The Untold Truth Of Sasha Banks

The following article includes mentions of domestic abuse allegations.

Mercedes "Sasha Banks" Kaestner-Varnado hustled her way into the world of wrestling by making a name for herself on the independent circuit. She eventually finessed her way into the World Wrestling Federation (WWE) and transformed into a superstar headlining her own pay-per-view main event.

She has broken barriers as one of the most thrilling performers to take the ring, becoming a five-time WWE Raw Women's Champion, and we aren't the only ones who are mesmerized by her onstage presence. She's attracted legions of adoring fans, thanks to her electric dyed hair, her blinged-out costumes, and her high-flying finishing moves, such as The Bankrupt, the Bank Statement, and the Frog Splash — an homage to her wrestling idol, the late Eddie Guerrero.

By now, most of her fans know the basics about her, including the fact that rapper Snoop Dogg is her cousin, but there's much more to learn. From her secretive love life to how she turned her wrestling aspirations into her dream job, this is the untold truth of Sasha Banks.

Sasha Banks claimed her dad was a deadbeat

During a candid interview on the "Making Their Way to the Ring" podcast in 2017, Sasha Banks claimed her father was abusive toward her mother, recalling "always being scared of him" growing up. By the time she turned 2, he had allegedly left their family in the dust to start a new life in Oregon. 

Banks, her mother, and her autistic brother traveled across the United States in search of a better life. By the time she was 11 or 12 years old, however, the future WWE star's mom broke the news that they would be relocating from Iowa to Oregon to be closer to her father and try to get some support from him. "I was like, 'Help us?' He never helped us before," Banks recalled. "[My father is] Snoop Dogg's uncle. He has money, a restaurant, a record label, and he does music on the side. ... He's never paid [any] child support."

"I was so miserable and I was so depressed [in Oregon]," she added. It apparently didn't take long for her mom to realize that old habits die hard, with Banks revealing, "Finally my mom's like, 'He's not helping us,' so we packed our stuff, we left." While Banks' dad, Reo Varnado, was proud of his famous daughter's accomplishments, he sadly died in January 2022.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

She made a life-altering decision at the age of 13

The family of three eventually left Oregon and proceeded to bounce around in search of a school suitable for Sasha Banks' autistic brother. The pro wrestler told the "Making Their Way to the Ring" podcast that her brother had experienced abuse in some of his previous educational settings, but upon arriving in Minnesota, things unfortunately didn't get much better for their family. 

Her mother was unemployed, they lived in a hotel room for years, and Banks said she was relentlessly teased at school about her appearance. To make matter worse, her brother's behavior worsened due to the alleged abuse he was suffering. When her mom finally landed a job, Banks made a bold decision at the age of 13 to quit school and take online courses so she could become her brother's full-time caregiver. 

"I don't know what a childhood is," she said. "I never had my teenage years. I never went to prom. I never really had a boyfriend. I knew nothing." Because she was willing to make such a huge sacrifice, Banks asked her mom for one thing in return: "I'll do anything for this family," the sports star recalled. "Just give me wrestling."

Sasha Banks' perseverance paid off

Sasha Banks actually began pursuing a wrestling career when she was just a kid, and told BET that she eventually reached out to several wrestling schools via email begging for a chance. She finally got her break at age 17, when she was invited to attend the New England Pro Wrestling Academy in Boston. When her mom landed a job in the same city, it was the perfect opportunity for their family to make yet another move. "I was 17 about to turn 18. I told my mom, 'I'm 18 now, I just signed these papers by myself and I'm going to do this,'" Banks said. "I was the only girl in that little tryout fantasy camp."

Working in a male-dominated field takes a lot of guts, and Banks was definitely up for the challenge. "At the time, I had no money, no nothing at all," she said. Banks never stopped pursuing the WWE. "I emailed them legit every single week, asking for work," the athlete added. "One day I finally got the call and they said they were going to send me down to FCW (training division) for a tryout." 

Hard work, determination, and nagging emails paid off!

How Sasha Banks became 'The Boss'

Some of the best wrestlers made a name for themselves with their catchy ring names or slogans, and Sasha Banks wanted to add a memorable nickname to her moniker, too. She found inspiration in popular hip-hop artists. Since her wrestling persona is centered around bragging, boasting, and showing off massive amounts of confidence, Banks told the Orlando Sentinel, "I was looking at people like [Snoop], Kanye [West], and Nicki Minaj, then somehow the idea 'I'm the boss' clicked with me."

She told BET that being around her cousin, Snoop Dogg, convinced her to run with her powerful calling card. Banks noticed "all his security guards and his friends call him Boss," and decided she deserved the same respect. She then began calling herself "The Boss," and everyone else soon followed suit. "I told myself, 'Once I get my opportunity, I want to show people why I'm here to be the best women's wrestler of all time' and that's why I made my name," Banks explained.

