Mercedes Kaestner-Varnado (January 26, 1992) is an American professional wrestler. She is signed to WWE, performing on the SmackDown brand as Sasha Banks. She is a five-time WWE Women's Champion, one of the inaugural WWE Women's Tag Team Champions and also a former NXT Women's Champion. She is also known for her time on the Northeastern United States independent circuit.
Professional wrestling career
Chaotic Wrestling (2010–2012)
Mercedes KV started her wrestling career in Chaotic Wrestling, where she was trained. She made her in ring debut on October 1, 2010 in an intergender tag team match, where she teamed with Nikki Roxx in a losing effort to Alexxis and Danny E. Mercedes and Roxx quickly formed an alliance, teaming together regularly and accompanying each other to ringside. On October 22, Mercedes lost her debut singles match to Danny E., and lost a rematch to him on November 13.
On January 7, 2011, Mercedes got her first victory when she and Roxx defeated Alexxis and Mistress Belmont in a tag team match. On February 11, Mercedes took part in a five-women gauntlet match to determinate the inaugural CW Women's Champion, but was unsuccessful. She continued competing in singles matches throughout the remainder of 2011, and on December 2, Mercedes defeated Alexxis in an "I Quit" match to win the Chaotic Wrestling Women's Championship for the first time.
KV made her first successfully title defense against Barbie on January 6. KV faced off against Luscious Latasha with Women's Championship on the line on January 27, where KV successfully defended the title. KV successfully defended Women's Championship against Alexxis in a rematch. She successfully defended the Women's Championship twice against Nikki Roxx. On June 1, Mercedes defeated Alexxis, Barbie and Mistress Belmont in a fatal four-way match to retain the championship. Following her win, Mercedes became the longest reigning Chaotic Wrestling Women's Champion in history by breaking Alexxis's previous record of 182 days. On June 24, KV successfully defended the Women's Championship against Barbie. On July 20, Mercedes KV defeated Aida Marie to successfully retain the Women's Championship. KV faced off against Kasey Ray with Women's Championship on the line on August 17, where KV successfully defended the title. KV made her final appearance for Chaotic Wrestling on August 18, where she lost to Ivy Fit in a non-title match. On August 18, the Women's Championship was declared vacant after Mercedes signed a contract with WWE, ending her reign at 260 days.
Other promotions (2010–2012)
On August 8, 2010, Mercedes made her debut in New England Championship Wrestling (NECW), teaming with Ivy in a winning effort defeating the team of Ariel and Sammi Lane in a tag team match. She returned to the promotion on September 4, 2011, again teaming with Ivy defeating Mistress Belmont and Veda Scott. On September 23, KV defeated Mistress Belmont in a singles match. KV once again returned to the promotion on July 14, 2012 at the Red White and Bruised event, where she was defeated by Adrianna via countout.
KV under the ring name Miss Mercedes, debuted for National Wrestling Alliance on November 19, 2010, where she faced Julian Starr in an losing effort. On the following two nights, Miss Mercedes defeated Sheik Ali and Nick Fahrenheit in singles matches. Miss Mercedes began to feud with The Great Cheyenne, losing to her on several occasions. On August 9, Mercedes faced Arlene in a singles match, where Mercedes emerged victorious.
In June 2012, Kaestner-Varnado participated in a WWE tryout camp and on August 18, it was announced that she had been signed to a contract. She was sent to NXT, WWE's developmental territory, where she adopted the ring name Sasha Banks. She made her television debut on WWE NXT on December 12, 2012, losing to Paige. Banks' first televised win on NXT was on the January 23, 2013 episode over defeating Alicia Fox.
Banks then entered a storyline where she would receive letters from a secret admirer, who was eventually revealed to be the villainous Audrey Marie, who returned and attacked Banks on the February 20 episode of NXT due to Marie's jealousy of Banks' success; Marie went on to defeat Banks in a match later that episode. On the March 7 episode of NXT, Banks teamed up with The Funkadactyls (Cameron and Naomi) to defeat Marie, Alicia Fox and Aksana in six-diva tag-team match. Banks' feud with Marie ended on the April 3 episode of NXT, when Banks teamed with Paige to defeat Marie and Summer Rae. On the June 19 episode of NXT, Banks competed in the NXT Women's Championship Tournament to determine the inaugural champion but lost to Summer Rae in the first round.
