Thursday, June 1, 2017

Io Shirai Not In the Mae Young Classic

Shirai won't be in the tourney, boo
Photo via Pro Wrestling Wikia
When rumors of a women's tournament in the vein of the Cruiserweight Classic started circulating, everyone got excited. Then WWE started scouting wrestlers for it, and one of the names that shot to the top of everyone's wishlists was one of STARDOM's three aces, Io Shirai. The tournament, now named the Mae Young Classic, was confirmed, Shirai signed with the company officially, and it was all but certain that she'd be one of the favorites heading in. However, she won't win the tournament, because she won't be a part of it.

Shirai's farewell dates with STARDOM conflict with the WWE's big summer shindig. The Classic will tape July 13 and 14 at Full Sail University. In the meantime, WWE is finalizing details for Shirai's move halfway across the world to Florida, where I assume she'll hit the ground running on the NXT brand. This news is disappointing on the surface, since Shirai was almost certain to make the semifinals at the very least. She would've had quite the platform for which to introduce herself to the WWE Universe. However, now that she's out, it opens the door for someone else to make a surprise run in her stead. And as far as anyone else knows, her fellow STARDOM expatriate Kairi Hojo is free to work the tournament if that is indeed in her plans. Remember, no one has officially been announced yet.

Of course, the lack of official bookings hasn't stopped people, even in WWE, from stoking fires. For example, the company's Dot Com arm released a poll today asking which former Women's/Diva's Champion folks would like to see compete in the tourney, including the following names: Beth Phoenix, Michelle McCool, Melina, Trish Stratus, Lita, and Gail Kim. While Kim's inclusion on the list could be construed as tampering, she hasn't signed a return contract with Impact Wrestling yet despite publicly stating she intended on doing such. Speaking of former Knockouts Champions, Taylor Wilde posted this cryptic little thing last week:
Casey, the webmaster at Squared Circle Sirens, speculated that it could be a call from WWE to do the tournament, which makes sense. Wilde's former stablemate in Impact Wrestling, Sarah "Sarita" Stock is a Performance Center trainer. She might be a little out of practice, but hey, they say wrestling is like riding a bike. You never really forget how to do it. Either way, the tournament is about six weeks out, and it's going to be exciting to see which wrestlers do fill out the brackets. It's just that Shirai won't be one of them.