Source: Wrestling Observer Newsletter
In last week’s issue in the mention of Io Shirai, we mentioned that Asuka was the top star of Stardom before coming here. Actually it was a different promotion as Asuka, as Kana, never worked for Stardom due to political issues in Japan at the time, and worked for a number of groups notably Pro Wrestling Wave.
In the big blow to Stardom, which could have survived at probably its same level had either Io Shirai or Kairi Hojo stayed, but now, after Hojo signed, Shirai has now accepted the WWE’s offer. So that’s a devastating blow to the promotion, which was the most popular of the women’s groups in Japan. I was told there are some holdups and Shirai is at this point not a sure thing for the women’s tournament due to timing issues, while Hojo is expected to debut in the tournament. Shirai doesn’t have a start date for Orlando. She was in Orlando in late March at the Performance Center and when she came back, she was leaning toward staying. She’s actually gone back-and-forth on whether or not to go to WWE for months before making the commitment and accepting the WWE contract offer this past week. Shirai posed for the Japanese version of Playboy in the March issue this year. Shirai (real name Masami Odate, 27) debuted in 2007 and made her name in 2010 as part of a trio with older sister Mio Shirai and Kana (Asuka). She’s the current World of Stardom champion and top star of the promotion, and was named Woman Wrestler of the Year in the annual Tokyo Sports awards in both 2015 and 2016. The Triple Tails (Mio Shirai & Io Shirai & Kana) worked for a number of promotions in 2010 and 2011 before starting with stardom in 2011. On May 23, 2012, Odate and Kazushige Nosawa (the wrestler Nosawa), who were boyfriend and girlfriend at the time, were arrested at the Narita Airport coming from Mexico under the suspicions of trying to smuggle 75 grams of marijuana hidden inside paints of the two. She was held in a detention center for three weeks as Japan is extremely strict when it comes to marijuana, especially when the issue becomes legal. She apologized at a press conference and denied the charges, and then said she had broken up with Nosawa. On June 28, 2012, the prosecutor’s office decided against pressing charges against her and on July 9, the wrestler Takuya Sugi said that he had planted the drugs on both of them, claiming he did so because Masahiro Hayashi, a liaison between AAA and Japan had a personal grudge and was trying to get back at Nosawa, and that Hayashi had promised Sugi a contract extension with AAA if they planted the drugs on them.
Hojo lost her Wonder of Stardom championship on the 5/14 show at Korakuen Hall to Miyu Iwatani with a dragon suplex. Hojo still has to lose the trios championship. Hojo was given the word that she has to come up with a new finisher. A lot of people questioned that. Hojo has the coolest looking elbow off the top rope in pro wrestling, probably the best since a young ICW-era Randy Savage. She was told that’s Bayley’s move. To those in Japan, it’s considered ridiculous because that’s the move she’s known for, but it’s a different world. Hojo would walk right into WWE as technically the best of their women wrestlers, but she’s also maybe 5-foot-1, and a lot smaller than Asuka.
Regarding any thoughts of Shirai or Hojo being shown in the audience at the Takeover show this week, both are booked on weekend shows in Japan which would make it impossible unless they cancel their bookings and in Japan, that is almost never done.