Sasha Banks and Naomi walked out of WWE on May 16.
Neither star has returned to WWE since then, even with a new regime taking over for Vince McMahon in July. During this time there have been plenty of reports and rumors about their ongoing negotiations with WWE, Sasha’s potential release, financial disagreements, internal roster lists, new trademarks, WWE freezing contracts, and so forth. It’s been hard to nail it all down exactly because nothing has really happened on the surface other than Sasha and Naomi remaining out of the pro wrestling spotlight.
Then last week a big splash was made when it was reported that Mercedes Varnado is going to make an appearance on Jan. 4 at NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom 17, and the booking was not made through WWE. This news strongly indicates that the former Sasha Banks will not be bound to a WWE contract by that date.
In a new report tonight, Fightful Select provides a few more details into Varnado’s contract situation with WWE:
- Varnado’s exit from WWE was negotiated “months ago,” probably around the time in June when Wrestling Inc’s Raj Giri first reported she was released by the company.
- Varnado is able to take pro wrestling bookings as of Jan. 1, 2023.
- She is going ahead with her booking for NJPW on Jan. 4, and the deal was agreed to in late November.
- People familiar with her NJPW deal haven’t heard anything about Sasha’s potential relationship with AEW.
The bottom line is that Mercedes Varnado is reportedly free and clear to go anywhere she wants to in the world of pro wrestling as of Jan. 1, and she is beginning that new path forward with NJPW at their biggest show of 2023.
It reads to me like she is also available to be Saraya’s mystery partner on AEW Dynamite in Los Angeles on Jan. 11, so we’ll have to play the waiting game from here to see just how badly Tony Khan wants to make up for losing CM Punk’s star power. Khan must have a major name lined up considering he announced the match with more than one month’s notice.
Are you excited to see Mercedes Varnado take over the pro wrestling world in 2023, Cagesiders?