WWE stars return to New Zealand

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Sasha Banks. Photo: Supplied

MORE women are grappling in the pro-wrestling ring than ever, with the line-up for this year’s World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Live event proving it.

That’s the message from WWE star Sasha Banks, one of four women in a 20-wrestler line-up heading to Christchurch’s Horncastle Arena on September 13.

As one of the “Four Horsewomen” wrestling team, Banks, of California, helped usher in a new era of competitive women’s wrestling which eventually made its way on to WWE’s main roster.

“It’s such a cool place for women’s wrestling right now. Women are killing it in WWE,” she said.

“There are a couple of girls from New Zealand [Dakota Kai and Toni Storm] competing in WWE, too,” she said.

The WWE women’s division pushed the girls’ empowerment message and the athletes were also heavily involved in community programmes such as the anti-bullying Be A Star, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Susan G Komen organisation, which addressed breast cancer research and public policy initiatives, she said.

Banks said she had loved pro-wrestling since she was 10 years old. At 18 she found a wrestling school and started training, then emailed WWE every week until she was invited to try out as a WWE pro-wrestler.

Banks successfully defended the WWE Women’s Championship title against Charlotte Flair last year at Auckland’s Vector Arena.

This will be her first visit to the South Island, which she described as “gorgeous”.

Banks said pro-wrestling had a growing following in New Zealand and New Zealand audiences were among her “favourite crowds”.

“The fans here are so loud, so excited.”

Banks said she hoped she could inspire girls or boys everywhere with her wrestling success.

“Whatever your dream, you have to go out there and make it happen. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t.”

Dion McCracken, of Ringside Consulting, said this would be the first time WWE had visited the South Island since 2008.

“Women’s wrestling is certainly becoming much more popular as [female] superstars continue to redefine the division,” he said.

To purchase tickets for the wrestling and “meet and greets” with the wrestling stars, go to ticketek.co.nz.

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