Former NXT Women’s champion Io Shirai hasn’t wrestled for WWE since April. She’s reportedly been dealing with an injury. If the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter item on Shirai is correct, the Fatal 4way she worked at Stand & Deliver may have been her last match for the company.
Shirai’s current contract is said to expire next month. WWE has reportedly offered her an extension, but she hasn’t signed it. Dave Meltzer writes that the 32-year-old star, who many consider to be among the best in-ring performers in the world, has “told people in Japan that when her contract was up she wanted to return to Japan and be closer with her family.”
Meltzer goes on to say that should Shirai’s deal expire, she would be “free and clear” to start working for another company immediately. Speculation would obviously link her to Stardom, the Bushiroad-owned women’s promotion Io rose to fame with prior to signing with WWE in 2018. But the Observer says Stardom doesn’t plan on her joining fellow returnee KAIRI at that point, “but legally she could.”
If this is the end of “The Genius of the Sky” in WWE, she’ll wrap up with an impressive resume (Mae Young Classic runner-up, a nearly year-long reign as NXT Women’s champion, an NXT Women’s tag title run with Zoey Stark, a Dusty Cup win with Kay Lee Ray, a Survivor Series appearance, matches with Charlotte Flair & Sasha Banks). But it still feels like an extremely talented wrestler in her prime should have been given more opportunities in WWE’s global spotlight.
We’ll see what happens over the next month or two. Feel free to start debating Io Shirai’s NXT run now, though.