In one of the most infamous nights in pro wrestling, Bret Hart left WWE and headed to WCW. Hulk Hogan had done the same thing three years earlier but under less heated circumstances. John Cena has taken breaks here and there to film movies as has The Miz, Kane, Becky Lynch and a host of other WWE superstars over the years. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin walked out on the WWE numerous times over various backstage issues. Shawn Michaels “lost his smile” in another notorious leave of absence.
One of the morals of all of these stories is no superstar is bigger than the WWE. No matter who you are, no matter what you bring to the table, WWE can and will go on without you. It always has because there are many talented people in the oftentimes cutthroat wrestling business who are just waiting to take your place and make their mark.
As WrestleMania 35 became part of history, many stories have trickled out, from a main event referee being fined to superstar injuries. One such story is former WWE Women’s tag team champions Sasha Banks and Bayley not being too pleased with having to drop the titles to The Iconics. If the gossip mill is to be believed, Banks and Bayley reacted to the changing of the guard by laying on the floor in the locker room at WrestleMania and at their hotel.
No, they weren’t protesting climate change, poverty or human rights. They were protesting a title change, essentially a script or story edit, in the fictional world of WWE TV storylines.
In fact, Banks might have gone a step further and threatened to quit the company.
This isn’t the first time Banks has expressed her displeasure with the WWE though.
For example, last year on the “In this Corner” podcast Banks spoke about her issues with the bookers.
“I feel like I go out there every single week and give it 110 per cent. Most recently, I talked to one of my good friends, Mark Sherman, and he told me… As long as you work hard, you can’t be unhappy with yourself… and that’s what I do every single week. Whether they want to push me or not, I’m always going to give it 110 per cent. I’m honestly living my dream every single day so there’s not a lot that I can be mad at,” she said.
In recent months, Dean Ambrose, Tye Dillinger and Hideo Itami have either not renewed their contracts with the WWE or have asked for their release.
While Bayley has made no mention of the WrestleMania incident on social media, instead Tweeting that she is looking forward to the challenges the superstar shake-up will bring, Sasha Banks has no-showed a scheduled appearance on the Wendy Williams Show. Banks cited a family emergency. Days later Kalisto posted a photo of himself, Sasha and their partners vacationing in the Dominican Republic.
Banks’ husband Sarath Ton (Mikaze), who also works for the WWE, published an all too timely statement on Twitter talking cryptically about life choices.
Here is his full Tweet:
Twitter detectives also noticed that Banks no longer follows many of the WWE accounts that she used to.
What could it all mean? Could Banks be thinking about heading to a rival promotion?
For me, I wouldn’t miss her if she did move on and maybe that is best for her career. I find Banks quite tedious to watch. Since arriving on the main roster she really hasn’t evolved as a performer. Her persona and her matches are very stale and the WWE bookers are surely partially to blame for that. Some of that though falls on Banks herself. She could easily be replaced on Raw by Toni Storm, Bianca Belair, Candice LeRae, Kairi Sane, Mia Yim, Shayna Baszler, Rhea Ripley, Isla Dawn or many others.
The former NXT Women’s Champion, four-time WWE Raw Women’s champion and now former WWE Women’s tag team champion was in the background somewhat before winning the tag belts, however, so have other talented WWE women such as Mickie James and Naomi. Most everyone fades in and out of the spotlight at one time or another depending on booking plans and popularity. Unlike many of the other hard working, dedicated superstars in the WWE women’s locker room though, Sasha Banks has been awarded with the championships noted above and many main event angles, pay-per-view matches since moving to the main roster.
The word “awarded” is key. Nobody in wrestling actually “wins” titles, of course. Wrestling is not a genuine competition, although it does feature some mind-blowing athletics and engrossing storylines. Many legendary superstars like Jim Duggan, Dusty Rhodes, Bob Orton Jr., Jesse Ventura, Jake Roberts, Sting and Harley Race retired or left the WWE not having had a single title reign.
Talent itself is not the only reason someone is given a title run. Like movies or television, starring roles are granted due to popularity (being a draw), merchandise sales, backstage politics and in wrestling sometimes in recognition of one’s improvement or dedication over the years.
Title reigns are bonuses. Like actors, wrestlers working for established brands are paid well for their work. First and foremost, they are paid to play a role, a role written by the promotion they work for. Like actors, depending on who they are, sometimes they have a say in how the role is portrayed, sometimes they do not. The greats of the business like Sting and The Undertaker understood that and even though they might have grumped about this angle or that, they always did what was best for business recognizing their role in the grand scheme of things.
Like winning an Oscar or an Emmy, championship reigns are a career privilege not a right. It is not something that should be assumed or expected, unless those are the details in your contract.
These are all things that Sasha Banks seems to have forgotten if reports of her wanting to quit over the championship loss at WrestleMania to the Iconics are accurate, never mind what that says about the Iconics who, like them or not, have really stepped up their game since arriving on Smackdown Live. As a result of the controversy, a dark cloud unfairly hangs over their title reign meanwhile all they have agreed to do is play the roles written for them in good faith and haven’t make a public comment about the controversy except to celebrate their win.
“These #WomensTagTitles give us the right to go where we want… when we want! We’ve been shaking things up since we debuted just 1 year ago & we’re only getting started!” wrote an elated Peyton Royce on Twitter.
Wrestlers have every right to voice their opinion and disappointment if they think their talents are not being used to their fullest. What separates true professionals from others though is how a superstar reacts to and works through that dissatisfaction.
In the end though, if the WWE went on without Jim Ross, Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, The Rock, Trish Stratus, Lita, and John Cena, it can and will go on without anyone and always will.