With NJPW’s Battle in the Valley just a few hours away, excitement is building towards the highly anticipated IWGP Women’s Championship bout between KAIRI and the debuting Mercedes Moné, formerly known in WWE as Sasha Banks. Moné officially joined NJPW on January 4th earlier this year, making her debut at Wrestle Kingdom 17 by challenging KAIRI after her successful title defence against Tam Nakano.
Speaking on Under The Ring ahead of tonight’s match, Mercedes discussed her decision to join New Japan Pro Wrestling, stating that it was an easy decision to come to once she left WWE.
“This is such a huge honor for me. It made it a really easy decision to go to New Japan to help kickstart this women’s division for this company. With New Japan being the biggest pro wrestling company in Japan, it was just an easy, easy decision to be like, ‘This is the place that I want to be.’ I grew up watching New Japan, I grew up watching Pro-Wrestling NOAH and all these Japanese women’s wrestling [companies] growing up. So this was such an easy decision. It’s a dream come true for me. I think [NJPW Battle in the Valley] is just going to create so much magic and so much history for women’s wrestling that I just want everyone around the world to be like, ‘This is the company that I want to be in,'”-Mercedes Moné
NJPW’s parent company, Bushiroad, also own the Joshi promotion World Wonder Ring Stardom, with Moné expected to work dates for both companies during her time in Japan.
When asked about the prospect of competing in Stardom, Moné was unable to hide her excitement, highlighting the company as one of the fastest growing promotions worldwide.
“Oh my god, I see it as one of the greatest potential companies in the world right now. I just keep seeing it growing and growing and getting bigger. I’ve been hearing about STARDOM for years. Just knowing that it’s an all-women’s promotion with the greatest women’s wrestlers all over the world, [moreso] now that you have Mercedes Mone in the game, as well. I think just watching, I’ve been watching it for the past couple of months, really fine-tuning up, ‘Who do I want to face? Who is the best out there?’ They have some of the top wrestlers I have ever seen. I’m just so excited to introduce the American audience to the style of STARDOM women. I think just giving them the opportunity to show what they can do to a global-scale audience is just going to open up the doors for women’s women’s wrestling all over the world. I think they have the greatest wrestling, so I’m excited to be a part of it and just to expand this broadened audience to something so different that they’ve never seen before.”-Mercedes Moné
Looking past tonight’s Battle in the Valley show, Mercedes is reportedly next expected to appear for New Japan Pro Wrestling at their Sakura Genesis show in April, whilst she’s also believed to be set to compete at Stardom’s All Star Grand Queendom event in Yokohama that same month.
Elsewhere on tonight’s show in San Jose, California, Kazuchika Okada is set to defend the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship against his long-time rival Hiroshi Tanahashi, whilst Jay White is set to compete against AEW’s Eddie Kingston in a Loser Leaves NJPW match.
H/T to Fightful for the transcription.