Wrestling fans starved for good news were delivered a treat with the announcement that Sasha Banks would again return to the NXT ring for singles competition to battle NXT women's champion Io Shirai in a non-title bout during the special Great American Bash edition of NXT on Wednesday night. This pairing fits firmly into the "dream match" category, pitting two of the most brilliant in-ring performers in the world against each other at the peak of their powers.
The match was born from Shirai chasing off Banks and Bayley after the WWE women's tag team champions successfully defended their titles against Tegan Nox and Shotzi Blackheart. Banks quickly issued a one-on-one challenge on social media, and the unlikely cross-brand match was locked in.
Banks, who has her own experience as NXT women's champion, spoke to CBS Sports ahead of the highly-anticipated showdown, discussing what Shirai brings to the table.
"She brings such a unique style. She has a lot of lucha libre and the joshi pro wrestling style," Banks said. "She's known as one of the greatest in Japan, but she's not better than Sasha Banks. I'm telling you, I'm the best in the world. She may be great in Japan and she may be OK and starting to get a little notice in NXT. Tonight, I will make her into the star she is supposed to be because that's what a leader is supposed to do. So make sure you watch tonight on the USA channel at 8:00 p.m. ET and watch me destroy Io and show her why this has always been my NXT."
Banks won the NXT women's title in February 2015, defeating Bayley, Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch in a fatal four-way at NXT TakeOver: Rival. Those four women established the foundation of NXT as the home of spectacular women's wrestling. Shirai has become a part of continuing that legacy, capturing the title by beating Rhea Ripley and then-champion Flair at NXT TakeOver: In Your House on June 7.
Shirai now has the chance to knock off a second member of the Four Horsewomen of NXT when she battles Banks, but the reigning tag champ claims she is not treating the match with Shirai or these trips back to the NXT ring any differently from any other night on the job.
"It's nothing, it's just work," Banks said. "It's just collecting another check, honey bunny. Do you not work? Do you not go into an office? I know you're probably sitting at home. It's nothing new. I'm just here to collect my check and collect all the debts that these NXT students owe me."