After weeks of influence by Summer Rae to make herself relevant, on the September 11 episode of NXT, Banks was defeated by NXT Women's Champion Paige. After the match, Paige would attempt to console Banks leading to Banks attacking Paige and turning heel in the process. She wrestled her first match as a villain on the September 25 episode of NXT, defeating Bayley with Rae in Banks' corner. After the match, Banks would cut a promo with Rae and debut a new gimmick — "The Boss of NXT". Banks and Rae, now known as the “BFFs (Beautiful, Fierce Females)”, faced Paige and Emma on the October 16 episode of NXT, where the BFFs emerged victorious when Rae pinned Paige. On the October 23 episode of NXT, Banks defeated Emma after capitalizing on a distraction provided by Rae. On the November 13 episode of NXT, The BFFs defeated Bayley and Charlotte in a tag team match when Charlotte attacked Bayley allowing Banks to pin Bayley. After the match, Charlotte officially turned heel and aligned herself with Banks and Rae. On the December 11 episode of NXT, Banks and Rae defeated Bayley and Natalya in a tag team match. In mid-January 2014, as Rae had moved up to the main roster, the BFF's started a rivalry with Bayley, who had aligned herself with Natalya, and lost in both singles and tag team matches.
On April 6, Banks, along with Alexa Bliss and Charlotte, made an appearance at WrestleMania XXX as a part of Triple H's entrance for his match against Daniel Bryan. In May, Banks entered a tournament for the vacant NXT Women's Championship, defeating Bayley in the first round but losing to Natalya in the semi-finals. After a four-month absence from the show, Summer Rae returned on the June 6 episode of NXT, distracting Bayley and allowing Charlotte to get the victory. After the match, The BFFs would attempt to attack Bayley, only to be chased away by Emma and Paige. This led to a six-Divas tag team match on the June 12 episode of NXT, which The BFFs lost after Bayley pinned Charlotte. On the July 3 episode of NXT, Charlotte would get retribution over Bayley in a tag team match, where she and Banks defeated Bayley and Becky Lynch. After the match, Charlotte left Banks to get attacked by Bayley, with Banks officially disbanding the team in a backstage segment.
On the August 14 episode of NXT, Banks lost to Bayley in a match to determine the number one contender to the NXT Women's Championship. At NXT Takeover: Fatal 4-Way, Banks attacked Bayley after her title match with Charlotte, before Charlotte pulled Banks away and the two shared a staredown. Becky Lynch turned on Bayley and aligned herself with Banks on the October 23 episode of NXT, after Banks defeated Bayley. After defeating Alexa Bliss on November 13, Banks challenged Charlotte to a match at NXT Takeover: R Evolution for the NXT Women's Championship, but she was defeated. Banks was defeated by Charlotte in a title rematch on the December 25 edition of NXT.
Banks received another title opportunity on the January 21, 2015 edition of NXT, but lost via DQ after Becky Lynch entered and attacked Charlotte. At NXT Takeover: Rival on February 11, Banks defeated Charlotte, Lynch, and Bayley in a Fatal Four Way match to capture the NXT Women's Championship. Banks would continue to hold the title, up until NXT Takeover: Brooklyn where she lost to Bayley in a critically acclaimed match. Banks would unsuccessfully challenge Bayley for the title at Takeover: Respect in a 30-minute Iron Man Match.
