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Io Shirai departing Stardom, headed to WWE


Io Shirai, who was considered the biggest women's wrestling star in Japan, looks to be headed to WWE.

Tokyo Sports reported in its Monday newspaper that Shirai would be going to WWE and her final show with Stardom would be June 17th. Sources close to her have confirmed the story.

Shirai, real name Masami Odate, 28, was named Japanese Women's MVP in 2015, 2016, and 2017.

She was first contacted by WWE in October 2016. She and Kairi Hojo (now Kairi Sane) both went back-and-forth on deals since the WWE contracts were for less money than they were making, but they were convinced the upside of becoming stars outside of Japan were enticing. She finally accepted the deal last May, however a heart issue was discovered in WWE medical examining and WWE rescinded the offer last June, and she returned to Stardom. She underwent a full medical examination in Japan and was fully cleared and has been the top star in the company since.

She lost her Wonder of Stardom title to Momo Watanabe on Wednesday night, which started rumors of her being WWE-bound. However, in that case, one had nothing to do with the other as the booking plan was for Watanabe, who they hope to be a future top star, needed the win at this time. The promotion wasn't aware of Shirai leaving until today.

Besides Shirai and Toni Storm, who also signed a U.K. contract with WWE, the company has made offers to other Stardom wrestlers and with the Mae Young Classic this summer, the Stardom Five-Star tournament has lost several wrestlers who were originally to be part of it.