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Mercedes Varnado, Formerly Sasha Banks, Speaks on Making the ‘Hardest Decision’ to Leave WWE

Mercedes Varnado, formerly known as Sasha Banks, is getting candid about her decision to leave WWE in May 2022.

In a recent interview with Evan Mack for Kick Rocks Wrestling Podcast, the acclaimed wrestler finally opened up about walking out alongside her then tag team partner Trinity Fatu, who wrestles under the name Naomi, during a live taping of Monday Night Raw.

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“Something inside of me told me I needed to go do this and stand up for myself,” she shared. “It was a very hard decision because wrestling and WWE has been my whole life.”

Varnado and Fatu, who were the Women’s Tag Team Champions at the time, were scheduled to compete in the Raw main event before their controversial exit. Veteran announcer Michael Cole revealed on the following Friday Night SmackDown that the pair had been suspended indefinitely, and that a tournament would be held to crown new champions.

Raquel Rodriguez and Aliyah defeated Damage CTRL (Dakota Kai and IYO SKY) on the Aug. 29, 2022 edition of Raw to become the new champs.

Calling it the “hardest decision I’ve ever made,” the former Raw and SmackDown Women’s Champion noted that stepping away from her dream company was also her proudest moment.

“I would not be sitting here living the best version of my life and getting to be everything I’ve ever dreamt of,” she explained. “It makes me so excited because that moment changed my whole life for the better. I’m so thankful for that moment. I’m so proud of myself. I’m so proud of Trinity. I’m so proud of just how strong we were. Because… everybody wanted to talk about it, everybody wanted to act like they were in the room.”

There’s been plenty of speculation about what really happened that night, and Varnado remained coy about exact details as she addressed her much-talked-about departure. “All I know is that I handled it like a CEO, like the boss that I am, with my head held up high.”

Still, the ex-WWE superstar has “nothing but amazing things” to say about her previous employer. “I’m so thankful for the career that they gave me, the fans that they gave me, the life that they gave me, the dreams that they gave me,” she said.

“So many dreams,” Varnado added through tears, “and I got to chase and live them all. I get to do so much more. And like I said, I have a lot of unfinished business in wrestling.”

After tearing it up in New Japan Pro-Wrestling under her new moniker, Mercedes Monè, it looks like Varnado’s next move is with All Elite Wrestling. She’s expected to make her debut at the live event AEW Big Business on Wednesday, March 13 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Fatu, meanwhile, returned to WWE as Naomi at the Royal Rumble in January after a successful run with IMPACT Wrestling — now rebranded as TNA Wrestling — where she won the TNA Knockouts World Championship.

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