Now “The Bo$$” of WWE is days away from competing for the Divas championship in front of the biggest audience of her career.
The 24-year-old is banking on stealing the show with Becky Lynch and title holder Charlotte at WrestleMania 32 — in front of a record-setting crowd Sunday, April 3, at 7/6 CT on pay-per-view and WWE Network.
Even after the official announcement was made, it took some time for Banks to believe the match would take place.
“In this business anything can change,” Banks said.
“It didn’t feel real until at SmackDown. It sunk in that this was actually going to happen. I felt like I was going to cry before I was about to go out. We were in Boston, my home. It was at that moment I was like, ‘Holy cow! I’m actually going to do it.’ I walked out there and saw the WrestleMania sign in the arena. It was awesome.”
During the recent trip back to her hometown, Banks was able to stop at the hotel she worked. The visit was filled with reflection and celebration.
“My mom actually works there as an accountant,” she said.
“I went there to see her for lunch. I got to see all my co-workers, too. I would tell all of them I was going to be a wrestler. They actually gave me all the time I needed off any time when I had independent shows. Just to be there before ‘Mania and to see everyone who believed in me — and for them to tell me they watch me on television now and how surreal that is for them — it’s crazy.”
The WWE Universe hasn’t anticipated a Diva’s match at WrestleMania this much for some time. The three athletes involved have a track record for raising the bar. They along, with NXT’s Bayley, make up a sorority of excellence affectionately referred to as the Four Horsewomen of WWE.
Banks strives to make every outing better than the last. She shares this drive with her opponents.
“That’s the biggest thing for me every time I go into a match is to have everyone say, ‘Whoa! Sasha Banks! You have to watch her matches!” says Banks.
“After every single NXT TakeOver match I had, I always felt like I had to raise the bar even more, because I feel like people are expecting it. At the same time, I have to take it all in and say, ‘You know what? Don’t put so much pressure on yourself because you just have to do you.’ For me, my biggest dream was to be in WWE, but it was also to be the greatest woman wrestler of all-time.
“So you can definitely expect this match to be amazing. We definitely want to steal the show. At the same time I just have to do me. And doing me is legit stealing the show — but I don’t want to put so much pressure on myself that I might pass out even before I go on the stage. I remember in Brooklyn for TakeOver, I put so much pressure on myself that before I went out and was inside that car during the entrance, I was freaking out. Then the minute the car door opened I was like, ‘Yes. I got this. This feels so right.’ I can’t imagine how WrestleMania is going to be. I’m going to be crying, just a mess. But I’m ready for it and so excited.”
Banks isn’t just a lifelong fan, but a student of the game. She constantly studies tape for education and inspiration.
“I watch so much wrestling to open my mind so I can figure out what I want to do,” Banks said. “I try to figure out what kind of reaction I want. Then there is a lot of cardio. I have to have my wind up. I can’t be dying out there. For me, if I can’t visually dream and see what I’m doing, it’s not meant to be. I have been visualizing this WrestleMania match in my head. It’s going to be a bad-ass match for sure.
“…I look to Eddie Guerrero. I love watching Amazing Red. He is absolutely awesome. I’ve also been watching a lot of old school AJ Styles and some of his triple threat matches. I’m just getting ideas and getting my mind rolling.”
Along with preparing physically and mentally for the big show, Banks is also deciding on visual presentation. WrestleMania is known to have the most elaborate entrances in the history of sports and entertainment.
“That will be a huge surprise,” Banks said.
“My ring gear is going to be a one-time thing just for WrestleMania. So that’s going to be pretty big. Once I’m done with that, I’m going to hang it up in my wrestling room. It’s going to be glorious. My ring jacket is going to be the baddest ring jacket you’ve ever seen in your whole life. The entrance — you’re just going to watch and see what I have in store.”
WrestleMania is expected to be an unforgettable evening in Dallas for Banks and her family. Among those proud of the success she is experiencing is her cousin, Snoop Dogg. The rap icon was the rumored selection for the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame this year.
