Io Shirai’s newfound mean streak has been a developing plot on NXT TV recently. Shirai’s frustrations culminated in her betrayal of Candice LeRae, sparking what could be a compelling feud for the summer.
Over the last few months, Io Shirai was consistently in contention for the NXT Women’s Championship. However, her pursuit of the gold left her empty-handed in each attempt. Following her loss to defending champion Shayna Baszler at NXT TakeOver XXV, the normally bubbly Shirai unleashed a brutal attack on the champion.
The attack set the stage for one last match against Baszler in a steel cage on this past episode of NXT TV. As Shirai was nearing victory, Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke, interfered which brought Candice LeRae out to even the odds. Despite LeRae’s assistance, Shirai would go on to lose her third NXT Women’s Championship match in a row.
LeRae shockingly became Shirai’s next target, getting repeatedly attacked with a steel chair and left lying in pain as NXT drew to a close. The violent end to LeRae and Shirai’s alliance was far from what many people were anticipating but it gives both women a well-deserved spotlight with TakeOver: Toronto coming up in August.
In all of Candice LeRae’s TakeOver appearances, she has come to the aid of either Johnny Gargano or Io Shirai. As good as she is, she has yet to have a featured match on a TakeOver card. She has also been largely absent from the NXT Women’s Championship picture since her debut a couple of years ago.
While the likes of Bianca Belair, Kairi Sane and Io Shirai occupying the title picture, LeRae hasn’t had much of an opportunity to stake her claim outside of a non-title match against Shayna Baszler last August. Shirai’s savage treachery opens the door for LeRae to have her first TakeOver match and jump into the Women’s Title picture.
On Shirai’s end, her story with Shayna Baszler has brought her well out of the supporting role she played in months past for Kairi Sane. Already having crafted a legacy as one of the smoothest high flyers in wrestling, Shirai’s violent explosions add an entirely new dynamic to her character.
Having already failed three times to win the NXT Women’s Championship, it will probably be a while before Shirai can be considered a logical choice to challenge for the Women’s Title again. A blood feud with LeRae should not only prove to be captivating content, but also potentially make Shirai the most dangerous competitor on the women’s roster next to and arguably even more than Shayna Baszler.
While Baszler’s dominant eight month reign as NXT Women’s Champion has been the prominent story among the women’s division, LeRae and Shirai’s feud has the opportunity to jump right to the forefront.
Especially considering Baszler doesn’t have much left to accomplish in NXT, both Shirai and LeRae are solid choices to be the new centerpieces of the division in the event that Baszler loses the title soon and moves on to Raw or SmackDown. If their feud progresses the right way, it could very well accomplish that.