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Call her a champion. Mercedes Mone, known as Sasha Banks in WWE, has won her first championship as a member of the NJPW roster. She defeated Kairi for the IWGP Women’s Championship at NJPW’s Battle in the Valley show in San Jose, California.

From Bleacher Report:

NJPW sold out tickets to Battle in the Valley after Kairi vs. Mercedes Moné was announced and it showed as the crowd erupted as it began. It was the loudest the audience in attendance got all night.

Mone entered the arena wearing new gear as a tribute to the late Hana Kimura. You could see how much she reveres Japanese wrestling, and how much this moment means to her.

The former WWE star hasn’t wrestled since May 13, 2022, but she hasn’t missed a beat. The Blueprint dominated early on with the crowd behind her, but Kairi came roaring back.

It looked like the champion could retain when she locked in the Ikari, but Mone fought out and cinched in her trademark crossface. Then, Kairi hit her staggering spinning back fist to force a near fall.

San Jose crowd came alive again when Mone pulled out a sudden belly-to-belly suplex as an homage to her best friend and hometown star, Bayley. In the end, she blocked the In-Sane Elbow and survived a crossface, and executed the Moné Maker to become the new champion.

Editor’s Opinion:

If you’ve read any of my articles or heard me at all on The Hoots Podcast, you know that I am not a fan of her at all. That being said, she is talented in the ring, and I’m sure that she looked great in this match. This is the first of many championships for her outside of WWE, as she is a favorite of mini around the world.

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