Sasha Banks knows what WWE women mean by wrestling in the Middle East – and is looking forward to experiencing it all again.
The 2-year-old Banks was part of the region’s first women’s wrestling match when she faced Alexa Bliss at the 2017 Raw Women’s Championships in Abu Dhabi. The slogan “This is hope” is still with her.
“Just to see the faces of children and the faces of women … they have never seen anything like this before,” Banks said in a phone interview. “It was a special moment for me in Abu Dhabi. This is one of the first five things I have done in my career. It’s something I carry with me all my life, just a feeling of loneliness. ”
She will have another opportunity to work in that part of the world where women in many countries are still fighting for their basic rights. Banks will face champion Becky Lynch and Bianca Beller in a triple-threat match for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at the Crown Jewel Pay-Per-View on Thursday (afternoon, Mayur) at the Mohammed Abdo Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. She expects the spirit and energy for the match to be higher – partly because of the larger area – than she experienced in 2017.
“I can promote the match, I can get excited for it, I can mentally prepare my mind for it, but by the time I’m done I will feel all the butterflies and emotions that I usually get for a match like this,” Banks said.
There has been some positive progress in the case of WWE female artists in Saudi Arabia as they were not originally allowed to participate in advertising shows in the country. The government also apologized in 2018 when women were shown in an advertising video during the first Crown Jewel. A year later, the WWE announced a day before the event that Lacey Evans and Natalya would be the first women in the country to compete and Belle and Naomi would have a match in Saudi Arabia in 2020. Women had to wrestle with their necks down to match Saudi culture.
This year’s Crown Jewel will feature two women’s matches on the same card at the WWE event in the Middle East for the first time. Along with the SmackDown Women’s Championship triple-threat match, the inaugural Queen’s Crown competition will also take place between the women’s version of the final-King of the Ring-Zelina Vega and Daudrop.
“I think they [WWE} always try to be more,” Banks said. “Now we have two women’s matches on the card and two impressive women’s matches on the card.”
WWE signed a lucrative 10-year deal with the Saudi government in 2018 to host regular large-scale wrestling competitions. The controversial agreement stems from the Saudi government’s history of human rights issues and its treatment of women. It includes a U.S. intelligence report that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the assassination of critic and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018. In 2018, the government targeted and imprisoned women activists like Samar Badawi and Nasima al-Sada. Which was peacefully advocating for the freedom of women in the country.
Under pressure from the international community, the Saudi government released Badawi, al-Sada and others and took the baby’s steps forward in terms of equality. In 2019, women were given the right to drive and men 21 or older were allowed to apply for a passport without official permission to travel abroad. An important decision this June has made it legal for women to live on their own without the permission of a male guardian. According to the Brookings Institution blog post, the number of women increased from 20 percent in 2018 to 33 percent in 2020. Despite all the progress, in 2021, Saudi Arabia ranks 147th out of 156 countries in terms of gender gap, according to a report by the World Economic Forum.
Banks want to do a small part of it by “representing women as best we can”. Her goal always shows that she is the best regardless of gender.
“When I go there and perform, I want not only women but [kids], men, I want them all to know that I can do anything,” Banks said when she hopes the women feel the message matches ” Put there they can achieve anything. Anyone can make their whole dreams come true. ”
This will be Banks’ first pay-per-view match since WrestleMania 37’s first night’s main show, in which she clashed with Bellaire. She was not allowed to play wrestling in their planned rematch at SummerSlam. As a result, Lynch, 34, returned to WWE after having her first child with husband Seth Rollins. Banks won’t say why she missed SummerSlam, but she said it’s not hard for her to do so.