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Sasha Banks makes her New Japan debut as Mercedes Moné, books her title match with KAIRI

First things first, KAIRI bested Tam Nakano in her first defense of the IWGP Women’s title at New Japan Pro-Wrestling Wrestle Kingdom 17 in the Tokyo Dome this morning (Jan. 4).

The match only lasted a little over five minutes, which was disappointing for joshi fans. KAIRI and Nakano gave fans a taste of what they’ll see if they check out Stardom (the women’s promotion owned by New Japan’s parent company, Bushiroad), delivering a hard-hitting sprint where each hit their finisher before taking it home.

Everyone watching knew what that was prelude to, too. And while the Pirate Princess was having her hand raised, the lights went out. A money-themed entrance song played as we got confirmation of which of Sasha Banks’ many trademarks she’d go by in Japan — meet Mercedes Moné.

After Moné and KAIRI shared a smile while the latter held up her belt, the segment was a pretty rocky one.

The move Mercedes used to drop the champ wasn’t clean, and she seemed a little nervous delivering her first promo in more than seven months. But she got the main points across: she’s here to take over as the CEO of New Japan’s women’s division and Stardom, and she’ll be coming for KAIRI’s belt on Feb. 18 at Battle in the Valley in San Jose, California.

The woman who walked out of WWE back in May, and negotiated the end of her contract to make this move closed with “In San Jose, I’m gonna leave you bankrupt, bitch. You can bank on Moné.”

Did business just pick up?

Get complete results from Wrestle Kingdom 17 here.

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