February 6, 2023
by Bespin Bulletin

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Over the weekend, two images of promotional t-shirts for The Mandalorian appeared online which featured helmets of various Mandalorian’s seen in the series. In the images helmets for Din Djarin, Bo Katan Kryze, The Armourer, Paz Vizla, and what appears to be the helmet worn by Koska Reeves, the character played by Mercedes Kaestner-Varnado who’s better known by her WWE stage name – Sasha Banks. The inclusion of Reeves’ helmet got me thinking of the characters possible return, and reminded me of a scene we saw being filmed last year where a character could be seen that looked quite similar to Koska Reeves.

In March of last year we were fortunate enough to discover a Mandalorian set at El Darado Park in Long Beach and witnessed scenes being filmed over the course of a few days. We saw multiple cast members, as well as some of the talent behind the camera, but there was one actor who stood out to us.

We saw an actress who we believed to former WWE superstar, Mercedes Kaestner-Varnado, or more so her character, Koska Reeves, and believed we saw her filming scenes alongside the unmistakable Katee Sackhoff as Bo-Katan Kryze, as well as Axe Woves. We managed to snap a couple pictures of who we suspect to be Kaestner-Varnado, or a double for wrestler turned actress, in Reeves’ costume, but the images were taken from a fair distance so it may be hard to make out.

Mercedes Kaestner-Varnado (Banks) previously denied returning to The Mandalorian back in October 2021 when speaking to Bleacher Report, “First of all, thanks for trying to get that out, but I’m not on the next season. But it was incredible being on The Mandalorian. On Star Wars. To be on a franchise that is so huge and so loved, just look at the reception from fans outside of the WWE Universe. It was the best feeling of all time. The projection of that show was overwhelming. I legit felt like I was in a galaxy so far, far away. I felt like I was on a different planet. It was something I will always take with me and I took so much of what I learned from acting with them and being with so many great stars to WWE. It really helped my confidence as well when I came back from doing The Mandalorian two years ago. It was such a learning curve and something I wasn’t expecting, but now I’m in this whole new Hollywood world and it’s going amazingly. I’m so excited for the fans, and I can’t wait for my fans to see what’s next.”

That being said, it’s most notably worth remembering that Kaestner-Varnado previously denied being involved with the second season of The Mandalorian outside of Chapter 11: The Heiress. Varnado’s Koska Reeves later showed up in the season two finale, Chapter 16: The Rescue, despite her previous denials. As it’s come to be expected these days, we cannot always take denials from actors appearing in the Star Wars universe.

At the time some fans speculated that perhaps Varnado was not asked to return to the series as she was seen liking tweets relating to anti-mask, and anti-vaccination, which led to speculation regarding her vaccination status. It’s also been reported that Disney have a vaccination mandate for talent working on their projects in Zone A, which includes all actors and crew members who come into direct contact, and the mandate saw lead on The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, Emilio Estevez, leave the second season due to the mandate.

It’s also worth mentioning that Varnado flew to Saudi Arabia to take part in WWE’s Crown Jewel event where she took on Becky Lynch and Bianca Blair. Why is this random WWE match relevant? PWInsider reported that the cast and crew that traveled had to test negative for COVID-19 beforehand, and according to PWInsider’s sources, all talent that took part were vaccinated. If this is true then it means Varnado herself is likely vaccinated, and would be able to take part in The Mandalorian season three shoot.

The scenes in which we saw being filmed for The Mandalorian season three back in March featured Bo-Katan Kryze, as well as the return of Axe Woves, who was noticeably absent from The Mandalorian season two finale, and who we believe to be Koska Reeves. We exclusively broke the return of Axe Woves last year and shared footage of what appeared to be Woves in a fight with Katee Sackhoff’s Bo Katan Kryze, which you can see below.

Personally I’d love to see the return of Koska Reeves as I thought the character was fantastic given the limited screen time she was given in the second season, and with the return of Bo-Katan and her Nite Owls, Kaestner-Varnado’s absence would truly be felt in my opinion.

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