Sasha Banks to make history again at WrestleMania 37: ‘I’m the greatest’
EXCLUSIVE: The Legit Boss of the WWE tells theGrio she intends to be the youngest Hall of Fame inductee
Sasha Banks‘s rise in the WWE has seen the Grand Slam champion master her craft in the squared circle and make history in the process. WrestleMania 37 will provide another opportunity for Banks to leave a blueprint for others to follow.
Banks and Bianca Belair, the winner of the 2021 Women’s Royal Rumble, will become the first Black women to have a singles championship match at the Showcase of the Immortals. The two will grapple over the WWE Women’s Smackdown Championship at Raymond Jones Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Saturday, April 10, which is the first night of the WrestleMania 37 extravaganza weekend.
Due to COVID-19, only 25,000 fans will be allowed inside to see the WWE performers each night during the two nights of Wrestlemania. The event will be the first time in over a year that fans are present. Banks has promised to bring her usual flair to the ring as she puts up her coveted title in a match that is widely expected to be a show-stealer, which is now her trademark.
Banks has evolved from NXT breakout star to a mainstay in WWE main events. She’s competed in the multiple firsts for women in the sports entertainment company, such as an Iron Man Match and Hell In A Cell, and becoming the inaugural Women’s Tag Team Champion with Bayley.
Mercedes Varnado, the performer behind the larger-than-life WWE superstar, shares the same ambition, confidence, and drive as The Legit Boss. She’s taken some of her talents to the silver screen in The Mandalorian, but the ring will always be her first home.
In an exclusive interview with theGrio, Banks, 29, speaks about her legacy and how she plans to add to it.
(Questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity.)
TG: You’ve always proved your critics wrong from the very first time that you step into NXT and everybody was saying, ‘Well, who’s this? You know, she doesn’t really stand out,’ and The Boss showed up. In the past couple of years, other women have had their opportunity in the spotlight. It’s been Becky Lynch. It’s been Charlotte. And everybody was saying, ‘Sasha peaked in NXT.’
But in the year of the pandemic, you were like, as Jay-Z would say, ‘let me introduce myself’. What has this past year been like for you reminding everybody just who The Boss of the WWE is?
SB: The thing is, I don’t have to remind anybody.
Everybody knows who the legit boss is. That’s why I’m the greatest and number one in the WWE, [the] face of the company. There is no peaking season because I have not even peaked yet, here. Can you believe that? I’m still one of the youngest and, at 29, has built so much and accomplished almost everything a woman can do in the WWE.
So now I’m trying to take over Vince McMahon’s [chairman and CEO of WWE] spot and become a CEO and a legit shareholder of the WWE because that’s the type of boss that I am.
So there ain’t no peak. There ain’t no level to it because there’s only me.
TG: You and Bianca Belair are making history because you two are going to be the first two Black women that are having a singles match at WrestleMania. How does that feel?
SB: It feels frickin’ crazy. This has always been my dream since I was 10 years old. Not only just to have a singles match, but potentially legit [perform the] main event, WrestleMania, against someone like Bianca Belair, who is going to be a star, who is money in the making.
But let’s just remind everybody that I ain’t going nowhere. People want to say she’s the future. Well, I’m the present. I’m the now and I am still going to be the future.
TR: You keep calling her a rookie, but you have become the standard. How do you keep elevating your game?
SB: I’m like a fine cheese. I’m a fine steak. I’m a fine wine. I just get better and better with age and that’s what it really comes down to in WWE. And with any job, maturity and experience.
That’s why she is a rookie. I’m only speaking facts. What is she getting so offended? This is her first year and she’s getting so mad.
When you are a rookie, you’re a rookie. When you’re new, you’re new. She ain’t got it like me. I’ve been doing this for the past 10 years. That’s a decade. People don’t know that means I’m really good. And I’ve been doing so many first-time evers.
I’m a five-time RAW women’s champion. I’m the Smackdown women’s champion. A two-time tag team champion. Let’s not forget the first-ever women’s tag team champion. I’ve done so much. Main eventing pay per views. Main eventing Takeovers. Main eventing Raw. Main eventing Smackdown. There’s just nothing I can’t do.
TG: The resume is long, but a first for you and a lot of the others wrestlers has been performing without a crowd because of the pandemic. What has that been like and what is it going to be like to have the fans back at WrestleMania 37?
SB: It reminded [me of] when I first started. When I first started, I started out with no fans, which was crazy. So it came to kind of a culture shock from the other side. Last year, when you felt that there was going to be no fans at WrestleMania…every wrestler performer’s dream is to hear that energy of 100,000-plus people traveling all over the world just to see you for this very one night.
It’s so crazy. But now at this WrestleMania, we’re going to have 25,000 fans. I am beyond ecstatic. I can’t even picture how I’m going to feel because it’s been so long since I heard the energy of a raw crowd.
TG: Are you ready to hear those boos or do you think you’re going to be cheered because you are The Boss?
SB: I’m going to be cheered. I ain’t gonna get no boos. Everybody is going to be standing up in that building because that’s what I do. They already know. I’m the Legit Boss. I’m the standard. I’m the blueprint.
And I don’t want to hear any boos coming out of anybody’s mouth unless it’s for Bianca.
TG: Beyond wrestling, you’re also venturing into acting.
SB: It’s been incredible. I am so fortunate enough to be in two of the most biggest franchise universes, whether it’s the WWE Universe or Star Wars Universe. I am so thankful for the opportunity. I’m getting phone calls left and right, and it kind of makes me a little nervous for that whole new world. It’s so much fun and I’m so thankful for this journey of the universe.
TG: There was a time that you were going through your struggles that you shared in a WWE 24. You were trying to find a balance between Sasha Banks and Mercedes. Have you been able to maintain that balance since you returned?
SB: I still have to struggle through it to this day. I mean, like everyone else, COVID has shaken up my world like everything else. I’m thinking left and right. But every day you got to take moments to yourself and realize your center, where you came from before everybody told you to be who you’re supposed to be.
You’re supposed to figure out [who] you want to be, [it’s] the only you can get yourself there. When I took that time to realize that, took that four months off, to really find myself again, figure out my voice and my name, and my hair and who I wanted to be in this world, that’s when I just started feeling amazing again.
When I came back to my center, to myself, that’s where I got my happiness. And so, I’m feeling great. I’m feeling amazing. I cannot wait for WrestleMania 37, where I’m going to make more dreams come true for myself and keep on changing the game.
TG: Ultimately, I feel like you have a Hall of Fame career. But what is next for Sasha Banks? Things to accomplish and who would you like to wrestle?
SB: You already said it. That’s exactly what I want. Next year, I want to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. I want to be the youngest and the most active WWE Superstar inducted into the Hall of Fame.
WrestleMania 37 can be streamed exclusively on Peacock on April 10 and 11.
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