Thursday, December 7, 2023

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Women of the Year 2014: Sasha Banks

Every hour until the clock strikes midnight (Eastern time) and we usher in 2015, Diva Dirt will highlight – in no particular order – the women who made an impact in 2014.

Sasha Banks

Throughout the past twelve months, resident NXT standout, Sasha Banks, has proven time and time again that she embodies exactly what her patented “Boss” moniker stands for – Built On Self Success.

When we said goodbye to 2013, Sasha was involved with the BFFs, a group comprised of herself, Summer Rae and the newly acquired Charlotte. She was doing well, but true fans of the Boston native wanted to see her do even better, hoping 2014 would be a year for her to step out and show all she was capable of. However, within the opening months, Summer was largely considered to be at the forefront of the trio, off filming movies and representing the group on both the main roster and hit reality series, Total Divas. Charlotte then went on to capture the NXT Women’s Championship, that of which she has held onto for a considerable amount of time.

If you ask this writer though, it’s Banks who has really taken the year by storm. Perhaps not in terms of accolades when compared to her counterparts, but when one thinks of someone who truly made every second of time she’s been given matter… someone who has had to continuously reach new heights on her own without instantly receiving any sort of reward for it… Sasha Banks takes the gold medal.

Sasha may not have been at the forefront of the group, but she sure as hell was the backbone. Consistently delivering time and time again, this Diva has yet to put on a bad match, remains always improving and evolving, and works well with any competitor she’s stepped in the ring against. Someone fresh onto TV like Alexa Bliss? Good match. Someone seasoned like Becky Lynch? Good match. Not to mention the fact she and Bayley had to face off more times than I have fingers and toes. But you know what? They stole every one of those shows. The two may have been given the same thing to work with over and over again, but they did everything they could to make each one not only stand out, but actually be memorable… opting not to settle on something we’d forget by the time the next episode aired. How many times on various programs do we see repeated matches, all interchangeable with the next? It’s not easy to do what those two accomplished.

A few months down the line came the NXT Women’s Title tournament after Paige was forced to relinquish the championship, and THIS is where Sasha started to really show what she was capable of when given just that little bit of extra time. Banks ended up putting on two of the strongest matches in the entire tourney against the likes of Bayley and Natalya, and from there, continued building herself up throughout the summer amidst a full fledged split between the BFFs. While she ultimately suffered a loss in a #1 Contenders Match to Bayley and missed the chance to compete for the title again at NXT TakeOver: Fatal 4 Way in September, that was not going to stop The Boss from getting all eyes on her before it was all said and done.

In fact, if the tournament was when fans’ eyes were opened to her true wrestling ability, this was the night they fully saw how far she had come when it came to rocking a microphone like nobodies business.

Before the event actually started, Sasha was on the pre-show and delivered a fantastic promo venting her frustrations to Alex Riley about the people who doubt her, as well as how she’s continuously being overlooked by NXT management. Whether it’s in merchandise or title shots, Sasha Banks wasn’t going to just sit around and continue watching opportunity after opportunity pass her by. Once the night had ended, she returned to interrupt a ringside interview between Charlotte and Bayley, cutting arguably the best promo of her career, simultaneously taking both women down a peg and fully cementing her status as a total package in the process.

Following that night, NXT finally seemed to wake up and see just what they had in a talent like her, utilizing Banks as a top dawg of the Divas division. She went on to begin securing victories, also aligning herself with a new friend in that of Becky Lynch. Don’t get it twisted though… Becky may be her new right hand woman, but come NXT Takeover: [R]Evolution in mid-December, Sasha finally went for the title, and she went for it all on her own.

This was the night she had been waiting for – the night where, finally, after being forced to sit in the back for the previous live specials, it was HER turn to step out onto the big stage and deliver. Without a doubt, Banks went in guns blazing. So much so, that a crowd who normally finds themselves forever against her… was suddenly in her corner. The people at Full Sail University, that night, saw how hard this girl had worked, and they saw she was giving every fiber of her being to get what she’d striven for. How could they root against that? They couldn’t. And they didn’t. Together with champion, Charlotte, Sasha Banks put on what has become considered one of – if not the – strongest televised female wrestling match of 2014. In fact, calling it a great “female wrestling match” almost feels like doing it a disservice. It was an outstanding wrestling match, period. No gender implications needed.

Add in the fact that she closed out the year main eventing the Christmas edition of NXT with a very strong rematch for the title just two weeks later, AND THEN even appeared on the December 30th episode of WWE Main Event facing off with Charlotte once again in another incredible showing that would go on to be the final women’s match of the year… mind-blowing. Oh yeah, and don’t forget she also technically made her WrestleMania debut alongside the champ and Alexa Bliss as part of Triple H‘s majestic Grecian entrance all the way back in April too.

To sum it up, 2014 has been a very strong year for The Boss. Can 2015 be even better though? We certainly hope so, because it feels as if Sasha has only just scratched the surface of possibilities for her career. NXT Women’s Champion? WWE Divas Champion? Sky’s the Limit for Sasha Banks. One thing’s for certain though, and that’s that 2014 was definitely the year she stepped out and took over.

Come back at the top of every hour to see who else has been crowned one of 2014’s Women of the Year.

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