One of the more interesting things that happened in the past few weeks was how Sasha Banks/Naomi (Trinity Fatu) allegedly walked out of the WWE after a producer blew up at them and various other dramatic things happened behind the scenes, leading to an almost Bret Hart level desecration of their reputation on one of the shows by their announcers where they were “stripped” of the tag titles and humiliated by being called “unprofessional.” With the Vince McMahon/Johnny Ace scandal being the latest in the public slippery slope that the WWE has fallen into recently, there’s been rumors that after being suspended and sent home without pay, Sasha Banks now has been let go by the company. It has neither been confirmed nor denied by the WWE, who usually does a good job at least informing the public of when they release their talent, but it seems that Sasha, at the very least, has her lawyers working on “getting it done.”
I have no idea about Naomi so I cannot provide an update about her situation. The thing though is that all these combustible elements exploding like a box of fire crackers that got lit up by someone carelessly tossing a lit cigarette butt into have aggrandized the negative image of the WWE at a time when the WWE feels like its at its all time low (forget the revenue aspect; that probably will bite them in the butt sooner than later). A few weeks ago Stephanie McMahon had stepped down from her position as Chief Brand Officer to effectively “take care of her household and see her children develop” in an indefinite leave of absence. Many people started speculating what that could mean, especially when it seemed possibly Vince McMahon himself had been the one to state that perhaps she was underperforming in that role (although there were others who commented in a similar fashion from within the WWE as part of the ongoing rumors). Then with the NDA bribery sex scandal thing surfacing, people are saying that Stephanie was well aware of the situation and that possibly she backed out to avoid being associated with the scandal.
But I bring up Stephanie as a critical player in this because supposedly she had been the one championing the women’s movement in the WWE (until Johnny Ace showed his nefarious face around again). The key element here is that the WWE had wanted to prevent their top women from going to AEW so those like Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, etc. have been protected to a degree. With Sasha though, who some consider part of the original WWE 4 Horsewomen, this makes for the first real big time star from the WWE’s women’s division who most likely will be exiting the company in the near future. I cannot say for Naomi as I assume she’ll be following Sasha but no matter what, she will get a big pop if she shows up in AEW.
Here’s the thing though in why I’ve decided to write a bit about this situation. Someone posted on reddit how you would handle booking Sasha (and possibly Naomi) in AEW if they (almost inevitably) show up. Because AEW currently does not have a tag team title division for the women, which is what the original point of contention was in Sasha and Naomi’s frustration. You could theoretically build the whole tag team division around Naomi and Sasha but would you really want to?
The problem with AEW is that they’re super flooded and barely can get a women’s match on TV for their major shows. It is guaranteed but you already have a fairly large women’s roster who show up to Dark to do job matches against indy wrestlers who probably should not be anywhere near AEW anymore. However, Sasha Banks is a legit star, probably the biggest women’s wrestler that AEW can acquire. I have said elsewhere that Tony Khan should be right there paying for Sasha’s legal bills to help get her out of her WWE contract (although that probably would be considered tampering) or at least a major signing bonus. Then do a mega press release conference to announce that Sasha Banks has signed with AEW. Forget the stupid “let’s turn the lights off and play music so that the person gets a one time pop to make them feel good” moment/trope and do something different.
I’d have something like what Brian Pillman received when he first signed with the WWF. You get the press, have them take pictures, give Sasha (and possibly Naomi) a pen with a contract, Tony Khan is nearby shaking her hand, she’s dressed to the 10’s, the press ask carefully crafted questions like, “Will you comment on your release from the WWE?” And have Sasha talk about why she came to AEW, put the company over, mention only briefly that she wants to not for the moment discuss what happened until she’s in the ring with the fans because she wants to talk to her fans directly. Then have someone ask “When will you make your debut?” so you build anticipation and give the world a reason to watch AEW rather than have this stupid rumormill go around. It worked with Punk but you don’t want to repeat it because now you need to start doing things differently to make the experience bigger, better and more realistic.
When Sasha Banks shows up to AEW, you have her arrive in a limo, dressed up and getting the Red Carpet treatment with everyone in the locker room (especially the women) coming out to greet her, hug her and she gets her own dressing room with her name written in glitter to demonstrate why’s that level of a star. Don’t tease any immediate feuds because you want her to tell her side of the story. Then it’s lights, camera, action time and she’s ready to go. Show her from behind the curtain this time to allow the crowd to build to a crescendo in the anticipation of seeing the biggest released women’s star finally receive the attention she’s been wanting all these years.
Then she gets to the ring and is given 15 minutes to expound upon what happened. Here, you can use the format CM Punk established because people want to genuinely hear her side of the story. She doesn’t have to directly reference the WWE but just talk in general about how she was treated, the fact that she and her friend/partner were de-emphasized and just used as a warm body to put the next line of people the WWE wanted to market over. When they made their case, they were further humiliated and told to be more professional. So they put their foot down and decided to take matters in their own hands.
However, there was fear and doubt about what they did even though there might be a chance she would never show up to another pro-wrestling program again. Across the states was a spunky, fledgling company that had been making waves. She heard a bunch of people she considered friends and coworkers move down there and receive the AEW treatment. But she had doubts about her own abilities because these people were hungry and she lost a lot of her passion. Seeing here with the crowd’s reaction, she now knew that there could not be any doubt and she made the right choice.
Yet there were some names she saw that made her realize she needs to prove herself still because she hasn’t faced them. Jade Cargill. Very impressive specimen who is beautiful, physically amazing, young, great physique, trains like hell and has improved. But she’s not on Sasha’s level. She wants to be a star but Sasha IS the star. There’s Thunder Rosa, a hard hitting firecracker who reminds Sasha of herself in trying to prove herself all the time. She knows if she faces Thunder they will both bring their A-games to the party. etc etc etc. She’s here because this is where the real competition is for women’s wrestling and she wants to face them all.
I would let her speak and not be interrupted. I would select Jade as Sasha’s first opponent. I’d have Jade get rid of the attitude and talk about how Sasha is a real champion like herself. But she never believed she would get the chance to fight another star of Sasha’s caliber in AEW since she beat them all already. So this is her chance to prove why she is the champion. Then Jade will get her first major loss so that Sasha picks up her first championship while Thunder Rosa remains on the horizon. I honestly would give Sasha the TBS championship, the women’s world title and even ROH title just to demonstrate that she’s that star and I’d have her keep at least the women’s title for a full year and get her back into the Mandalorian to help grow her stardom so she can come back and shine.
One thing I wouldn’t do is have Sasha wrestle indy jobbers week in and week out. She should be taking on the top people in the company from day 1. She shouldn’t need to re-establish herself as a top star but be given the best they have without exposing herself. Like Serena Deeb, Britt Baker (who I would’ve saved if they could get Charlotte and/or Becky Lynch into their promotion), Paige Vanzant, and Tay Conti as the people she should face in feuds. I would not hesitate to get the TBS title on her immediately though. Maybe she might eventually put Jade over after a year and have Jade rebound by working constantly so she improves. But Sasha has to be the top person in the women’s division. There’s no question in my mind for that.
If they bring both in, I’d still put the spotlight on Sasha. Make the women’s tag team division and give it to them for a year. I’d use all that social currency the WWE just gave away to really make those two look like the WWE completely fucked up. But you don’t want to rub it in their face verbally. You need to show it.