RondaRousey.com’s Wrestler of the Week series profiles significant wrestlers from the past and present.
Sasha Banks’ career in the WWE has lived up to every bit of what her nickname—the “Legit Boss”—suggests.
The Boss went from falling in love with pro wrestling at an early age to hanging out backstage at WWE events with her cousin Snoop Dogg. She turned her dreams into reality by honing her craft on the roads of the New England independent wrestling scene, finding her character in NXT, and eventually shining on the WWE’s main roster. And at only 26 years old, there’s plenty more success in store for the “Boss” of WWE.
Born Mercedes Kaestner-Varnado, Banks is not shy about admitting that she grew up a pro wrestling fan. In fact, she attributes Eddie Guerrero as being a huge influence on her current wrestling style. She also speaks openly about the time she asked first-cousin Snoop Dogg to bring her along to WrestleMania XXIV. Snoop Dogg was Master of Ceremonies that year, which allowed Banks to meet some of the biggest stars in the world of sports entertainment.
“I was only 16 and WrestleMania XXIV was in Orlando,” Banks told BET.com before her match at WrestleMania 33. “I just remember begging him like, ‘Please, please, please take me with you.’ He was the Master of Ceremonies for a match at WrestleMania that year and I remember him walking down the ramp during rehearsals and I was running behind him. I was like, ‘Wow, this is going to be me and I’m going to be walking down this ramp one day.'”
That was the last spark needed to ignite the fire inside of Banks.
By the age of 18, she had enrolled in the New England Pro Wrestling Academy and began performing for the Massachusetts-based promotion Chaotic Wrestling under the name “Mercedes KV.” She rose quickly through the promotion and became the women’s champion a year after her debut. She held the belt for 260 days, which at the time was a Chaotic Wrestling record.
In August 2012, Mercedes KV signed a deal with the WWE and was sent to their developmental program NXT (formerly FCW). It was there where she adopted the Sasha Banks moniker and “Legit Boss” character. It didn’t take long before Banks made her way onto NXT television. For the better part of a year, the women’s division revolved around her and fellow NXT Four Horsewomen, Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, and Bayley.
At NXT TakeOver: Rival on February 11, 2015, Banks defeated Charlotte to become the NXT Women’s Champion. She’d go on to lose the title to Bayley at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn and move up to the main roster alongside Charlotte and Becky Lynch to spur the WWE’s Women’s Revolution.
Banks made her official main roster debut in July 2015 and—rather predictably—made an immediate impact. Over the past three-plus years, Banks has held the WWE (RAW) Women’s Championship four times and has been instrumental in the women’s division’s participation on WrestleMania main cards.
It wasn’t an easy road for “The Boss,” but she’s managed to make her mark at an early age. With countless milestones already under her belt, Banks is positioned to take the Women’s Evolution to new and exciting heights.
You can watch Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte Flair at NXT TakeOver: Rival on the WWE Network.