Ever since Sasha Banks walked out of WWE, speculation has been rife on where she will next make her presence felt. That question has been answered at NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 17 as The Boss – now going by Mercedes Mone – made an appearance to challenge IWGP Women’s Champion KAIRI.
Sasha Banks makes NJPW debut at Wrestle Kingdom 17
On NJPW’s biggest show of the year, KAIRI made her first defence of the IWGP Women’s Championship against Tam Nakano. The bout saw the STARDOM veterans give their all in a short but explosive bout, fighting in and out of the ring. While Nakano looked to get the win early with a Violent Screwdriver, KAIRI was able to fight back with a Cutlass and an Insane Elbow for the victory in under 10 minutes.
As she celebrated in the ring, the lights went out and unfamiliar music played in the arena. Sasha Banks then made her way to the ring with a whole new look as the announcer made her new name of Mercedes Mone known. She then shook hands with KAIRI before dropping her and draping the IWGP Women’s Title over her limp body.
Mone then took the microphone to announce she is in NJPW and STARDOM to make history, calling herself the “CEO of this women’s division”. She then made it clear she will challenge KAIRI at Battle In The Valley on February 18th in San Jose.
Mercedes Moné is here!
— NJPW Global (@njpwglobal) January 4, 2023
Sasha Banks left WWE back in May alongside her tag team partner Naomi. At the time, the pair were the Women’s Tag Team Champions but reported issues with their creative direction led to them walking out of the company as the May 16th edition of Raw hit the air.
While there were rumours back in August that both women had agreed to a deal that would see them return to the company, they never materialised on WWE TV. Later in the year speculation that Sasha Banks was heading for Japan began to circulate and in December even the President of NJPW’s parent company, Bushiroad, admitted there was “a possibility” she would be at the major Tokyo Dome show.
Now that Banks has finally returned to the world of pro wrestling, it is possible that there is also substance behind the rumours of her being Saraya’s mystery partner for the January 11th edition of AEW Dynamite, although that remains to be seen.