January 4, 2023

After months of speculation, Mercedes Varnado—who many know fondly as the former WWE superstar Sasha Banks (No. 5 on the 2022 BRP50)—made her New Japan Pro-Wrestling debut this week during Wrestle Kingdom 17, attacking current IWGP Women's champion KAIRI under her new moniker, Mercedes Moné.

New look, new hair, new entrance. New everything.

TBH, you should've known this was happening when she took time out yesterday to send hella tweets thanking everyone from her past. Here's what went down at Wrestle Kingdom 17, courtesy of F4WOnline: "After KAIRI defeated Tam Nakano to retain the IWGP Women’s Championship, Banks came out, using the name Mercedes Mone. She at first congratulated KAIRI and offered to shake her hand. It was a trap, however, as Banks laid her out. Banks then took a microphone and said that she is here in New Japan and Stardom to make more history, and called herself the CEO of the women’s division. She promised to take the title from KAIRI at NJPW Battle in the Valley, which takes place in San Jose on February 18."

"CEO of the women's division" is dope, IMO. Also interesting to note that while many thought Moné would be making her in-ring debut on Jan. 21 for Night 2 of Wrestle Kingdom 17, she will be battling KAIRI in America on February 18 at NJPW Battle in the Valley. (No wonder the NJPW of America account was making eyes.) 

And yes, there are still a contingent of folks out there who believe she will be teaming with Saraya later this month in AEW; that hasn't been confirmed, nor do I think it should be. As a wise man once said, "let them wait!" It does look like all of that talk about Bayley being in Japan to support her girl makes sense; she had to do it to recreate this image with FTR.

We'll no doubt be digging into this situation more in depth on this week's episode of BRP. Tap in this Thursday at 8:35PM ET; subscribe to us at youtube.com/blackrasslin if you haven't already!

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