Cora Jade is developing into a great performer, but it is unfair to label her as the “next Sasha Banks.”
WWE is a company that attempts to build new stars that can leap from professional wrestling to the mainstream entertainment world. Sometimes those stars are built organically, like John Cena. Then there are others like Sasha Banks that rise to a level of stardom despite attempts to undercut said rise. Banks is now continuing to push the barriers of wrestling as Mercedes Mone, and WWE is struggling to rebuild the women’s division. Recent reports by Louis Dangoor of Give Me Sport claim that Triple H sees Cora Jade as “the next Sasha Banks” which immediately puts a massive spotlight on the young talent, for better or worse.
Jade is performing well during her run with NXT. The 22-year-old is growing into her role. It was clear that WWE had big plans for her with how she was booked in the Women’s WarGames match in 2021. From that moment, through her run as a heel, she’s steadily improved and can be a focal point of a young women’s division that is growing around talented performers like Tiffany Stratton, Roxanne Perez, Sol Ruca, Jade, and others. But to herald Jade as the next Banks is a major leap that is going to come with backlash.
At 31 years old, Mercedes Mone (formerly known as Sasha Banks) has already put together a Hall of Fame career. She is a multiple-time champion, with her first WWE championship run coming in 2015. From that point, she would capture 10 WWE championship runs before leaving in 2022 due to the company’s inability to see her value as an icon in professional wrestling.
To say that Jade has already shown enough to get such a heavy label as the “next Sasha Banks” comes with a lot of danger.
Mercedes Mone/Sasha Banks’s impact on wrestling is substantial
First, the Mercedes Mone/Sasha Banks fanbase is a ravenous group of individuals. This collective is one of the reasons why she’s become such a force in professional wrestling. According to Wrestling Observer, The recent Stardom All-Star Grand Queendom PPV did five times the usual overseas buys, which is attributed to Mone’s presence on the card. The same type of impact happened when Mone was announced for her match against KAIRI at NJPW Battle in the Valley, as the card immediately sold out. It’s difficult to saddle a young performer and predict that she will have the same type of impact at this point in her career.
Then, there’s Mone’s appeal as a crossover star. The third season of The Mandalorian just wrapped up and Banks was once again in the show. That’s a level of star power that few professional wrestlers achieve, regardless of gender. Then her appearances on “Cold as Balls,” “Wild N’ Out,” “Hot Ones,” “TRL,” and many others show that entertainment venues outside of professional wrestling are looking at her with a wider appeal than just professional wrestling. WWE never boasted about that during the weekly shows but certainly did so when it was time to make themselves look good in front of investors every quarter. To predict that an individual four years into her career will be able to match that is a heavy burden.
And finally, the optics do not help the situation. Many opinions continue that Mone being an African American woman limited her opportunity for growth within the company. Even though she continued to prove her value across many different metrics, she was never slotted in the same space as Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, or Ronda Rousey. Some will even argue that Alexa Bliss was seen with more value, even though fans continued to call for Mone to get a career-defining run at the top. The optics of heralding Jade as the second coming of Mone rightfully rubs some individuals the wrong way who long question if the WWE will appreciate African American performers as they do others.
No one expected Tom Brady to reach the levels he’d achieve when he replaced Drew Bledsoe in 2001. But he did so, without the pressure of being deemed the “next” anyone. To say that Cora Jade is the “next Sasha Banks” is an anchor that no woman on the WWE roster should be asked to hold while developing their career in professional wrestling.