What’s Sasha Banks’ Next Move?

NOTE:I found out yesterday that my Twitter account was suspended for “spam” and I have no idea how that’s possible, other than I’ve read that thousands of accounts were also suspended yesterday for “spam” that criticized either Tesla or Tucker Carlson. I have no idea if this was politically based or not, but as of this writing, I don’t have access to my Twitter page. I filed an appeal with the Twitter support team, but considering that you hear rumors that there’s as much chaos at Twitter HQ as there was backstage in WCW in 2000, I don’t think I’m going to get a resolution. This was the Twitter account that I’ve had more than ten years and used it to share these articles, random nonsense, and the clips of my work as a commentator on the local scene in Pittsburgh. If I don’t hear anything back from Twitter support by next week, I’m going to file another appeal to attempt to get an answer. For now, please consider following me on my newly-created Instagram page @jimlamotta89

During the rather subpar Ronda Rousey/Shotzi Smackdown Women’s title match at Survivor Series this past weekend, the crowd responded with “we want Sasha” chants, prompting the production truck to lower the crowd mics. Still, the chants brought her status back into the conversation, which is still murky at best. At this point, you’d have a better chance of finding out DB Cooper’s financial status than Sasha’s contract status. A few months ago, it was reported that the company granted her a release, but there were also rumors that disputed it so nothing is confirmed. It could be a situation where the office allowed her the option to sit out the reminder of the contract, with the notion that they use the time to smooth things over for a new deal. Another possibility could be that management granted her the release in exchange for signing a non-complete, again with the idea that the dispute could be resolved before the non-compete expires.

As we know, Sasha and her tag team partner, Naomi walked out of Raw almost six months ago while they were the Women’s Tag Team champions because they were unhappy with the creative direction they were given on the show. This wasn’t the first time that Sasha took a hiatus from the organization, as she was gone from television for four months because of creative differences in 2019. As I wrote at the time, Sasha Banks is undoubtedly extremely talented and a star, but she’s not quite as big of a star as she thinks she is for the company. You’ve heard rumors for years about her ego, and an occasion negative fan experience on social media so there’s some level of credibility to the notion that she’s difficult to work with, the biggest example being that she walked out of a live broadcast.

There are a number of layers to this scenario, both for Sasha and the organization.

On one hand, you can’t blame Banks for wanting to be in the position to make the most money possible, but at the same time, the women’s division arguably has the most depth among the entire WWE landscape so the division is fine without her. The WWE marketing strategy is often to promote the brand ahead of any specific individual so it gives the organization more flexibility with contract disputes or injuries. It’s a harsh reality that Sasha may or may not be aware of, but much of her stardom is associated with the WWE spotlight so if she ventures outside of that platform, it remains to be seen how much of the audience would follow her other projects.

She made a rather infamous appearance this past August at the C2E2 convention, where fans paid $130 for photo-ops, but Banks insisted that they stayed away from her with a distance of about five feet, which had these expensive pictures look like “in the same frame as Sasha Banks” instead of a memento of the experience. As I said at the time, if Banks was concerned with health risks from being in a packed convention center, that’s completely understandable but then isn’t it best to just decline the appearance? The fact that she was willing to attend the packed convention as long as fans were willing to pay her $130 for a photo-op and didn’t get near her seems like such a money grab.

More recently, news surfaced that she applied for trademarks of variations of her name, including “Banks Mone,” and that’s something that could be an indication that she has plans for wrestling outside of the WWE. It could also be a very cleaver negotiation tactic to give WWE management the impression that she’s ready go elsewhere if they don’t meet her standards for a contract offer. This is where the layers of the story get very interesting because, AEW, for all of its rightfully criticisms, gives talent at least comparable money for what’s offered in WWE so that allows the performers to attempt to get the best deal possible. Remember, the bottom line is, professional wrestlers are independent contractors so there’s no pension or retirement fund for them when they hang up the boots. Making the most money possible in the prime years of their careers should always be a priority for talent.

The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer claimed that Banks and WWE are in “money talks,” which is very possible, but I’m not sure that alone will be the deciding factor about her status. The publicly-traded global company is the most profitable in its entire existence and will continue to maintain that level for at least the next few years because of its massive television deals with USA and Fox.

The WWE can afford anyone so the question is, will Sasha Banks be worth the hassle of potential future disputes with her creative direction if she returns to the company?

This is another aspect where things get tricky. Nobody, not even “Stone Cold” Steve Austin stopped the WWE machine when he walked out of the organization in 2002. Granted, Austin’s status as the biggest star in the history of the business kept the door open for him to return, but the point being, there’s a certain point where the company will move forward if an agreement can’t be reached. If Sasha overplays her hand, it could be a similar situation to the original Ultimate Warrior disputes when a star overestimates their value to the company and thus management decides there’s too many hurdles to do business with them.

The bottom line is, given her track record, will Sasha Banks be willing to do business?

In some ways, Sasha’s two previous walkouts don’t help her negotiations because even if she returns, how much TV time would the company be willing to invest in her? Based on the past business dealings, there’s some level of risk to book her in a featured position. What would the company do if Sasha was in the main event of a pay-per-view and decided not to go to the ring because she didn’t like the finish? She walked out on a Raw main event so why should management trust that it wouldn’t happen again?

As far as the odds that she re-signs with the company, I’d give it a 50/50 chance based on the limited information we know now. If she should return or not is a different matter. I’d suggest that she takes a few years away from the ring completely and attempts to get a fresh start, either in WWE or somewhere else, at some point after that. Granted, I think Sasha isn’t quite as big of a star as she thinks she is, but she can test the waters with film work and other projects outside of sports entertainment. Disputes between promoters and talent have existence as long as the wrestling business itself, but this isn’t the late-90s with a head-to-head ratings war so individual performers aren’t necessarily as critical to the success of the company. Right now, the women’s division is quite possibly the best aspect of the WWE product so the promotion doesn’t need Sasha Banks for that success, and to be fair Banks might not need the WWE platform either.

What do you think? Share your thoughts, opinions, feedback, and anything else that was raised on Twitter @PWMania and Facebook.com/PWMania.

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta