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Mercedes Moné

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Mercedes Mone
Banks in April 2018
Born
Mercedes Justine Kaestner-Varnado

(1992-01-26) January 26, 1992 (age 32)
Occupations
  • Professional wrestler
  • actress
Spouse
Sarath Ton
(m. 2016)
RelativesSnoop Dogg (cousin)
Brandy Norwood (cousin)
Ray J (cousin)
Daz Dillinger (cousin)
Ring name(s)
  • Mercedes KV[1]
  • Mercedes Moné[1]
  • Miss Mercedes[1]
  • Sasha Banks[1]
Billed height5 ft 5 in (165 cm)[2]
Billed fromBoston, Massachusetts, U.S.[2]
Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.[3]
Trained by
DebutAugust 8, 2010[1]

Mercedes Justine Kaestner-Varnado (born January 26, 1992) is an American professional wrestler and actress. She currently wrestles for All Elite Wrestling (AEW) using the ring name Mercedes Moné. She is also known for her time in the WWE from 2012 to 2022. In the WWE, she performed under the ring name Sasha Banks. After leaving the WWE, she wrestled for New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) and World Wonder Ring Stardom from 2023 to 2024.

Varnado started her wrestling career in 2010 on the independent circuit. She has won the Chaotic Wrestling Women's Championship. She signed with the WWE in 2012, wrestling under the ring name Sasha Banks in NXT. She is a former NXT Women's Champion. Her match against Bayley at NXT TakeOver: Respect in October 2015 was the first women's match to be the last match of an NXT TakeOver event. It was also the first iron woman match in WWE history and the longest women's match in WWE history at the time. The match lasted 30 minutes.[5] Their match was voted by Pro Wrestling Illustrated (PWI) as Match of the Year. Varnado was voted as Woman of the Year.

In 2015, Varnado stared wrestling on WWE's main roster where she won the WWE (Raw) Women's Championship five times. In 2016, she and Charlotte Flair became the first women to main event a WWE pay-per-view event and the first women to wrestle in a Hell in a Cell match. It was also the first time that the PWI award for Feud of the Year was won by women.[6] In 2019, she won the first WWE Women's Tag Team Championship with her tag team partner, Bayley. In 2020, she won the SmackDown Women's Championship at Hell In a Cell. This made her the third-ever WWE Women's Grand Slam Champion and the fourth WWE Women's Triple Crown Champion. That year, she was named Wrestler of the Year by Sports Illustrated.[7] At WrestleMania 37, Varnado and Bianca Belair became the first black women to main event WrestleMania.[8][9] She was the third most tweeted about female athlete in 2021.[10]

In May 2022, Varnado left the WWE. She then made her debut for NJPW/Stardom at Wrestle Kingdom 17 in January 2023 under the ring name Mercedes Moné, attacking the IWGP Womens Champion Kairi. She went on and won the title against Kairi at Battle in the Valley. On April 23 she had a match against Mayu Iwatani at "Stardom All Star Grand Queendom", Mayu defeated Moné for the title. Moné went on and tried to capture the new NJPW Strong Women's Title. Even though she was set to win the match, she injured her ankle, making her unable to win.

On March 10, 2024, Varnado made her debut for All Elite Wrestling (AEW) at Big Business. The special episode of Dynamite took place in her hometown of Boston.[11] She won the AEW TBS Championship in her debut match at Double or Nothing on May 26.[12]

Outside of wrestling, Varnado began an acting career in 2020. Her first role was the character Koska Reeves in the Disney+ series The Mandalorian.

Filmography[change | change source]

Television[change | change source]

Year Title Role Notes
2015 WWE 24 Herself Episode 4: Documentary about the experiences of various performers at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn
2015 Unfiltered Herself Episode 18: Interview show with Renee Young
2016 WWE 24 Herself Episode 9: Documentary about the experiences of various performers at WrestleMania 32
2017 Smashing Glass Ceilings Herself Episode 1[13]
2019 WWE Chronicle Herself Episode 12: Documentary about Sasha Banks and her return to WWE following a four-month hiatus
2020 WWE Untold Herself Episode 14: Sasha Banks and Bayley tell behind-the-scenes stories about their classic match from NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn
2020–present The Mandalorian Koska Reeves Credited as Mercedes Varnado
5 episodes
2021 Steve Austin's Broken Skull Sessions Herself Episode 13: Interview show with Stone Cold Steve Austin
2022 WWE Evil Herself Episode 3: Exploring the intricacies and impact of Sasha Banks' heel persona in WWE[14]
2023 Barmageddon Herself Episode 5: Brie Bella vs. Sasha Banks[15]

Film[change | change source]

Year Title Role Notes
2023 The Collective Nikita Film debut[16]

Personal life[change | change source]

Banks with her cousin Snoop Dogg rapping to her entrance theme at WrestleMania 32

Through her father, Varnado is a first cousin of rapper Snoop Dogg, who helped make her in-ring persona.[17][18] She is also a first cousin of music producer Daz Dillinger and singers Brandy Norwood and Ray J.[19][20] She is a fan of K-pop music and the Japanese anime Sailor Moon.[18] Varnado calls Eddie Guerrero her favorite wrestler and inspiration. She was in attendance at Guerrero's memorial episode of Raw on November 14, 2005, in Minneapolis, and she also said she did not know Guerrero had died before she arrived at the arena.[21]

On August 4, 2016, Varnado married retired professional wrestler Sarath Ton.[22] The two met while they were both wrestling on the independent circuit. Ton, who is known by his ring name Mikaze, works as a costume designer for WWE.[23]

Championships and accomplishments[change | change source]

Banks is a one-time NXT Women's Champion

Awards and nominations[change | change source]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2017 Teen Choice Awards Choice Female Athlete Nominated [48]
2022 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Female Sports Star Nominated [49]

Notes[change | change source]

  1. During Banks' first reign, the championship was called the WWE Women's Championship. Before her second reign, the title became exclusive to Raw as a result of the 2016 WWE draft and it was renamed as the Raw Women's Championship after SmackDown created the SmackDown Women's Championship.[41]

