This Sunday night at the Royal Rumble, Sasha Banks enters what could prove to be the biggest match of her still young career. Opposite Ronda Rousey, Banks looks to reclaim the RAW Women’s Championship on one of the year’s most iconic wrestling stages. As of late, Banks has looked at home in the spotlight, already confronting Rousey in-ring and out during what’s been a relatively brief programme thus far. Banks’ 2018 was a quiet one and the cliche response to recent showings would be that for one reason or another, ‘The Boss’ is back but in truth, this story is much more complex than that.
The creative ups and downs of Sasha’s main roster run are well-documented and to be frank, that’s not a topic that I’m desperate to delve back in to. However, it must be said that for better or worse, Banks’ main roster career has been an undeniably unique one through three and a half years. Upon arrival, Sasha was arguably NXT’s most popular call-up yet and eventually, that culminated in a memorable programme opposite Charlotte Flair. Since that chapter concluded though, Sasha’s momentum (or lack thereof) has been shrouded in confusion and inconsistency.
Believe it or not, it’s been almost two years since Banks’ business with Flair reached its climax and though she’s remained featured regardless, those heights have become far from a constant in Sasha’s RAW stint. The reasons for that aren't mine to ponder but even still, I’ve been slightly befuddled by the almost surprised sense of positivity surrounding Banks’ work opposite Rousey. ‘The Boss’ quite literally never left, and not only is this the same performer that once achieved acclaim in NXT but more than that, it’s an even better version too.
This is the same person that showed immense fire in the bizarrely brief programme with Alexa Bliss. This is the same person that at just about every opportunity over the last few years, produced in-ring fireworks regardless of spotlight. The only difference is that as of right now, this is a more poised, confident and experienced rendition of that very same person. Don’t just take my word for it either, instead simply watch Sasha’s effervescent work over these last few weeks.
Banks’ promos have been reminiscent of her time as NXT Women’s Champion, a quite visible development of the original base that she entered the main roster with. In-ring, Banks remains one of the absolute best and more than that, a rather unique package too. There’s a chaos to her approach, a wild unpredictability that adds a must-see value that sets her apart from the division’s elite. It’s not just craziness without substance either, as Banks has proven more than once that she can thrive in the simplest of layouts, selling at a level virtually unparalleled within the main roster landscape.
I’ve mentioned this before but it’s one of my fondest wrestling memories so allow me to cite it just once more. In late 2016, I was present for a Banks/Flair live event match in the midst of their famed TV programme. As you’d expect, it was a stripped down version of their usual outings and yet even still, Sasha’s babyface performance had the fans enthralled. I think it’s easy to lose sight of wrestling’s roots, but as I heard a group of young fans cautiously considering the damage done to Sasha’s troublesome back, its real beauty was more apparent to me than ever before.
Due to her sheer commitment to selling and emoting, Banks had added an extra layer to her matches, a vulnerability that elevated both her and her villainous foe too. That’s a simple tale but a refreshing one nonetheless and more than that, it feels indicative of the performer under discussion here. Regardless of why or how, Sasha Banks is a special performer and over this last few years, that’s become increasingly clear even when creatively, her presentation wasn't always consistent.
The Women’s Tag Titles feel inevitably in Sasha’s future and with Bayley by her side, that’ll mean a level of history that’ll hopefully live forever. For now though, it’s hard to look past Sunday night and the Royal Rumble PPV. Stylistically, Rouseylooks set to play the perfect foe, a physical juggernaut that’ll likely highlight Banks’ greatest strengths. Even outside of that though, the attention surrounding this match feels telling, a reminder of Sasha’s ceiling even after a quiet period without too much to note.
Where Sasha Banks goes, passion follows and that couldn't be clearer than it is right now as with Royal Rumble just days away, this RAW Women’s Title match feels like one of Sunday’s key clashes. Some debate seemingly surrounds the result but for now, it feels important to take a moment to ponder what this match represents. It’s taken Sasha just three weeks to inject new life into the division’s title picture, just three weeks to regain momentum and just three weeks to make people ponder the belt’s WrestleMania destination.
Considering that, it’s hard not to ponder Banks’ genuine capabilities but that’s a debate for another day as for now, the wrestling world awaits a match that could potentially shift Sasha’s career once again. Banks’ journey thus far already contains a handful of key defining moments but if Sunday goes as intended, I sense that Royal Rumble may play host to her most validating and encapsulating achievement yet. Time will tell but if her resume suggests anything, you can bank on ‘The Boss’ to deliver big this Sunday night in Phoenix.