Mercedes Moné Makes Her New Japan Pro Wrestling Debut; Leaves Sasha Banks Behind

(L to R): Mercedes Moné and IWGP Women’s Champion KAIRI at Wrestle Kingdom 17.
(L to R): Mercedes Moné and IWGP Women’s Champion KAIRI at Wrestle Kingdom 17.

The moment wrestling fans have been waiting for has finally happened. Mercedes Moné, f.k.a. WWE superstar Sasha Banks, ended months of speculation by making her debut in New Japan Pro Wrestling during its Wrestle Kingdom 17 pay-per-view on Wednesday. She made her presence known after the IWGP Women’s Championship match. Following the first successful defense by the champion, KAIRI, Mercedes made a grand entrance worthy of a star making her first appearance at the Tokyo Dome. Once she hit the ring, Moné attacked the champ, then challenged her to a title match at New Japan’s upcoming Battle in the Valley event on Feb. 18 in San Jose, Calif.

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During her in-ring promo, Mercedes said she’s in New Japan and STARDOM, a women’s wrestling promotion NJPW partners with, to make history. She also called herself “The CEO” of the women’s division.

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“I’m interested in many wrestlers, but the reason I decided to fight KAIRI-san in the first place is because we have a ‘past,’” Moné said during the post-event press conference, per Fightful. “February 18th, San Jose, New Japan I think it will be the best match in Stardom history, so please look forward to it.”

Mercedes has always been open about her desire to wrestle in Japan. It’s been a longtime dream of hers and she even spent time training there during a hiatus from WWE in 2019. Obviously, she’s going after KAIRI because she’s the champion, but she’s also a former WWE wrestler and the two had multiple matches against one another during their time with the company. Though Moné has continued to train and stay in ring shape, there’s definitely going to be some rust after not competing since she walked out on WWE in May. Making her big return against someone she’s familiar with, who’s also extremely talented, will help her find her way back to being one of the best in-ring performers in the business.

Now, we just have to wait for the Jan. 11 episode of AEW Dynamite to find out if she will surprise fans as Saraya’s mystery partner in her tag team match against Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D. and AEW Women’s Champion Jamie Hayter. AEW and NJPW have a working relationship, so there’s absolutely a world where we could see Mercedes wrestling in New Japan, STARDOM, Ring of Honor and AEW. And I am here to see her reign over all these promotions. Give Mercedes all the gold!

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