At NXT TakeOver: In Your House, Io Shirai became NXT Women’s Champion when defeating both Rhea Ripley and Charlotte Flair. She walks into the footsteps of her fellow Japanese wrestlers and friends, Kairi Sane and Asuka. The Genius of The Sky succeeded in conquering new frontiers and prove that she’s not only the best wrestler in her homeland but in the entire world. The Rey Mysterio fan who was dubbed the Joshi Judas has now become a true fan favourite and an aerial artist without peer.
Since TakeOver: In Your House, Shirai has successfully defended the title against Sasha Banks and Tegan Nox, but Dakota Kai came to challenge Shirai. Dakota Kai says she’s in Io Shirai’s head. But will that psychological edge be enough for her to capture the NXT Women’s Championship? Shirai will also have to account for the potential presence of Raquel González, as “Big Mami Cool” has been an X-factor in Kai’s favour several times previously.
SteelChair Magazine has the opportunity to share with you this interview with Io Shirai, courtesy of WWE. The Champion talks about her upcoming title defence against Dakota Kai at NXT TakeOver: XXX and the wrestlers she would like to face in the near future.
You defeated Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley to become NXT Women’s Champion. What do you respect most about both of them?
“Being honest and with no sense of irony: Charlotte is the Queen. It takes a lot to be on top, only someone who has been there can understand, and one mistake can be exploited and attacked. Charlotte has a strong heart and remains unfazed and stands tall. She is also humble, kind and very professional, all of which have contributed to her success. I have only had a few encounters with her, but I am glad I have been able to have those opportunities. Rhea has an incredible aura. She has a great personality and I respect the effort she puts in at the gym. Her look, her momentum, her youth and her athletic abilities are very appealing.”
How are you feeling about defending the NXT Women’s Championship against Dakota Kai at NXT TakeOver: XXX this Saturday?
“Dakota is trying to win in any way she can, by changing her style, kicking me in the face, or bringing in Raquel González. Io Shirai is not a champion who can be broken. I will be smart and I will break her with my grace.”
How do you feel when people, including other WWE Superstars, say that you are one of the best wrestlers in the world?
“Honestly, I am very thankful. The people who are saying that are also some of the best in the world at what they do, so to hear it from them, I am truly honoured. I am also thankful to the fans for the support I receive in Japan and around the world. They pushed me to reach where I am today.”
Looking at those that you haven’t faced yet, who from WWE would you like to have a match with in the future?
“When I first came to WWE, I said I wanted to face Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks and Asuka. Now only Asuka remains. We have a long history together. Before I turned 20, I teamed up with Asuka in Japan but then we went our separate ways. Asuka went to WWE first and I always thought, someday, somewhere, it would be great to face her again. If it happens in WWE it would be a dream come true. If I could go back in time and tell myself as a teenager, she would not believe it. Back then I dreamt of coming to WWE and I trained hard in Mexico to make it come true. Facing Asuka would be a dream match, 10 years in the making. It would be even better if we both had Titles when it happens….”
NXT TakeOver: XXX airs live from Full Sail University this Saturday, August 22 on WWE Network at 7 PM EST (midnight BST), with a kickoff show at 6.30 PM EST (11.30 PM BST).
Special thanks to WWE UK and DS Communication – All pics and videos courtesy of WWE