She hid her marriage from 'crazy' fans

Sasha Banks is very open when it comes to talking about the struggles she faced during her childhood, but one topic that she hasn't been forthcoming about is her marriage to former wrestler and WWE costume designer Sarath "Kid Mikaze" Ton. The couple secretly tied the knot back in 2016, but it wasn't until a March 2017 interview with "Making Their Way to the Ring" that she finally let the cat out of the bag. "You're the first one I've admitted it to. I am married," she told the show's host, Lilian Garcia. "I just hide it because our fans are so crazy sometimes."

By crazy, she's referring to some online "fans" (aka trolls) attempting to contact her guy via Twitter. "If you're saying he's ugly or he shouldn't be with me because of this or that, that hurts me," Banks said. "I don't like that he reads that every day, and he's such an amazing person." Basically, the Four Horsewomen member doesn't take kindly to followers dissing her true love. "I remember when we got married and a picture was leaked, it was trending, and fans were like 'What the .... Why!' But did those guys really think they could marry me? Come on." Touché.

These days, Banks and Ton appear to be going strong, sharing their low-key and happy married life with their adorable corgi, Ryu Maivia Ton.

Sasha Banks will work for food

Sasha Banks wasn't always making the big bucks for her show-stopping performances in the ring. There was once a time when she was forced to take whatever scraps she was offered. During a 2018 interview with "First We Feast's Hot Ones," Banks answered a series of questions about her life and career, and she had a thing or two to say about "scummy promoters." When asked what she doesn't miss the most about the independent wrestling circuit, she answered, "I don't miss getting paid $25 or getting paid by just getting a slice of pizza. Banks added, "It was legit. Either you get pizza or a hot dog, or you get $25. That was it."

Those days are thankfully now in her rear-view mirror. At that point in Banks' wrestling career, this boss was no longer trading pizza for suplexes, reportedly raking in a salary of $225,000 a year. Cha-ching!

Taking 'a beating' gives Sasha Banks life

Like most kids, Sasha Banks initially assumed she'd grow up and have a typical job. You know, like a doctor or a firefighter. But all that changed at the age of 10 when she was channel surfing and came across a wrestling show on the tube. "There was something about it that made me instantly hooked," she told the NZ Herald. Of course, those closest to her weren't pleased with her newfound career goal, especially her mother. "She said 'What did I do wrong?'" Banks recalled. Her grandmother was even less supportive: "You wanna get beat up for a living?"

We're sure glad Banks didn't let anything stand in her way. In 2016, she and rival Charlotte Flair became the first women to compete in a "Hell in a Cell" pay-per-view match, and in 2015, Banks and Bayley became the first women to win the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Feud of the Year award, a feud in which Bayley ended up the victor. "There is something about taking a beating and giving someone a beating that is so much fun," Banks said. "It's acting, being an athlete, being a superstar." How's that for a triple threat?

It's all fun and games until the dessert cart rolls around

To be a professional wrestler means being on point at all times. Not only do wrestlers need to build up their stamina and endurance so they don't conk out in the middle of a match, but they also have to make sure their bodies look flawless when they're piledriving their opponents. To keep a toned physique, Banks told Muscle and Fitness that she does 90-minute gym sessions, which consist of a mixture of cardio and strength training. "It's hard to get to the gym when we're on the road so much," she said. "But it's so important that I make the time to keep up with it."

Hitting the gym hard is only half the battle. What she consumes also plays a huge role in helping maintain her washboard abs. During an episode of "First We Feast's Hot Ones," Banks described the type of food that's generally served backstage at the WWE: "There is a little salad bar and we have our plain chicken, and that's what I pretty much have every week on 'Monday Night Raw,'" she said. "I just stare at the dessert and just hope one day that I can have a bite."

It gets real in the ring, but wine fixes everything

Some people like to dismiss wrestling as nothing more than a fake sport with a bunch of beefed-up, cheesy actors. Sure, there's a bit of drama that goes on in the ring to bring the storylines to life, but surprises do occur, and that's when things get really real. 

Sasha Banks' 2016 Iron Man matchup against competitor Charlotte Flair reportedly lasted a grueling 45 minutes. Not only was Banks struggling to push through it, but she ended up with a gnarly injury to boot. Viewers were shocked to see blood gushing out of Bank's nose after the back of Flair's leg collided with The Boss' face. "I was just like dead because she broke my nose during it. I was just bleeding. I'm like, 'Oh my god, can this be over?'" Banks revealed on "First We Feast's Hot Ones."

Thankfully, she has the perfect cure for all ring-related ailments. "Lots of wine," she told the show. "I love drinking wine after a match. It makes me really calm and relaxed." Bottoms up!

Being 'annoying' paid off for Sasha Banks

The WWE's Women's Tag Team Championship was established in December 2018, and Sasha Banks and Bayley — better known as the Boss 'n' Hug Connection — became the inaugural champions by winning an Elimination Chamber match in February 2019, according to

But this title might not have happened if it weren't Banks. She told Sky Sports that Vince McMahon had to be convinced that bringing women's tag-team titles to the WWE was a good idea. So she and Bayley went to work. "It felt like the whole of last year we were asking, like we would be knocking on the door of Vince's office every week," Banks said, before adding that McMahon would frequently flip-flop on his answer and change his mind from one week to the next. 

