From the WWE Rumor Mill: Why did WWE decide against signing Io Shirai?
WWE passed up on Io Shirai because of her neck, but that might not be the full story.
What's the story?
The wrestling world was filled with excitement just one year ago when it seemed as though Io Shirai was about to sign with WWE. Seven months after the news broke that Shirai had accepted a contract, WWE decided against signing the Japanese legend because of neck problems.
In the latest issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer is reporting that Shirai was passed up because of an issue with her heart as opposed to her neck.
In case you didn't know
There is a train of thought that Io Shirai is the best female professional wrestler on the planet today. After making her debut in 2007, Shirai teamed with her sister Mio for a long time before joining forces with Kana (WWE's Asuka) in 2010.
Io's big singles moment came in 2013 when she won the World of Stardom Championship for the first time.
Io Shirai has since gone on to win everything there is to win in Stardom, having iconic matches with opponents like Mayu Iwatani and Kairi Hojo (NXT's Kairi Sane) along the way. She is one-third of the current Artist of Stardom Champions.
The heart of the matter
In October 2016, it was reported that Shirai had been offered a WWE deal and was seriously considering the offer. Shirai took part in a tryout in March of this year, that may or may not have been for the show, before the Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported that she had accepted the deal in May 2017.
One month later it was reported that WWE has decided against signing Io Shirai due to neck issues, but there may be more to this than meets the eye. Meltzer is now reporting that WWE passed on Shirai because of an issue with her heart as opposed to her neck.
Shirai has been cleared to perform by doctors in Japan, but WWE decided against taking the risk. The Genius of the Sky has since returned to Stardom.
If true, this may well be the final nail in the 'Io Shirai to WWE' coffin. Stardom's in-ring product is one of the best in the world today, and Shirai is a key component of that.
The 2016 worries of what a Stardom exodus would mean have thankfully dispersed.
Neck issues are one thing, but heart problems aren't to be messed with. If the reports are indeed true, Io Shirai may well be best served pulling back on her in-ring performances. Shirai is undoubtedly one of the best in the world, but her health must be paramount.
A healthy Io Shirai is more important than Io Shirai in WWE.