WWE today formally announced the arrival of Io Shirai as its newest Superstar.
When Shirai was introduced to the live audience at the Ryogoku Sumo Hall, the Smackdown graphics changed to NXT so it’s safe to say that the former Stardom champion will be moving down to Orlando.
The 28-year-old wrestled in both Mexico and Japan and this will be her first time wrestling in the United States.
NXT is looking to beef up its women’s division after their biggest stars moved up to the main roster over the past couple of years, leaving a big void from the years of Banks, Bayley, Charlotte, Asuka, Lynch, and others who transitioned to Raw and Smackdown.
In the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer reported that the whole story with Brock Lesnar not wanting to defend the title against anyone is a storyline, another attempt to get Roman Reigns over through different tactics.
WWE tried something similar on the road to WrestleMania 34 when Lesnar failed to show up during different Raw shows while being advertised for them. And when Lesnar showed up, Reigns ended up being the victim every single time thanks to brutal beatings by the WWE Universal champion.
Meltzer said that the plan is to show everyone that Lesnar is leaving the company without wanting to do the time-honored tradition of dropping the title on the way out, showing disrespect not only to the company, but the fans as well. When it comes to Reigns, the story is to put him as the underdog, with everyone telling him that he’s not good enough to beat Lesnar considering he lost twice in a row already to the champ.
Reigns was still booed at WrestleMania 34 so the plan at the time did not really work as WWE had hoped for. If this plan works the second time around is yet to be seen but considering how WWE fans treat Roman Reigns, it’s highly unlikely!
Io Shirai made an appearance at the WWE non-televised live event in Tokyo, Japan today, addressing the fans in the middle of the ring.
Shirai, one of the best female wrestlers on the planet, has signed a WWE deal and will join the ranks imminently. She participated in her final show with Stardom this week, clearing her way to join the company.
The 28-year-old Japanese sensation was on the verge of joining WWE one year ago but her WWE medical brought up a few red flags – including heart and neck problems – and it was decided that she should get healthy before another offer was made.
Shirai has been wrestling for World Wonder Ring Stardom since 2011, holding several titles in the promotion. With Shirai on the roster, WWE has Japan’s three of the most popular and best females on their books along with Asuka and Kairi Sane.
W-O reader Daniel Hirsch attended the live WWE event in Rapid City, South Dakota at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center yesterday and sent in the following results.
Matt Hardy defeated Mojo Rawley; Authors of Pain defeated Heath Slater and Rhyno; Dana Brooke defeated Ruby Riott; Roman Reigns defeated Jinder Mahal; Braun Strowman defeated Baron Corbin and Bobby Roodey; Alexa Bliss defeated Natalya to retain the Raw Women’s title; Dolph Ziggler defeated Seth Rollins in a two out of three falls match to retain the Intercontinental title.
Bray Wyatt, Finn Balor, Bobby Lashley, Kevin Owens, Sasha Banks, and Bayley were all missing in action.
Several of Matt Cappotelli’s former colleagues paid tribute to him on social media yesterday after the news broke out that Cappotelli passed away in the morning.
“My first best friend in the wrestling business and to this day one of the best people I’ve ever known Matt Cappotelli has passed on,” wrote John Hennigan, who won Tough Enough III along with Matt. “I’m gutted about this news. Matt inspired everyone around him especially me early in my career. He is loved and will be missed.”
The Miz, who won a later Tough Enough series, revealed that in 2005 he was supposed to team up with Matt to form the tag team called Reality Check. “One day out of no where he called me and said that he had just been diagnosed w/ brain cancer. On the phone, even with this scary news he remained positive and was gonna fight to beat cancer,” Miz wrote in a post on Instagram. “He has been fighting for his life ever since. Every time I saw him he was positive and always had a smile on his face. Today, we lost a good one. A true fighter. My condolences to his wife and family. Matt, you will be missed my friend.”
Lance Storm, who worked with Matt during his time at Ohio Valley Wrestling, also expressed his sadness upon hearing the news. “I had the privilege of working with and getting to know Matt during my time in OVW. If everyone strived to be even half the human being Matt was the world would be a wonderful wonderful place.”
