The former Sasha Banks now known as Mercedes Mone made her New Japan and Stardom debut at this year’s Wrestle Kingdom 17 inside the world-famous Tokyo Dome.
Mone faced off against IWGP Women’s Champion KAIRI on 18th February in an outstanding semi-main event match at NJPW Battle in the Valley.
Mercedes Mone is booked for two more matches in Stardom/NJPW, as her contract is currently on an appearance basis, and these will be against AZM and Mayu Iwatani. On top of these it seems Mina Shirakawa of Club Venus, you might see one of her team later on, want’s to face off against Banks/Mone.
Our Joshi Wrestling expert Jeff has given us an outstanding list of Wrestlers in Japan who Mercedes Mone could face, which you can read here. But I want to focus on the ladies of Stardom.
Now lets look at 10 women in Stardom who Banks could potentially steal the show with.
#10. AZM: Mercedes Mone’s Dream Opponent
AZM is someone Mone has publicly stated she would like to face inside a Stardom ring, The CEO would put on a classic with this member of Queens Quest. At the time of writing the High-Speed Champion has challenged Mercedes Mone for her IWGP Women’s Championship. The pair will face off at either New Japan’s Sakura Genesis event at Sumo Hall on April 8, or Stardom’s event at Yokohama Arena on April 23. It is looking more likely that it will be at Sakura Genesis.
This is a dream match for Mercedes Mone/Sasha Banks, as she has gone on record as wanting to face this young star on more than one occasion. AZM seems to also want to face Mone, based on her recent challenge and with a championship reign of 587+ combined, she is in her second reign and the second longest holder of the championship, this match would be fast paced which both will excel at.
Our friends over at Dark Puroresu Flowsion have an array of information on AZM, she is only 20 and a wrestling prodigy. Make sure to follow them on twitter.
#9. Mayu Iwatani: The Last Daughter of Stardom
Mercedes Mone has already faced two of the three daughters of Stardom before and to make it a hattrick she needs to face one of the best the company has ever produced, Mayu Iwatani. The artist formerly known as Sasha Banks has faced Io Shirai, now known as Iyo Sky, down in NXT in a match that might be one of her best. She has also worked extensively with KAIRI, who was know in WWE as Kairi Sane, as well as recently winning the IWGP Women’s Championship off of her.
Now let’s talk about Mayu Iwatani, the one woman who has stayed with Stardom through the good and bad times, the one daughter who stuck it out and has become one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. She is an all rounder and despite her small frame she is strong, powerful and technically sound. I personally feel that Sasha Banks is one of the best women’s wrestlers in the world so her facing off against another one of the best in the industry will be a real treat for fans all over the world.
At the time of writing Mayu Iwatani is penciled in to challenge Mercedes Mone, possibly for her IWGP Women’s Championship. The pair will face off at either New Japan’s Sakura Genesis event at Sumo Hall on April 8, or Stardom’s event at Yokohama Arena on April 23. It is looking more likely that it will be at the 23rd April Yokohama event for Stardom.
#8. Utami Hayashishita: Bow Down To The Queen
Utami Hayashishita has her eye on the IWGP Women’s Championship and now that Mone has gone on to beat KAIRI at New Japan’s Battle In The Valley maybe these two can face off. Hayashishita became the World of Stardom Champion around three years into her career and is another absolute beast inside the squared circle. She faced off against KAIRI, who was around a month into her IWGP Women’s Championship reign, at STARDOM Dream Queendom at the end of December 2022.
The match they had was one of my favorites of the night and Hayashishita is one of the best big match wrestlers on the roster today. Going up against a competitor like Hayashishita in Stardom would really solidify Mone’s reputation as one of the best women’s wrestlers in the world.
If she can hold her own against a wrestling prodigy like Hayashishita inside a Stardom ring then maybe Mone really should be in the conversation of one of the best of all time. Plus, there are still a lot of Stardom fans that want her to prove herself, and this is a good way to show that she really does deserve to be in one of the top promotions in the world.
#7. Starlight Kid: The Darkness of Stardom
Starlight Kid is a force to be reckoned with in Stardom and a perfect fit for the former Sasha Bank’s in ring style. SLK went dark a few years ago and has been on an absolute tear ever since, she was eye catching before but since joining Odeo Tai and embracing her evil side, something has changed. She is more confidant, hard hitting and has blossomed as a performer. I might be a little biased as she is one of my personal favorites but she is incredible and I do want her to face everyone within the industry.
Both women excel is fast passed high impact matches while also showing off their Lucha Libre style. Along with this both are proficient in submission wrestling which is always a crowd pleaser to the Stardom crowd. Mercedes Mone and Starlight Kid both have the ability to make these moves look brutal and painful in nature. Plus there is always the chance of a mixed team match, imagine SLK and El Desperado going against Mone and Kenny Omega. Now that sounds fun.
#6. Suzu Suzuki: The Deathmatch Star
Suzu Suzuki is just entering her 5th year in professional wrestling, a member of Prominence, she is a hard hitting lady who isn’t afraid to shed some blood when needed. Mone would put on a classic with her. Both women have put their bodies on the line for this industry with Suzuki engaging in death matches in Japan while Mone, as Sasha Banks, has competed in some of the most grueling matches in the WWE. So how would the two work together?
