(NEXSTAR) – There was plenty of drama at this week’s taping of “Monday Night Raw,” but most of it appeared to be unscripted — and took place off-screen.
The WWE is claiming that two of its superstars — Sasha Banks and Naomi — had “walked out” of the arena prior to their scheduled appearance in the main event of “Monday Night Raw” on May 16.
The tag-team champions were slated to participate in a “six-pack challenge” against four other wrestlers during Monday’s taping in Norfolk, Virginia. The main event was replaced with a match between Becky Lynch and Asuka, who were also scheduled to appear in the six-way challenge.
“When Sasha Banks and Naomi arrived at the arena this afternoon, they were informed of their participation in the main event of tonight’s ‘Monday Night Raw,’” the WWE wrote in an official statement issued after Monday’s taping.
“During the broadcast, they 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,” the statement continued. “They claimed they weren’t respected enough as tag team champions. And even though they had eight hours to rehearse and construct their match, they claimed they were uncomfortable in the ring with two of their opponents even though they’d had matches with those individuals in the past with no consequence. Monday Night Raw is a scripted live TV show, whose characters are expected to perform the requirements of their contract.”
The WWE also apologized to spectators and viewers for being “unable to deliver” the planned main event.
Sasha Banks and Naomi — aka Mercedes Varnado and Trinity Fatu — had yet to publicly comment on the events of Monday night. Many fans on Twitter, however, seemed to side with the duo. Others took issue with the WWE’s statement, as well WWE announcer Corey Graves, who called the two unprofessional during the broadcast.
Some also pointed to a off-script moment between female wrestlers Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair which played out during a live show, and did not earn a public statement from the WWE.
“Becky & Charlotte can embarrass the company on national TV but Naomi & Sasha gotta get a statement put out saying how they’re unprofessional and dragged on tv by Corey graves…?” one fan wrote.
“Sasha Banks and Naomi are incredible, star talents regardless of whether that’s in WWE or elsewhere,” added wrestling reporter Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful.com. Fightful also suggested that Sasha Banks, who had previously taken a hiatus in 2019 to deal with depression, had voiced her displeasure with the creative direction of the producers’ plans prior to Monday’s show, and left — along with Naomi — before the start of the broadcast and not during it, citing information from inside sources.
When asked whether Sasha Banks or Naomi would be facing disciplinary actions, or if the WWE was under the impression that they had resigned, a representative for the WWE directed Nexstar to its existing statement at WWE.com.