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Finally Sasha Banks Has Returned To WWE by Ron Pasceri

On April 3, 2016 Sasha Banks made her WrestleMania debut. She was led out to the ring by her iconic uncle Snoop Dogg. She wore ring gear inspired by her wrestling hero, Eddie Guerrero in his home state of Texas. She hit his signature Frog Splash to the roar of the Dallas crowd. Then, much to my surprise, she didn’t win the match as Ric Flair held her leg while Charlotte secured the victory over Becky Lynch.

The next night on Raw she dispatched of Summer Rae in less than ninety seconds and appeared for a second time during the new Women’s Championship presentation. Sasha led the rest of the women’s roster as they flooded out of thing ring, sick of Charlotte’s arrogance. Again, much to my surprise, it would be the last time I’d see her in a WWE ring until a May 31 match on Main Event. Since most people don’t watch Main Event, she wouldn’t be seen until this past week on Raw. That is a 12-week absence for one of the most popular performers in the company.

In fairness there was a brief period where she was suffering from a concussion, but it doesn’t seem that played any role in the disappearing act. The prevailing story was that she was being “saved” for a big program down the road. Presumably that program is the one that is just getting underway with Charlotte which will culminate with her first WWE Women’s Championship at SummerSlam in Brooklyn. It’s a big event to showcase her in and it’s pretty cool that it will be in the same arena that housed her incredible NXT Women’s Championship match at TakeOver: Brooklyn last August. Unfortunately a payoff doesn’t work on it’s own. There needs to be an actual story for the viewer to invest in.

Wrestling is slightly different than most storytelling mediums in that, we have our favorites and we will always cheer for those favorites when given the opportunity. But just because there are built in supporters doesn’t mean WWE should be taking that for granted. After 12 weeks off television all WWE came up with was the same basic story they put Sasha in upon her return at the Royal Rumble.

She enters to a huge ovation after Charlotte’s match, she asserts herself clearly in the Women’s Championship in the picture by taking Charlotte out, then she teams with one of Charlotte’s competitors. It isn’t identical, but the only differences are superficial. Nattie and Paige are in the place of Becky Lynch. Dana Brooke is in the place of Ric Flair. The Women’s Championship is now the prize and not the Divas Championship. It’s hot outside instead of cold. That’s really all that’s different.

There actually is one other difference. With the introduction of the Women’s Championship at WrestleMania and the increased popularity of female talent, the division was supposed to be handled in a more respectable manner than ever before. That simply has not happened. This is no slight on Charlotte as the Women’s Champion. She has been great and continually gets better, but as a whole it’s more of the same minus the Bellas. And minus almost every other woman on the roster. Since WrestleMania Charlotte’s feuded with Nattie and to a lesser extent, Paige and Becky Lynch. At Battleground it will mark the second consecutive pay-per-view without a Women’s Title defense.

Charlotte teamed with Dana Brooke at Money In The Bank and will do so again against Sasha and Paige next month. This leads me to my next issue: Why is Sasha Banks teaming with Paige at a pay-per-view? I understand that it’s just the way WWE does things sometimes, but it isn’t a character fit. It at least played a part in the story leading up to WrestleMania with Sasha and Becky being reluctant partners and ultimately opponents on the biggest stage. Sasha has no allegiance or ongoing issue with Paige, not to mention “The Boss” wouldn’t be interested in a tag match when her sights are set on Charlotte. WWE loves to push back on all criticisms of their booking decisions by saying characters are all that matters, but in this instance they aren’t even coming close to allowing this character to be who she is.

In NXT we watched a development over time of The Boss. We saw her grow, we saw her surpass her competition and we saw her become arguably the face of NXT. On the main roster viewers have just been told that she’s The Boss and told that she’s The Baddest, but she has never really been given an opportunity to show it. On both Raw and SmackDown! this past week she came after Charlotte, which is great, it’s about time. But she hasn’t been given an opportunity to talk and she hasn’t technically been part of the show. She made a “surprise” entrance on both appearances.

With all the negatives aside, I am a much happier wrestling fan when Sasha Banks is invited to the party. Luckily she is back and hopefully everything I’ve written to this point is turned completely around. WWE has a real chance to tell a great story for the next two months. They could tell us where Sasha has been for those 12 missing weeks. They could have her stalk Charlotte relentlessly until SummerSlam. They could make us believe that the duo of Charlotte and Dana Brooke are insurmountable, only to have her win out in the end. After saving her for all this time to lead up to SummerSlam, I just hope they have a solid plan in place.

Leading up to WrestleMania, Sasha was posting a bunch of diaries on WWE.com detailing her entire first WrestleMania experience. In my mind it was being done to document her becoming the first to win the new Women’s Championship. I thought it would almost mirror the Shawn Michaels “boyhood dream” story from WrestleMania XII. Now I’m more certain than ever that she will walk away as the Champion and I am very excited to see how that story is told.

It’s not likely to truly match what Sasha and Bayley did at the Barclays Center last year, but it will be one of the most memorable moments of 2016 for sure. I always thought Sasha was best suited as a heel but people like her too much and I think her love for what she does is too genuine and it shows. Much like Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, she grew up loving WWE and couldn’t be more excited to be where she is now doing what she’s doing. There is a reason those two men are two of the crowd’s favorite performers and Sasha is embraced much the same way.

We Sasha Banks fans have waited a long time for this journey to unfold and WWE owes it to us to do it the right way. They have eight weeks to lead us to the conclusion of this story that’s only just begun. It could be a really great ride. It will be arguably the biggest SummerSlam of all time, in a building in which Sasha Banks has already made history. If WWE plays their cards right they could manage to turn the Legit Boss into the company’s next Legit Star.