NXT’s Kassius Ohno wrote, “Crushed to hear about the passing of Matt Cappotelli. He was talented, passionate & possessed a heart of GOLD. Everyone should fight as hard as Matt fought. Condolences to his friends, family & the countless others he touched on his journey. Rest In Peace Capp.”
WWE.COM posted a story on the website and also a post on Twitter. “WWE is saddened to learn that Matt Cappotelli, a promising Superstar who was a co-winner of WWE Tough Enough III, passed away Friday at age 38.”
Meanwhile, WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon wrote that Matt showed everyone what it means to never give up and to always stay positive. “It was a honor to know you.”
The WWE Performance Center had over 40 prospects this week all hoping for a developmental deal and the opportunity to call the WWE PC their home for the next few years.
Among those 40 individuals there are amateur wrestlers, independent wrestlers, professional and college football and rugby players, strongman competitors, bodybuilders, fitness models, cheerleaders, and more.
The camp, which started Thursday, ends today and is being presided over by Head Coach Matt Bloom and his coaching team.
Some of the athletes who are part of this tryout are 2018 ACC heavyweight wrestling champion Jacob Kasper, 5-foot-9 British independent wrestler Heidi Katrina Alavi, D-Von Dudley’s twins Terrell & Terrence Hughes, former NFL defensive tackle Terence “TJ” Barnes, Australian professional rugby player Tom Dempsey, former NFL tight end Dorin Dickerson, and more.
You can check out the list of individuals participating here.
Former Tough Enough winner Matt Cappotelli passed away yesterday from brain cancer.
The announcement of his death was done by his wife, Lindsay. “I’ve been struggling with what to say and how to say this, and I’ll probably end up rambling, but here goes. Today, my love – my strong, sweet, beautiful love – took his last breath at 3:30AM and went Home to be with Jesus…exactly one year after his brain surgery,” Lindsay wrote.
Lindsay talked about how you think you are prepared for something like this and you know it’s coming but you simply cannot prepare for it.
“The only person whose comfort I want right now is the one who can’t give it to me. I miss him so much. I know where he is now is no much better, but it doesn’t change how much I miss him,” she added.
Last year, Cappotelli was diagnosed with Grade 4 glioblastoma tumor, the most deadly form of brain cancer. In 2007, Cappotelli beat cancer but after ten years of remission, cancer came back with a vengeance. In June of last year, surgeons removed 90% of the mass pressing on his skull while the remaining 10% was being treated with chemo. The remaining tumor that still resided in his brain was too dangerous to touch as it was next to the brain stem.
Cappotelli won Tough Enough season 3 in 2003 along with John Hennigan.
ESPN.COM is reporting that Vince McMahon will be looking at spending up to $500 million in the relaunch of the XFL, way more than the $100 million originally invested into Alpha Entertainment.
The $100 million funding came from selling WWE stocks and putting it into his new venture that acts as the parent company of the XFL. Talking to informed insiders, ESPN says that the first three seasons of the XFL will cost nearly $500 million according to projections.
“People were focused on the $100 million, but the truth is that doesn’t even get us to the 20-yard line,” XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck told ESPN. The XFL offices will be across the street from the WWE HQ and Luck starts his Commissioner job on Monday.
The XFL is planned for a 2020 return.
Shinsuke Nakamura did not wrestle at the Tokyo non-televised live event today, but appeared in front of the live crowd in the middle of the ring for a promo. Fans welcomed Nakamura by singing along to his old theme song.
Nakamura was walking with a crutch after a police dog bit his leg at a house show on Monday night in Bakersfield.
Things didn’t go as smoothly for the Japanese sensation as Samoa Joe interrupted and then placed him in the Kokina Clutch. An unlikely Superstar, AJ Styles, made the save to set up Styles vs Joe as the main event for the WWE title.
WWE Superstars will entertain fans in Tokyo over the next two days as they take over the Ryōgoku Kokugikan Sumo Arena for the yearly mid-year tour.
Two back-to-back shows will take place starting today, June 29, in Tokyo before flying to Taiwan for a show at the Taipei Arena in Taipei on Sunday, July 1.
The Smackdown brand will be doing the tour this time around and Asuka and Shinsuke Nakamura are both scheduled to appear, although it will be interesting to see if Nakamura gets medically cleared to compete following the dog bite on Monday.