WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion Sasha Banks has opened up about her belief that she was nearly released in 2013, saying Dusty Rhodes being the only one who believed in her.
Before she was ‘The Boss’, the woman millions know and love as Sasha Banks was just Mercedes Varnado – a hopeful WWE recruit who believed that she could make it to the top of the mountain with the right character and the correct timing.
However, things didn’t go swimmingly upon her signing with the company in 2013 and though she had the ability, the star’s time in development would see her trawl through many different characters and personas in order to finally make it to television as the dominant ‘Boss’ that many have taken to their hearts.
Joining Stone Cold Steve Austin on his Broken Skull Sessions, Banks opened up about her time in WWE’s development system, how the late, great Dusty Rhodes was the only person to believe in her and her initial fears that she would be released shortly after signing:
“In 2013 I felt an energy that I was going to get released. I had no character. I had nothing but good wrestling skills. Every single week I would go to promo class and just be happy and grateful to be there. Just a generic babyface…I was like, ‘no, this is not it.’ When you feel energy, and my energy I can feel a lot of things, I was like, ‘I’m on the chopping block and I cannot get fired.’ I felt it. I could not get fired from this place that I grew up watching my whole life. My only dream. So Tyler Breeze, he helped me so much. He’s like, ‘you need to write down a list of all different characters and we can film it with Woods.’ Woods would help everybody who was ever on the chopping block or who wanted to do some things. or wanted to send some things into WWE and make things more, just for them to see their character. Xavier Woods and Tyler Breeze went out of their way to help so many people. I couldn’t even believe it.”
The result of an effort to stand out amongst the crowd was five different characters created with the aid of her cousin Snoop Dogg. Though the pair whittled them down to the gimmick she portrays in the present, Banks explained that her choice was ill-received by WWE management with only Dusty Rhodes seeing its potential:
“I thought, you know, that’s a good character, let me take that and turn it up. I’m the baddest, I’m the greatest, I’m the boss of NXT. I tried it at promo class, everyone sh*tted on it except for Dusty Rhodes, which is going to make me cry. Nobody got it, nobody understood it except for Dusty. He said, ‘that’s what I wanted, keep on coming back every single week and doing that. That’s the sassy Sasha that I’ve been dreaming and seeing and wanting you to be.’ So crazy.”
It may have taken Sasha Banks several years to break into NXT and get the character over, but her vindication for the hard work and constant rejections came at NXT TakeOver: Rival on February 15, 2015, when she finally became NXT Women’s Champion defeating Charlotte Flair, Bayley and Becky Lynch in a Fatal 4-Way Match.
Credit for the interview: Broken Skull Sessions
h/t for the transcription: Fightful