If the latest reports are to be believed, and given how good the reports must be, Mercedes Varnado is headed to New Japan Pro-Wrestling shortly after we all kick off the new year in a couple of weeks.
Fightful Select was able to confirm that Varnado’s exit from WWE was negotiated over the summer, likely around the time Raj Giri of Wrestling Inc. reported. She has been released from the company.
This all, of course, stems from the May incident where Sasha Banks and Naomi walked out Monday Night Raw After placing the women’s team titles on the desk of the (former) Head of Talent Relations.
Despite reaching an agreement with the company, Sasha Banks is still listed as an active competitor on the WWE website – most likely due to the non-competition expiring at the end of the year. Fightful noted in their report that Varnado was contractually unable to take any wrestling-related bookings until January 1 and then confirmed the rumors that Mercedes has a date with the Tokyo Dome next month.
A New Japan Pro Wrestling deal is in place, and has been in place since the last week of November. Those we spoke to familiar with this deal said they hadn’t heard anything about All Elite Wrestling and Mercedes yet, but they also stated that it doesn’t mean that Does not happen “.
Here’s what we know for sure. There are a lot of people who owe Raj Giri an apology for what they said about him during this whole process. And Sasha Banks is done with WWE. For now, and maybe forever.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone at all.
When Triple H took over as Director of Content for WWE, I thought his first official act should have been to pick up the phone and call Sasha Banks. He needed to do everything he could to mend those fences before he left one of his biggest star-crosses for potentially greener pastures.
As the days, weeks, and months wind down on the calendar, it’s becoming clear that Sasha Banks is not back in the company. Any hope of that happening went up in smoke when the president didn’t show up Survivor Serieswhich was held in her hometown of Boston.
I showed up at the TD Garden, but it wasn’t until a few days later when the Celtics were at home to take on the Miami Heat.
Being a man who prides himself on knowing what’s best for the business, he picked up Triple H’s phone. Negotiations were held to bring her back into the fold and eventually the two sides came to a standstill.
Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer said on his show a few days ago that money is an issue.
“[WWE] They were talking to her about coming back and were very distant about money. That was the last I heard. Again, can AEW afford it? She wanted a lot. What she was asking for was a very large number for a WWE wrestler but then again, if you look at the amount of money WWE is getting, she will still be underpaid.”
Unlike the NFL, MLB, NBA, or any other sport in the world, there is no database that allows me to pull up the details of someone’s deal with WWE or any other professional wrestling company. Even the financial numbers we are supposed to know, vary depending on which site you are reading. What each talent makes of is often a mystery.
In the case of Sasha Banks, the latest update from the Wrestling Observer is that she’s been looking for a number similar to Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair. WWE said no. Banks don’t seem to be seen internally as someone who “will be on top” for the next five years and haven’t come close to their asking price.
WWE’s top brass believe Banks has “peaked as a star” and her return will not move the needle after the initial honeymoon period.
This is a depressing report that is a must-read for those of us who see what WWE doesn’t seem to be doing. Its mainstream appeal alone should make the company drool at the idea of bringing it back.
The woman is nothing short of an absolute superstar, and a potential crossover star on par with The Rock once Hollywood really gets at her. And just like their predecessors, it looks like the new Creative Order will miss the boat when exploiting this star power.
Despite all her accolades, including being one of only five women in a major event ever WrestleManiaSasha Banks has yet to reach her full potential in WWE. And while money may be the main sticking point in these negotiations, the biggest problem is that WWE apparently doesn’t know who they’re willing to let out the door.
Sasha Banks knows exactly who she is and what she brings to the table. I knew enough to overturn the world’s largest wrestling company was a figurative middle finger (maybe even a literal couple) last spring. And it is already bearing fruit.
The boss from WWE stepped out live on the red carpet at Marvel Studios premieres and the catwalk at New York Fashion Week. She landed another acting role on the heels of her successful Star Wars Universe debut. When I jumped on Bayley’s live stream this week, Varnado mentioned that she has her own makeup line about to launch in a couple of weeks and this is probably just scratching the cake.
Mercedes Varnado can get away with professional wrestling today and has a wealth of new professional endeavors to choose from. She seems to be in high demand everywhere except where her talents are most needed. Even if they don’t realize it.
Now, it’s entirely possible that WWE is playing hardball hoping to get the best deal for their bottom line. They are a business after all. But this is a dangerous game to play with someone who has options and wants something you can’t provide.
I may not know her personally, but I feel very comfortable saying that Mercedes wants to be somewhere where they are center stage, under as much spotlight as possible. She wants to be treated like the top draw she thinks she is.
