AEW

The Problem With: Free Agent Mercedes Mone

By michael
Jan 25, 2024

Everyone has been waiting to see what Mercedes Mone is going to do. According to some wrestling journalists like Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful, the deal is all but done with AEW. In fact, many places such as The Wrestling Observer claim that Mone will be appearing in AEW soon. At one point, the same publication claimed for two weeks in a row that Mone would be on the show yet she never showed.

Others who claim to have inside knowledge refute the claims outright. They actually claim that Mercedes will return to her role as Sasha Banks in a jump back to the WWE very soon.

The two questions are almost equally as important: where will Mercedes Mone go? Why do we care? Why does anyone care? Let’s examine this.

WHAT HAPPENED TO MERCEDES MONE (FKA SASHA BANKS)

Mercedes Mone - IWGP Women's Champion
Mercedes Mone was a star in WWE. As Sasha Banks, she was a six-time WWE Women’s Champion and a record-setter. Among the list of her accomplishments include:
  • Being One Of The First Women To Wrestle In Dubai
  • First-Ever Entrant In The Women’s Royal Rumble
  • Part Of The First WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions (with Bayley)
  • Along With Bianca Belair, Was Part Of The First Women’s Singles Match To Main Event WrestleMania
  • With Belair, Was Part Of The First WWE Women’s Championship Match At WrestleMania With Two Black Women

Mercedes was a bonafide star. However, her run in WWE was full of stops and starts. One minute, she was shooting up to the top of the card. The next, she wasn’t even used. Take her title reigns as a perfect example.

In NXT, Banks was the Women’s Champion for 191 days. This launched her into stardom and made her an instant hit when she arrived on the WWE main roster. Her championship reigns on RAW and Smackdown were comically short. 

  • 26 days 
  • 27 days
  • 19 days 
  • 8 days 
  • 34 days 
  • 167 days 

It feels like WWE management didn’t think she could carry the women’s division. Yet she’s considered one of the best female in-ring performers in the world. 

In 2022, Banks and Naomi walked out on WWE. Why? Unknown for certain. The rumor has always been that Banks was going to be asked to job out Ronda. No longer content with being disrespected, she packed her bags and walked out. 

Months later, she debuted with NJPW and won the IWGP Women’s Championship. An injury in the final match for NJPW derailed her plans for 2023. Other than an on-screen cameo at AEW’s All-In she’s been non-existent in the pro wrestling world. 

Yet the world cannot stop talking about her.

WHY CARE WHERE MERCEDES MONE SIGNS?

Sasha Banks at 2019 Royal Rumble
First, it has a lot to do with the tribalism that has sprouted up as a result of AEW’s emergence. There’s no longer only one big wrestling company, we now have two. So, the free agent pool has turned into this zero-sum game in the eyes of the Internet Wrestling Community. A Mercedes Mone for AEW is one less Sasha Banks for WWE and so on. 

Second, Mercedes is a world-class talent so this isn’t getting a diamond in the rough in the hopes that she pans out. Jade Cargill, a big free agent signing by WWE, is more in the camp of hope. She’s talented and looks the part, but she’s not what many would consider a ready-made main event talent. There’s hope, but nothing definitive. 

Mone is without question one of the top women’s performers in pro wrestling. The company that would have her is going to get a ready-made star who they can plug and play anywhere. 

Third, for some, this feels like the final move for WWE. WWE appears to have made hay when CM Punk was fired. WWE took what some considered to be a distressed asset and has turned him into a huge boom for the WWE. Losing out on Punk and Mone in the same six-month period would feel like a blow that might be hard to overcome. 

THE AEW OF IT ALL

Mercedes Mone - AEW All In
For AEW, getting Mercedes Mone would be a chance to steal away a prized talent in their prime. With all due respect to Adam Copeland, he’s years past his prime. Mone would feel like they got the big free agent at exactly the right time. She would be a huge boost to the women’s division and allow Tony Khan to book dream matches. Similar to Kurt Angle signing with TNA.

There are few workers on the AEW roster the caliber of Mone. She’d make everyone better. While we as wrestling fans love to speculate the after-effects of big moves. We’re often hilariously wrong. 

We knew that losing Daniel Bryan would be a loss for WWE.

AEW signed this world-class wrestler, someone who is a huge addition to any roster. They got everything they could have hoped for in the ring and more. Did it massively impact their ratings? No. Did WWE see a massive decline in theirs without Danielson? No. Adam Cole was in a similar situation. His health issues have harmed him more than anything else, but he hasn’t moved the needle. 

WWE managed to get things somewhat right with talent taken from AEW.

Aside from social media engagement, CM Punk hasn’t been a huge ratings changer. The WWE’s numbers were always respectable by their standards. Nothing has changed for better or worse since he signed.

Cody Rhodes has been the exception, as his work has mattered in the perception wars. He’s been a mainstay top-level talent since the day he walked in the door. He’s also taken on the role of WWE Ambassador the way John Cena used to do. Cody may be one in the win column, but not every signing shakes the foundation the way fans expect. 

What Can Mercedes Expect With AEW?

