After months of social media teases and speculation, Mercedes Mone, f.k.a. WWE Superstar Sasha Banks, has made her debut in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Varnado appeared at one of the company’s biggest events of the year, Wrestle Kingdom 17 to challenge Kairi for the IWGP Women’s Championship at NJPW’s Battle in the Valley on February 18.
At the beginning of 2022, Varnado won the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles with Naomi during WrestleMania 38. Soon after the pair parted ways with the company, Wrestling Inc’s Raj Giri reported the end of Varnado’s deal was finalized over the summer. It’s also been reported by Fightful Select‘s Sean Ross Sapp that Varnado wasn’t able to take wrestling bookings until January 2023.