style. In short: Sasha Banks is the total package.
Banks among those leading the charge for women’s wrestling in NXT means the opportunities we have been seeing to match quality and character development are only going to continue so long as she has anything to do with it. Growing up as a young wrestling fan Banks loved the legendary Eddie Guerrero, but was unable to really get behind the Divas. Banks’ formative years as a fan were days where bra and panties matches and pillow fights were a hefty fraction of WWE’s women’s content, that and the infamous Trish Stratus and Bradshaw vs. Jackie Gayda and Chris Nowinski match. Banks knew, even at ten years old, that women in wrestling deserved better. She knew that if she was going to make it to WWE, she was going to perform above and beyond the notion of Divas that was offered up to her in the 2000s.
So far, Banks’ performance in NXT is not only backing up the argument that women in wrestling deserve better, fans are clamouring for more good women’s wrestling in WWE. The existence of women like Banks who – as cliche as it sounds – live, breathe, eat, sleep wrestling and therefore have a mind for the business are beneficial on a more mainstream level, because more fans will see a standard of wrestling that women deserve and ultimately demand it.
It doesn’t seem like it’s been all that long since there has been a women’s wrestler in the greater WWE-sphere that has received such unanimous praise from all parts of the fandom, but Banks has managed to maintain support where other well loved Divas have faltered. Part of this is attributable to her workrate, and part due to her openness on social media.
Banks is one of the few WWE related personalities who openly uses Tumblr. Through it fans can relate to her not just as a hard working, badass character (which often comes out in kayfabe reblogs of her rivals with heelish comments), but her nerdy side which includes but is not limited to Sailor Moon, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, comic book characters and 90s nostalgia in general. Banks is also a fervent admirer of joshi and along with reblogging the greats of AJW, will post some of the weirder moments in puroresu like Kota Ibushi flashing his bum, Kenny Omega in DDT and even Don Frye. All this amidst a torrent of pictures of Victoria’s Secret models and beauty inspiration.
Banks’ social media presence is so important because it affirms that women don’t need to other themselves and stress they’re “not like most girls,” they can be their authentic self and embrace all sides of the outdated girly girl/tomboy spectrum without tearing anyone apart for their interests. And you can be respected as a woman in your craft doing it.
It also teaches us you can be one of the best wrestlers in WWE and still get a kick out of headcanons, photoshopped images of you with other wrestlers and every now and again ask your following to convince Hideo Itami or Finn Balor to get a picture with you. To put it bluntly, Sasha Banks looks into the depths of her tag on tumblr and doesn’t flinch, no matter what’s in there. that’s bravery.
So Banks has something for everyone: a developed character, marketability, an inspirational journey and a hint of fangirling, oh and she’s put on some of the best matches this year to boot. It won’t be long until we see Banks wowing crowds at much larger scales and proving that women’s wrestling is awesome.