As PWMania.com previously reported, NJPW is bringing Sasha Banks (Mercedes Varnado) to their Wrestle Kingdom 17 event, which is set for January 4 at the Tokyo Dome and January 21 at the Yokohama Arena. There’s no word on what capacity Banks will be in or if she’ll be performing in front of the crowd, but NJPW has confirmed that she’ll be there.
In an update, Fightful Select reports that the WrestleCade convention attempted but failed to book Banks for their Thanksgiving weekend convention. Despite the high asking price, WrestleCade promoters were confident Banks would bring a profit, and they planned to book her. However, discussions continued, and promoters were informed that Banks will not be accepting pro wrestling bookings until after January 1, 2023.
Since Wrestle Kingdom takes place after January 1, the timing is interesting. Another significant event following January 1 is the AEW Dynamite from Los Angeles on January 11, which will pit Saraya and an unknown partner against Britt Baker and AEW Women’s World Champion Jamie Hayter.
Several companies are said to be interested in Banks’ status and whether she will be available for appearances, including one-time bookings.
Banks appeared on the recent season premiere of USA Network’s Barmageddon show, co-hosted by WWE Hall of Famer Nikki Bella, and the show was heavily promoted on WWE programming. When WWE sources were questioned about Banks’ status following the heavy promotion, no one had heard of any changes or updates to her WWE status, or they were unwilling to say so.
Several AEW stars, on the other hand, are excited about the prospect of Banks joining the roster. One source quickly agreed that Banks appearing on weekly AEW programming as another “anchor” for the women’s division could spark interest and potentially increase viewership.
Regarding Banks’ reported NJPW appearance in January, sources there would not confirm or deny the news, which is unusual because they usually deny it quickly if it is false.
Banks has been out of the WWE since she and Naomi walked out of a RAW taping in mid-May due to creative differences, while they were the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions. Banks and Naomi were rumored to be on their way back to WWE at different times, but that obviously hasn’t happened yet. Banks and Naomi are still active Superstars on the WWE roster.
As previously reported, Banks recently filed a trademark application for several names under her Soulnado Inc. company, including her given name, Mercedes Varnado. Banks and Naomi have recently pursued non-WWE projects such as modeling, as well as convention appearances.