REPORTS: Sasha Banks negotiated WWE exit months ago, can take wrestling bookings in new year

Originally published at

The pathway for Mercedes Varnado appears to be clear once the new year begins.

Last week, it was reported by Mike Johnson at that the former Sasha Banks was set to attend Wrestle Kingdom 17 on January 4th, although New Japan is not advertising her and it is not expected that she would wrestle at the show.

Fightful has reported that Varnado’s exit from WWE was negotiated several months ago, which was originally reported by Raj Giri at Wrestling Inc. The belief is that the performer was not able to do any wrestling-related events until the start of 2023 with Fightful adding that various wrestling conventions wanted to book her.

In the latest issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, it states that Varnado is expected to do multiple dates for New Japan in the U.S. and Japan with the belief that one date will be with Stardom for a big show in April.

The Observer report added that Varnado and WWE were far apart on financial terms for a new contract. The company and Varnado reached an agreement to part ways over the summer rather than have the performer’s previous deal frozen.

Feeling more and more likely that Mercedes / Sasha is going to debut for AEW at the LA Forum show.

I’m very curious about her career going forward. Because I believe that she is a legit draw and has a loyal fan base that will follow her across promotions. But it’s so hard to truly tell who is a draw on WWE shows because nearly every star is on nearly every card.

Also looking forward to seeing her wrestle again, obviously. Take away all of the distraction rollup finishes, and it’s easy to forget that she rarely disappointed when given real time to have a match with another good worker.

Unreported for months while rumors and speculation swirled. But the theme of the fall and winter was contract speculation stuff. Color me unsurprised. :roll_eyes:

About that WWE-Sasha lawsuit though, huh @RocketKing

You… got me? I wasn’t aware that we had win/loss records when it came to speculating about things that might happen.


We don’t, I’m teasing. Timing was everything. Also I am a much bigger fan of speculating on Lawsuits and Fantasy Booking than I am of Breaking-News-Reporters not being able to report on a story for months only to let Fans imaginations run wild. I do question whether these groups even try or if they know not reporting will lead to speculation and engagement. It’s kind of shocking those who Break News couldn’t report on what was (pre-Vince) the biggest story of the year when Sasha and Naomi walked out. That there was resolution to this that could have been known pre-Survivor Series when there was hype for her to return there…

Even recently the idea her contract status was “unknown” seemed so odd. Like she’s a pretty big star for nobody to be actively trying to find out.

Anyway, good for Sasha. Good for Wrestling. Nice to see negotiated exists are possible - with Regal and now Sasha.

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It’s hard not to at least fathom that inside sources have started to dry up. Wrestlers no longer spend 20 hours a day together between the matches, the car and the bar, and there’s a bigger gap (generally) between the decision makers and “the boys“ than ever before.

So obviously, there are examples in every company where this is untrue, but I think the days of Random Midcarder knowing everything that’s going on are basically over.

End of the day, I still agree that this is bad journalism. The “dirt sheets” have reached a tipping point where they can’t be kayfabe (Apter) and they can’t rely on reporting results that are readily available on the internet. Doesn’t mean Meltzer will be unemployed anytime soon, but these guys are (or should be) expected to be real journalists more than ever before, and a lot of them don’t have the chops in one respect or another (ability, sources, balls, etc.).

(Having said all that, I realize the irony of where I am posting this. So I want to state that I have a ton of respect for John and Wai, and I trust their reporting. I know that if they had trustworthy information, they would’ve reported it on this or any other topic.)

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I recall John saying he doesn’t like Breaking News as it’s hard and in this industry especially. I agree wholeheartedly
I applaud them for being consistent this way and then carefully vetting and citing where it is they get it from. Aggregation isn’t bad if done responsibly as Post Wrestling does. It’s a valuable service one I’m happy to support and recommend.

Every critique on Pro Wrestling journalism on here I am careful to specify the type I’m referring to and not the aggregating+analysis that makes Post reputable IMO

I agree with lot of what you said @RocketKing and would add as Talent see it have a negative impact on them and their promotions (ie the stuff about Cabana and Punk which lead to All Out presser) and see those type of Dirt Sheets profit off it they are likely less inclined to be leaks. An age old game in the reporting world.
A weirder dynamic when you consider some of them probably earn more than “the boys” leaking their scoops.

Also Cody’s been at home so :man_shrugging::roll_eyes::sweat_smile:

What surprises me here is that it’s about money. You would think WWE would be offering her more the AEW and definitely more then New Japan. I wonder if it’s because in WWE she can’t do all the outside stuff that she could in other promotions.


Ahhh @kliq we are gonna be in total alignment on this thread because I too wonder if the money is related to what she was and wasn’t allowed to do. This is where I want actual reporting because this is the level of detail that piques me as a consumer of this type of news. Something that better helps understand the industry and it’s inner workings oppose to something that reduces it to comparing 3 talents and saying who deserves what like we are all some sort of judges on their life’s reality show. We know there is other considerations for Sasha. Hope that stuff comes out. She’ll hopefully do a Talk is Jericho.


This Sasha Banks story as a whole feels like a ton of speculation and misinformation.

Originally there were reports that she was flat out released, then is was reported that she in fact wasn’t released. Then it was reported that she was still under contract for a few more years, only to be followed by a report saying she signed a new multi year deal. Then she was supposed to debut at Survivor Series, now reports are saying she is leaving and has negotiated her release. Like WTF??

At this point I believe nothing. Wouldn’t be surprised if this weeks news is all a giant swerve and she returns at the Rumble, I also would be surprised if she’s gone.


Don’t be one of those “paranoid fans on the internet” like me @kliq with all my conspiracy theories :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Seriously tho. Hey FWIW I wanted to leave this Bix article here because at least it’s an attempt at talking to people and giving a recount of what happen with the Mandy stuff.

Would anyone miss endless speculation and half stories in favor of well researched and more thorough recounts of what occurred? Because it doesn’t feel like we ever got a lot of circling back with more details sometimes. Any company that wants to open itself up to being covered like a real Sports team probably instantly gains a lot of good will.

Two things I learned today trying to better seek information about two stories this week:

  1. Apparently somebody had the Sasha stuff but people generally don’t like citing him or sending traffic that way
  2. Apparently there are “reasons” Mandy was working NXT and not on the road. Which makes the story more nuanced.
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