Women's Revolution (2015–2016)
Banks made her official debut on the July 13, 2015 episode of Raw along with Charlotte and Becky Lynch, after Stephanie McMahon called for a "revolution" in the WWE Divas division and while Lynch and Charlotte allied with Paige, who was feuding with Team Bella (Alicia Fox, Brie and Nikki Bella), Banks would ally with Naomi and Tamina, who later dubbed themselves as Team B.A.D. (Beautiful and Dangerous), leading to a brawl between the three teams. In her WWE pay-per-view debut on July 19 at Battleground, Banks competed in a triple threat match against Charlotte and Brie Bella, which Charlotte won. Banks went on to defeat Paige twice, first by submission on the July 20 episode of Raw, in a tag team match where Banks teamed with Naomi for the first time, and again on the July 27 episode of Raw in a singles match. After defeating the Divas Champion Nikki Bella by submission in a non-title match on the August 17 episode of Raw, Banks participated in the first ever Divas number one contender's Beat the Clock challenge match, in which she fought Paige to a time limit draw and Charlotte was named the number one contender. Following this, Banks rekindled her rivalry with Paige and defeated her twice on the September 7 and 14 episodes of Raw, and fought to a no contest on the September 10 episode of SmackDown. Although she lost in a fatal four-way number one contender's match for Charlotte's Divas Championship in November, Banks was not pinned and she started a winning streak, defeating the likes of Brie Bella Alicia Fox, and Becky Lynch.
After a month off television, Banks returned at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view on January 24, 2016, attacking Charlotte and Becky Lynch after their championship match, showing her intentions to gain the Divas Championship. Prior to a match with Lynch on the February 1 episode of Raw, Banks claimed that she was "on her own", signaling that she had moved on from Team B.A.D., only to be attacked by Naomi and Tamina during the match, turning Banks into a fan favorite in the process. The feud between Banks and Naomi and Tamina would continue throughout February, and would lead to a tag team match at Fastlane on February 21, where Banks allied with Lynch to defeat the two. Banks and Lynch went on to compete in two matches to determine the number one contender for Charlotte's Divas Championship at WrestleMania 32, with the first bout ending in a draw after a double pin occurred, and the second in a no contest after both Banks and Lynch were attacked by Charlotte. As a result, a triple threat match between Banks, Lynch and Charlotte for the Divas Championship was announced for WrestleMania. At the event on April 3, after it was announced during transmission that the Divas Championship would be withdrawn and it would be replaced with the new WWE Women's Championship, with all three women competing for it in the triple threat match, in which Banks was unsuccessful in capturing the new title at her WrestleMania in-ring debut.
After a hiatus, Banks returned to WWE television in early June, defeating Summer Rae on Main Event, before reigniting her feud with Charlotte over the WWE Women's Championship after an attack along with Paige on the June 20 episode of Raw. This led to a tag team match the following week on the June 27 episode of Raw, where Banks and Paige scored the victory. Followed by multiple attacks and matches between Banks and Dana Brooke, it was announced that they would face off in a tag team match on July 24 at Battleground, where Banks and her mystery partner Bayley defeated Charlotte and Brooke.
Raw Women's Champion (2016–2018)
After being drafted to Raw brand as part of the 2016 WWE draft which took place on July 19, Banks made her first appearance for the brand on July 25, where she defeated Charlotte to win the WWE Women's Championship for the first time. On August 21 at SummerSlam, Banks dropped the championship back to Charlotte, ending her reign at 27 days; the title was then renamed to Raw Women's Championship following the creation of the SmackDown Women's Championship. On September 25, Charlotte successfully retained the championship against Banks and Bayley in a triple threat match at Clash of Champions. Banks was granted a one-on-one rematch on the October 3 episode of Raw, where she would defeat Charlotte in the main event to capture her second Raw Women's Championship. Banks challenged Charlotte to compete for the championship in the first ever women's Hell in a Cell match at the titular Hell in a Cell pay-per-view event on October 30, which was then announced as the main event, making it the first time any women had received the last match of a pay-per-view card in WWE. Banks came out on the losing end, thus ending her reign at 27 days for the second time. On November 20, Banks was part of Raw's women's team for Survivor Series, during which she was eliminated by Natalya, but Banks' team proceeded to win the match. On the November 28 episode of Raw, after invoking her rematch clause a week prior, Banks defeated Charlotte in a Falls Count Anywhere match to win the Raw Women's Championship for the record-tying third time. A 30-minute Iron Man match between the two was scheduled for Roadblock: End of the Line on December 18, which resulted in a 2–2 draw, but Banks lost to Flair 3–2 in sudden death overtime, thus ending their long-time feud since it was stipulated that Banks could not invoke her rematch clause. The next night on Raw, Banks called Flair out to congratulate her on her victory, but instead out came Nia Jax, who went on to assault her. This led to a match between the two at the Royal Rumble pre-show on January 29, 2017, where Banks was defeated. On the February 13 episode of Raw, Banks helped Bayley defeat Charlotte Flair and win the Raw Women's Championship in the main event. After defeating Jax at Fastlane on March 5 to end their feud, Banks once again helped Bayley to defeat Flair and retain the championship. On April 2, Banks was unsuccessful in recapturing the Raw Women's Championship at WrestleMania 33 after she was eliminated from a fatal four-way elimination match, which also included Bayley, Flair, and Jax.
