WWE: Popular Former Champion Reportedly On Their Way Out of the Company
Former NXT Women's Champion Io Shirai has not wrestled in any capacity since NXT Stand & Deliver back in April. While it was initially reported that she's been dealing with an injury, a new update indicates she's on her way out of the company. Shirai's contract is set to expire in August and she has reportedly been telling people in Japan that she expects to return to her home country once the deal is up,
"Io Shirai's pretty much got her out out of the door," Dave Meltzer said on Wrestling Observer Radio this week. "She's pretty much gone."
Shirai, real name Masami Odate, made a name for herself in Stardom and in Mexico before initially signing with WWE in 2017. Unfortunately, neck and heart issues delayed that signing until May 2018 and she wouldn't compete in the ring for the company until the second Mae Young Classic. She made it all the way to the finals before losing to Toni Storm. She initially teamed with Kairi Sane as The Sky Pirates and chased after Shayna Baszler's NXT Women's Championship but was repeatedly unsuccessful. Following a heel turn, she finally won the title at NXT TakeOver: In Your House 2020 by pinning Rhea Ripley in a triple threat that also involved then-champion Charlotte Flair. She'd remain champion for just over 300 days before dropping the title to Raquel Gonzalez at NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver 2021.
The rest of Shirai's run on the NXT brand would center around tag team wrestling as she won the NXT Women's Tag Team Championships with Zoey Stark then won the 2022 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic with Kay Lee Ray. She wrestled a few dark matches on SmackDown early in 2022 that led to speculation she might be heading to the main roster but that no longer seems to be the case.
As for the NXT Women's Championship, Mandy Rose is just over 250 days into her reign as champion. She'll defend the title against Roxanne Perez on tonight's NXT 2.0.
WWE returns to pay-per-view on July 30 with the SummerSlam event at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee. Check out the updated lineup for the show below:
- Undisputed WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar (Last Man Standing Match)
- Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championships: The Usos vs. The Street Profits
- SmackDown Women's Championship: Liv Morgan vs. Ronda Rousey
- United States Championship: Bobby Lashley vs. Theory
- Pat McAfee vs. Happy Corbin