WWE Raw celebrates its 25th anniversary next week with a special broadcast from New York City. For Sasha Banks, the historic milestone is cause for concern.
“I can’t believe it’s been 25 years already—that’s how old I am, so it makes me feel old.”
The former four-time Raw Women’s Champion has been watching WWE most of her life, which makes it difficult to pinpoint the first time she laid eyes on Monday Night Raw.
“I remember watching it when I was a little, little baby and not understanding what it was,” she told NZPWI. “It wasn’t until I was 10 where I actually just sat there and I actually got hooked on my own.
“The first person I saw was Eddie Guerrero but I’m trying to think what match that was… for me the moment that really stood out for me was the storyline between Stephanie and Vince and Triple H. Seeing that plot then I was like, ‘What is this? Is this soap-opera? Is this wrestling?’ I was so entertained that I had to watch every single week to find out what was going to happen next.”
While Guerrero is Banks’ biggest influence (evident by her Latino Heat-inspired gear at WrestleMania 32) she cites early memories of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and his battles with both Mr McMahon and Kurt Angle.
“The Boss” was also wowed by The Dudley Boyz, and the way they put Mae Young through a table—of which Banks’ mother did not approve.
“I remember watching Raw with my mom and her being horrified knowing this is what I wanted to do with my life. Now she’s like the biggest fan ever, so there’s so many memories from the past and so many memories that I’ve gotten to create myself.”
Much like Banks reminisces now, in 15 years she could find herself the subject a new generation of WWE Superstars’ adoration. Banks has already been involved in some pivotal moments in Raw’s 25 years since her July 2015 debut.
By her own ranking, Banks puts her first Raw main event—and the first for women since 2004—at the top of the list, defeating Charlotte for her second Raw Women’s Championship in Los Angeles.
Not far behind is a Falls Count Anywhere battle with her nemesis. Rounding out her top three, she says, is a mixed tag team match alongside Roman Reigns against Charlotte and Rusev.
Banks also has a soft spot for a contract signing between herself and Charlotte, overseen by then-Raw General Manager Mick Foley, for their historic Hell in a Cell clash.
No stranger to making history, Banks will be part of the first-ever 30-Woman Royal Rumble Match on Monday, January 29 (New Zealand time).
“I’m so extremely excited, it’s so crazy,” she admitted. “I’ve been pumping up my cardio game like crazy knowing I could potentially be the first entry and stay in it the whole 60 minutes. I’m extremely nervous and excited and really looking forward to who the surprise entrants could be.”
Names on Banks’ wish-list include Trish Stratus, Lita, Beth Phoenix, Molly Holly, Jazz, Jacqueline, and anyone else she grew up watching.
“I have no idea who’s going to be in it,” she said. “WWE’s very top secret so they’re even keeping it from us. So when I stand in that ring and I hear a past legend’s music I’m going to be so excited—but I’m also going to look really forward to throwing that person over the top rope as well.”
The Royal Rumble Match made headlines all over the world when it was first announced one month ago.
Banks expects female WWE Superstars to continue shattering glass ceilings and breaking down barriers but hopes, over time, their accomplishments are seen as less newsworthy.
“The goal for me is to main event WrestleMania one day and keep women’s wrestling on a roll—potentially have it one day of not just being like, ‘Great, the women are doing this, this, this’ where we’re equal to the guys and we’re doing everything just like the guys, having the same opportunities,” she said.
“It should be praised and talked about, but at the same time that it’s not talked about so much, that it just becomes something that’s normal. Hopefully for me if it’s not this year or the year after that, the potential to have a woman main eventing WrestleMania, that’s the goal and that’s the dream.”