Unless you’ve been living under a rock over the last decade or so, WWE fans should be quite familiar with Kairi Sane. The Former NXT Women’s Champion and Women’s Tag Team Champion wrestled for WWE from 2016 to 2020 where she would become one of the company’s most popular foreign talents. Of course, WWE completely mishandled her time on the main roster when they refused to give her a single’s run and also fed her to one Nia Jax. Nia Jax, if you all remember, is the one who concussed Kairi on more than one occasion which ultimately led to her time in the ring for them to end.
After Kairi was written off of WWE screens following a backstage beatdown by Bayley and Sasha Banks, she returned to her native Japan where she married her fiance and became an ambassador for WWE. She would stay in this role until her contract expired in December of 2021, bringing her time in WWE to an unfortunate end.
To say that WWE mishandled Kairi when she was originally there is a bit of an overstatement. She does have a history of concussions, some pretty serious too. That said, WWE crowned Kairi the inaugural Mae Young Classic winner and did give her a brief run as NXT Women’s Champion. She had a legendary feud with one Shayna Baszler and her time on the main roster was pretty much spent as a tag team star with Asuka. They would become the longest reigning WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions, a reign that is still held to this day, not that WWE has done much with those titles since her time. KAIRI won multiple awards during her time with the company, despite WWE not giving her the push that her talent deserved.
KAIRI: Her Return and Success in Japan
Once her time in WWE officially came to an end, she returned to Stardom where she became the inaugural IWGP Women’s Champion and even had another reign as Artist of Stardom Champion with Natsupoi and Saori Anou as ReSTART. She has also worked several dates with other companies and even teamed with another former WWE talent in Sarray, or Sareee for us Joshi fans. Her time back in her native Japan has been successful and she has proven to the world that she still has what it takes to be a top star in any company that would sign her full-time.
On August 5th, Dave Meltzer and Mike Johnson (of PW Insider) reported that a WWE return for Kairi Sane is imminent and that she will return to the company. It is believed that she will be returning to the company full-time in November, once all of her obligations in Japan are completed fully. This includes a date in September where she teams with Saori Anou to take on Unagi Sayaka and a partner of her choosing.
In one year of wrestling back in Japan, KAIRI has accomplished more than her entire WWE run. She started up a successful gym, produced a popular style book and held two different titles all while touring the country and wrestling with a who’s who of different names. So why would someone with this kind of star power want to return to WWE, a company that really screwed the pooch when it came to her first stint? Plain and simple, I think it’s unfinished business.
KAIRI in WWE: Wasted Opportunities & New Beginnings
KAIRI should have been a top star for WWE. She deserved the chance and she was one of the most popular Japanese performers in the company. Sure, her Pirate Princess gimmick might have seemed childish to the average WWE fan, but she has honed that gimmick over her entire career and it serves her well. Now, WWE is known for completely mishandling its Japanese talents. Look at the likes of Funaki, Shinsuke Nakamura, Bull Nakano and Sarray if you want examples of this. For some reason, top stars from Japan usually don’t do well in WWE and it’s a shame but it’s fact.
The most successful Japanese talents to come to WWE are two women and they are current members of the roster, Io Shirai and Asuka. Asuka is a multi-time Women’s Champion and former tag team partner of Kairi. Despite not having the kind of championship run that her legacy deserves, she has carved her own path in her current company and has even brought out her old Kana gimmick to keep herself fresh for fans.
Io, or Iyo Sky as WWE fans know her, is the fifth longest-reigning NXT Women’s Champion behind Shayna Baszler, Paige, Mandy Rose and Asuka. She is one of the Daughters of Stardom and has won so many titles and tournaments in her career that she is considered one of the greatest of all time. A title she has earned through blood, sweat and tears.
A return to WWE for Kairi Sane can mean a couple of things really. They could give her the single’s run she deserved and actually give us matches between herself and Asuka -and- Iyo. Those matches, I guarantee, would absolutely steal whatever show they are on. The women know each other so well and work extremely well together. It would be even sweeter for Kairi to take on Iyo Sky who just cashed in her Money in the Bank contract and became WWE Women’s Champion. Kairi and Iyo have had insane matches together in the past and both daughters of Stardom have a healthy respect and love for each other, allowing them to go all out when in the ring together.
We could also see a reunion of the Kabuki Warriors, or even the Sky Pirates when she returns to the fold. WWE’s Women’s Tag Team division has been floundering since the end of the Kabuki Warriors’ reign. No team has been stable and there have been no substantial reigns to speak of. A reunion of either team would upend the division as a whole and would give us a team worthy of being champions. We need a stable team in WWE to run the division and both Kabuki Warriors and Sky Pirates would be the best choices to do such a thing.
WWE could also give us something special, a real faction to get behind as they could team Asuka, Iyo and Kairi together. Each woman has the accolades to run on their own, yes, but teaming the three of them together would be a great way to bring Kairi back. The three women could run roughshod all over the company with them holding all the gold on both brands.
Yes, it would relegate Kairi back to being in a team, but in this situation, they would all benefit by working together and establishing a truly dominant team and showing that the Japanese talent in WWE is truly worthy of their positions. But, something else could happen and it’s something no one is even talking about, something that could come to pass if WWE plays their cards right.
KAIRI, IYO & MAYU: The Daughters of Stardom
Before I throw this out there, understand that the odds of this happening are insanely low, like a 0.00000001 percent chance but it is something that could potentially happen and I would love to see it. There are reports that Bushiroad is cutting costs with Stardom and New Japan, wanting to lower their payroll a bit. This is reportedly why Kairi became a Free Agent again earlier this year. If Bushiroad really wanted to cut costs in a big way, they would have to part ways with the sole remaining Daughter of Stardom, the Greatest Joshi of all time, Mayu Iwatani.
The return of Kairi to WWE brings together two of the three Daughters of Stardom. Whether they team up or not, they will be reunited under the same banner. With names like Utami Hayashishita training with WWE talents, they would be fools not to try and get their hands on some more Stardom talents. This is also a bit of a rumour regarding WWE, that they want more Joshi talent to come into the fold.
The biggest name they could get is, of course, Mayu Iwatani. Mayu is the absolute GOAT in Stardom, and possibly all of Joshi Wrestling. She is a truly natural babyface and is someone you cannot help but fall in love with. She, Kairi and Io are three of the best Women’s Wrestlers in the world and have been for years. So bringing the final daughter into the fold would bolster a Women’s Division that relies way too heavily on the same names.
Bringing Mayu into the fold is a long shot, I am not gonna lie. But reuniting the Black Lotus Triad in WWE could bring huge ratings and a massive surge in product sales. It could be even better if they added Asuka to the mix and formed a truly formidable unit together. Those four women are incredible single’s competitors but as a unit, they would be truly remarkable. I think they could completely rework how WWE books its foreign talents and give them a baseline for how it should be done. It would also prevent Mayu from joining up with the Bull Nakano Joshi promotion being put together here in the States.
I know that I bounced all over the place here today but there is just so much that WWE can do when Kairi comes back into the fold that it got my brain going all over the place. With Kairi returning to WWE, it bolsters a women’s division that needs bodies and gives them a fan-favourite name that people can and will get behind. I am extremely excited for Kairi to return to WWE, despite my wish that she would just finish out her career in Japan. Hopefully, she gets the treatment that she deserves upon returning to the fold but we will have to wait and see.
Welcome back Kairi. I cannot wait to see what you do with your second run in WWE.