Top Japanese women's star Io Shirai is likely to be heading to WWE, Tokyo Sports reports. Discussions have been going on with WWE and Shirai for quite some time, but it looks like Shirai will be leaving the Stardom promotion following the 6/17 event in Korakuen Hall.
Tokyo Sports adds that the first rumored transition for Shirai from Stardom to WWE occurred in the fall of 2016, but did not materialize. However, discussions start to intensify last Spring, and the WWE Performance Center was "inspected" upon her visit to the United States. Shirai's overseas anxiety caused her to remain in Stardom, but her colleague, Kairi Sane, decided to leave for NXT and eventually defeated Shayna Baszler in the finals of the 2017 Mae Young Classic.
In addition, Stardom President Rossi Ogawa did not deny Shirai's withdrawal, but instead commented, "I will explain in a proper form in the near future." Tickets being sold following the June event does not have Shirai advertised on them.
For 2015, 2016, and 2017, Shirai was voted Tokyo Sports' women's wrestler of the year. Known as the "ace" of stardom, Shirai has been a key instrument in the increase in television popularity of Stardom, as well as overall publicity. Shirai is known to be one of the "center players" in the professional wrestling world.
WWE has been a long dream for the 28-year-old Shirai, and it looks to be happening soon. Last year, there were reports that Shirai agreed to sign with WWE, and a deal was ready to be made. However, WWE rescinded the offer after finding out about her neck issues. Shirai returned to Stardom in July of 2017, and commenced her second reign as Wonder of Stardom champion a few months later by defeating Yoko Bito. She held the title for over six months before losing it on May 23 to Momo Watanabe.
Shirai has the second longest reign in Stardom history as World of Stardom Champion, the company's top title, and is the longest in history in terms of combined reigns.
Source: Tokyo Sports