Io Shirai has had an amazing career thus far within the WWE’s NXT brand. She’s beaten a who’s who of opponents and held the NXT Women’s title for well over 300 days. While it is a shame we didn’t see that reign continue against Raquel Gonzalez, all good things must end.
Since Io is not the champion anymore, and her birthday was on the 8th of this month, I thought it would be fun to look ahead at the main roster and pick out a few ladies that I would love to see Io step into the ring with. That is, if WWE decided to bring the Genius of the Sky onto the main roster.
Before I begin the actual list, I’d like to take a moment and pick a few names that I will call Honorable Mentions.. These ladies are good, don’t get me wrong, but I personally would have less interest watching Io face off with them than I would the ladies who comprise my actual list.
That said, here are the Honorable Mentions… Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, Shayna Baszler, Natalya and Charlotte Flair.
Why is Charlotte in the Honorable Mentions area? Well, it’s simple.
Io Shirai is simply that good. Outside of a handful of names, Io Shirai just may be the best women’s wrestler in the world right now.
In my personal opinion, Charlotte doesn’t deserve the honour to step into the ring with the Genius of the Sky, but we all know WWE loves Flair and they would make them face off anyway.
So what’s the point in adding her to the list when we all know it would happen whether we want it or not? Without further delay, and rambling about the whole Charlotte Flair thing, here are the five opponents on the Main Roster I would love to see Io face off with.
5. Bayley – Smackdown
Ding Dong! Hello! Yes, Bayley’s current heel thing is annoying as hell, but you cannot argue that she is one of the best women on the main roster at this moment.
She had a record-setting title reign as Smackdown Women’s Champion, she’s had amazing feuds and matches with many of the top stars within WWE, and she is one of the most consistently entertaining performers that the women’s division has.
If they are on the Main Roster, chances are that Bayley has had a match with them and did her best to make them look good.
An extended feud with Io Shirai would be one of those dream scenarios that would see phenomenal matches, not to mention that Bayley could do all the talking while Io just stews and then slaps the taste out of her mouth.
You put two women in the ring who can make anyone in the world look great and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a very enticing match-up.
4. Bianca Belair – Smackdown
What can you say about Bianca? She’s been an absolute sensation since coming to the main roster. Being the winner of the Women’s Royal Rumble and the Smackdown Women’s Championship on Night One of Wrestlemania both this year.
It’s been a dream run so far on the main roster for Bianca, so it’s only fitting that if Io Shirai comes up that we get more matches between the two.
So far, Shirai and Belair have faced each other a handful of times in NXT and had pretty solid matches between them each time. A main roster feud, especially on Smackdown, would solidify that Smackdown is the must-watch show for the main roster.
Not that it isn’t already, but that’s another topic that we just won’t get into on this list. Whether for the title, or even just a feud for the heck of it, Belair vs Shirai is main event worthy every single time.
3. Sasha Banks – Smackdown
Sasha, Sasha, Sasha. What can you really say about the Boss that hasn’t been said a million times before? She’s the Blu-print, The Gold Standard, The freaking Boss. She’s had the kind of career that most women would dream of, so far, on the main roster. She and Bianca Belair had an amazing match as the main event of Wrestlemania’s first night.
It was groundbreaking, history-making, and something that The Boss deserved. I know that Sasha and Io faced off at the Great American Bash, but I want more. Give me more of that any day of the week.
Give me a feud between the two that lasts months, or even a whole year, because no matter how many times you see Sasha Banks vs Io Shirai, it will be gold. Because that’s what both women do. They make you stand on your feet, they keep your eyes glued to the ring, they are two of the absolute best.
There are not many potential match-ups in WWE that would excite me more than this. Sasha Banks vs Io Shirai should main event Wrestlemania, and I think it would be fitting if it was in a Ladder Match.
2. Alexa Bliss – Raw
Alexa just got out of an extended program that saw her character change into this seemingly sinister force of nature akin to The Fiend. So if she is being poised to run roughshod over the Raw Women’s Division, then why not let Io Shirai be one of the women who actually gives her a run for her money?
The way that the ‘Fiendess’ has been booked so far, she’s going to be a force to be reckoned with. You need someone to be in the ring with Alexa who can make that character look as devastating as WWE wants us to believe she is.
Io Shirai made Raquel Gonzalez look amazing, she’s carried the NXT Women’s Division for nearly a year, and she is one of the few women out there who could actually make a new character feel real. Alexa Bliss is actually pretty darn good in the ring.
She carried the feud between Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt basically by herself. She’s amazing on the mic too. She could carry the bulk of the talking in a feud with Io Shirai and the whole thing would still turn out to be outstanding. Outside of my number one pick, and Sasha Banks, I can’t see anyone giving Io a match on the main roster as intriguing as The Goddess.
I’m going to take a pause really quick and make the case for one superstar in particular who I left in the mentions earlier in the article. That person is Liv Morgan. If you follow Liv on Twitter, you’d see that she is evolving into this phenomenal athlete. She’s getting better and better every single day and the training videos that she has released prove it. I know she’s preparing for a life outside of the WWE, but she deserves a chance to be at the top of the division for an extended run.
Frankly speaking, I would love to see a feud between Liv Morgan and Io Shirai for the Smackdown Women’s championship. I feel that both women would bring out the absolute best in each other and it would be a career-defining match-up for Liv. Please, WWE, give Morgan a chance and ‘Watch Her Liv’.
1. Asuka – Raw
Asuka and Io Shirai are no strangers to each other. The duo made up a tag team together called Triple Tails alongside Mio Shirai, and there has to be some unfinished business there. Sure, Io was essentially a rookie then and she has improved considerably since that time, but the same can be said for Asuka.
Asuka had a run in WWE that was every bit as legendary as Goldberg’s in WCW, she’s a multi-time main roster champion and the longest reigning NXT Women’s Champion in the brands history. It’s been like ten years since Asuka and Io teamed together, and they really haven’t worked together since then.
WWE should let these two go at it and prove who the best in the world really is between them. You could put these two in any match, for any length of time, and you may end up with the best women’s match in WWE history.
I could easily see a 60 minute Iron-woman match between the two headlining Wrestlemania one year. There is little doubt that both Io Shirai and Asuka are two of the best performers in the world, and probably the best female performers that WWE has, so it absolutely has to happen and it has to be for the title.
Both women deserve it, both women can deliver and let it be said here, they will tear the freaking house down. I only ask one thing of WWE… Please, for the love of God, don’t screw us out of an Io Shirai vs Asuka match-up by putting them in a tag team like you did when we could have had Kairi Sane vs Asuka.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face. Io Shirai is the best female wrestler on the planet today. She has had a legendary career thus far and she deserves an equally legendary run on the main roster before her career comes to a close, or she decides to return to Japan. There are things that I wish we could see in WWE, things that the fans would have loved if they could witness it, like a feud between Io and Kairi Sane, or even a reunion of the Sky Pirates. Unfortunately, all we can do is dream about those things.
So, hopefully, Io gets a chance to shine on the main roster and prove to the world that she is, without question, the absolute best in the world today.