October 20th, 2020. Kairi Sane announced to the world that she was going to be an ambassador and trainer in her home country of Japan. This was done in large part due to her wanting to return to her home country and be with her husband, which I cannot fault her for, but WWE really dropped the ball with her. Kairi was, without a doubt, one of the absolute best female performers in the world. For the longest time, Kairi Hojo (Sane), Io Shirai, and Mayu Iwatani were the three best female wrestlers on the planet. So why is it that WWE just couldn’t see what the rest of the world saw in her? Let’s take a look at her time in WWE…
So Kairi was announced as signing with WWE in March of 2017 and she took place in and won, the inaugural May Young Classic tournament. In this tournament, Kairi defeated Tessa Blanchard, Bianca Belair, Dakota Kai, and Toni Storm before defeating Shayna Baszler. In October 2017, Sane made her television debut on NXT, defeating Aliyah. In November, at NXT TakeOver: WarGames, Sane competed in a fatal four-way match for the vacant NXT Women’s Championship but was unsuccessful as Ember Moon won the match.
On January 28, 2018, at the Royal Rumble, Sane participated in the first women’s Royal Rumble match, entering at number 6 and lasting around 5 minutes before being eliminated by Dana Brooke. A few months later, she also participated in the WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal at WrestleMania 34, alongside other NXT superstars, but was eliminated from the match by Sasha Banks. Shortly after, Sane started a feud with Lacey Evans as the two exchanged victories and attacked each other throughout the next few weeks. Eventually, Sane was able to defeat Evans on the June 6 episode of NXT, in a final match between the two, to end their feud.#
In July, after she defeated Candice LeRae and Nikki Cross in a triple–threat match to become the number one contender, Sane reignited her rivalry with Shayna Baszler, as the two exchanged victories in the Mae Young Classic Finals and at NXT and faced off in a match at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn IV on August 18 where Sane was able to defeat Bazsler to win the NXT Women’s Championship for the first time in her career. On October 28, at the WWE Evolution pay–per–view, Sane lost the championship back to Baszler (after interference from her allies Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir) ending her reign at 71 days. Three weeks later, at NXT TakeOver: WarGames, Sane received her rematch against Baszler in a two out of three falls match, but she failed to regain the title after interference from Duke and Shafir again. Because of the interferences, Sane eventually aligned with her best friend Io Shirai and Dakota Kai against Baszler, Duke and Shafir. Shortly after, Kai was sidelined with an injury and Sane continued to team with Shirai, forming a tag team known as “The Sky Pirates” while continuing to defeat various teams.
On April 5, 2019, at NXT TakeOver: New York, Sane competed in a fatal–four-way match for the NXT Women’s Championship, however, she was unsuccessful in capturing the title as Baszler submitted Bianca Belair to retain. Just six days later, on April 11 (episode aired on tape delay on April 17), Sane lost a rematch to Baszler after Io Shirai attacked Baszler who was looking to injure Sane. Because of her loss, Sane is not allowed to challenge for the NXT Women’s Championship anymore, which was a way to write her off the brand.
On April 16, 2019, episode of SmackDown Live, Paige announced that she would be managing a newly formed women’s tag team, consisting of Sane, who as a result was drafted to the main roster, and Asuka. The team of Sane and Asuka, later dubbed “The Kabuki Warriors”, was immediately put in a feud with The IIconics (Billie Kay and Peyton Royce) over the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship. After weeks of avoiding them, The IIconics lost to The Kabuki Warriors during WWE’s tour in Tokyo, which earned The Kabuki Warriors a title match.
The title match took place on the July 16 episode of SmackDown, where The IIconics retained after they got themselves counted out. In August, The Kabuki Warriors failed to capture the titles from then-champions Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross.
After a short hiatus, The Kabuki Warriors returned in September and defeated Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville. On October 6 at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, The Kabuki Warriors finally won the Women’s Tag Team Championship from Bliss and Cross, after Asuka used the green mist on Cross. The next night on Raw, The Kabuki Warriors completed their transition into heels, as they cut a promo on both Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair and defeated them in a non-title match after again using green mist. As part of the 2019 Draft in mid-October, Asuka and Sane were both drafted to the Raw brand. On the October 28, 2019, episode of Raw, The Kabuki Warriors turned on Paige and used the green mist on her. That same night, Sane went one-on-one with Lynch, where she lost by submission. Asuka and Sane made their returns to NXT on the October 30 episode to defend the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship against Team Kick (Dakota Kai and Tegan Nox)- making it the first time the titles were defended on NXT – where they retained. On the November 4 episode of Raw, The Kabuki Warriors lost to Flair and Natalya when Asuka submitted to Natalya. The following week, Sane and Asuka retained their titles against Lynch and Flair following interference from Shayna Baszler and Bayley.
Sane represented Team Raw at Survivor Series in a 5-on-5-on-5 elimination tag team match, being eliminated by Sasha Banks. On December 1 at Starrcade, The Kabuki Warriors successfully retained the tag team titles against Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair, Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross and Bayley and Sasha Banks when Asuka submitted Cross. On the December 2 episode of Raw, Sane and Asuka defeated Flair in a handicap match. The following week on Raw, Sane and Asuka lost to Lynch by disqualification when Asuka attacked Becky with a chair, and Sane performed an Insane Elbow on Lynch through a table. Sane and Asuka subsequently challenged Lynch and Flair to a WWE Women’s Tag Team title match at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, which they accepted. At the event, The Kabuki Warriors retained their titles against Lynch and Flair in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match; during the match, Sane suffered a concussion, which caused the remainder of the match to be changed on the fly. Following TLC, Sane would accompany Asuka on the entrance stage during a segment between Asuka and Lynch but didn’t go to ringside with Asuka during her matches. Sane made her TV return on the January 20 episode of Raw, losing to Lynch by submission. On the March 2 episode of Raw, she returned to the ring in a losing effort against Shayna Baszler. On the first night of Wrestlemania 36, The Kabuki Warriors lost their Women’s Tag Team Championships to the team of Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross, ending their reign at 181 days, the longest reign for the titles so far.
On the May 11, 2020, episode of Raw, then-Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch vacated her title to take maternity leave, revealing that Asuka won the championship the night before by winning the Money in the Bank ladder match at the eponymous event. On the next episode of Raw, after Lynch’s announcement, Sane was seen backstage with some of the other wrestlers congratulating Lynch, thus turning The Kabuki Warriors face as Sane celebrated Asuka’s championship victory before being interrupted by Nia Jax, thus beginning a feud. On the June 6 episode of Raw, which was taped in May and aired on tape delay, Sane suffered a significant head cut. Sane made her televised return since her injury on the July 6 episode of Raw, as she challenged Sasha Banks in a match that ended in a disqualification due to Bayley’s interference. Weeks after, The Kabuki Warriors unsuccessfully challenged Banks and Bayley for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship. On the July 20 episode of Raw, she defeated SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley in a non-title match. The following week on Raw, Sane was viciously assaulted by Bayley backstage during the Raw Women’s Championship match between Asuka and Banks. This was done to write her out of the storylines as Sane announced her departure from WWE on Twitter as she was heading back to Japan to be with her husband…