With any free agent, we have to temper our expectations. Danielson and Rhodes might be two expectations of the rule. What AEW could do with Mercedes Mone will be up to them. If they build big feuds and headline Pay-per-views around her, then things could be great. If she has a high-profile match or two and then disappears from TV, it will have meant little. 

The same goes for the WWE. At some point, even the biggest and brightest star doesn’t headline a premium event. They can’t all be Roman Reigns. It sometimes comes down to the fans’ perception of the move than the actual result. 

We should try not to care so much where she goes. Especially since the biggest reason none of it matters is that it won’t change your viewing habits. If you are against WWE and the big machine, then Sasha Banks won’t make you turn on Raw or Smackdown. You’ll catch the highlights on YouTube or TikTok and never give the WWE your hard-earned viewing time. 

The same is said for Mone in AEW. The WWE hardcore fans aren’t watching Dynamite. They didn’t switch over when Bryan Danielson came in. Nor did fans do so for Adam Cole or Adam Copeland. In the AEW vs. WWE battle, both sides have been chosen, and there’s not much they are going to do to change that. 

WHERE DOES MERCEDES MONE SHOW UP? 

Sasha Banks - SmackDown Women's Champion
Let’s assume that money is close. Both companies have deep pockets so meeting her demands should be doable for both. The case for AEW is that Mone comes in as a ready-made main event star. She’s the best, biggest, and brightest woman on the AEW roster. 

If AEW wants to give its women’s division a shot in the arm then put Mone in a headlining role at the next main event. She could end up across from Toni Storm in a fantastic match. 

You could have Mone take on Athena for the ROH women’s title. Many have considered Athena to be one of the best workers in 2023, but she didn’t get the exposure that she should have. Why not give her that shine by putting her across from Mone in a spotlight match? 

Of course, there’s the Saraya match that is almost a decade in the making. Mone delivered the kick to the back that put her career on ice years ago. We’d love to see these two turn that accident into a money-making feud. 

For Mone, it would be an easy schedule. AEW rarely travels internationally. They have multiple shows per week but no house show circuit to make any appearances on. For a performer with an unfortunate history of getting injured, the lax schedule is a huge plus. 

The cons to AEW are that they haven’t built their women in the way most would like. AEW has made some strides in the last three months to showcase its talent. Overall, the women’s division has taken a backseat to the men’s division. They rarely get headlining matches on Dynamite, they are often given minimal TV time in the past. It has not been the best place to grow. 

Relationship With Triple H:

There’s no question that Mercedes could come back in and be a major player in the women’s division. Vince McMahon might have never seen Banks the way Triple H did. Triple H is now free to make his own decisions, which could mean bigger and better things for Banks. 

“The Game” spoke to Ariel Helwani in early 2023 about Sasha Banks:

“She’s an unbelievably talented young woman who can do just about anything she wants. It just comes down to what she wants to do now with her life, her career, whatever that is. The passion, clearly, for what we do, there is a passion for other things as well. It comes down to what she wants to do. It has to be right for her [and] it has to be right for everybody. She is, as you’ve seen over the course of her career of coming into the PC [Performance Center] at NXT, an unbelievable performer that I believe in with everything I have. That is one of the biggest stars in our business. It’s just what she wants to do.”

Sasha Banks trusts Triple H. With him guiding the ship she could be back in a big spotlight under RAW or Smackdown. You could put her in the middle of a growing rift with Bayley and Damage CTRL. What about another feud with Bianca Belair? How about facing Rhea Ripley? Becky Lynch? Kairi Sane? The list is endless. Like with AEW, the matches make themselves. 

A Case For WWE:

Additionally, Mercedes Mone would have the perception of being a big star for the biggest brand. As Triple H mentioned, Banks has interests outside the squared circle. Being in proximity to the biggest brands, and stars like The Rock, John Cena, Logan Paul, and Bad Bunny isn’t a bad thing. Especially for someone who wants outside exposure. 

Let’s not forget her proximity to Nick Khan and Ari Emmanuel. Both men are Hollywood powerbrokers. It could be huge to spend time with them and see where their connections can take her. Not only build her brand but help build the WWE’s brand as well. 

The cons to WWE come down to the idea that you’re a big fish in a big pond which means you have to share that spotlight. Is that something Mone is willing to do? There are superstars like Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, Becky Lynch, and Charlotte Flair, and only one main event. There’s only one championship per brand. You can’t give everyone, everything they want.

While we all know that Triple H loves Sasha Banks/Mercedes Mone, he has to pick and choose at times. 

Of course, just because you’re the biggest star in AEW’s women’s division doesn’t mean you’ll be in the top spot there at all times. The likelihood is greater, sure, but would going to AEW be worth it over WWE if money is close?

LAST WORD

Mercedes Mone - Stardom Entrance
In any event, we shouldn’t wrestle with her decision too much. She’s going to do what she wants to do. We should embrace any decision she makes that she believes is in her own best interest. She’ll be one hell of a performer no matter where she goes.

We need to stop making wrestling a zero-sum game and root for the performers regardless. Whether she remains Mercedes Mone or becomes Sasha Banks once again, she’ll continue to deliver stellar match quality. In our view, that is all we expect from her at this point in her career. We know how good she is and we know that she still has the potential to be even greater. Wherever she goes, they need to really push that potential to the moon to get as much out of her as possible.

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