Toni Storm renews rivalry with Io Shirai, talks possible game changing announcement for NXT [Exclusive]

Toni Storm set for the biggest opportunity of her career
Toni Storm set for the biggest opportunity of her career
Rick Ucchino

Toni Storm is looking to carve out her own piece of history Wednesday night when she challenges Io Shirai for the NXT Women's Championship. If she's successful, she'll become only the second woman to have held both the NXT Women's Championship and NXT UK Women's Championships. The only other woman to accomplish that feat is Storm's longtime rival Rhea Ripley.

Storm and Ripley have been linked to one another for nearly all of their professional wrestling careers, but it's Toni Storm and Io Shirai that are now renewing a rivalry in NXT that also dates back to when "The Lightning Down Under" was a teenager.

Since her NXT debut in October, Storm has had her sights set on ending Shirai's run atop the NXT Women's Division - which now sits at an impressive 274 days. "The Genius of the Sky" defeated Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley at NXT TakeOver: In Your House back in June and has since successsfully defended the gold against Ripley, Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai, Mercedes Martinez, and Toni Storm herself.

Unlike NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day, Shirai has to take on Toni Storm one-on-one this time around. While this rivalry started early on in her career, Toni Storm told SK Wrestling this week that she's a different competitor now than when she first locked up with Io Shirai.

"This is to date the biggest opportunity that I've had so far and it's against arguably the greatest professional wrestler in the world, men or women - Io Shirai. Luckily for me, I've already competed against her several times all over the world. So it's exciting to go into this match with an entire... it's just a whole different vibe, a whole different dynamic. When I first wrestled Io, I was about 19, 20. Now I feel like I've grown up. I've built myself up a lot and the world is going to see the best of Toni Storm this coming Wednesday. So it's very exciting."

Toni Storm and Io Shirai are no strangers to big matches in WWE. They squared off in the finals of the Mae Young Classic at Evolution back in 2018. That match, at the time, was the career rubber match between these two international superstars.

While battling over the Stardom World Alliance Undisputed World Women’s Championship, Shirai and Storm split victories in Barcelona, Spain and Osaka, Japan and then followed those bouts up with a pair of draws. Then came Evolution, where Toni Storm defeated Shirai to win the Mae Young Classic at just 22 years-old.

"It was so important that night, cause that was like my first taste of what it could be like in my career. So it was extremely exciting and yeah, I beat Io Shirai and I guess history sometimes repeats and in this case it most certainly will this Wednesday. (laughs) Yeah. That's a little example, a little preview."

Unfortunately for talent and fans alike, 2018 was the last time either the Mae Young Classic or the all women's Evolution PPV took place. While hope exists that either (or both) events will return in the future, Storm says the women are taking over regardless. She might be right if the rumors turn out to be true in one of William Regal's announcements Wednesday.

Toni Storm says NXT Women's Tag Titles would change the entire division

NXT General Manager William Regal is set to make two major announcements Wednesday night. The latest reports indicate at least one of those announcements will be the creation of the NXT Women's Tag Team Championships.

While speaking to SK Wrestling, Toni Storm seemed to like the idea. She says new titles would be a game changer for the NXT Women's Division.

"If that happens, like, that's going to change the entire division. I mean, we've got more women than we ever have. So it's going to be entertaining as hell. Like if that's the case... it might as well just be all women (laughs)."

When the subject of a women's only brand came up, Toni Storm was (obvioulsy) on board for that idea as well.

"I'm not opposed to that either. A whole show about me (laughs)! But yeah, this (NXT Women's Tag Titles) is going to raise the stakes and make competition even higher, if this is what's happening. I get nervous when William Regal is going to announce something because you just know it's going to be good."

Regal's second announcement is expected to be about the dates for the next NXT TakeOver event, where it's also believed the first-ever NXT Women's Tag Team Champions will be crowned.

This Wednesday's NXT is shaping up to be quite the show. In addition to the NXT Women's Championship match, Finn Balor is also set to defend his NXT Championship against Adam Cole. All the action gets underway at 8pm EST on the USA Network.

Make sure to check out PART ONE of our conversation with Toni Storm in the video above, and make sure to subscribe to the SK Wrestling YouTube Channel for PART TWO when it's available later today.

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Edited by Ryan Droste
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