Mercedes Moné is set for her first match since walking out on WWE in May of last year.
The artist formerly known as Sasha Banks sensationally quit WWE in 2021. After disagreeing with booking decisions while Women’s Tag Team Champion with Naomi the duo left the company never to return.
Her first match in nine months sees her challenge KAIRI for the IWGP Women’s Championship at NJPW Battle in the Valley in San Jose, California, on February 18th. The match came after Moné made her NJPW debut at Wrestle Kingdom 17 and attacked the champion before calling her for a title bout.
As well as Moné vs KAIRI, Battle in the Valley also features Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. Fred Rosser vs. Kenta for the Strong Openweight Championship and Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Clark Connors with the World Television Championship on the line.
Moné and KIARI have a long history. During their time in WWE, they were often pitted against one another on opposite teams. As Banks, she partnered with Bayley against Kairi Sane and Asuka, then known as the Kabuki Warriors in a rivalry over the women’s tag titles and the Raw Women’s Championship.
Mercedes Moné Praised Her Fans Before Her Return To The Ring
In the lead-up to her highly-anticipated in-ring return, Moné sat down with Sports Illustrated, to talk everything NJPW, STARDOM and her fans. Mone praised her fanbase said and gave them credit for the increased viewership numbers at Wrestle Kingdom 17.
“I have the greatest fans in the entire world,” Mone said. “They followed me to Wrestle Kingdom. There was 30% new viewership from the United States, and that’s because of my crew. To be away from them for nine months has been incredibly hard. Now we get to start a whole new chapter and go on a whole new ride.”
Moné’s presence in NJPW also helped boost ticket sales and sell out their first American PPV of 2023. After making her NJPW debut Moné is scheduled to appear at NJPW Sakura Genesis on April 8th from the Ryogoku Sumo Hall and at Yokohama Arena on April 23rd for STARDOM.