Io Shirai appears to be on a similar path to Adam Cole and Johnny Gargano.
NXT has undergone quite the transformation over the course of the past 12 months. Many of those who were a part of the black and gold brand have been called up, released, or allowed their contracts to expire and moved on. A handful remain, most of whom don’t appear on NXT TV all that often. Io Shirai falls into that final category, but could be an ex-WWE Superstar before long.
That’s according to The Wrestling Observer which has revealed Shirai’s NXT deal expires in August, and she is yet to sign a new contract with the company. What’s more, reports suggest it seems unlikely Shirai will be signing a new contract and will instead return to Japan. Apparently, the former NXT Women’s Tag Team Champion has been telling people close to her that she wants to be closer to her family once her time with WWE is done.
Shirai may well follow in the footsteps of Kairi Sane. However, where Sane worked the remainder of her WWE contract as an ambassador for the company in Japan, Shirai won’t have to do that since her deal will have come to an end, making her a free agent. She’ll be free to return to Stardom, or compete for whatever wrestling promotion she likes, whether it be inside or outside of Japan.
Shirai hasn’t been entirely absent from NXT since its revamp. She has actually featured quite prominently, most recently competing for the Women’s Title at Stand and Deliver over WrestleMania weekend. She has also held the Tag Titles with Zoey Stark since the 2.0 rebrand. Many fans would have hoped Shirai would get a run on the main roster, but unless she re-signs within the next month, that isn’t going to happen.
Shirai will be the latest in a run of NXT Superstars to reject a new deal should she let her contract expire and leave WWE next month. Johnny Gargano, Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, and Candice LeRae have all opted to do the same thing. Cole and O’Reilly have since shown up in and signed with AEW, while Gargano and LeRae’s next moves are currently unknown as they welcomed their first baby together only a few months ago.