It’s been a little over three years since the WWE Universe was first introduced to ‘The Pirate Princess’ on our television screens, forever stealing our hearts and captivating audiences with her dazzling elbow drop and magnetic charm.
Known as Kaori Housako in Japan, it was announced in March, 2017, that the Japanese superstar had inked a three year contract with WWE. On June 30th at a WWE Live event in Tokyo, Japan, the deal was made public as the future WWE Superstar was presented as Kairi Sane, and would be a participant in the inaugural Mae Young Classic tournament.
Although she had a very short tenure in the WWE, Kairi Sane surely is the real deal, a natural babyface who almost immediately took the WWE Universe by storm and gained a vast amount of fan support in quick fashion. Winning ‘Overall Competitor of the Year’ in NXT in 2019, this tenacious competitor has accomplished a multitude of achievements in such a short amount of time, boasting an impressive resume for us to fondly look back on for years to come. In honor of Kairi Sane’s illustrious WWE career, here’s a recap of some of this charismatic Superstar’s greatest hits.
Kabuki Warriors vs. Team Kick (WWE NXT): This bout makes the honorable mentions list due to the various greater accomplishments Sane has gone on to attain, but it goes without saying that it has to be mentioned because it designates it as the first time in which the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships were defended in NXT. Asuka and Kairi Sane made their return to where they began their WWE careers, as they faced off against the team of Dakota Kai and Tegan Nox. This appearance checked off yet another ‘first time ever’ moment that Kairi Sane has accumulated throughout her time in WWE, picking up the victory in what was a fun return match for both Superstars.
Royal Rumble 2018 & WrestleMania 34 Appearances: On January 28th, 2018, Kairi Sane entered at number six in the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble match. Only lasting five minutes before being eliminated by Dana Brooke, this was Kairi’s first taste of things to come before being called up to the main roster, as well as greater exposure to the WWE Universe. Fast forward just a few short months later and she would gain her biggest amount of exposure to date, as she appeared in the Women’s Battle Royal at WrestleMania 34, getting eliminated by Sasha Banks, an opponent who she’d become familiar with later on down the road.
Mae Young Classic Tournament Match: July 13th, 2017 marked the debut of the Mae Young Classic Tournament on the WWE Network, as well as Kairi Sane’s WWE debut match as she faced off against Tessa Blanchard. This first round match in the tournament introduced us all to the talented ‘Pirate Princess’, as she picked up the victory in a hard fought effort over the third generation wrestler, showcasing a sign of things to come from Kairi Sane.
5.) Kairi Sane Wins the debut Mae Young Classic Tournament
Kairi Sane defeated Shayna Bazler (who would become a future long time rival), on September 12, 2017 in the tournament finals of the Mae Young Classic on the WWE Network after SmackDown Live went off the air. In a hard fought battle, Sane ultimately emerged victorious, being awarded the Mae Young Classic Trophy by Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, which also granted her a future title shot down in NXT. While either ‘The Queen of Spade’ or Sane could’ve gone on to claim the win in this hard fought contest, Kairi Sane claimed a well deserved victory nonetheless, thus was the birth of what would be a great run for the ‘Pirate Princess’ on the black and yellow brand.
4.) Fatal 4-Way for the vacant NXT Women’s Championship (NXT TakeOver: WarGames 2017)
After outlasting 32 other competitors in the first ever Mae Young Classic, Kairi Sane pencilled her way into the first ever NXT TakeOver:WarGames, and earned herself a shot for the vacant NXT Women’s Championship after being relinquished by an injured Asuka (whom later Kairi would form a tag team partnership with). Although Sane came up short on this particular night, she turned out a great performance in an excellent Fatal 4-Way, proving to the world that she was indeed worthy of a future championship title reign.
The newly formed team ‘The Kabuki Warriors’ debuted on the April 16, 2019 edition of SmackDown Live, consisting of ‘The Empress of Tomorrow’ Asuka and Kairi Sane. Giving a then lackluster women’s tag team division some much needed star power, the team however would pick up a few losses, the first being against the IIconics (Billie Kay and Peyton Royce), followed by a loss against Alex Bliss and Nikki Cross. The team then took a short hiatus, returning later on in September and emerged victorious, earning a championship match against champions Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross at the Hell in a Cell in October after defeating Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville. The Kabuki Warriors would finally capture championship gold, going on to become the longest reigning Women’s Tag Team Champions and held the titles for an illustrious 181 days before dropping them back to Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross on Night One of WrestleMania 36. Asuka and Kairi Sane provided a memorable championship reign, even so much as main eventing 2019’s Tables, Ladders & Chairs pay-per view in December, successfully retaining their titles.
2.) Kairi Sane Wins the NXT Women’s Championship (NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn IV)
At the fourth installment of NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn, Kairi Sane and then NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Bazler reignited their rivalry, taking each other to the limit as the NXT Universe was firmly behind the challenger. After much back and forth, and witnessing some new found intensity from the winner of the Mae Young Classic, Sane managed to reverse Bazler’s patented chokehold into a pin for a three count after what many assumed would just be another victory for the ‘Queen of Spades.’ Succumb with emotion, Kairi Sane embraced the NXT Universe as they cheered loudly as a new NXT Women’s Champion was crowned. Sane however would only go on to hold the title for 71 days, the shortest reign for the NXT women’s title, as she dropped it to Shayna Bazler at WWE Evolution in another hard fought match.
1.) Kairi Sane vs. Bayley (RAW July 20th, 2020)
As rumors began swirling about Kairi Sane’s departure from WWE, Kairi Sane made her return to RAW on July 6th after suffering an injury at the hands of Nia Jax. Sane challenged Sasha Banks to a match, one in which ended in a disqualification due to Bayley’s interference. The Kabuki Warriors unsuccessfully challenged the tag team champions Sasha Banks and Bayley, however, followed by that saw Kairi Sane successfully defeat SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley in a non-title match on the July 20th edition of RAW.
Sane was then written off of television though, as WWE confirmed that Kairi Sane was indeed heading back to the land of the rising sun to be with her husband. Kairi Sane was viciously attacked by Bayley the following week backstage while Asuka took on Sasha Banks to reclaim the RAW Women’s Championship. Had it not been for the significance in storytelling and the emotional impact of Kairi Sane’s departure, her win against Bayley surely would have come before her championship victory at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn IV against Shayna Bazler.
What remains to be seen in the story between Asuka, Bayley and Sasha Banks is unknown, however, the WWE Universe has not seen such a send off for a Superstar like this in quite some time, as the tale of ‘The Pirate Princess’ comes to an end.
Kairi will be regarded as one of the most well respected female Superstars for her accomplishments, her natural babyface persona and the memories in which she provided us such as her flute playing skills and championship entrance where she put the NXT women’s title in a treasure chest. Should Kairi Sane decide to set sail back to the land of the WWE, we await what’s to be seen from her once again with open arms.