Along with eventual winner Kairi Sane (née Hojo), Japanese wrestling standout Io Shirai was in the process of joining WWE for 2017’s inaugural Mae Young Classic (MYC) tournament. During her medical evaluations, however, a heart issue was found and WWE pulled back their offer.
Shirai returned to Stardom, the Japanese promotion where she gained her reputation as the biggest star in the country’s women’s wrestling scene and one of the best wrestlers in the world. She’s spent the past ten months in their main event scene, winning the Artist of Stardom trios title a sixth time and their top belt, the Wonder of Stardom championship, a second. Shirai, whose real name is Masami Odate, was also given a clean bill of health by Japanese doctors.
That seems to have been enough to convince WWE to move forward with signing her again. Tokyo Sports on Monday (May 28) reported the 28 year old will head to Florida after wrapping up her Stardom commitments. Her final show in Japan is said to be on June 17. She dropped the Wonder of Stardom title last week, although Wrestling Observer says that was planned anyway, and the promotion didn’t know about Shirai’s decision until today.
This would seem to make her a likely entrant in the second MYC, rumored to be filming in early August. It’s also a sign Stardom could be hit hard by WWE’s signing activity for the tournament, shortly before their own annual 5 Star Grand Prix. The Observer says current World of Stardom champ and reigning 5 Star winner Toni Storm has signed a UK deal with WWE, and it would make sense for that to lead to her second appearance in the Mae Young tourney. Other Stardom regulars have allegedly been contacted, but The Observer doesn’t specify who.
We’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, let us know if you’re excited to finally see a little of this on WWE Network...