We’re less than two weeks away from WrestleMania and are building up to some of the biggest matches we could see this year.
Roman Reigns will challenge Triple H for the WWE World Heavyweight title while Shane McMahon returned from a near-6-year hiatus to face The Undertaker inside Hell in a Cell with the stipulation that if McMahon wins, he runs Raw and Undertaker will never compete at Mania again. There will also be a seven-man ladder match for Kevin Owens’ Intercontinental Championship while Kalisto defends the United States Championship against Ryback.
But none of those matches holds the weight that the Divas Championship does.
Though the official name hasn’t been used, we’re still in the middle of a “Divas Revolution.” With a more organic feel to the revolution this team, three of the company’s best women’s wrestlers will compete in a triple-threat match for the title.
Charlotte will defend her title against Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch in what should be the biggest Mania match for the women in history. It will also be the first Mania match for all three competitors.
On March 8, I chatted with Banks over the phone leading up to WWE’s Road to WrestleMania live event on March 12 in Atlantic City. She and Becky Lynch defeated Naomi and Tamina in a tag team match that night, ending with Sasha hitting the Bank Statement.
Sasha talked about what this match means for women’s wrestling, her excitement for WrestleMania and Triple H’s influence on women’s wrestling among other topics. She almost got emotional a couple times about her time in NXT, a true testament to how passionate she is toward professional wrestling and the company.
Sasha Banks was easily one of the best interviews I’ve ever had. See so for yourself.
Q: This has got to be a busy time of the year for you guys with WrestleMania around the corner
SB: “Oh it’s crazy. But it’s exciting. We’re on the road to WrestleMania and I couldn’t be more blessed knowing I’ll be a part of WrestleMania in the Divas title match and it’s awesome.”
What are your emotions like because this is going to be your first WrestleMania match?
“Oh God, it’s so crazy because I remember two years ago I got asked by Triple H to be a part of his entrance (for WrestleMania 30) and I remember before going out I was shaking (and) hoping I would not mess up. When we went out, all I saw was a sea of fans and I just knew in my heart that I want to be walking out on this stage one day. This has been a dream of mine since I was 10 and my emotions are set so high that I try not to cry because I try to use that to motivate me, go to the gym, eat healthy and just get ready because I want to steal the show and I want to show the world that, you know, I’m the best. I’m the baddest Diva there is. God, I am so excited.”
Obviously this is crunch time, these two months leading up to WrestleMania.
“Oh man, it is. It’s so busy (and) so hectic but we do this every week so it’s nothing new. It’s WrestleMania time. This is our Super Bowl. This is our time to show the world that this is the greatest company in the world so it’s exciting but, you know, we always have to be ready and on the go.”
Since that anonymous appearance two years ago, you’ve just been on a remarkable journey. That really hit its stride when you won the NXT Women’s title.
“Oh gosh, that was so crazy because that was the match that put us four, the Four Horsewomen (Banks, Lynch, Charlotte and Bayley) on the map, that fatal four way match (at NXT Takeover: Rival on Feb. 11, 2015). To just know I was in the ring with such amazing talented girls, that was crazy. I ended up leaving so emotional because it didn’t feel real. To see all those fans legit standing up on their feet and clapping after that match was crazy. After every Takeover match after that I wanted to make sure I kept making my statement, keep making a name for myself and keep having these better matches every time. That’s my journey right there.”
How important are having those types of matches like the fatal four way and matches with Becky, Charlotte and Bayley for what you guys want to do for women’s wrestling?
“Oh man, those were so important because we wanted to be respected. Slowly but surely fans saw how much we loved what we do in the ring and they just got behind us and accepted what we did. It’s so crazy that like 10 years ago the girls matches would be the bathroom break. People are buying tickets to come see us wrestle now and that just makes me emotional right there. Just to know we keep making history, I mean from that match when I won the (NXT) Women’s title to the match I had with Bayley at Brooklyn (on Aug. 22, 2015) when she beat me and then we were the first ever women to main event a Takeover (Respect on Oct. 7, 2015). It’s just so exciting to see and to watch us grow and see what’s going to happen next. We are unstoppable because we love what we do. We have such a passion for what we do and I think that’s so important to have when you’re doing this so-called ‘job’ because it’s a dream job since I was 10. And now I’m blessed."
And when they taped WWE Breaking Ground it was really cool to see the behind-the-scenes stuff of when they decided to have that Iron Man match at Respect. What was going through your minds leading up to that night?
“It’s so crazy because after the Brooklyn match I thought I was done in NXT so I got the call to come to NXT for the tapings and I was like ‘Oh O.K., maybe I’m going to do a goodbye program.’ And then I was told that Hunter (Triple H) wanted to speak to me and Bayley and I was like, ‘Oh God, are we in trouble? What’s going on?’ But then he set us aside and kept talking and my heart started racing like, ‘What is he going to say?’ I was nervous. And then he asked us to main event a Takeover and first I was so scared. I was like, ‘Oh no,’ because people loved that Brooklyn match. I didn’t know what they were going to expect. I pressured myself too in that match but we pulled it off and it will be something I will remember for the rest of my life. Just to know, not only did Triple H believed in us but the fans believed in us and they wanted to see that. And umm… Oh I’m going to cry I miss NXT so much. That was my home and it’s where I began and they were so good to me. It’s so exciting seeing the future stars down there and it’s going to be so much amazing talent coming up from NXT. Now Sami Zayn is on the road and that’s so cool.”
How instrumental has Triple H been for he’s done with NXT and even women’s wrestling?
“Oh man, he is our papa. He is like 'Dad' down there. Knowing that he believed in us and gave us that platform to perform. It was up to us to show that we could do it and we had to show him we could get these fans behind us and we could do these matches better than the guys and gosh he’s been absolute amazing. He’s beyond, beyond incredible and I can only think highly of him. He’s been absolute amazing.”
How special is it that the old NXT feuds are showing back up on the main roster? I mean, obviously with what you, Becky and Charlotte are hoping to do at WrestleMania, and hopefully soon with Bayley. But how special is it that those get to come full circle on the main roster?
“Oh God, it’s so incredibly crazy. To start out in the Divas Revolution and (Becky and Charlotte) were against me and on a different team. Now they’re on a different team and now we’re coming back and we’re all re-facing each other in something from NXT and that was our homegrown rivalry and where we started together. It’s crazy how life, it legit comes full circle and it’s meant to be. Hopefully one day Bayley is going to come up here really soon because I need her and I love our matches. But it’s actually unbelievable just to know that I’ll be in a match with them at WrestleMania. I’m beyond excited. I’m so excited knowing what all three of us can do in the ring, it’s going to be something special.”
Weekly Power Rankings
Week of March 21 (March 14 rankings)
- Triple H (1) - How will he respond next week?
- Roman Reigns (2) - The Authority will do anything to stop him.
- Dean Ambrose (4) - First a bat and now a chainsaw? Oh my.
- Brock Lesnar (3) - How will he answer Ambrose’ craziness?
- Kevin Owens (5) - He is the king of ladder matches today.
- New Day (6) - It’s about time they go full good guys.
- Charlotte (9) - Another good win over Natty in a tune up for Mania.
- A.J. Styles (8) - He officially got Jericho at Mania.
- Kalisto (7) - Wasn’t on Raw.
- Ryback (10) - Wasn’t on Raw.
Out of the 10: No one.
On the bubble: Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, Sasha Banks, Chris Jericho.