Wrestling

Is The Party Over For Sasha Banks?

Screen Critics Shaun tries to explore the current state of Sasha Banks – asking if fans should be worried about her lack of momentum.

Sasha Bank’s meteoric rise in WWE has been one of the biggest surprises over the past few years. Few would have looked at her when she arrived in NXT and believed she would be at the tip of the Women’s Revolution spear. Yet here she is in 2017 – a multiple time Women’s Champion and one of the more beloved stars on the main roster. So why has she been booked like such a chump in the last few months?

Ever since her prolonged feud with Charlotte came to a close, Sasha Banks has struggled to hold her momentum on the main roster. It wouldn’t be so bad, except she’s barely done anything of note since around January time. A forgettable back and forth with Nia Jax led to a four-way match at Wrestlemania, but she barely played a part in the feud or result of that match. Since then she’s become something of an afterthought on the women’s roster, as other women climb ahead of her.

It’s all the more weird as prior to Wrestlemania, WWE seemed to be positioning her for a huge heel turn. Bayley’s title run seemed to be warping around this idea, with Sasha increasingly behaving erratically around the then-champion. A heel turn made sense, yet it never came. Even as fans clamoured for it, WWE seemed unwilling to pull the trigger. The damage this caused has arguably pushed her character into the shadows of the division – and it’s not likely to help her.

Alicia Fox is by no means a bad performer, but there’s no logical reason for her to be defeating Sasha Banks on the company’s flagship show. Worse still, it was done entirely clean. There was no cheating, no distractions and none of the heel antics you’d expect. Yes Alicia feigned injury, but that didn’t really play into the conclusion of the match. When Sasha lost, social media reacted with genuine surprise.

It’s a sign that WWE don’t know what to do with Sasha – like she’s stuck in a holding pattern. Without an edge, she’s been relegated to the divisions beating pole. Nia Jax and Alicia Fox – arguably the divisions least technically gifted competitors – have beaten her clean in the last few months. If WWE aren’t careful, they could end up harming her character beyond repair.

I’ve seen some arguments that this is all build for the heel turn – but there’s nothing at present to suggest that. She didn’t seem frustrated after last nights match, WWE not hyping her reaction. She didn’t even come out to help Bayley when she was getting wailed on with a kendo stick – suggesting that Sasha won’t be getting involved in that feud. If this is true, it’s hard to see what kind of heel turn they’re building too. Frustration is a good basis for it, but the camerawork and commentary team suggests this simply isn’t the case.

In fairness, fans haven’t given much reason to care for Banks since she was Champion. It didn’t help that WWE squandered her Championship reigns – failing to allow her the opportunity to successfully defend the WWE Raw Women’s Championship successfully on television. Fans noticeably began sitting on their hands whenever she arrived. There’s no doubting her talent – but when the character is so stuck in limbo – there’s nothing for audiences to get excited about.

It also doesn’t help that Alexa Bliss has stolen her characters thunder. She’s currently stealing the show everytime she touches a microphone on Raw – entertaining and holding her position of Champion flawlessly. She’s arguably doing a better job of playing Sasha’s Boss character than Sasha has on the main roster – which is somewhat awkward. She’s elevating Bayley – who’s doing her best work opposite the Raw Women’s Champion and added a fresh dynamic. It goes some way to explaining why WWE have opted to hold off on Sasha’s heel turn, even though they have nothing for her in the interim.

It’s a curious time for Sasha Banks – who’s been to the top of the Raw Women’s Division yet feels no better for it. Losses are part and parcel of the WWE world – but being placed in so many tedious feuds is a sign that she’s not heading in the right direction. I am hopeful that this Alicia Fox feud is leading somewhere – and that Sasha Banks can be given focus again.

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