Mercedes Mone, who wrestled in WWE under the name Sasha Banks, recently had her first full-length interview with NJPW and took the opportunity to throw a little bit of shade at her former employer. The 31-year-old made her long-awaited return to the wrestling ring on January 4 at New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom 17 show. She didn’t wrestle and instead challenged NJPW Women’s Champion KAIRI to a match at Battle In The Valley. That show sold out, with Mone vs. KAIRI being the only confirmed match, showing that the former Sasha Banks has plenty of drawing power outside of North America’s two biggest promotions—the other being AEW, where Mone had been rumored to land.
During her interview with njpw1972.com, Mone spoke about how excited she was to join the all-women promotion, STARDOM. She took a slight jab at WWE in the process, stating, “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.” STARDOM has blossomed into Japan’s second-most popular wrestling promotion, trailing only NJPW in that regard.
WWE’s Women’s Division Has Taken Steps But Can’t Match STARDOM For Air Time
There’s no denying that WWE’s women’s division has come a long way over the last several years. This, of course, is largely thanks to the emergence of the four horsewomen, in which the Sasha Banks character played a prominent role. Alongside Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, and Bayley, Banks helped change how North American audiences view women’s wrestling. The matches typically aren’t in cooldown spots anymore, and the women main event some episodes of Raw and SmackDown. Despite these shifts, WWE can’t hope to offer their roster the same kind of air time that STARDOM can. To Mone’s point, there are no men to contend with, so the women are free to do their own thing every week.
Her comments also come just a few days after WWE came under fire for how it treated the women’s division during the Raw is 30-anniversary show. The opening segment, featuring Roman Reigns and the rest of The Bloodline, was stellar. It also ran long, forcing on-the-fly changes to the card. Instead of trimming time elsewhere, WWE made the call to bail on the advertised Bayley vs. Becky Lynch steel cage match entirely. If those two can’t get some respect on an anniversary show, then who can? Fans were dismayed by this outcome, leading numerous former stars to take WWE to task online. The Bella Twins, in particular, cut a scathing video about the occurrence.
Those aren’t Mone’s issues to worry about anymore, though. Despite months of reports indicating that WWE wanted to smooth things over with her, she decided to bet on herself in a way and take her talent elsewhere. There’s been a tremendous amount of interest in booking her, both on the independent and convention scenes, signifying that if more Mone leads to more problems, then the pro wrestling world has a lot of issues coming down the pike.