WWE News: More details on Io Shirai's signing
What's the story?
This past week, Tokyo Sports reported that well-known joshi superstar Io Shirai, would be departing World Wonder Ring Stardom, her home promotion for the past seven years, and joining the WWE roster.
While they didn't specifically mention WWE, both Shirai and Stardom president Rossi Ogawa confirmed that Shirai would be leaving the promotion.
In case you didn't know...
Io Shirai is widely regarded as the best female professional wrestler on the planet today, and one of the top talents in the world regardless of gender. Shirai, along with fellow Stardom superstar Kairi Hojo (now Kairi Sane) was long on WWE's radar and had been contacted by the company in late 2016.
After trying out successfully in March of last year, Shirai was offered a contract, but a medical problem caused WWE to rescind the offer.
The heart of the matter...
According to veteran professional wrestling reporter Dave Meltzer, the withdrawal of the offer hit Shirai harder than she expected it would...
On June 30, 2017, she attended the WWE live event at Sumo Hall in Tokyo. During the show, a video played and it was Kairi Sane saying hello to the live fans. In Stardom, Shirai and Kairi Hojo (Sane) were the two top stars in the group, but Shirai was the ace and Hojo was the clear No. 2.
According to someone close to her, she was somewhat devastated watching it. She wasn’t expecting the moment to hit her so hard as she saw it and started thinking that should have been her. She was very hurt emotionally by that moment and became completely focused to do whatever it would take to prove that she was the wrestler who would have been on the video.
The video that Meltzer is referring to is this one:
Kairi Sane would later go on to win the Mae Young Classic in September, defeating current NXT Women's Champion Shayna Baszler in the final. Many had anticipated Shirai to be the winner if she had been cleared to compete in the tournament, as she was expected to do.
Io Shirai's last Stardom match will be held at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo on June 17th. She's then expected to make the trip to Florida and begin working at the WWE Performance Center in mid-July, ultimately debuting in the second Mae Young Classic, which is scheduled to take place shortly thereafter.
It's nice to see Shirai get a second chance to live her dream. She's an amazing talent that truly deserves to shine on the biggest stage in her profession.
This also sounds like the blueprint for an incredible story waiting to be told in the NXT women's division between Io Shirai and her longtime frenemy, Kairi Sane, who I expect to defeat Shayna Baszler for the NXT Women's Championship at TakeOver: Brooklyn IV on August 18th. These circumstances truly have "blood feud" written all over them, if used correctly as the fuel for a story.
The NXT women's division should be a sight to see in the next few months!