The wrestling debut of Mercedes Moné (fka Sasha Banks) is getting closer, and New Japan is ramping up for Feb. 18’s Battle in the Valley by introducing their audience to one of WWE’s most decorated women’s wrestlers.
A print interview on their website is the latest part of their effort to do that. Moné covers a lot of the same ground she has in the past with regards to why she’s chosen to come to Japan — how the legendary joshi (women’s) wrestlers of the past inspired her to get into the business, the respect she has for the current joshis — and what her goals are now that she’s working with NJPW and their all-women’s sister promotion, Stardom:
“I was so amazed by them that Japan became my number one goal even before WWE. So I managed to achieve what I wanted to achieve in WWE, and now I get to live out this international dream.
“... I’m thrilled to start this [her ‘World Tour’] in Japan, and with NJPW and Stardom. Stardom, to me, has the best women’s wrestlers in the world, and I really want to cement my legacy with my wrestling fans, to cement my name with the greatest of all time. I’m ready to fucking go.”
Moné confirms she spent a month living in Mexico last fall, training with people like Skayde, Ricky Marvin, and Bandido. She also says that her trip to Japan last month was something she was going to do even if negotiations with Bushiroad (NJPW & Stardom’s parent company) didn’t pan out. If there’s anything to reports of heat within New Japan for posting about training with wrestlers from other promotions, her answer to a question about how she was received by the locker room when she debuted at Wrestle Kingdom 17 can be read as a response:
“I met a few of the Stardom wrestlers already from coming to Japan and training with them — I always try to hop around a lot of dojos and learn from a lot of people when I’m there. I feel like doing that earns some respect I hope — I can only show the respect that I have for them, and the passion that they have for wrestling is the same that I do.”
The most interesting part of the interview for this writer was when Mercedes was asked to talk about how Japanese wrestling has historically presented men’s and women’s wrestling in different promotions and shows, as opposed to the mixed cards offered in most of the rest of the world. Her answer is mostly standard promotional speak, but Moné does bring up one advantage of the segregated model — more time for the women:
“I’ve only gotten to experience WWE Evolution as an all women’s show. I’ve never been part of an all women promotion like Stardom is, so that will be a first for me. I’ve always been mixed with the guys and sharing, what, maybe five minutes of a three hour weekly TV show. So I’m really excited to be a part of Stardom and be a part of all women’s shows. I’m intrigued to see what it’s like and how it all works, but it’s been working for Japan for a very long time, and being involved with all these potential fresh matchups makes me excited about the future.”
Of course, the IWGP Women’s title match Mercedes debuted after at the Tokyo Dome on Jan. 4 only got a little more than five minutes, and she & KAIRI’s bout for the belt is currently the only joshi match on the card for Battle in the Valley. So we’ll have to check back with The C.E.O. after she finally works a joshi-only event.
But maybe New Japan will start to give the ladies more time after Moné and KAIRI deliver what Mercedes has been claiming will be “the greatest match of all time” in San Jose next month?
Check out New Japan’s entire talk with their new star here.