The big story coming out of WWE Raw involves Women’s Tag Team Champions Sasha Banks and Naomi as they legitimately walked out on the show. Fightful.com reported that Sasha Banks was not happy with how she would be booked for the evening.
Banks met with Vince McMahon to change the plans, but her pitch was rejected. Neither side would budge, resulting in the walkout. PW Insider reports Vince McMahon learned of their departure as Raw went on the air, requiring the main event to be changed.
The original plan was for Banks to work a six-pack challenge with Naomi, Asuka, Doudrop, and Nikki ASH, where the winner would challenge Bianca Belair for the Raw Women’s Title at Hell in a Cell. Naomi was scheduled to win the match by beating Banks.
Banks losing to Naomi would leave her open to challenge Ronda Rousey for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at Hell in a Cell. Banks and Naomi would put over Rousey and Belair and resume defending the tag team titles the following month at Money in the Bank.
The crux of the issue stems from Banks being unhappy with losing in filler matches instead of not being booked strong as tag team titleholders. WrestlingObserver alluded to contract issues, and the items above that led to the walkout.
WWE never acknowledges legitimate backstage drama. However, this time, they changed things up. The company got ahead of the story and released a statement during Raw, front and center on their website.
“When Sasha Banks and Naomi arrived at the arena this afternoon, they were informed of their participation in the main event of tonight’s Monday Night Raw.
During the broadcast, they walked into WWE Head of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis office with their suitcases in hand, placed their tag team championship belts on his desk and walked out.
They claimed they weren’t respected enough as tag team champions. And even though they had eight hours to rehearse and construct their match, they claimed they were uncomfortable in the ring with two of their opponents even though they’d had matches with those individuals in the past with no consequence. Monday Night Raw is a scripted live TV show, whose characters are expected to perform the requirements of their contract.
We regret we were unable to deliver, as advertised, tonight’s main event.”
The fact that WWE released a statement suggests this whole thing is a work. Items such as placing the belts on John Laurinaitis’ desk and claiming a lack of respect as champions would reinforce the narrative of a work.
The specificity of what was said in the latter portion of the statement, however, says otherwise. Stating Banks and Naomi had eight hours to rehearse their match while also mentioning they felt unsafe working with two of the women in the match, presumed to be Doudrop and Nikki ASH, is something you would NEVER say if it were a work.
Telling fans that a wrestler had plenty of time to plan their fake fight behind the camera to enhance what happens in front of the camera is straight out of Vince Russo’s playbook. Oh, and that strategy worked wonders for WCW.
WWE probably won’t fire Banks and Naomi, thus gift wrapping them to AEW. Banks also walked out in 2019 after losing the tag team titles (w/ Bayley) to The Iiconics at WrestleMania.
The atypical approach of total transparency was used, and it’s pretty brilliant. It puts the blame on Banks and Naomi. If the backlash is potent enough, the two become less viable attractions past the point of no return, WWE can fire them, and they’re no longer of value to AEW.
Unfortunately, Doudrop and Nikki ASH were collateral damage. They lost out on a main event opportunity due to the walkout, and WWE told the world that Banks and Naomi felt the two were unsafe in the ring.
The statement mentioned there were no issues in previous matches with Doudrop and Nikki. However, once you put an idea out into the ether, it will stick in one form or another.
There are diehard fans Sasha Banks fans who will defend her and Naomi no matter what. There are even small pockets of people who are alluding to racism because historically, Black women are unappreciated.
No, just, no. Unless, working with Bianca Belair and Ronda Rousey became a downgrade in the last 48 hours.
Many of those people will believe Doudrop and Nikki to be subpar performers. While such a belief may have little to no effect on their careers, it’s still an unfair narrative to distribute. Dewdrop is still finding her legs as an attraction in WWE, while Nikki made the best of A.S.H. character with a smile.
They say actors and athletes are often the last to know or figure it out. Sasha Banks and Naomi objected to being used as throwaway opponents on a throwaway show and demanded to be booked strongly as the tag team champions instead. Yet, the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles are an afterthought at best.
Show me a fan waiting with bated breath for the next women’s tag title match, and I’ll show you a pig that can fly. I’m just a dude who watches the show, and even I can tell that WWE could care less about those titles, so how did Banks and Naomi not know?
Perhaps being a champion under the bright lights blinded them to the reality of their championship station.
There are reports that state Naomi was not going to beat Sasha Banks in the original main event, while previous reports are sticking to the reverse story. If Banks were not going to lose on Monday, the walkout would seem even sillier than before.
However, let’s go with the version where Naomi pins Banks for the moment. If wrestling is real, it stands to reason that a six-pack challenge would come down to the two champions in the match. Why? Because being a champion means you’re one of the best in the world.
It’s logical for Naomi to pin Banks because that means it took a champion to beat a champion. Still, though, I get it. Wrestlers are particular creatures who put things on a pedestal that belong in a cardboard box.
Besides, it’s not as if the tag team champions put over the singles champions on a regular basis…I’m lying; they do, all the time. So, why are Sasha Banks and Naomi any different? Maybe there is something we don’t know. Heaven forbid it’s something stupid such as the two being a mark for themselves.