Sasha Banks Compares Filming ‘The Mandalorian’ to Her ‘First Time Ever Seeing a Wrestling Ring’
It is a good time to be Sasha Banks.
The WWE star is not only rolling into this Sunday’s “Survivor Series” pay-per-view as part of her first run as SmackDown Women’s Champion, but she is fresh off her onscreen acting debut in the hit Disney Plus series “The Mandalorian.” Banks, who has performed in the ring for WWE since 2012, appeared in last week’s episode of the “Star Wars” series as Koska Reeves, a Mandalorian resistance fighter.
Variety spoke with her about her new championship spot in WWE, what her experience filming “The Mandalorian” was like, and who would win should the WWE Universe and the “Star Wars” Universe go to war.
Read the full interview below.
Congratulations on your first run as SmackDown Women’s Champion. I know you’re no stranger to championship gold, so does having this title feel any different?
It feels so much different this time around. I feel like ever since I came back from my little break where I really just tried to find my passion again, my wrestling has just been *mwah* chef’s kiss. I mean, I’ve always been great, amazing. But the seasonings that I’ve been adding in 2020 have just been tasting so freakin’ good that I just cannot stop and I cannot wait to do more. Being the SmackDown Women’s Champion, that means I am completely the best. I always say ‘I’m the best.’ I really know 100% that I am the greatest wrestler of all time, but I have so many new competitors. I look forward to facing so many new faces, so many new matchups, and it really lets me go to sleep dreaming of excitement for every Friday night knowing what I’m going to have.
And now you’re facing Asuka, the Raw Women’s Champion, at “Survivor Series.” You two have had some classic matches before, so what do you hope to get out of this one?
Asuka is, if not one of the best, the best competitor in our division. And she is a legend in Japan. She is one of the longest-reigning champions in our company. We have thrown it down in the past, but I feel like every single day, we want to get better in every single way. We want to do the best. And now that we represent our own brands, and being the champions, we’re really just going to go there Sunday and prove who is the best of the best. SmackDown is Team Blue. That’s why my hair is blue. That’s why I’m the Blueprint. That’s why I’m really the greatest. I have to show her that I’m the best at everything. She is great. But I’m greater.
So are you planning to just walk right through her on Sunday?
I plan on just killing the show. Stealing the show like I always do, and just leaving you guys breathless. Like forever. They’re always like, ‘Man, Sasha Banks, she did it again. She did it again.’”
You mentioned there are a lot of great competitors in your division right now. Do you have your eyes on anyone in particular to face during your championship reign?
Oh man, there’s so many. I know right now Carmella is coming after me. But there can be the whole lineup. There’s not just one, you know? I have Liv Morgan, Ruby Riott, Bianca, Natalya, these are all girls that I love so much. And I cannot wait to wrestle because they all inspire me. And like I said, this women’s division is the best women’s division ever. Every time I walk in that locker room, I just know that the future is in good hands. I know that there’s going to be so much magic to create with these girls, and I just can’t wait to do it with all of them.
Given that level of competition, how do you feel about the current state of WWE and wrestling in general?
I think it’s so incredible to see how much hope WWE brings the world and how much that we can just go entertain through these trying times. It brings me hope and it brings me joy, knowing that I can go into work and legit live my dream and put smiles on people’s faces, and to have the talent and the brotherhood and the sisterhood of my peers. It’s so awesome. I love it. I am so thankful for wrestling for giving me a sole purpose and a joy in life. Just to spread happiness and smiles around the world because there’s nothing else I rather be doing at this time right now than, you know, bumping my ass off. But I love it so, so much. I think it’s such a special place where you can create so much magic.
And I have to ask about your role on “The Mandalorian.” That has got to be such a huge deal for you. How did you get on the show?
It’s a huge deal. I still cannot get over it. It still does not feel real to me. The more interviews I do, the more I feel like ‘Oh, my God, holy–‘ I’m telling you right now, it still does not feel real to me. It’s frickin ‘Star Wars!’ One of the biggest franchises in the whole world, one of the biggest universes you can ever be a part of.
So Jon Favreau came to me because he watched an interview that I did with ‘Hot Ones.’ And he really liked me and got my contact information. Then on FaceTime he asked me to be part of ‘The Mandalorian.’ I was like, ‘Well, I cannot say no,’ but I was so incredibly nervous, because I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do it with the WWE schedule. You know, we used to travel a lot. But they made it work and everything happened. And it was such an incredible episode. I still just can’t get over how awesome that was. Not only to be part of ‘Star Wars,’ but one of legit the greatest episodes in the history of television like that. I could watch that all the time. That was such a bad ass introduction to the world of ‘Star Wars.’ I’m so thankful I saved Baby Yoda! I cannot get over it. Oh my god.
What was it like stepping onto that set for the first time knowing you were going to be part of the “Star Wars” canon forever?
It was beyond. Just like the first time ever seeing a wrestling ring. It’s like the first time ever seeing anything just so magical. I would hate to ruin like how it looked backstage, but you felt like you were in a different galaxy in a different world. It was so almost easy to play a Mandalorian because I was legit in the universe. And you know, Jon Favreau and David Filoni and Bryce Howard, they were so amazing towards me. Any questions I had, because I was so incredibly shy and nervous., they answered. But [Jon] reminded me ‘Uh, you do WWE every single week and you do that live. You are amazing. There’s a reason why I wanted you to be a part of the show.’ So that made me feel like home and I totally gained a whole new family and I’m just so thankful.
And you talked a little about Bryce Dallas Howard. She has received a lot of praise for her work on “The Mandalorian.” What was it like working with her?
She really, really guided me and really took me by my hand because like I said, I was so nervous. She texted me to make sure I all good. She walked me through everything, if I had any questions. She was there for me. So it was so special to see. And I was just really inspired by her and how she treated everybody. She was so down to earth. I brought a lot of her energy into my work because of how incredibly she treated me. And as you see she is getting so much praise for her work because she is just so special.
And then finally, Sasha, I know this may be tough for you to answer, but if the WWE Universe and the “Star Wars” Universe went to war, who do you think would win?
Oh my. Wow. Wow. You know, I I love love, love, love WWE. I love that it’s a huge universe. It’s a huge one. But ‘Star Wars’ has a whole entire galaxy. I don’t know if WWE is ready for that. I mean, WWE is huge. You have Sasha Banks on your team, you can get through anything. But I think it’s probably better to unite with the ‘Star Wars’ universe than to go against them because of how huge they are. They’ve been around for a long time, but so has WWE, so I definitely think WWE would stand a fair chance but I have to say ‘Star Wars,’ I’m sorry.