WWE’s Royal Rumble event is coming up on January 28th, and you never know who will show it. It turns out that fans might just see a familiar face return this year.
Kairi Sane was one of the best female pro wrestlers that WWE had at one point in time. She has a successful tenure in NXT, where she ultimately conquered the NXT Women’s Championship. Kairi left WWE and returned to Japan, but there is an interesting rumor going around about her right now.
Now that Sasha Banks is traveling to Japan, it has been rumored that a prominent Japanese talent may be traveling the other way for the Royal Rumble. Although she is not anticipated to wrestle, Banks is scheduled to appear at Wrestle Kingdom 17 in January 2023.
The IWGP Women’s Champion is anticipated to face Banks in the near future. Tam Nakano will challenge inaugural champion KAIRI for the championship. KAIRI won the championship after a competition at Historic X-Over on November 20th. The championship is a new joint project between New Japan and STARDOM.
Dave Meltzer wrote about Banks’ impending appearances and how they relate to the IWGP Women’s Championship situation in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Meltzer denies rumors that Banks was intended to be the first winner.
Plans for the inaugural champion, however, were altered, and KAIRI triumphed rather than Mayu Iwatani. Contractual difficulties with Iwatani and the wish to have the title consistently featured in the United States were the causes behind this.
It was further noted that there was talk of KAIRI making a surprise debut at the 2023 Royal Rumble before the decision to crown her champion was made. KAIRI previously performed for WWE as Kairi Sane from 2017 to 2021.
An interesting part of that story is that it had been rumored Kairi would be in this year’s Royal Rumble, but those rumors were prior to the decision changing with her getting the IWGP women’s title, which could change the dynamic.
KAIRI joined WWE in March 2017 and debuted there by taking part in the first Mae Young Classic. The ‘Pirate Princess’ ultimately prevailed in the competition, defeating competitors like Bianca Belair, Dakota Kai, Toni Storm, and Shayna Baszler.
The following October, Kairi Sane made her NXT debut under that identity, reigniting her feud with Baszler. Her victory over Baszler at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn IV to capture the NXT Women’s Championship was the pinnacle of her tenure on the black and gold roster.
Nevertheless, Kairi Sane’s reign as the gold medalist only lasted 71 days, as Baszler defeated him at Evolution. In 2019, Sane transferred to the SmackDown roster, where she partnered with Asuka to create the tag team known as the Kabuki Warriors, under the management of Paige.
For 171 days, the two held the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships. In July 2020, the celebrity made her final WWE appearance. For further updates stay tuned to Ringside news.
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