On January 4th, Mercedes Moné (FKA Sasha Banks in WWE) made her NJPW debut at Wrestle Kingdom 17, challenging KAIRI for the IWGP Women’s Championship following her successful defence against Tam Nakano. The match is now set for Battle in the Valley on February 18th, in what will be her first in-ring outing since May 15th last year, as well as being her first match outside of the WWE system in over ten years.
With anticipation for the event building, New Japan Pro Wrestling recently posted an exclusive interview with Mercedes Moné to their YouTube channel. During the interview, Moné shared an insight into her current mindset one month out from her IWGP Women’s Championship challenge and also revealed that she plans on taking the title “everywhere” on her quest to become a global superstar.
“I’ve never been more excited, more nervous, which I never get nervous, but I am so ready for this. I’ve been dreaming about this, I’ve been really really wanting this and for it to be in the United States in San Jose, California? I have so much history there. I’ve had the greatest matches there. February 18th is gonna be the same. I’m going to make sure that it is the greatest women’s match of all time and when I hold up my championship… oh cute little KAIRI, I’m gonna send her back to Japan and she can go back to STARDOM and I can be the global superstar that I’m meant to be. I’m about to take that title everywhere, not just New Japan, but everywhere.”-Mercedes Moné
Battle in the Valley, which is set to take place in San Jose, California, at the San Jose Civic Center, is also set to feature an IWGP World Heavyweight Championship title defence, although it is currently unclear as to whether it’ll be Kazuchika Okada or Shingo Takagi heading into the event with the gold.
Tickets for the event are reported to have sold out on January 10th, signifying the impact that Moné has had thus far on international interest in NJPW’s product.
H/T to Fightful for the transcription.