From about 2005 until last year, the quality of women’s wrestling in the WWE had declined. Long gone were the legends like Trist Stratus and Lita. The bleeding was slowed down by the likes of Mickie James and Victoria. But the WWE had a period of time that was ruled by former models who didn’t have the same in-ring skills as some of the best.
Things have changed in the last few years in the WWE. Thanks in part to a change in scouting through the independent wrestling circuit, the WWE Performance Center and the NXT brand, many great female superstars were formed for the main roster. Sasha Banks has quickly established herself as one of the best of the Divas Revolution in July 2015.
Banks was part of a triple threat WWE Women’s Championship match at WrestleMania 32 with Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch. With the WWE brand extension, Banks has competed with Charlotte for the top spot on the RAW women’s roster. Through 2016, Banks has won the RAW Women’s Championship on three separate occasions.
The WWE Universe has welcomed Banks to the WWE rather quickly. Whether she was a cocky heel or a face seeking the RAW Women’s Championship, fans have shown respect for her as The Boss in the WWE. Her personality, in-ring style and appearance have brought something different to the dance on the main roster.
But there’s plenty underneath the pink hair and bedazzled entrance attire. The following are 15 little-known facts about WWE’s 'Boss'.
15 Family Moved Around U.S. for Disabled Brother
While Sasha Banks grew up, her family had moved around multiple times. That’s because her brother was diagnosed with autism. This meant they were constantly moving in an effort to find the right schools and hospitals that could provide opportunities for him to succeed. Banks was born in Fairfield, California, before they went to a small farm town in Iowa when she was eight years old.
This was followed by extremely brief stays in both Oregon and California. After four more years in Minnesota, Banks was able to settle near Boston. All the while, Banks said she was like a second mom for her brother while she grew up. Add that to the constant moving, Banks said she actually became a better person early in her life.
14 Her Mom Disliked Wrestling
Sasha Banks had a passion for professional wrestling that started when she was a child. However, her mom was not in favor of her wanting to jump in the ring when she grew up. Banks told the Miami Herald in a 2015 interview that she often had to secretly watch wrestling when her mom wasn’t looking. If her mom did catch her watching wrestling, mom would take the television out of her room. It was that conservative attitude that many wrestling fans can relate to.
That tune has obviously changed since Banks has become one of the top female stars in the WWE. Banks said her mom is now one of her biggest fans and often tells people that her daughter is the WWE RAW Women’s Champion. It’s good to know that mom is definitely proud of her daughter for everything that she’s accomplished so far in her still young WWE career.
13 Banks Trained in Mixed Martial Arts
It’s been mentioned that Sasha Banks had a passion for professional wrestling at a very young age. She had the desire to train when she was just 10 years old. In fact, Banks admitted in an interview on WWE Unfiltered with Renee Young that she was turned away from a wrestling school when she was 12. Banks said she was sending a number of emails to various schools in New Jersey, California and even in Canada.
It was no surprise that she was rejected by all of them, as she had to wait until she was 18, or 16 in some schools. From there, Banks went to train in mixed martial arts. Her inspiration for the move was watching plenty of matches involving Rob Van Dam. It certainly helped her overall in-ring skills because she actually moved up the independent wrestling circuit to get her contract with WWE when she was just 20 years old.
12 Teenage Banks Attended The Eddie Guerrero Memorial RAW
Sasha Banks had studied a variety of wrestlers while growing up. She’s referenced a number of women who have influenced her persona and in-ring style, including names like Trish Stratus, Ivory and Molly Holly. But one person who gave her the most inspiration was former WWE Champion Eddie Guerrero. Imagine her excitement when she won front row tickets to the RAW SuperShow in Minneapolis in November 2005.
Unfortunately, she discovered the news of Guerrero’s passing earlier that day. Guerrero had died from heart failure in his hotel room and was discovered in his hotel room by his nephew Chavo. Banks admitted she thought the “R.I.P. Eddie” signs were referencing an advertised match with The Undertaker. Banks would comment on Chris Jericho’s podcast that not seeing him wrestle live was one of the most heartbreaking moments of her life.