“He is one of the biggest wrestling fans I know,” Banks said. “Not bigger than me, but close.
“So if he gets inducted into the Hall of Fame, that would be so exciting. I know how much he loves wrestling. He has been involved with WWE for a very long time. Every time he has gone to a WWE show I would be right behind him calling and asking him to take me with him. I remember always calling him, saying, ‘I want to come. Please bring me!’ I went to three WrestleMania events with him because that’s how big a fan he is. If he gets inducted into the Hall of Fame, it would be much-deserved.
“…My whole family on that side really loves wrestling. My mom’s side, they have no idea what it is. It took my mom a while for her to accept that her daughter wants to be a wrestler. Now she is one of my biggest fans. She got to watch me in Boston. She loves it now, which is really cool to get people to love it.”
Banks will always be appreciative for her time in WWE’s developmental brand, NXT. It gave her the tools and visibility to get to where she is today.
“When I watch it though, I really do miss it,” Banks said.
“So it’s hard for me to get through the show because I want to be there. There are so many up-and-comers there. I love watching Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder. I thought they killed it at Roadblock. I love Enzo and Big Cass, the Vaudevillians. Bayley of course. A couple of up-and-coming girls I love are Billie Kay and Peyton Royce. I think they are going to be amazing. They just need an opportunity to show the world they are really good. Tye Dillinger is another guy. Apollo Crews is another. There are so many. I love from NXT.”
Banks made the transition to the main roster with her WrestleMania opponents at the same time to signify a “Divas Revolution.” She believes the schedule took some getting used to.
“We do this every single week,” Banks said. “So there was getting used to taping TV regularly.
“The WWE Performance Center is amazing, but we go out there live every single week here. Sometimes we don’t even know what we are doing until we go out there. Things can change on the fly all the time. So that was really one of those things where I was like, ‘Wow! This was a lot harder than I thought.’
“The travel is insane. At the same time, you get to travel the world with people that you love. We get different crowds every week. There are so many fans out there. To get to wrestle in front of them every week, that was my dream since I was 10. I don’t even want to call it a job, but I do have the best job in the whole world.”
Banks hasn’t taken anything for granted. Every opportunity is met with gratitude. She has accomplished so much and marked countless milestones in the last year. However, the desire to reach the true pinnacle of her profession remains. For Banks, there is still work to be do.
“I feel like I’ve done everything I wanted to do since I was 10,” she said.
“Now I get that WrestleMania match and I think about what else I need to do. I want to be the first-ever woman to have a Money in the Bank match. I think that would be really cool and different. I would love to main event a WrestleMania one day, of course, with Bayley. I think she is the best we have. I just want to keep doing things that are the first-time ever and keep opening the doors for women’s wrestling.”
- WrestleMania week is filled with a slew of programming on USA Network. For the first time ever, USA announced expanded access to WrestleMania between March 31 and April 7. This includes a special SmackDown episode with live segments, as well as a live, one-hour broadcast of the official live WrestleMania kickoff 6 p.m. ET Sunday, April 3. There is also a movie marathon featuring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. A one-hour broadcast of the WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony will air 10 p.m. ET Thursday, April 7 after SmackDown.
- WWE Network will be offering enough content to keep you on the couch leading into WrestleMania. There is “Thank You Daniel,” spotlighting Daniel Bryan as part of its WWE 24 documentary series, Legends with JBL with incoming Hall of Famer Michael Hayes, NXT, WWE Ride Along and Stone Cold Podcast Live! With Mick Foley. NXT TakeOver: Dallas is set for 10 p.m. ET Friday, April 1. The WWE Hall of Fame coverage begins with a red carpet special and then the ceremony an hour later 8 p.m. Saturday, April. 2. The WWE Network kickoff for WrestleMania begins 5 p.m. Sunday, April 3. Then its WrestleMania 32 live 7 p.m. from AT&T Stadium.
- For full listings and more details on everything WrestleMania, visit WrestleMania.com.
- Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN.
Photos Courtesy: WWE