IO SHIRAI ACCEPTS OFFER TO JOIN WWE BY BRYAN ROSE | @br26 | MAY 15, 2017 5:03 PM
Io Shirai, one of the biggest women's wrestling stars in Japan, has accepted WWE's offer to join the company, our Dave Meltzer reports.
Shirai, 27, is considered one of the top wrestlers in the Stardom promotion. She had previously attended a Performance Center tryout back in March, though WWE quickly wiped out all mentions of her in an accompanying article.
This would be a big blow to Stardom, with both of their top acts in Shirai and Kairi Hojo departing the company. Both had previously considered staying in Japan after receiving interest from WWE late last year, but it seems that both have now changed their minds.
Hojo announced her departure from Stardom earlier this month, and is expected to start at the WWE Performance Center shortly. As of right now, there is no start date for Shirai to come in.
More information concerning Shirai’s status will be in this week's edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
Io Shirai (real name Masami Odate) will not be heading to WWE for some time it appears. the 27-year old who made her name in Stardom, was discovered to have a neck injury during a recent WWE medical, that will delay her debut with the company.
According to a report from Wrestling Observer Radio, there is no timetable for her return, but she is expected to be out awhile. Shirai signed with the company back in March.
In 2012, Shirai, along with then-boyfriend Kazushige Nosawa, was involved in a bizarre legal incident . The two were travelling back to Japan from Mexico when they were arrested for drug smuggling. 75 grams of marijuana was discovered inside a painting of the 2 of them. Shirai and Nosawa said the painting was a gift from a fan, and they knew nothing about the marijuana inside.
Marijuana charges are still a big deal in Japan. Matt Sydal spent several weeks in a Japanese prison late last year as a result of possession charges. Sydal also had his relationship with NJPW severed as a result.
Eventually wrestler Takuya Sugi admitted to planting the marijuana in the painting. According to Sugi, he had been promised a contract extension with AAA Lucha Libre by Masahiro Hayashi if he did. Evidently, Hayashi was holding quite a grudge against Nosawa.
WWE Reportedly Not Signing Top Japanese Female Wrestler, News on Why WWE Decided Against the Deal
Top Japanese female wrestler Io Shirai, who was scheduled to sign with WWE, made a surprise return to Stardom at the July 30th event in Shinkiba.
According to The Wrestling Observer, Shirai announced she was leaving Stardom several months back to take time off to heal up the nagging neck injury. The feeling is the real reason why she bid her farewell to Stardom is because she was planning to sign with WWE, however she was not permitted to disclose that information.
The report adds that no one has directly said WWE decided not to offer Shirai a contract due to the neck issues they discovered during her medical testing, but the company stalling on offering her a deal made it very likely the neck issues were the reason for the delay. WWE then wanted Shirai to take time off to rehab her neck, which she did, and recently received clearance to return to the ring. However, for whatever reason, WWE decided against offering her a deal, and she returned to Japan.
While all injury cases are different, WWE has had a general rule of not signing new talent with previous neck or concussion issues.