Sasha Banks' Slow-Burn Heel Turn Is WWE Storytelling at Its Finest

Ryan Dilbert@@ryandilbertWWE Lead WriterApril 7, 2017

Credit: WWE.com

The patient pace of Sasha Banks' darkness covering her heart is making for prime WWE drama, and it will climax in one of 2017's best moments.

Foreshadowing, a logical character shift and surprisingly measured storytelling has The Boss poised to deliver one of the best heel turns in recent memory. Fans know her shift is coming, and that's a big part of its appeal.

There has been a slow, steady buildup of The Boss' descent into villainy.

WWE has shown us hints of her imminent betrayal of her friend Bayley, the Raw women's champ. We see the cracks widen in their alliance, even if Bayley isn't fully aware of them.

Sasha Banks celebrates a win on the April 3 Raw with Bayley and Dana Brooke.
Sasha Banks celebrates a win on the April 3 Raw with Bayley and Dana Brooke.Credit: WWE.com

Their story began when they were both part of NXT, as the two women collided over the developmental brand's women's title. WWE has largely glossed over those chapters, though. It's decided instead to mostly start afresh.

Banks brought Bayley aboard the main roster at Battleground 2016 as a mystery partner.

The ever-peppy Bayley made her official debut a month later in August. From that point, The Boss and The Huggable One have been onscreen buddies, supporting and celebrating each other.  

But there have since been a number of hints of that friendship falling apart.

Banks has struggled to put together wins. Her friend, meanwhile, charged up the ladder and grabbed the Raw women's title. Jealousy and frustration have progressively poisoned Banks.

On January 30, a focused Banks taped up her leg in preparation for a battle with Nia Jax. The powerhouse had steamrolled her earlier, leaving her hobbled. 

Bayley tried to dissuade her from stepping in the ring. Banks fired back with a shot at her friend's title match loss at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view the night before.

"I have everything to prove. Unlike some people, I am not OK with coming up short," she said.

WWE could have had that tension snowball into a heel turn and a backstabbing in a matter of days, but it chose instead to wait. Banks continued to stand by Bayley's side. Their alliance remained strong on the surface.

In February, The Boss helped Bayley defeat Charlotte Flair to claim the Raw Women's Championship. She cracked her crutch against The Queen's head while both the referee and Bayley's attention was elsewhere. 

Flair later tried to use that attack to divide the two allies.

Ahead of WrestleMania 33, she claimed that Banks' friendship wasn't legitimate, that Banks was simply using her to make the path to her next title reign easier. Bayley brushed it off, but WWE was planting more seeds, giving us insight into Banks' motivations.

Banks earned her way into a championship match with Flair, Jax and Bayley at The Show of Shows by beating her buddy in non-title action.

There were touches of viciousness from The Boss, but the contest remained mostly civil. 

Bleacher Report's Kevin Berge pointed out how hesitant the women were to fight each other:

Banks' turn didn't come during that match. It didn't happen at WrestleMania, either. There have been plenty of opportunities for her to lose it and put her hands on her friend's throat, but WWE has held off on that moment.

Anticipation is growing as a result.

On the Raw after WrestleMania, fans saw the latest subtle hint of the change coming in Banks. She, Bayley and Dana Brooke teamed together to take down a trio of heels. 

After the battle, The Boss clutched the women's title and briefly refused to give it back to the rightful owner. Disbelief washed across Bayley's face for a moment. 

Banks tweeted an explanation that reeked of insincerity:

This is all moving toward an explosive conclusion. WWE history says that Banks will turn on her friend. There's a money rivalry to explore between those two, and it will be powered by a lengthy, powerful buildup. 

This won't be one of Big Show's meaningless turns.

Too often, WWE goes for shock over suspense. The story of heroes embracing their dark side is often told in a clumsy way like a poorly written action movie where characters suddenly reveal they were the bad guy all along.

That's not the case with Banks and Bayley. The Boss' motivation will be logical. Envy will reshape her; a hunger for glory will alter her. 

The long arc of that about-face and the heavy supply of tip-offs along the way will make it one to remember. 

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