On the June 26 episode of Raw, Banks scored a victory over Bayley, Jax, Dana Brooke, Mickie James, and Emma in a gauntlet match to become the number one contender for Alexa Bliss's Raw Women's Championship. On July 9 at Great Balls of Fire, Banks defeated Bliss via countout, which allowed Bliss to retain the title. In a rematch between the two, on August 20, at SummerSlam, Banks defeated Bliss to become a record tying four–time Raw Women's Champion. Eight days later, Banks dropped the title back to Bliss on Raw. In September, at No Mercy, Banks received her rematch for the title, as she took part of a fatal five-way match that was won by Bliss.
In November, at Survivor Series, Banks took part of the traditional five–on–five elimination tag team match, representing Team Raw which was victorious over Team Smackdown. The following weeks, Banks, alongside Bayley and Mickie James, started a feud with Absolution (Paige, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville), that led to various singles and tag team matches, mostly won by Absolution. Also, in December, Banks competed in the first ever women's match contested in the Middle East against Alexa Bliss.
On January 28, 2018, at the Royal Rumble, Banks competed in the first ever women's royal rumble match, being the first entry. She eliminated Vickie Guerrero, Bayley and Trish Stratus and lasted 54:46, before being eliminated by The Bella Twins. On the post-Royal Rumble 2018 edition of RAW, Banks challenged the undefeated Asuka in a losing effort. The following week tensions between Banks and best friend Bayley flared, as they showed competitive edge with them both expressing their desire to end Asuka's streak. On the February 12th edition of RAW, Banks competed against her friend Bayley in a losing effort. In February, it was announced that Banks will participate in the first ever women's Elimination Chamber match, which was contested on February 25, at the Elimination Chamber pay–per–view. At the PPV, Banks was eliminated by Alexa Bliss in the final round of the match. During the bout, Banks seemingly turned on best friend Bayley when she kicked her off one of the pods during the bout. On the post-Elimination Chamber 2018 of RAW, Banks teamed with Bayley & Asuka in a winning effort in the six-women tag team bout, however Bayley refused to tag Banks toward the end of the match.
On the March 12th episode of RAW, Banks defeated Sonya Deville in singles action. Bayley took off after the match, allowing Banks to fall victim to a beatdown by Absolution. With their relationship in jeopardy, Banks confronted Bayley on the following RAW to which she offered reasoning for her betrayals. The two were interrupted by Absolution, to which Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville then later defeated Banks & Bayley after a miscommunication occurred between the two. Tensions boiled over on the March 26th edition of RAW, where Banks & Bayley got into a heated argument leading to a brawl in the backstage area. During the discussion, Banks confirmed her entrant into the WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal at WrestleMania 34. At, WrestleMania 34 Banks was eliminated from the battle royal after Bayley tossed her out. On the post-WrestleMania episode of RAW, Banks was pinned by Mandy Rose after Bayley accidentally nailed Banks with a forearm costing her the match. Subsequently, Banks & Bayley squared off the week later. However, their bout was interrupted by the Riott Squad. Banks would continue to feud with the Riott Squad in the following months.
During the May 28th edition of RAW, Banks won a Gauntlet match by lasting eliminating Ruby Riott to then qualify for the women's Money in the Bank Ladder Match. At the Money in the Bank 2018, Banks was unsuccessful in securing the briefcase. On the following episode of RAW, Bayley consoled Banks after the loss to which they seemingly put their issues to rest. Later on in the show, Banks & Bayley would lose to the Riott Squad after Morgan pinned Banks. Banks upset with the loss shoved Bayley, this later sparked a backstage brawl between the two, ending with Banks driving away. On June 25, Kurt Angle would give Banks & Bayley one last chance to get along, but after losing to the Riott Squad Banks was brutally attacked by Bayley. Banks & Bayley would then later be forced by Kurt Angle, to go to counseling with Dr. Shelby. Following the counseling, Banks & Bayley teamed together against Dana Brooke & Alicia Fox where they lost via DQ after Banks saved Bayley from a beatdown. Banks would later profess her love of Bayley backstage and how she valued their friendship.