Let’s be honest. If Sasha Banks were to return to WWE tomorrow, she would immediately be the third babyface in the depth chart Monday Night Raw Behind Bianca Belair and Becky Lynch. Her dreams of surprisingly winning the Royal Rumble title next month are just that.
Triple H may be running the show now, but it looks like WWE is on their way to booking the same two Women’s Championship matches at the WWE WrestleMania 39 Which Vince McMahon would have put on the card himself.
- Ronda Rousey vs. Becky Lynch for the SmackDown Women’s Championship
- Bianca Belair vs Charlotte Flair for the RAW Women’s Championship
Rumors are that there is a strong push for Rhea Ripley to get a nod against Bianca, and honestly you can sign me up for that now. Even if they go in that direction, I wouldn’t be surprised if Flair ends up somewhere, too. A triple threat match could always be a possibility. To be honest, I don’t hate this idea either.
Just keep Charlotte away from Ronda Rousey. This is a feud that has run its course and doesn’t need to be reignited anytime soon. Especially now that both women are heels. It just won’t work. Rousey desperately needs a Batman to her Joker, which is why SmackDown is the perfect home for Sasha Banks.
Some people might think otherwise, but Blue Brand isn’t short on talent in the women’s department. However, she lacks the talent that ended up with the public. SmackDown needs and desperately needs Sasha as WWE continues to build women like Raquel Rodriquez, Tegan Nox, and Emma and works its way toward Liv Morgan’s next singles push.
Let’s not forget. The potential catalyst for Banks’ issues with the company, which led to her withdrawal months later, was when Ronda Rousey was brought back to win the Royal Rumble and face Charlotte at WrestleMania 38. A spot that seemed like Banks before WWE Creative brought The Baddest Woman on the Planet.
The hard part is over. The story has been written. Put these two on TV together and let them cook. I’d like to see Rousey vs. Banks II. In my opinion, Sasha had the best match from Ronda Rousey in her entire tenure in WWE and I don’t think it’s even relatively close.
But in the end, as great as the story and the game have potential, Banks is likely just a placeholder. Another brick in Becky Lynch / Ronda Rousey WrestleMania confrontation.
What could Triple H give her, besides the Charlotte & Becky sized bag of cash she wants, for a comeback? Outside of Trish Stratus or Bayley, is there a WrestleMania show exciting enough to entice her to forgo her upcoming NJPW big paycheck and return to the company?
Whether WWE doesn’t view Sasha Banks as a top level star or she simply doesn’t have a spot on the card to justify cutting that large of a check right now, she’s not getting the payday she wants.
So, if you’re Varnado, why not go do something you’ve always dreamed of and wrestle in Japan?
Voices of Wrestling reported that Banks’ deal with NJPW is on a per appearance basis and has multiple dates. The biggest headline is that parent company Bushiroad is spending more money on Sasha than ever before – of anyone. Even Chris Jericho, who The Wrestling Observer reported was paid $100,000 a show when he was working for NJPW. [Editor’s note: Jericho has since tweeted that those reports are “completely wrong” and he was never paid a flat fee per event].
This shows you that it is not always about how much you can pay, but sometimes how much you can pay compared to everyone else.
Sometimes the value you provide to a company means more than the financial value it can provide you. That’s why no one should be surprised if Mercedes Varnado (or whatever new name she chooses) appears in AEW in the near future. Maybe even as soon as the January 11th episode dynamite.
Varnado would be a game changer for AEW’s women’s division and is arguably the biggest free agent signing in Tony Khan’s corporate history. It is a signing that I hope will pay off.
We live in a healthy wrestling world. It is a thriving community where talent has, for the first time in a long time, multiple viable options to make a good living with their profession. That’s all anyone in any field could want.
Just a few years ago, Varnado would have had little or no choice to accept WWE’s low-ball offer if she wanted to stay in pro wrestling. Now she has a chance to come out and prove to WWE that they have the wrong opinion of her. Formula worked well for Cody Rhodes.
If you are a fan of Varnado’s work, follow her to any company fortunate enough to have their services. Get tribalism out of your heart. It’s all wrestling and it’s all great, even when it’s not. I just want to wrestle her back on TV. I don’t care which company owns the ring.
At just 30 years old, Varnado is already a Hall of Famer guaranteed and someone who left behind a legacy that will inspire generations of professional wrestlers to come. I’m glad her contributions to the work aren’t over yet.
Will we ever see Sasha Banks again in WWE? I think the answer is yes. But it’s very likely that Boss Time (!) won’t happen anytime soon.
what do you think? Tell us in the comments section below. You can follow Rick Ochino on Twitter Twitter and subscribe to Bleav’s Pro Wrestling Podcast Channel for his further work.
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