WWE Superstar Sasha Banks, through Puma and CollaborAid, released a limited-edition sneaker with local Detroit wrestling fanatic Marcus Person.
WWE and sneakerheads are more synonymous than people think. And if you’re not big on pro wrestling or collecting sneakers, you wouldn’t know. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that WWE Superstar and current Smackdown Women’s champion Sasha Banks released her limited-edition sneaker Wednesday morning. However, what may come as a shocker is that Detroit’s city has representation on the shoe as well. Banks, along with Footlocker Detroit’s Marcus Person, collaborated on the limited-edition kicks. Before the shoe release, Woodward Sports sat down with Person to get details on how the collaboration came to fruition.
KW: Marcus, thank you for taking the time to speak with me. So let’s dive right in. How did the collab with Sasha Banks come to fruition?
MP: Okay, so, so to take it to its infancy. So the whole collection is called the “CollaborAid.” It helps the cities and neighborhoods that have been hit the hardest throughout the pandemic because of COVID-19. To dive even deeper into that, Footlocker is working alongside Soles4Souls. They’re a non-profit organization. They donate new shoes, used shoes, gently-used shoes to kids in need. And Footlocker, throughout the Collaboraid collection, they’re going to donate $250,000 to that cause.
KW: That is pretty amazing.
MP: Now, with Sasha, I was one of five store managers selected to participate in this Collaboraid collection. I’m talking to John Hawkindale. He works in our [Footlocker] New York office on the marketing team. And he’s picking my brain, trying to figure out what do I want to do. I said, “Man, you know I’m a big wrestling fan.” And he said, “Yeah, me too.” So, I’m like, “Dude! I would love to do a shoe kind of like based on Sasha [Banks]”, which is by far my favorite female wrestler. She’s probably on the cusp of being like a top-five wrestler for me all time. And he was like, “Man, what I can get you to do a collab with her?” I’m like, “Bro, stop playing.”
And this is back in March, you know? So, this has been kind of like a long process. He called a couple of people up. WWE approved it. And Mikaze, I don’t know if you’re familiar, but her-
KW: Her husband…
MP: Yeah, her husband. Yep. He did all of the design work for the shoe. So, it’s been insane.
KW: That is amazing. And, how many pairs of the shoe from the collaboration will the Footlocker Detroit store have?
MP: Ooh, I can’t give out an exact number, but when I say hyper-limited! We’re a store that gets the most high-priority releases. It’s harder to get these than a pair of Yeezy’s.
KW: That is, that’s deep. So, you said you’re a big wrestling fan, and Sasha’s in your top five? What made you elevate her that high?
MP: So, I’m a be honest with you, man. We all were man a big, big fans as children coming up watching wrestling with pops and watching old VHS tapes that Pop dubbed and recorded to pay-per-views and all of that stuff. So, all my favorites are from the 90s, man, from my childhood. I got out of it for a couple of years, as I think a lot of us do.
And you know Koleon Prescott got me back into it. I just fell in love with Sasha, man. Her in-ring work, seeing what the women had evolved from, from like the Attitude Era and before that, where they were kind of like a throwaway division, more sexualized. I now feel like the women [wrestlers] go out there with a purpose perform better than the male wrestlers. And I think Sasha kind of stands above the rest of them.
KW: Will Footlocker Detroit have any more future collaborations with Collaboraid?
MP: This is just one collection as there have been a few shoes released throughout the last month or so, maybe even a little longer. PJ Tucker and Chinatown Market participated with one as well. ASAP Ferg has also been involved. A big collection came together to donate that $250,000. Hopefully, this isn’t a one-and-done for me.
KW: What are you expecting the sales to be like numbers-wise? Are you expecting it to be a winner?
MP: Instant sell out! There is a lot of buzz online. People throughout the nation hit me up, even from New York, asking if they can score a pair online, or if they can ship it to me, have me sign them, send it back to them. The whole experience has been a crazy man. Just pairing sneakers, pairing wrestlers, and two things I loved as a child. Two things, such as a sneaker designer and a professional wrestler. Those are two dreams I had as a kid, and throughout this process, I’ve been able to live a little bit both.
KW: Have you had any conversations or contact with Sasha or Mikaze?
MP: With Mikaze, yes. A bunch of interactions, whether it’s over an email, text messages, conference calls. His participation was massive from the infancy of the project. So, he took Boston’s inspiration, which is the shoe that represents Sasha, and in Detroit, which is the shoe that defines me. We gave him our favorite places, things, and foods from the city. He put it together, and it’s like a treasure map. You know, “Boston Strong”; that saying came about because of the Boston Marathon, which is on the shoe. But, you put the two together, so it says “Strong” on Sasha’s shoe, “We Are Detroit” on my shoe. You put the two together,” We are stronger together.”
Coming out of COVID, we come from different neighborhoods. We come from different cities. We come from different walks of life. But, I think now more than ever, we realize that as people, in general, regardless of where we’re from and what we do, we’re stronger when we’re together.
KW: You said you’re back into wrestling, and Survivor Series is coming up. Any match you’re looking forward to seeing?
MP: I think the best heel going is Roman Reigns. I am not a huge fan of his, but his recent work on SmackDown with Paul Heyman is insane. I’m looking forward to that match against Drew McIntyre, especially since he won back the WWE Championship this past Monday Night Raw. So, uh, definitely looking forward. I think that’s a great matchup, and definitely, a much better match than one Randy and Roman would’ve been. So, I’m excited about that one.