11 She's Close With Triple H, But Is Scared Of Approaching Vince
It's no secret that Triple H's handling of NXT has spearheaded an evolution in the WWE (no pun intended). Part of the influence of NXT has been the push for women to be seen as equals to the male talent. Triple H recruited many top female wrestlers for NXT and Sasha Banks was one of them. Hunter clearly saw something in her and continues to be one of her biggest supporters in WWE. Sasha feels very comfortable with the C.O.O as a result. She has openly said how close she is with him, affectionately calling him "Papa Hunter". At the same, she is scared to approach the head honcho, Vince McMahon. That would lend some credence to reports that Vince isn't as high on Sasha as Triple H is.
She described her relationship with the two on the Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast: "Hunter's Papa, so [McMahon] must be Granddaddy. I don't really get to talk to him too often because I am honestly very scared of him. I am honestly really scared of him. But when he walks by, I try to be cool. Yeah, 'hello, how are you, sir?' He's like, 'hello, yeah.' I'm like, 'we're good, right?' It's mostly just Papa Hunter that I talk to. I've known him since NXT. He [has] seen me since the beginning when I was a nobody, so he's my go-to guy if I ever need help or questions. Yeah, he's the man."
10 Snoop Dogg’s Cousin/Her Musical Family
While Sasha Banks was part of a big match for the WWE Women’s Championship at WrestleMania 32, her entrance was a big talking point the day after. Legendary hip-hop artist Snoop Dogg performed live on the stage as part of Banks’ entrance. The connection between the two is that Banks is related to the rap star. The two are cousins. Although Banks will admit that she didn’t spend a lot of time with him growing up, she would attend many of his concerts.
She also admitted that she begged for him to take her to WrestleMania XXIV. Banks was just 16 years old at the time and said she was nervous about asking to get pictures with the WWE Superstars at the time. While there were connections available to Banks, she said that he’s never had influence in her getting her opportunities with the WWE.
While many people talk about Sasha Banks being related to Snoop Dogg as a first cousin, it's interesting to note that Banks also has other family members with ties to popular music. A fan had asked her to confirm that she was related to both Brandy Norwood and William Ray Norwood, also known as Ray J; she is a first cousin to both. Brandy is a little more famous for not only her musical career, but also for her acting.
Brandy has been the lead actress in the TV show Moesha, while also being in films like I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. Ray J is another musician, but more known for his previous relationship with TV star Kim Kardashian. However, neither have the popularity close to matching Snoop Dogg.
9 Trained at Chaotic Wrestling
Before she was The Boss in the WWE, Sasha Banks got her start with Chaotic Wrestling, which is based in Woburn, Mass. This promotion might sound familiar for having featured a number for current and former WWE superstars since their first show in 2001. Other wrestlers who once worked for Chaotic Wrestling includes Kofi Kingston, Darren Young and Damien Sandow. As a young female wrestler, Banks competed as Mercedes KV and won women’s gold in the independent circuit.
Banks began training in 2008 before making her debut in October 2010 during an intergender tag team match with Nikki Roxx against Alexxis and Danny E. While Chaotic Wrestling is where she got her start, a young Banks also worked for various promotions in the Northeastern United States – including the “NWA On Fire” promotion.
8 Banks Was Tough Even As Young Indie Star
Sasha Banks has certainly made her mark in some of the toughest women’s matches in WWE history. Her and Charlotte have gone to war against each other inside Hell in a Cell and an Iron Woman Match at Roadblock. But she was also a part of some interesting matches during her early career on the independent circuit.
While a young Mercedes KV in the Northeastern United States, one of her early highlights was an “I Quit” match with Alexxis to win the Chaotic Wrestling Women’s Championship in 2011. Even when she was a rookie on the independent circuit, Banks showed she was just as tough as some of the bigger names in the wrestling industry. Perhaps efforts like these are what convinced Triple H to give her a shot in NXT.
7 Used to Compete Under 100 Pounds
Sasha Banks is definitely a petite wrestler in the ring. She is currently listed at about five-foot-five and weighing close to 115 pounds. That’s not to say she isn’t tough, which has been seen in her feud with Charlotte for the WWE RAW Women’s Championship. But Banks was certainly a lot smaller before going into professional wrestling. A main event wrestler, male or female, has to be in peak physical shape to be in that spotlight.
