WWE Women's Champion Sasha Banks and Charlotte will make history Sunday by becoming the first women to have a match inside the most dangerous structure in WWE at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view. Banks' title defense against Charlotte is one of three Hell in a Cell matches on the card, along with Rusev vs. Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins.
With just a few days until she steps in the Cell, Sasha Banks spoke with Fox Sports about her history with Charlotte, the danger of Hell in a Cell matches and hardcore legend Mick Foley's not-so-helpful scare tactics. Hell in a Cell will begin at 8:00 p.m. ET this Sunday on the WWE Network.
FS: So I want to start by going back to the start of your long relationship with Charlotte, as you both made it to NXT in 2012. What was your first impression of Charlotte, and can you recall your first match against her?
Sasha Banks: I can’t really recall our first match but I remember one of my first days at NXT, Sara Del Rey had me and Charlotte lock up with each other, and it was that moment where we kinda knew there was something between us. Everyone just kinda stopped in the room when they saw us lock up like ‘whoa,’ and we were kinda like ‘whoa.’ And from there we had this chemistry.
We didn’t really wrestle each other for the first couple years, we were actually a tag team. We tag-teamed all over Florida, we were in the BFFs. When we first started we were these very, very generic babyfaces, really not given the opportunity - we were just there to try to get the other girls over. And it wasn’t until… I think after Charlotte won her NXT Women’s Championship she kinda got a big head like she always does, and I wasn’t really feeling that, because I’m like ‘listen, who helped you from the beginning? That’s right, me. Because I’m the one with the wrestling skills, I’m the one who loves this the most.’ So I kinda just had to put her on her face, and ever since then it’s been this ongoing rivalry to try and prove who’s better.
FS: As a Hell in a Cell match is probably the most dangerous stipulation in WWE, and given how far you and Charlotte have pushed the envelope in your matches, a lot of fans are concerned about the two of you making it through this match unharmed. Do you feel any pressure to top the crazy Hell in a Cell moments we’ve seen in the past?
Sasha: Absolutely not. I honestly don’t go through my Twitter and read stuff, so I don’t know who is saying these things. For me - I’ve always told myself ‘I can only do me in the ring.’ When I go out there and perform, I can only do what Sasha Banks can do. I can’t watch Roman Reigns’ match and be like ‘hey, I have to do a different Roman Reigns because he does this.’ No, I can only do what Sasha Banks does.
I’m trying to not put pressure on myself because I usually always do, and Hell in a Cell is going to be in my hometown of Boston… I don’t know if that adds pressure for me or makes it more calm for me. For me, all I know is I can put it in God’s hands and everything happens for a reason. I know I’m definitely going to be banged up and bruised after this match, but I don’t think they would have given us this match if they didn’t think we were capable of it.
FS: Have you been preparing yourself differently for the Hell in a Cell match as opposed to a regular type of match?
Sasha: For me it’s definitely more mental, just knowing the first time I’m going to be thrown into the Cell… I know it’s definitely going to hurt, but I’m hoping my adrenaline kicks in and I push through. Just knowing that we are making history, that’s big enough for me to just keep going… showing the world that we don’t need to be put in a box where women are told that we can’t do it just like the guys. We were given this opportunity for a reason and Charlotte and I are going to prove that we’re meant to be in this match.
FS: Do you have a favorite Hell in a Cell moment from previous matches?
Sasha: There’s so many. I remember, of course who can forget Mick Foley going off the cage. When I watch matches like that I’m like ‘oh my God, what did I agree upon, what did I say yes for?’ Especially when Mick comes to talk to me about Hell in a Cell, it always makes me nervous.
FS: I wanted to ask you about him actually, because when people think about Hell in a Cell matches, Mick Foley is probably the first person who pops up. Has he given you any advice for Sunday night?
Sasha: I have talked to him about the match and he’s just told me how big of a deal this is, especially being the first ever woman being inside Hell in a Cell. It’s never been done, and it hasn’t been done for a reason but I finally think because the women’s revolution just keeps on going and going - it’s finally to a point where you don’t have to say ‘women can only do this, women can only do that.’ He has given me advice for it, but he’s also trying to scare me with it, too, which I don’t need. But he is like… he acts like a dad. He just wants to make sure we’re all good. Anything we need he’s always there for us.
FS: WWE has announced that your match is part of the “triple main event” at Hell in a Cell. Does it matter to you if you go on last?
Sasha: For me in this particular moment it does not matter to me, because we’re already making history being the first women’s match inside Hell in a Cell. I don’t think you can really even top that… whether we’re first, middle, last, we’re just going to go out there and steal the show, so you can put us anywhere.
FS: A little under a year ago you wrestled in a pre-show match at TLC in Boston, and now you’re going back to your home town to main event a pay-per-view. Did you always expect to be in this position a year ago?
Sasha: Wow that’s so crazy, I forgot I had a pre-show match. Everything that’s [happened] has been so crazy, just to know that I’ve been in so many of these “first-ever” [matches]. First-ever woman to have an iron-man match. It’s been such a long time, to be the second women ever to main event a Raw. Looking back a year ago, if you told me I was going to be in a Hell in a Cell match, I wouldn’t believe you. Now that we’re here, it’s absolutely incredible. Even at TLC, if you told me at TLC a year ago that I’d be part of WrestleMania, I don’t think I would have believed you…. Now that you said that, looking forward to the following year, next year, it’s going to be better and better for these women.
FS: Should you win Sunday, is there someone else on the Raw roster who you think deserves a title shot?
Sasha: Whoa, whoa, whoa. ‘Should I win?’ Excuse me? Do you want to rephrase that question?
FS: When you win Sunday…
Sasha: Thank you. I mean there’s so many, of course I can’t wait to tie up with Bayley. When the time is right, it’s going to be great. I definitely would like to work with Nia Jax, she’s something different that I haven’t had yet. I didn’t have someone like her to work with in NXT, so I think I would like to work with her next, I think that would be a great feud.
FS: After Hell in a Cell we’ll have Survivor Series, where there’ll be a traditional elimination match between the women of Raw and SmackDown. Is there a sense of rivalry between the locker rooms, and have you been keeping tabs on what happens in their division?
Sasha: To be honest I haven’t been keeping tabs, but I think competition is healthy. I think Raw has the better brand, and I know SmackDown has some really great women like Natalya… I miss Natalya. I miss Naomi. I haven’t really gotten to work with Carmella yet, but I know at Survivor Series I’m looking forward to it, because I’m looking forward to these new match-ups and tying up with these girls I haven’t tied up with in a long time.