In the end, he gave the title the green-light, of course. And the whole ordeal taught Banks a valuable lesson. "If you're annoying enough you can make things happen and that's probably what happened, he just got annoyed with us," she said. Being annoying isn't such a bad thing after all!

She was inspired by anime cartoon Sailor Moon

In the aforementioned Orlando Sentinel article, Sasha Banks shared how she looked toward many hip-hop stars to help shape her wrestling persona. However, when she was a kid, her real life was inspired by '90s anime cartoon "Sailor Moon." 

Banks was enthralled by the female cartoon characters who were strong, powerful, and on a quest to change the world. "I felt like watching 'Sailor Moon' was like looking in a mirror," she told Still Real To Us. Banks also shared a lot of similarities with the character Serena Tsukino (also known as Usagi Tsukino in the Japanese version of the cartoon). "[Serena] was always late to school. So was I. I was a meatball head," she joked.

After watching the lineup of Japanese superheroes, Banks began to transform into a superhero herself after launching her professional wrestling career. "Once I put my wrestling gear on and I see that RED camera while hearing those fans ... I am a whole different person," she said, "I feel like I can do anything." Sailor Sasha has a nice ring to it, no?

Sasha Banks staged a walkout

Walkouts in the WWE aren't totally uncommon, but the blowback from Sasha Banks' walkout has been unusually fierce. It also raised a lot of questions about her role in the organization. So, what actually happened? Rumors have been swirling ever since she stormed out of a "Monday Night Raw" taping in May 2022.

In a statement, the WWE claimed Banks and Naomi — the reigning women's tag-team champions — "walked into WWE Head of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis office with their suitcases in hand, placed their tag team championship belts on his desk and walked out," refusing to participate in the main event. The pair reportedly claimed they weren't comfortable with their opponents and "weren't respected enough as tag team champions." As Vulture pointed out, this all but confirmed the rumors of behind-the-scenes tensions within the WWE. Banks and Naomi were allegedly unhappy with a new storyline that transformed them from teammates into opponents, with Naomi defeating Banks before each moved on to individual fights. Other online rumors alleged the women's grievances escalated to screaming matches prior to the walkout, with the WWE claiming the pair were "spoiled" and needed to "fix their attitudes." 

Banks has since unfollowed the organization, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, and some of her other colleagues on social media. Meanwhile, according to the New York Post, the WWE stripped the champions of their titles and also indefinitely suspended both Banks and Naomi. So, where does Banks stand now?

Did Sasha Banks cut ties with the WWE?

Since the walkout, Sasha Banks' future with the WWE has been up-in-the-air. Though there's been no distinct confirmation, as of this writing, it looks like she wasn't just indefinitely suspended without pay. According to Raj Giri of Wrestling Inc, Banks was reportedly released from the WWE entirely.

It's unclear if this was a mutual decision, if Banks was fired, or if her contract simply wasn't renewed. Per WrestleTalk, Banks was vying for a release since 2019, but it was denied by Vince McMahon. In May 2022, former WWE writer and MSG Network host Kazeem Famuyide claimed Banks' contract was set to expire within the next two months. July seems just about the time she'd be able to officially exit.

At the time of this writing, it looks like the WWE is working to erase Banks' presence. They pulled her merchandise from the WWE shop and removed her Facebook page. Though she's still listed on the WWE's official roster, they also removed a reference to her during SmackDown and edited her out of the program's intro. Meanwhile, Banks' husband has taken to Twitter to refute claims that she was barred from WWE live events. We'll just have to wait and see.

Sasha Banks is one of the WWE's highest-paid women

Even if Sasha Banks didn't renew her WWE contract, she can still rely on her impressive net worth until she finds a new gig. According to Celebrity Net Worth, the star is worth an estimated $4 million — though other reports place her riches somewhere between $3 million and $5 million. Most of her success has to do with her 12-year career as a wrestler.

Per Sportskeeda, the WWE gave Banks an annual salary of $250,000. That's about average compared to other WWE earnings, but you also have to factor in additional revenue streams. According to Forbes, it's difficult to calculate pro wrestler earnings because they could earn up to 65% of their salary through bonuses that include live events, royalties, merchandise sales, and video sales. For example, according to Sportlister, Becky Lynch — the highest-paid female wrestler — makes $3.1 million annually. This includes her base salary, a $50,000 payout per pay-per-view match, and 1.5% of merchandise sales. Meanwhile, Ronda Rousey earns 2.5% of merchandise sales. Considering her buzz, Banks' merchandise royalties likely fall somewhere in the middle, and a report from US Bookies claims that she grossed nearly $240,000 in merch sales alone in 2021.

As it stands, Banks is one of the highest-paid women in the WWE, but she could take a significant hit now that the organization removed her products from their official shop. If all else fails, she could always hack it as an Instagram influencer.