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Io Shirai retains the NXT Women’s Championship; Toni Storm makes shock appearance at NXT TakeOver 31

Io Shirai retained her title but Toni Storm turned up to ruin the party
Io Shirai retained her title but Toni Storm turned up to ruin the party
John Duffy
Modified 05 Oct 2020, 07:07 IST

Io Shirai is still your NXT Women’s Champion, but has a new challenger on the horizon. The Genius of the Sky defeated Candice LeRae in a thrilling and hard-hitting affair at NXT TakeOver 31.

The match had a big fight feel from the very start, with Shirai and LeRae making sure it stayed that way until the end.

Io Shirai and Candice LeRae were once best friends, but they make even better enemies. Last year they tore it up when they met at NXT TakeOver: Toronto, putting on one of the best women's matches in NXT history.

More recently, they were both involved in a No. 1 Contender Ladder match, which Shirai won. To win the match, Shirai would claw at the eyes of LeRae to send her tumbling from the ladder, allowing Io to capture the coveted briefcase.

Io would go on to challenge then-NXT Women's Champion Charlotte Flair... unsuccessfully. However, she would get a chance to win the gold, which is exactly what she did at NXT TakeOver: In Your House.

Since winning the title, Shirai had successfully defended it against Tegan Nox and Dakota Kai. However, the two former friends were always destined to clash again.

Candice LeRae won a No. 1 Contender Battle Royal two weeks ago to finally meet Shirai in the ring one on one once more. This time, it was for the NXT Women's Championship.

After years of doing everything by the book and putting others before herself and her goals, LeRea snapped and started to look after number one.

Ever since turning heel, LeRae has had her eyes on the title and along with her husband, Johnny Gargano, has vowed to rule NXT.


Gargano was unable to complete his quest earlier in the night as he lost his NXT North American Championship match against Damian Priest. Therefore, it fell to the Poison Pixie to fulfil the "Gargano Way" promise.

Io Shirai defends her NXT Women's title in an action-packed match

They would get straight into it, but Io would come out the better.

LeRae would counter and begin to grind down the champion with submission holds and vindictive attacks.

She would remain in charge of the match with some excellent heel work. Dictating the pace, controlling her opponent and keeping her grounded.

Io Shirai would make a comeback and an exchange of nearfalls added further nail-biting excitement to the match.

LeRae locked in the Gargano escape, but Io would reach the ropes. However, as Candice broke the hold, she struck the referee and sent him flying.

Crazy shenanigans would ensure such, as Johnny Gargano turning up dressed as a referee. He would take the title and Candice would smash Io with it for another near fall.


Io Shirai would kill LeRae with a avalanche Spanish fly, followed by a moonsault for a phenomenal and hard-fought victory.

After the match, Toni Storm would appear on the screen to congratulate Shirai on her win and state that she was on her way to NXT.

What does the loss mean for Candice LeRae? Could we see her name mentioned during the upcoming WWE Draft?

Wherever LeRae ends up, she will be remembered for being part of one of the best women’s matches in NXT history.

Published 05 Oct 2020, 07:07 IST
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