This one is from this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter, and it confirms several recent updates to the story such as that the new regime at WWE and Banks (real name Mercedes Varnado) were far apart on money, and that the exit plan they negotiated will allow her to wrestle anywhere after Dec. 31, 2022.
But Dave Meltzer’s latest also has new details that are sure to get reaction, especially from Sasha’s most devoted fans.
Varnado was said to be seeking a deal commensurate to Charlotte Flair or Becky Lynch’s, but the Observer’s WWE sources say “she wasn’t offered numbers close to that.” That’s because “she’s not seen internally as somebody who would be on top for the next five years”.
Triple H & team acknowledge a Banks return would be very well received initially, but don’t seem to think she’d move the needle beyond that “‘honeymoon’ period”. They could see The Boss getting singles or tag title runs in WWE moving forward, but probably not in main event storylines since they believe she’s already “peaked as a star”.
Even as part of a negotiating strategy, this is a tough argument to make. Just based on the amount of interest in Varnado’s every move, it’s pretty clear the wrestling audience views her as a top star. A number of moves she’s made in her career — most notably getting a recurring role in at least one season of a Disney+ Star Wars show — indicate Hollywood is intrigued by her potential, and her ability to continually draw interest from mainstream outlets ranging from ESPN to MTV is on par with pretty much any other WWE Superstar.
While discussing the possibility of Mercedes heading to AEW, Meltzer alludes to previous rumors about how she’s perceived backstage: as a talented performer, but one with “issues” behind-the-scenes. That could just be more spin, straight out of “bury em on the way out of town” playbook employed by many sports and entertainment outfits. But it could also be part of WWE’s calculus — thinking they have other stars like Lynch and Bianca Belair who bring many of the same things to the table Varnado does, but who’ve never walked out over creative differences.
Whether or not this report on their thinking is accurate, the bottom line is that WWE and Mercedes Varnado don’t agree on what she’s worth. Now she’s headed elsewhere to attempt to prove them wrong.