Sasha Banks walked into WrestleMania 35 on April 7 as half of the first-ever WWE women's tag team champions, but things went downhill after that.
Not only did she lose her title that night, but she also took the next few months off to deal with various pressures behind the scenes. The hope was she would return and go on a tear, reinvigorated and better than ever.
At first, that seemed to be the case. Turning heel on her comeback by attacking Natalya positioned her as the hottest villain in the women's division and set her up for a title match against Becky Lynch at Clash of Champions on September 15.
She even won that by disqualification—not the best outcome, but surely a means to stall until putting the title on her at Hell in a Cell.
But instead of scoring a victory over Lynch, The Boss came up short again, this time tapping out to her opponent. There was no debate about who the better woman was and no justification for a rematch anymore.
As there were no plans to take the belt off The Man, Banks was unknowingly set up for failure and nothing to bounce back with. She started at the peak and had nowhere to go but downward.
With Bayley's heel turn, that killed the ability to do the built-in feud between The Boss 'n' Hug Connection. Instead, Banks has since been playing second-fiddle to her best friend.
Other than standing by Bayley's side and joining her in getting new hairstyles and entrance music, Banks has done nothing other than failing to lead Team SmackDown to victory at Survivor Series on November 24.
It didn't have to be this way, either. WWE had the perfect opportunity to turn things around for Banks, but chose to double-down on Bayley instead.
After Charlotte Flair won the SmackDown Women's Championship at Hell in a Cell on October 6, she dropped it back to Bayley on the blue brand's weekly show five days later. That should have been The Boss' title win.
She could have moved to SmackDown just the same—a wish she's often spoken about over the years—and been in the top heel-champion role Bayley finds herself in at the moment.
Flipping their roles would have undone Banks' loss to Lynch and given purpose to her heel turn.
Of course, that would mean Bayley would have taken a hit, but she had already won Money in the Bank and been champion this year. She also had the bigger changes to undergo, which were interesting enough without needing the title.
It could have been Lynch vs. Banks vs. Shayna Baszler at Survivor Series last month, with Bayley leading Team SmackDown.
Instead, Banks is stuck in limbo.
She isn't the top heel on her brand. She only just started a feud with Lacey Evans which is likely a vehicle to build The Sassy Southern Belle as a contender for Bayley, making Banks a stepping stone.
The Boss can't feud with the champion, as that's her best friend who is also a heel, and both turned too recently for either to go babyface again any time soon.
With no title to fight for, no goals to achieve, nobody to feud with, no more tweaks left to her character to spark interest and no role to play other than Bayley's buddy, Banks is in a worse situation than earlier this year. That's a shame, because she's better than that.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.