Reference[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Sasha Banks". Cagematch.net. Retrieved January 12, 2022.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Sasha Banks". WWE.com. WWE. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
  3. "Mercedes KV". Chaotic Wrestling. Archived from the original on January 31, 2013. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
  4. Former trainer Brian Fury on working with Sasha Banks, retrieved April 19, 2021 – via YouTube
  5. Melok, Bobby. "NXT Women's Champion Bayley vs. Sasha Banks (30-Minute WWE Iron Man Match)". WWE. Retrieved September 10, 2015.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "the PWI Awards". Pro Wrestling Illustrated. 36 (2): 22–23. 2016.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Barrasso, Justin. "The Top 10 Wrestlers of 2020". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved January 8, 2021.
  8. Thompson, Andrew (April 10, 2021). "Bianca Belair defeats Sasha Banks for SmackDown Women's Title at WrestleMania". POST Wrestling. Retrieved April 11, 2021. For the first time in history, two Black women headlined a WrestleMania...
  9. Guzzo, Gisberto (April 11, 2021). "Becky Lynch Congratulates Sasha Banks And Bianca Belair For Making History At WrestleMania 37". Fightful. Retrieved April 11, 2021. ...they are the first Black women to headline [WrestleMania].
  10. Daniels, Tim (December 29, 2021). "LeBron James, Simone Biles, Tom Brady Top List of 2021's Most Tweeted About Athletes". Bleacher Report. Retrieved December 9, 2021.
  11. "Mercedes Mone signs with AEW, debuts at Big Business". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved March 13, 2024.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Powell, Jason (May 26, 2024). "AEW Double Or Nothing results: Powell's live review of Swerve Strickland vs. Christian Cage for the AEW World Championship, Willow Nightingale vs. Mercedes Mone for the TBS Title, Anarchy in the Arena". Pro Wrestling Dot Net. Retrieved May 27, 2024.
  13. "Smashing Glass Ceilings: The Women of WWE - All 4".
  14. Sasha Banks, WWE Evil, retrieved March 24, 2022
  15. Metzger, Lee (January 2, 2023), Episode #1.5, Barmageddon, retrieved December 25, 2022
  16. Grobar, Matt (January 13, 2023). "Paul Ben-Victor & Mercedes Varnado Join Yale Entertainment's Action-Thriller 'The Collective'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on March 12, 2023. Retrieved July 2, 2023.
  17. Jericho, Chris. "TIJ – EP168 – Sasha Banks". Talk is Jericho (Podcast). Podcastone. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
  18. 18.0 18.1 "NXT 10-Count: Sasha Banks". January 16, 2014. Retrieved December 6, 2014.
  19. "Instagram photo by DAZ DILLINGER • Apr 5, 2016 at 4:16pm UTC". Archived from the original on December 23, 2021. Retrieved December 25, 2016.
  20. @SashaBanksWWE (November 4, 2014). "@Stankology yes" (Tweet). Retrieved November 13, 2016 – via Twitter.
  21. Jericho, Chris. "TIJ – EP168 – Sasha Banks". Talk is Jericho (Podcast). Omny Studio. Event occurs at 40:40. Retrieved August 17, 2015.[permanent dead link]
  22. Jenkins, Kendall (May 11, 2021). "TOP 5 WWE WRESTLERS YOU DIDN'T KNOW WERE MARRIED | PWInsider.com". pwinsider.com. Retrieved May 12, 2021. Sarath Ton is a retired Cambodian-American wrestler who formerly fought for WWE under the ring name Mikaze, who now makes her name as a WWE costume designer.
  23. Meltzer, Dave (August 5, 2016). "Daily Update: ryback done with WWE, Sasha Banks ties the knot, Bisping vs. Hendo 2". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Archived from the original on October 20, 2020. Retrieved August 6, 2016.
  24. Brookhouse, Brent (January 2, 2021). "2020 CBS Sports Wrestling Awards: Drew McIntyre stands out as Wrestler of the Year". CBSSports.com. Retrieved January 2, 2021.
  25. "2021 ESPYS award winners". ESPN. July 10, 2021. Retrieved July 11, 2021.
  26. "IWE – History". Independent Wrestling Entertainment. Archived from the original on April 7, 2023. Retrieved April 9, 2011.
  27. "Official IWGP Women's Championship History". New Japan Pro Wrestling. Archived from the original on December 24, 2022. Retrieved December 24, 2023.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 "PWI Awards". Pro Wrestling Illustrated. Kappa Publishing Group. Archived from the original on January 21, 2016. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  29. "2020 Achievement Awards". Pro Wrestling Illustrated. Kappa Publishing Group: 22–23. 2021.
  30. "2020 Achievement Awards". Pro Wrestling Illustrated. Kappa Publishing Group: 30–31. 2021.
  31. "Pro Wrestling Illustrated (PWI) Female 50 for 2016". Internet Wrestling Database. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  32. Wilkinson, Nick (November 21, 2020). "Nine Female Tag Teams land on PWI's Tag Team 50 list". Diva Dirt. Archived from the original on March 6, 2021. Retrieved November 23, 2020.
  33. "RWC 03.03.12 (Red Springs): Mia Svensson (C) vs Mercedes KV". Ring Wars Carolina. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 "WWE Wrestler(s) of the Year". Rolling Stone. December 14, 2015. Archived from the original on December 15, 2015. Retrieved December 14, 2015.
  35. Herzog, Ken (December 21, 2016). "10 Best WWE Wrestlers of 2016". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  36. "The 2020 Busted Open Award for Wrestler of the Year goes to the one & only..." Busted Open Radio – via Twitter.
  37. "The 2020 Busted Open Award for Tag Team of the Year goes to..." Busted Open Radio – via Twitter.
  38. Barrasso, Justin (December 31, 2019). "The Top 10 Women Wrestlers of 2019". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  39. Meltzer, Dave (January 25, 2016). "January 25, 2016 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: 2015 Observer Awards Issue". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Campbell, California: 43. ISSN 1083-9593.
  40. "NXT Women's Championship". World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Retrieved April 11, 2021.
  41. "Raw Women's Championship". WWE. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  42. "WWE Women's Championship". WWE. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  43. "WWE SmackDown Women's Championship". World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Retrieved April 11, 2021.
  44. "WWE Women's Tag Team Championship". World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
  45. Zimmerman, Zack (January 13, 2016). "1/13 Zim's WWE NXT Live Coverage: Battle Royal to determine Bayley's next challenger for the NXT Women's Championship, Dash and Dawson vs. The Ascension, plus Elias Sampson and Tommaso Ciampa in action". Pro Wrestling Dot Net. Archived from the original on January 31, 2016. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
  46. Lee, Joseph (July 29, 2020). "Full List of Winners For The Bumpy Awards: The Undertaker, Edge and More". 411Mania.
  47. Solowrestling (August 4, 2021). "WWE presenta The Bumpy Awards 2021". solowrestling.mundodeportivo.com (in Spanish). Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  48. "John Cena, Sasha Banks and The Bella Twins nominated for Teen Choice Awards". WWE. June 20, 2022. Retrieved September 23, 2022.
  49. Aguilar, Matthew (March 9, 2022). "WWE Superstars Sasha Banks and Xavier Woods Nominated for Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards". ComicBook.com. Retrieved September 23, 2022.

Other websites[change | change source]