During an interview with Muscle & Fitness magazine, she revealed that she actually weighed only 99 pounds early in her WWE career. She admitted that she wasn’t knowledgeable about training until she came to the WWE in 2012 and was coached properly at the WWE Performance Center. Since then, Banks said she’s enjoyed weightlifting more to help her with her definition.
6 Sorry Men, Banks is Married
It’s safe to say that 2016 was a good year for Sasha Banks. Not only did it feature her call-up to the WWE main roster, but she also got married to her long-time boyfriend in Sarath Ton. The two were engaged in 2015 before officially tying the knot in August 2016. Some people may know Ton best by the nickname “Mikaze,” as seen in episodes of Xavier Woods’ Up Up Down Down.
While Ton has some wrestling experience, he’s worked with WWE in costume designing. The two met when Ton was a seamstress at NXT when Banks was just starting out. The news was leaked through various social media pictures, but both have been quiet about their relationship and were also quiet when they got married. Male wrestling fans will be depressed reading the news.
5 Banks Has a “Geeky” Side
WWE fans have learned that many of their favorite superstars are fans themselves. Many of their interests go outside the WWE Universe and spread through different parts of culture. Sasha Banks certainly has a geeky side to her and has shown in through her social media posts. She’s had a number of cosplay outfits based around comic book characters like a female-version of The Joker and also for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
During an interview with WWE.com back in 2014, Banks also talked about being a big fan of Sailor Moon, one of the more popular Japanese anime cartoons. She noted that Serena Sailor Moon is her favorite character for the qualities that Banks shares with her – makes mistakes, but gets it done when it matters most.
4 Credits Beyonce And Kanye West For Inspiration
The Boss has talked about the different WWE Superstars who have influenced her in-ring work. But her style going to the ring comes from the inspiration she gets from pop culture icons. Banks said that the inspiration for her entrance wardrobe comes from musicians Beyonce and Kanye West. The connection makes sense with Banks’ character as The Boss. She also has the personality to pull off a look similar to both pop stars.
Banks’ former heel persona also seems to capture a lot of the confidence that stars like Beyonce and West often show in their own concerts. She also noted that she’s able to take her ideas to her husband and create different inspired outfits. It probably helps that her husband is also the main costume designer for the WWE.
3 Banks’ Main Roster Debut Was Originally in 2014
Sasha Banks official call-up to the WWE main roster took place on that July 2015 episode of RAW that signaled the beginning of the Divas Revolution. Along with Becky Lynch and Charlotte, Banks made the full-time jump from NXT to provide a boost to women’s wrestling. While some might think that was their official debut on the WWE main roster, Banks and Charlotte technically had a main roster debut before that.
Banks faced Charlotte during an episode of WWE Main Event back on December 30, 2014. Charlotte was holding the NXT Women’s Championship at the time and the two had an entertaining match. However, it was easily forgotten about because WWE Main Event was rarely watched on television. That Tuesday night weekly show went from Ion Television to a WWE.com exclusive before fading into obscurity.
2 Competed in WWE's First Iron-Woman Match
NXT was showing that they were going to do be the ones to set the tone for the next generation of WWE. Sasha Banks and Bayley certainly contributed in a big way with competing in the first ever Ironwoman Match at a NXT Takeover special in October 2015. The 30-minute match was the first ever of its kind in the WWE. Because of this, there was a lot of buzz surrounding the match.
Because of the special terms of this NXT Women’s Championship, it was set as the main event of the NXT special event. While some of the greatest women were able to compete in some historic matches, there weren’t many women who were the main event attraction. It was a distinguished honor for both Banks and Bayley.
1 Banks, Bayley First Women to Win “Match of the Year”
A few years into working within WWE’s development system, Sasha Banks would rise to being the top female competitor at NXT. While she’s known for having some of her best matches with Charlotte, she was able to do the same thing last year with Bayley. The two were considered by many wrestling publications to have the feud of the year for the NXT Women’s Championship. But their biggest highlight came during a 30-minute Iron Woman match during NXT Takeover: Respect at Full Sail University.
The two had one of the most talked about women’s matches in WWE history with Bayley getting the 3-2 win. But both Banks and Bayley were honored with the Match of the Year award by Pro Wrestling Illustrated. Rolling Stone would also name it their pick for both the NXT Match of the Year and NXT Title Feud of the Year. In a time where NXT featured names like Finn Balor and Samoa Joe, this was quite the accomplishment.