Mercedes Monè arrives in New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Saraya’s mystery tag team partner is revealed. Royal Rumble season officially begins, and more. Let’s break it down in this week’s edition of Women’s Wrestling Wrap-Up!
The Era Of Monè Begins
As the story of Sasha Banks comes to a close, a new era begins for Mercedes Monè.
Last Wednesday, “the world’s worst kept secret” finally came to fruition, as Monè made her debut in New Japan Pro Wrestling. IWGP Women’s Champion KAIRI successfully defended her title against Tam Nakano, but her celebration was cut short by the arrival of a familiar face. Formerly known as Kairi Sane, the former WWE Women’s Tag Team Champion was confronted by former foe, Sasha Banks, now assuming the name of Mercedes Monè.
Monè emerged in grand fashion, donning a beautiful headpiece, colorful hair, and new gear. “I’m The Standard, The Conversation, The Blueprint, and the CEO of this women’s division,” she told the Wrestle Kingdom 17 crowd. She wasn’t there for a friendly reunion, though, as she soon made her intentions very clear.
After laying out the reigning champion, Monè vowed to leave KAIRI “bankrupt,” challenging her to a title match at NJPW’s Battle in the Valley next month. Now, the two will tango on February 18 in San Jose, California, as KAIRI lays her IWGP Women’s Championship on the line for the first time outside of Japan. This match will also mark the first of many global affairs for Monè, as she later proclaimed her plan to dominate the world in a post-show press conference.
IT’S MERCEDES MONÉ!@mercedesvarnado is in the Tokyo Dome!!!#wk17 #njpw pic.twitter.com/PD54lqLr1L
— njpwworld (@njpwworld) January 4, 2023
Following her NJPW debut, Monè soon moved to the alumni section of WWE.com, signifying the true end of Sasha Banks. In the wake of Banks’ departure from WWE, though, Mercedes Monè looks to carve her own path, with her world domination tour laid out in front of her.
Next month, she makes her way to San Jose for NJPW, and in April, she will appear at STARDOM’s biggest show, All-Star Grand Queendom. The rest will remain a surprise for now.
RELATED: Mercedes Monè (Sasha Banks): I Am On A World Domination Tour
Saraya’s Partner Unveiled
On January 11, Saraya will compete in her second match under the AEW banner, with high stakes. Saraya will face AEW Women’s Champion Jamie Hayter and foe Britt Baker in a tag team match. Last week, the identity of Saraya’s tag team partner was finally unveiled.
During an interview with Renee Paquette, Saraya sat side by side with Toni Storm and Hikaru Shida. With Saraya leading, she applauded the trios’ efforts to advance the AEW women’s division. “The Glampire” then pivoted towards her tag team matchup and appointed Toni Storm as her tag team partner, describing Storm as “the best wrestler in the world.” This announcement sparked excitement among fans but left Hikaru Shida disheartened and bewildered.
.@Saraya has officially chosen her tag team partner for her match against @jmehytr and Dr. @RealBrittBaker, D.M.D. NEXT WEDNESDAY during #AEWDynamite at @thekiaforum!
Watch #AEWDynamite LIVE on TBS! pic.twitter.com/qpDVFwFqMZ
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) January 5, 2023
First Entrant Named For The Women’s Royal Rumble
Royal Rumble season is officially underway, with the first women’s entrant finally confirmed.
On last Friday’s episode of SmackDown, Liv Morgan took the liberty of announcing herself as the first entrant in the 2023 Women’s Royal Rumble match, with some ambitious plans.
“The Royal Rumble. 30 women fighting for the same spot, sounds like complete chaos,” the former SmackDown Women’s Champion said. “But luckily for me, I live for chaos. Entering the Royal Rumble last, that would be the easy thing to do, right? But if I had it my way, I’d enter the ring first and beat the crap out of every single superstar that came down there after me. So, if anyone else in the locker room still thinks that they could come out on top and move on to WrestleMania, watch me.”
#RoyalRumble is coming up fast! @YaOnlyLivvOnce announced tonight that she will be competing with 29 other women for the opportunity to main event #WrestleMania! pic.twitter.com/hm3kCc0Ilt
— WWE (@WWE) January 7, 2023
While Morgan’s official placement in the Royal Rumble remains uncertain, her pitch to take the number one slot makes for an intriguing possibility.
RELATED: WWE SmackDown Results (1/6/23)
Charlotte Flair’s First Title Defense
Following her shocking return to WWE on December 30, Charlotte Flair quickly put herself to the test
On Friday’s edition of SmackDown, “The Queen” reveled in her previous SmackDown Women’s Championship win over Ronda Rousey. Now a babyface, she thanked the WWE Universe for their support and revealed she was “overwhelmed” by their positive reaction to her huge victory. Whether they loved or hated her in the past, she attributed her success to passion, consistency, and dedication in the ring, and vowed she’d knock down any obstacle in her way.
Ronda Rousey was nowhere in sight, as she seemingly pivoted her focus to the tag division. Another hungry competitor stepped up though, as Sonya Deville interrupted Flair, challenging her to a title shot on the spot. The two then battled in Flair’s first SmackDown Women’s Championship title defense.
Deville came in with a fury right out the gate, but the veteran initiative of Flair proved to be too much, as Flair retained her title via submission with her signature Figure Eight.
A recap of the match can be found below, courtesy of our live coverage page.
SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: CHARLOTTE FLAIR (C) VS. SONYA DEVILLE
Deville attacks Flair as the bell rings from behind. Flair floors Deville with a boot. After the break, Deville works over Flair. Flair fires up and hits a Spear. Flair locks in the Figure Eight. Deville taps out.
Winner and STILL SmackDown Women’s Champions, Charlotte Flair!
RELATED: Charlotte Flair Discusses Her Return On 12/30 WWE SmackDown, Says The Crowd’s Response Blew Her Away
? @MsCharlotteWWE retains at #SmackDown! pic.twitter.com/cgiTO0fJnJ
— WWE on FOX (@WWEonFOX) January 7, 2023
Former IMPACT Knockouts Champion Mickie James spoke with Straight Talk Wrestling about balancing music and wrestling, her pet horses, The Last Rodeo and more.
“Dragon of Malice” Jazmyne Hao appeared on the Hot Tag Hooligans podcast to discuss her career, intergender wrestling, wanting to be an arson investigator and more.
Former LPW Challenge Champion Taryn From Accounting joined Putting You Over to discuss not watching a lot of wrestling now, her background in other sports, pursuing professional wrestling, and more.
Former WWE Diva Ariana Andrew appeared on Excuse Me: The Vickie Guerrero Show to discuss staying on the grind after leaving WWE, appearing in AEW, creating the DoubleAAcademy app, and more.