We’re a month away from Mercedes Moné (fka Sasha Banks) wrestling her first match in a New Japan Pro-Wrestling ring. She’ll be challenging KAIRI for the IWGP Women’s title at the sold out Battle in the Valley show in San Jose, California.
Tickets may be gone, but there are still PPVs to sell (the Feb. 18 show streams on Fite for $19.99). So NJPW recorded this interview with Moné where she describes why she chose to come to Japan:
“... when I was 12 or 13, watching Manami Toyota, Aja Kong, Akira [Hokuto], and I knew instantly, that was the reason I wanted to be [in] professional wrestling. I mean, WWE was amazing growing up. That got me hooked. But it was the Japanese women’s wrestling that told myself I can do this. That I can fight like a girl, that I can fight that hard. And because of them, it really showed me that I can be a boss in this space. Someone that can collect money in this space. They were the leaders of this, but now I’m taking this to a whole different standard.
“I’ve wrestled the top joshi stars. Kana [WWE’s Asuka], Iyo [Shirai/Sky], KAIRI. There’s been everybody. I’ve wrestled everyone around the world. So coming to Japan? I’m never scared.
“I’m all about history. If it’s not about history, it doesn’t make any sense. When I found out about that IWGP Women’s championship, my heart was filled with so much joy. And I knew instantly what I wanted — and that was that title.”
Moné also talked a little trash about her opponent, KAIRI (Kairi Sane in WWE). She also hinted that if once she wins the title, she plans to travel with it beyond New Japan and fellow Bushiroad-owned Stardom:
“I’ve been dreaming of this. And for it to be in the United States, in San Jose, California? I have so much history there. I’ve had the greatest matches there. So February 18 is going to be the same. I’m going to make sure that is the greatest women’s match of all time and when I hold up my championship, oh, cute little KAIRI.
“I’m about to send KAIRI back to Japan and she can go back to Stardom. I’m about to take that title everywhere. Not just New Japan, everywhere.”
How’s the post-WWE Mercedes rollout working for you? Excited for Battle in the Valley?