AEW is returning to Los Angeles on Jan. 11, and they started promoting a women’s tag match well in advance of that show.
One of the reasons for that is because it will be Saraya’s second match back since doctors cleared her to wrestle again a few months ago. She’ll continue her rivalry with Dr. Britt Baker, while perhaps starting one with Women’s champ Jamie Hayter. But most of the attention has focused on Saraya’s partner for the match, whose identity remains a MYSTERY.
Many fans think they’ve solved this one though. Mercedes “Sasha Banks” Varnado’s WWE contract reportedly ends on Dec. 31, and it’s widely believed she’ll make her New Japan/Stardom debut at the Tokyo Dome during Wrestle Kingdom 17 on Jan. 4. All of which should free her up to debut on Dynamite as Saraya’s plus-one.
If it’s not going to be Banks, it would behoove Tony Khan to make that clear ahead of time to avoid a “Daniel Bryan at the Royal Rumble in 2014 (and 2015)” situation. During his lengthy interview with Grapsody recently, Philip Lindsey gave Khan an opportunity to ramp up the hype for Mercedes Moné as the MYSTERY PARTNER, or burst fans bubble in advance.
Here’s what he said about announcing Saraya’s teammate:
“Not at this time. I don’t think it would behoove me to do that right now.”
Prodded on if he’d be able to make an announcement next month — after Varnado is rumored to be fully clear of her WWE obligations — he replied:
“Well, in January, you’re definitely going to find out who it is. You will know in January. But right now is probably not something that probably serves my interests well... To quote Gerri Kellman from Succession, ‘How does it serve me? How does it serve my interests?’ [laughter]”
Is the end of Sasha’s WWE contract what TK is waiting for? He’s spoken a lot lately about not wanting to overpromise and underdeliver (notably about Dynamite & Rampage’s new look), and letting fans hope they’re getting The Boss when they’re actually going to get Toni Storm or Hikaru Shida is playing with promotional fire.
This is starting to feel more like the build for “The First Dance” though, where everyone thought it would be CM Punk, and Khan delivered CM Punk (for a year or so, anyway).