Io Shirai is officially a WWE Superstar. The announcement was made at WWE Live Event at Tokyo’s Ryōgoku Sumo Hall, where Shirai was introduced to members of the WWE Universe as the newest signee to WWE NXT. Her name has been associated with WWE for a little while now. But it took some time for Shirai to come to this point.
Io Shirai was already offered a contract by WWE in November 2016, alongside fellow Stardom star Kairi Sane. But both women turned down the offer to stay in Japan. In March 2016, thanks to Shinsuke Nakamura’s push, Sane and Shirai were offered a three-year deal with WWE and were supposed to debut with NXT in April.
But unlike Sane who made her debut with WWE at the Mae Young Classic Tournament, a WWE medical examination had discovered a neck injury that would delay Shirai’s WWE debut. Shirai was cleared in August but, in the meantime, WWE rescinded their contract offer, noting the company had a “general rule of not wanting to bring in new talent that either has concussion issues or neck issues”. Shirai returned to Japan and continued to work for Stardom.
WWE and Shirai were back in discussions in May and few days after, Shirai announced she was leaving Stardom. “The Genius of The Sky” signing is coming as WWE just announced the tapings of the second edition of the Mae Young Classic Tournament in which we can expect watch Shirai make her debut with the company.
Sane, Shirai and Asuka had been considered for a long time as the best female wrestlers in the world. As WWE is quoting in its announcement, “A ring veteran of more than 10 years, Shirai has accomplished more than virtually anyone in the modern history of Japanese women’s wrestlers. Boasting an exciting and technical in-ring style that combines speed and force, Shirai is renowned for her devastating strikes and suplexes and also packs a wide arsenal of high-flying moves, including an eye-popping Asai moonsault.”