As Io Shirai was entering for her tag match with Rhea Ripley against Charlotte Flair & Chelsea Green last night (May 27), NXT announcer Mauro Ranallo made the first mention of Hana Kimura’s death on WWE television.
if you guys didn't see or hear mauro's small tribute to hana kimura during io's entrance, here it is pic.twitter.com/1811GGibII— parasite eve (@shiraishorizon) May 28, 2020
“Speaking of social media, cyberbullying is never justified. Let’s be better as members of the human race. Rest in power joshi puroresu star, Hana Kimura.”
Kimura died last week at age 22. Her home promotion Stardom has said they will not reveal any information about the cause of her death out of respect for her family, but did indicate the police report says there was no “foul play”. Hana had been the target of online harassment stemming from her role on the reality show Terrace House. The season she was a part of has since been cancelled, and officials in the Japanese government say they are exploring tougher cyberbullying laws because of how and with what she was targeted.
WWE choosing to honor Kimura in this way is appropriate for a few reasons. Of their three nationally televised shows, NXT is the one where the audience is most likely to know of Hana and her tragic death. Ranallo is a mental health advocate who’s spoken out about online harassment several times in the past. And Shirai was close with Hana, and wore a black armband for her match this week, presumably to honor her friend.
Perhaps the company should have done more, especially considering their own anti-bullying work. But this was a very nice gesture nonetheless.