Very well, Stardom has dipped their toe into the hardcore/deathmatch waters, having had a cage match last year and that might just be the perfect fit for these two stars. I am relatively new to Suzu Suzuki but from the moment I saw her, from her entrance to her in-ring work, I knew she was a star and instantly thought about her locking up with Mone. Suzuki is also the current Artist of Stardom Champion, the trios championships in the promotion, alongside Prominence members Risa Sera and Kurumi Hiiragi.
The pair don’t need to do a hardcore match, as much as I would like that, a straightforward match, maybe for the IWGP Women’s Championship or even just a special singles match would be highly entertaining. If you get the chance to see Suzu Suzuki’s work do it, she is out of this world and would really put up a real fight and create a huge challenge for the CEO.
#5. KONAMI: Kana’s Disciple Of Strong Style
KONAMI is currently on hiatus, returning for two matches and joining up with God’s Eye, the debut of Mercedes Mone might be the thing to entice her back, even for one match. Oh, and what a match it would be. KONAMI always feels greatly underrated despite her great in-ring ability and charisma, that she seems to just ooze. She is just so likeable no matter if she is working face or heel. Someone else who also has that ability is Mercedes Mone.
KONAMI was a part of Tokyo Cyber Squad alongside Hana Kimura and during her championship win Mercedes Mone wore gear inspired by Kimura’s time in the faction. She has spoken about how much she loved her in-ring work and was inspired to bet on herself because of the young star. As much as this should cause the two to maybe team up, which I would love, first maybe the two should face off.
Mone as Sasha Banks had a whole program with Asuka in the WWE, as Kana she actually trained KONAMI so this match up could be very interesting. Mone knows how to counter those vicious kicks but having to work for a victory against a competitor like KONAMI would make for an interesting match.
#4. Nanae Takahashi: The Founding Mother Returns
Nenae Takahashi was an original founding member of Stardom before leaving the company and forming SEAdLINNNG. What a way to make a statement than to have the former Banks go up against one of the legends of the Joshi world.
Takahashi is the current Goddess of Stardom Champion alongside 7upp team mate Yuu, this is her third reign previously holding the belt with Miho Wakizawa and KAIRI [Hojo]. That might be the perfect way for them to set up a match, although no longer aligned KAIRI was her former tag team partner and with her defeat at the hands of Mone, maybe Takahashi will take exception to that and challenge her for the IWGP Women’s Championship. Even if the pair end up just having a special singles match or even a tag match, that would mean Mercedes Mone would need to make some alliances, it will be a pure fight.
#3. Xia Brookside: The Returning Star of NXT UK
Xia Brookside just made her return to Stardom as a part of Club Venus, a sub-unit of Cosmic Angels, these two may have worked in WWE at the same time but unfortunately never crossed paths. Now might just be the time for them to lock up. The only Gaijin [foreign] wrestler on this list it might lead to another match later on, hopefully with Mina Shirakawa who has publicly spoken out against Mone and appearing to challenge her.
Xia Brookside is the daughter of British wrestling legend Robbie Brookside but she has carved out her own bath in the UK and Japan. Before making her way to WWE she was working in Stardom which greatly influenced her in-ring style. A beautiful fusion of Japanese strong style, high flying moments and British catch, Brookside might be a surprising choice but also a hard match up for Mone. She is experienced with 8 years of in-ring action but at just 24 she still has a lot more to learn and do in the industry, defeating Mercedes Mone would be another great achievement for her.
#2. Tam Nakano: The Sweetest Maniac In Stardom
Having just been defeated by KAIRI in an IWGP Women’s Championship match inside the Tokyo Dome it might surprise some to see Tam Nakano on this list, but who better for Mercedes Mone to face in Stardom. She’s small, cute and sweet looking, full of happiness and joy, wearing purple and pastel colour’s looking like something from my childhood dreams. She looks like a child’s fantasy of a princess but don’t let all of this fool you.
Tam Nakano is strong, fast and hard hitting, the moment she gets inside of a ring something awakens in her and she goes from sickly sweet to an absolute monster. If you haven’t seen her match against KAIRI at Wrestle Kingdome 17, please seek it out. She would pose a real threat to Mercedes Mone in Stardom and you know this match would be out of this world.
#1. Giulia: World Of Stardom Champion
Giulia is the current World of Stardom champion and if the former Banks wants to show how tough she truly is, the hard hitting style of the leader of Donna del Mondo might be the best way to do so. Both women are currently holding top championships and having them face off would be a dream match. Giulia is incredible, she has a air of cool about her that is truly effortless, likeable even when being the bad guy, her smile is infectious and wait till you see her inside of the ring, if you haven’t done so already.
Giulia is currently rumored to be facing Tam Nakano at the Yokohama show in April, the same night Mone is meant to be facing Mayu Iwatani, at the end of the night could the two have their first face off? Assuming Mercedes Mone retains her championship against Iwatani, a champion Vs champion match could be a big money draw and both woman could put on one of the best matches of the year. Stardom has a high work rate and have many battles that deserve to be on peoples best of lists. If these two facing off will bring more eyes to Stardom then that is a win for women’s wrestling.
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