We haven't seen Sasha Banks in WWE in a while. And if she doesn't get back on television soon, everyone, outside of her diehard fans, will stop missing her.
The last time that Banks performed for the company, she was WWE Women's Tag Team Champion, along with Bayley. The two of them lost their titles at WrestleMania 35 in a Fatal 4-Way tag match against the IIconics (who won), Nia Jax & Tamina and Natalya & Beth Phoenix.
It was a surprising outcome, because Bayley and Banks held the titles for a mere 49 days. One would think that inaugural champions should last longer, to give the newly minted belts some prestige and stability.
And apparently, both Banks and Bayley felt the same way. According to Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Elle Collins of Uproxx), Banks attempted to quit after learning the match's finish. Instead, WWE gave her time off, feeling that the decision was rash.
And in subsequent weeks, more rumors have leaked out. According to Ryan Satin of Pro Wrestling Sheet, Bayley and Banks lay on the floor in the locker room and in the hallway of their hotel, loudly protesting the booking.
But Bayley returned to work the following day. Banks did not. And the most recent rumor from Meltzer (h/t Felix Upton of Ringside News), is that the issue has reached a stalemate. WWE is willing to let Banks sit out the rest of her contract rather than releasing her or acceding to her.
It might seem surprising, at first glance, that WWE would not bend over backwards for Banks to stay. She is one of WWE's original Four Horsewomen, along with Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch and Bayley. She was one half of what is widely considered to be the greatest WWE women's match of all time in Bayley vs. Banks at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. She is a four-time Raw Women's Champion. And she's a part of too many historical firsts to easily downplay or minimize her contributions to the women's evolution.
And therein lies an awkward truth. Her legacy is more valuable than what she presently contributes to the company in the here and now.
Back in 2014/15, Banks was a rare talent, a unicorn among talents that were less developed than her. She set a high bar for the younger women to match. And now, in a cruel irony, Banks is less vital to the company for having done so. If she leaves or decides to sit this out, there are multiple women, who are just as if not more talented than Banks, who are willing to not only take her spot, but excel in it.
The women's division is strong today, thanks to her. It's debatably more interesting to watch than the men's division. And perhaps, when evaluating her utilization, she needs to take this more competitive environment into account. There are only three titles to go around, after all.
And already, WWE has moved on from Banks. All it took was one skit, in which Banks wasn't answering Bayley's calls, to eliminate her from the storyline. Bayley's moved on to a solo career on SmackDown. And the fans will move on, too. There will be no Sasha Banks chants after she's gone.
No one, not even an exceptional talent like Banks, is irreplaceable. The good news is that no one is relying on her anymore; she need not feel any additional, outside pressure, sense of responsibility or obligation, now that she's been gone for close to three weeks. This should be a personal decision—whatever makes her happy.
But if she wants to come back, she'd better do it sooner rather than later. Because WWE isn't going to beg, and with newer stars like Lacey Evans, Ember Moon, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville on the horizon, fans might realize they don't miss Banks as much as they thought they would.