They were 32 talented women wrestlers, but there can only be one winner. The Mae Young Classic Tournament crowned last night a Japanese Pirate Princess with a devastating elbow drop, already signed with NXT. Kairi Sane not only won the Tournament and the trophy, but she also earned a shot for the vacant NXT Women’s Title at NXT TakeOver: Houston on November 18, during Survivor Series weekend. Her opponent has yet to be determined.
Triple H announced this surprise title shot after the end of tournament while talking to the press: “I’m very excited that she’s the first champion, and now the question is ‘What’s next for her?’ I can tell you what’s next for her. On November 18 at the Toyota Center at the next NXT TakeOver, Kairi will be fighting to determine a new NXT Women’s champion.” When she was told about it, Sane was very surprised but also very excited about the opportunity and stated she wanted to be the next NXT Women’s Champion and will do her best to make it happen.
Sane defeated one of the MMA Four Horsewomen Shayna Baszler in the finals in a very tough and competitive match in front of Baszler’s fellow Horsewomen Ronda Rousey and Jessamyn White, and also WWE Hall of Famers Lita, Beth Phoenix and Alundra Blayze. Undefeated NXT Women’s Champion and fellow Japanese Asuka was also present in the crowd.
For Triple H, “Kairi Sane’s that little dog in the fight that just won’t go down. She leaves it all out there. You can feel her passion when she’s in the ring.” The Pirate impressed all along the tournament, defeating Tessa Blanchard in the first round, Bianca Belair in the second, Dakota Kai in the quarterfinals, PROGRESS Women’s Champion Toni Storm in the semifinals and of course Shayna Baszler in the finals.
At 28, Sane has been in the wrestling business since 2012. She was spotted by Fuka, the General Manager of Japanese promotion World Wonder Ring Stardom, while portraying a professional wrestling villain as an acting performance, and was invited to one of their events. She quickly fell in love with professional wrestling’s aspect of combining acting with sports and decided to become a wrestler herself.
From 2012 to 2017, she became a one-time World of Stardom Champion, 3-time Goddess of Stardom Champion and a 4-time Artist of Stardom Champion. She also won the 2015 Stardom 5★Star GP and 2016 Goddesses of Stardom Tag League. With her fellow Stardom workers Io Shirai and Mayu Iwatani, she was considered by wrestling reviewers as one of the “three of the best wrestlers in the world” in 2016.
WWE offered Sane a contract in October 2016, but didn’t sign. Pushed by a certain Shinsuke Nakamura, she signed a three-year contract with WWE last March when the company made her another offer. Ever since, Sane has been training at the Performance Center. She was a part of a WWE RAW live event in Tokyo last June and made her NXT debut at a house show on August 10 in a 6-woman tag team match.