Boss 'n' Hug Connection (2018 - Present)
After working out their issues, Banks & Bayley defeated two local competitors on the July 23rd edition of RAW. The following week, Banks & Bayley made their debut as an official team, dubbed the Boss 'n' Hug Connection where they defeated the Riott Squad. Banks & Bayley would continue to feud with the Riott Squad leading into the fall. Due to an undisclosed injury, Banks was out of action for a short stretch but made her return on the October 15th episode of RAW where her and Bayley accompanied Natalya for her bout. They aligned themselves with veteran Natalya where they defeated the Riott Squad at the first ever all-women's PPV Evolution.
On the December 24th edition of RAW, Vince McMahon announced the creation of the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship in 2019. On the January 7th edition of RAW, Alexa Bliss hosted the first edition of her Moment of Bliss talk-show. Ronda Rousey revealed on the show, she would like to face Sasha Banks at the Royal Rumble 2019 PPV. On the show, Banks later defeated Nia Jax to earn the opportunity to face Ronda Rousey for the WWE Raw Women's Championship at the Royal Rumble 2019. At the Royal Rumble 2019, Banks was unsuccessful in capturing the WWE Raw Women's Championship.
Following the announcement of the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship on the December 24th episode of RAW, Banks and partner Bayley qualified for the Elimination Chamber Match on the February 4th edition of RAW. At the Elimination Chamber 2019, Banks & Bayley won the Elimination Chamber Match to become the inaugural WWE Women's Tag Team Champions. Following their victory, Banks & Bayley proclaimed they were ready to defend their WWE Women's Tag Team Championship titles across all brands. Banks & Bayley made their return to NXT brand on the February 27th edition of the show, where they put the locker room on notice. Banks & Bayley successfully defended the WWE Women's Tag Team Championships against Nia Jax & Tamina at the Fastlane 2019 PPV. On the March 19th episode of SmackDown, Banks & Bayley appeared after being called out by The IIconics. This marked Banks' first match on the brand since June 2016. On the show, they suffered a non-title loss to the The IIconics after Peyton Royce pinned Banks.
After Banks & Bayley stated they would take on all challengers at WrestleMania in a backstage interview, it was later announced on WWE's website and social media pages would be defending their WWE Women's Tag Team Championships in a Fatal 4-Way tag team match at WrestleMania 35. They would be facing Nia Jax & Tamina, The IIconics and Natalya & Beth Phoenix. At WrestleMania 35, Banks & Bayley were unsuccessful in defending their titles when Billie Kay pinned Bayley, resulting in The IIconics becoming the new WWE Women's Tag Team Champions.
Banks made her video game debut as a playable character in WWE 2K17, then later appears in WWE 2K18, and WWE 2K19. She also makes a appearance in WWE 2K20 on October 22, with the 2K Showcase being about her, Bayley, Charlotte Flair, and Becky Lynch's career from NXT to Wrestlemania.
Kaestner-Varnado is a first cousin of rapper Snoop Dogg, who helped develop her in-ring persona. She is also a first cousin of music producer Daz Dillinger and singers Brandy Norwood and Ray J. She is a fan of K-pop music and the anime Sailor Moon. In December 2016, she revealed that she provided vocals for her own entrance music.
Kaestner-Varnado married Sarath Ton, better known as Kid Mikaze, a fellow professional wrestler who works for WWE as a costume designer, on August 4, 2016.
Kaestner-Varnado cites Eddie Guerrero as her favorite wrestler, and she was in attendance at Guerrero's memorial episode of Raw on November 14, 2005, in Minneapolis. She also revealed that she was unaware that Guerrero had died before she arrived at the arena.
