Nina Samuels: Mercedes Mone's NJPW Debut Was A Poorly-Kept Secret, It Made A Huge Impact

Former NXT UK star Nina Samuels comments on Mercedes Mone's NJPW debut.

Mercedes had been absent from WWE since the May 16 episode of WWE Raw, when she and her tag team partner Naomi walked out of the show. WWE stripped the duo of the Women's Tag Team Championship and suspended them indefinitely. On January 4, Mone, formerly known as Sasha Banks in WWE, appeared at NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 17, and she attacked IWGP Women's Champion KAIRI. She then challenged KAIRI to a match at NJPW Battle in the Valley on February 18.

Rey Mysterio: Dominik Mysterio's Growth Has Been Incredible, I've Enjoyed The Evolution Of His Character

Speaking with Steve Fall on Ten Count, Samuels shared her thoughts on Mone's NJPW debut.

"She’s definitely a huge brand, for sure. If you think about of the things that she’s done, she made history in WWE time and time again. Then she was in The Mandalorian, multiple mainstream media appearances, and she knows how to her people talking. What’s been on everyone’s lips is, ‘What’s gonna be her next move? What’s gonna be her next move?’ She’s smart, she knew that that’s what was going to happen. I think her ‘surprise’ on Wrestle Kingdom was one of the worst-kept secrets in the business, but maybe it was meant that way. How many people will have been watching Wrestle Kingdom than normal just to see if she was gonna appear because New Japan has its own incredible fanbase already, but it’s when you have names like that that it brings in a new audience," Samuels said.

Samuels then compared Mone's arrival in NJPW to the way Chris Jericho drew new fans to the company when he worked there before he signed with AEW. She described how plenty of viewers were likely watching NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 17 just to see the former WWE star. She then stated that Mone's debut made a major impact.

"We’ve seen it before when Chris Jericho was working with New Japan. [He] brought in a whole new audience there. I think the same thing is happening here again. I think a lot more eyes were on, not to say they wouldn’t have had a massive audience anyway because Wrestle Kingdom is huge, but you know there were people watching just to see if she would appear. So I think the poorly kept secret was worth it in that respect. Even though people knew it was coming. the reaction for her was still huge, and it still made an enormous impact, so fair play to her," Samuels said.

Plenty of fans have expressed their excitement in the aftermath of Mone's NJPW debut, but others have been more critical, as the former SmackDown Women's Champion seemingly botched a maneuver when she attacked KAIRI. Samuels noted that she saw a clip of Mone practicing the move in question, and she knows it didn't turn out the way she might have wanted. Regardless, Samuels stated that Mone's star power speaks for itself, and she's going to make everyine forget about the botch by delivering amazing matches.

“I have, and actually someone showed me a video of her practicing the move, because I hadn’t seen her do that move before, and someone showed me a video of her doing it in training. I’m like, ‘Oh, okay. It didn’t look quite how she planned.’ But I mean it’s Sasha Banks/Mercedes Mone, it’s her. She’s gonna brush it under the carpet. She’s gonna move on. She’s gonna deliver killer matches. You know she’s gonna be devastated that it didn’t go the way she planned because she’s a perfectionist, but she still looked a million bucks. The impact was made, the business was there. The first match being in America as well, you know that, if it wasn’t sold-out before, it’s gonna be sold out now. So I think, was it the perfect debut that she would have wanted? No, but is she gonna make us forget about it and put on a banger of a match when she wrestles KAIRI," she said.

Samuels made her NXT UK debut in 2018. She continued to work for WWE until August 2022, when the company released several NXT UK stars due to the looming launch of NXT Europe.

Mone has opened a store on PWTees. Fans can check it out here.

Following her debut at NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 17, Mone stated that her match with KAIRI will be the best in STARDOM history. Click here to see what she had to say.

Ahead of NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 17, Mercedes thanked WWE and the fans. More information is available here.

If you use any of the quotes above, please credit the original source with a h/t and link back to Fightful for the transcription.

Get exclusive pro wrestling content on Fightful Select, our premium news service! Click here to learn more.
From The Web