On Thursday night, Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss made WWE history by becoming the first women wrestlers to perform in front of an audience at a WWE live event in Abu Dhabi.
Following the match, an emotional Banks said in an interview that watching little girls in the crowd made it all “worth it”. On Friday afternoon, a day before she will compete once again against Bliss at the WWE live event in New Delhi, Banks reiterated what her previous day’s effort meant to her.
“I was emotional because that was something so big. It was the first ever women’s match in Abu Dhabi,” she said. “It was something so special. I knew that it was going to be something so important. So right before I went out, I had the flood of tears down my face. And I rushed to the bathroom thinking don’t mess up your makeup.”
While the WWE had conducted a live event in Abu Dhabi last year, women had not been permitted to compete, a stipulation that was changed this time. The audience, Banks felt, was extremely supportive.
“When I walked through the arena and the crowd and I had my entrance, I was very surprised at the reception. They don’t really get women’s matches over there and so when I spotted women in the crowd I was very surprised. The reactions and support I got was so empowering. Hopefully it opens the doors for many more opportunities for women in that country.”
Both Banks, a four time RAW women’s champion, as well as Bliss, her opponent and current RAW women’s champion, have been at the forefront of historic change in the WWE.
“It’s all happened in the past four years. It started with the WWE Revolution because of the fans wanting to see the women more. The WWE heard that and wanted to give the women a chance. Since then, we have just been breaking down doors and taking every opportunity that has been given to us,” Banks said.
Banks was the first woman to compete in an Ironman match, the first to headline a major WWE event, as well as the first to compete alongside Charlotte Flair in a Hell in the Cell match.
“Having the first ever women’s hell in a cell and pay per views and now to wrestle in Abu Dhabi match. It’s so great to see just how far the WWE has come from a time when we weren’t given a storyline or having bra and panties matches to getting to the main event and even being the face of the company,” she said.
Rivals in the ring, Bliss concurs with the sentiment.
“The change has been incredible. I remember even when I first started out in NXT, and the girls wanted to do certain moves in matches and I remember, our coach would tell us, ‘you don’t have to do that, you don’t have to learn that. This is what is required of you.’ And it was a lot of hair pulling, a lot of slapping. And it just wasn’t seen as being taken seriously,” she said.
Banks knows just how far the WWE has come when she speaks to former women’s wrestlers.
“Women like Trish (Stratus) and Lita come and tell us how hard the locker room really was. There was just so much competition back then. They weren’t given as much time and were just fighting for one spot. Here we have the opportunity to have RAW and Smackdown women’s champions. We have two different women’s championships to fight over. We are given more time so we have two different storylines . Because we want to show what the women can do.”
Having already made such progress, Banks has her sights set on an even loftier target.
“I think the next goal for the women is to be at the main event in Wrestlemania.” It might have seemed preposterous only a few years ago but not anymore.
“I don’t think it’s very far off,” Bliss said. “I think every woman on the roster wants to be at the main event for Wrestlemania. And if we ever get the opportunity to, it should be a match where every woman is involved. It would be that moment of the women’s evolution that would be the ‘we did it’. And I think every woman should be involved because it took every woman to get there