On this episode of Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Sessions, we have the current Smackdown Women’s Champion, Sasha Banks as the guest. You can watch this episode of the WWE Network. The interview runs for an hour and a half with a detailed discussion of Sasha’s rise through the ranks, her current perspective, and possible future endeavors.
Sasha on her early life
One of the topics is Sasha being named Sports Illustrated’s Top 10 Wrestlers of 2020, which she believes could have been every year before that. Talking about getting into wrestling, Sasha explains being instantly hooked on WWE after watching it for the first time and knew she wanted to do it. As for her educational background, she used to take online schooling although never paid attention to it because she dedicated herself to wrestling. The reason she took online schooling was to take care of her brother and to allow her mother to work since they were living in a hotel for a couple of years. Originally, Sasha was not sure if she could make it in WWE because she felt she lacked in physical appearance and did not want to do Bra & Panties matches. When talking about her favorite wrestler Eddie Guerrero, Sasha could not pinpoint what attracted her to him but said she liked his overall character and found him relatable.
Sasha on NXT run
As for her time in developmental, Sasha credits Dusty Rhodes, Norman Smiley, and Joey Mercury for helping define her and give her the confidence she needed. On the origins of the Sasha Banks character, she had a list of different names but Sara Del Ray was the one who finally gave her that name. While Sasha liked the name, her mother hated it because she believed it sounded like a pornstar. In 2013, Sasha thought she was going to be released since she had no character at the time. She thanks Tyler Breeze and Xavier Woods for helping her find “The Boss” gimmick which was inspired by her real-life cousin Snoop Dogg. She says the gimmick was everyone hated the character except for Dusty Rhodes. With her character found, it would lead down to her winning the NXT Women’s Championship in a fatal four-way against Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Bayley. As for the story behind her finisher, The Bank Statement, it started when she needed a finisher. She used the backstabber at first until one of her coaches thought about adding a flip-over to a crossface. Talking about the Divas Championship, Sasha never liked the butterfly title because she wanted to be recognized in the same way as the male superstars. They then discussed her classic match against Bayley at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn in which she wanted it to be one of the greatest matches ever. Believing it was her last match in NXT, she wanted to leave her imprint on the brand after being called up to the main roster. However, she would have one more match at NXT Respect, against Bayley in an Ironwoman match. At the end of the match, she says she did not know the entire roster would come out to congratulate her.
Sasha on her WWE main roster run
When called up to the main roster, Sasha says she was nervous and knew she might not be wrestling like she was in NXT in terms of match length and quality. She touched on the “shark tank” environment in the locker room but thanked Tamina and Naomi for protecting her. When watching her triple threat match at Wrestlemania 32 against Charlotte and Becky, Steve Austin admits to being scared at watching her bumps. On winning her first Raw Women’s Title, Sasha says it was a childhood dream of hers. For the Hell in a Cell match against Charlotte, Sasha adds that she does not want to be in a fourth one because of the match’s brutality. For the 2018 Royal Rumble, Sasha reveals she wished to be the first entrant in the match and it was a dream come true to be in the ring with so many female superstars whom she grew up watching. However, she would not want to be the first entrant again as it is a hard spot to be in. On the subject of Ronda Rousey, Sasha says WWE should have paid her to do what Ronda was doing but she understands the business aspect of it. She does credit Ronda for bringing attention and putting in the work during her time in the company. When asked about the reception of Ronda in the locker room, Sasha says she was cool but they knew the business aspect behind it. On her match against Ronda at the 2019 Royal Rumble, Sasha reveals that she had a separate shoulder after the match. She would not reveal her injury until a day later out of concern for losing her opportunity at the newly announced Women’s Tag Team Championship. The idea behind the Tag Team Championship was pitched by her and Bayley after being put in many tag team matches. Never being in an Elimination Chamber match, Austin asks Sasha what it is like, which she described as brutal. Looking at the finish of the match, Sasha says she had to use her leg to lock in the Bank Statement because of her separated shoulder.
Sasha on her five-month hiatus and depression
Steve Austin brought up Sasha losing the Tag Team titles at Wrestlemania 35 and questioned if it was the right call. Sasha says it would be the right call if they followed up but they did not so it was not. For her, it was hard because she was suffering from depression. She had a lot going through her mind and having to live life as Sasha Banks instead of Mercedes. To her, WWE was becoming bigger than her, and she was losing herself. It got to the point where being at home, she could not see the real her and not knowing who she was. When asked what was behind it, she says everything to the business side and personal as well. Sasha also reveals she asked to leave the WWE for a break but Vince McMahon rejected her request. Instead, the Chairman gave her thirty days to think about it which went on longer than that. During the time off, she spent time in Japan, trained with NXT UK superstar Meiko Satomura.
Sasha on her return & The Mandalorian
When returning to the locker room, Sasha says the reception was good and everyone missed her. Looking one year later, her career was a flip over the year she had before. She enjoyed the run she had with Bayley as tag team champions and the storyline of Bayley turning on her. In their Hell in a Cell match, Sasha says she was nervous about the match but was glad it went well with her best friend. Talking about her role on The Mandalorian, Sasha was approached by a casting agency via Instagram after the director Jon Favreau wanted her to be on the show. When asked about the future projects, Sasha says her phone is ringing. When asked what is left for her, Sasha wants to be the top player and even a shareholder in the company. Sasha says looks at things now from a businesswoman aspect and wants to be at Vince’s level, even eating steaks with vegetables like him. Austin’s last question to her is what would she tell her younger self. Sasha gives two thumbs and would tell her younger self that she is so proud of her.
Aneil’s Take: I felt like Sasha was honest in this interview for the most part. The one topic that was interesting to hear about was facing depression which led to her five-month hiatus and asking to be released. Sometimes as a fan, we forget that these superstars are real-life people who deal with issues such as stress and depression. Interesting to hear her believe it was not the right call to have her drop the Tag Team Championship at Wrestlemania.
The Ronda Rousey subject was an interesting discussion as well. I think Sasha was holding back on her answer especially her response when Austin asked what did Ronda do for the women’s wrestlers. I could tell Sasha felt like she could have had that same push as Ronda received at the time. I think she was probably more pissed about Ronda giving her a separate shoulder as well.
I did like the discussion of her NXT run and the development of her “Boss” character. I was surprised to hear a lot of people hated the gimmick as it felt original and fit her. The last topic which had my eyebrow-raising was her openly talking about wanting to be on Vince’s level. You can tell her mindset has changed from being a wrestler to a businesswoman who knows her value. With accomplishing nearly everything in WWE and her success on The Mandalorian, I could see her making the jump to Hollywood similar to John Cena, Batista, and some guy named Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. While the interview is 90 minutes, if you have any spare time, I would recommend anyone to watch it.