- Finishing moves
- Signature moves
- Bow and arrow stretch
- Camel clutch
- Diving crossbody
- Diving double knee drop to a trapped opponent across the turnbuckles
- Japanese arm drag
- Monkey flip
- Multiple forehand chops
- Multiple pinning variations
- Reverse chin lock with bodyscissors
- Running high knees, to an opponent in the corner
- Springboard arm drag
- Straight jacket hold
- Suicide dive
- Super frankensteiner
- Tilt-a-whirl headscissors takedown
- Tag teams and stables
- "The (Legit) Boss"
- "The Blueprint"
- "The Standard"
- Entrance themes
Championships and accomplishments
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI Match of the Year (2015) vs. Bayley at NXT TakeOver: Respect
- PWI ranked her #3 in the 2015 PWI Top 50 Females
- PWI ranked her #2 in the 2016 PWI Top 50 Females
- PWI ranked her #4 in the 2017 PWI Top 50 Females
- PWI ranked her #14 in the 2018 PWI Top 100 Females
- PWI ranked her #14 in the 2019 PWI Top 100 Females
- Ring Wars Carolina
- RWC No Limitz Championship (1 time)
- World Wrestling Entertainment
|2015 PWI Top 50 Females|
|Nikki Bella • Paige • Sasha Banks • Santana Garrett • Gail Kim • Charlotte • Naomi • Cherry Bomb • Courtney Rush • Taryn Terrell • Bayley • Brie Bella • Sexy Star • Cheerleader Melissa • Lufisto • Nicole Matthews • Becky Lynch • Kimber Lee • Natalya • Jessicka Havok • Awesome Kong • Candice LeRae • Brooke • Athena • Ivelisse • Jade • Madison Rayne • Leva Bates • Barbi Hayden • Angelina Love • Emma • Saraya Knight • Veda Scott • Velvet Sky • Madison Eagles • Kay Lee Ray • Marti Belle • Kellie Skater • Nikki Storm • Evie • Heidi Lovelace • Tessa Blanchard • Portia Perez • Alicia Fox • Cat Power • Crazy Mary Dobson • Xandra Bale • La Rosa Negra • Malia Hosaka • Vanessa Kraven|
|2016 PWI Top 50 Females|
|Charlotte Flair • Sasha Banks • Asuka • Becky Lynch • Bayley • Jade • Natalya • Gail Kim • Sexy Star • Sienna • Ivelisse • Madison Eagles • Nicole Savoy • Rosemary • Allie • Nicole Matthews • Kimber Lee • Candice LeRae • Paige • Heidi Lovelace • Evie • Cheerleader Melissa • Nia Jax • Santana Garrett • Naomi • Dana Brooke • Madison Rayne • Kay Lee Ray • Alexa Bliss • Lufisto • Amber Gallows • Marti Belle • Emma • Taylor Made • Vanessa Kraven • Su Yung • Ember Moon • Tessa Blanchard • Jessicka Havok • Shayna Baszler • Crazy Mary Dobson • Malia Hosaka • Thunder Rosa • Carmella • KC Spinelli • Veda Scott • Jessica James • Xandra Bale • Kaitlin Diemond • Eva Marie|
|2017 PWI Top 50 Females|
|Asuka • Charlotte Flair • Alexa Bliss • Sasha Banks • Bayley • Io Shirai • Natalya • Sienna • Naomi • Kairi Sane • Mercedes Martinez • Shayna Baszler • Rosemary • LuFisto • Mayu Iwantani • Mia Yim • Allie • Ember Moon • Becky Lynch • Madison Eagles • Nicole Savoy • Nia Jax • Candice LeRae • Toni Storm • Hiroyo Matsumoto • Chelsea Green • Saraya Knight • Shazza McKenzie • Kay Lee Ray • Mickie James • Dakota Kai • Nicole Matthews • Alex Windsor • Deonna Purrazzo • Abbey Laith • Risa Sera • Viper • Carmella • Ruby Riot • Nikki Cross • Vanessa Kraven • Santana Garrett • Tessa Blanchard • Arisa Nakajima • Lady Lory • Shotzi Blackheart • Veda Scott • Alpha Female • Marti Belle • Zoey Skye|