Report: Naomi to Join Sasha Banks in Japan for NJPW Wrestle Kingdom amid WWE Rumors

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 2, 2023

Pro wrestler Naomi arrives at the first-ever WWE Emmy For Your Consideration event at the TV Academy  Saban Media Center, in North Hollywood (near Los Angeles), on June 6, 2018 (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)        (Photo credit should read VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)
Photo credit should read VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

Naomi will reportedly be in Tokyo for New Japan Pro-Wrestling's Wrestle Kingdom 17 event on Wednesday along with Sasha Banks.

According to PWInsider.com's Mike Johnson, NJPW sources could not confirm that they were bringing Naomi in for the show, meaning she may simply be going to Japan on her own to support Banks and may not even appear on screen.

Johnson initially reported last month that Banks would have a role at Wrestle Kingdom. If Banks does appear, it will be her first wrestling-related appearance since May 2022.

Both Banks and Naomi walked out prior to the May 16, 2022, episode of WWE Raw because of a disagreement over creative ideas, which led to WWE suspending them and stripping them of the WWE Women's Tag Team Championships.

Since that time, there has been plenty of speculation about both of their futures in WWE, but it appears as though Banks is set to move on.

Fightful Select (h/t Cain A. Knight of Cageside Seats) reported Banks negotiated her release from WWE "months ago" under the agreement that she would not begin taking wrestling bookings until 2023.

While it looks like Banks will be working with NJPW and perhaps STARDOM for now, Naomi's future is a bit murkier.

There hasn't been much concrete reporting on her contract status with WWE, although Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio (h/t Wrestling Inc.'s Matthew Wilkinson) reported in May 2022 that her WWE deal had been set to expire "soon."

WWE conceivably could have secretly granted her a release, allowed her contract to lapse, frozen her existing contract or even negotiated a new one during her time away.

Naomi has long been an asset to WWE since signing with the company in 2009, winning the SmackDown Women's Championship twice and WWE women's tag team titles once, so losing her would be a major hit to the women's division.

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