Over the past number of weeks, you may have seen, heard or read the message in the bottle that Kairi Sane may be preparing to set sail to her homeland, Japan. Unfortunately for us fans, this means a departure from World Wrestling Entertainment. The speculation began after a post from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter surfaced, stating that Kairi Sane is leaving the WWE and ‘returning to Japan to be with her husband’. This decision is said to have been made around ‘May, if not earlier’.
Now, instead of focusing on the negative, that being the departure of The Pirate Princess, here at Sports Obsessive we are generally a positive bunch and personally, I have been a huge fan of Kairi if I do say so myself. Today marks three years to the very date that Kairi Sane debuted with WWE at the Mae Young Classic back on July 13th 2017 and today, I’m going to be looking back at some of Kairi Sane’s Greatest Moments during her time in NXT, Raw and Smackdown.
Debuting at The Mae Young Classic
What better way to start things off than the very moment that Kairi Sane exploded onto the scene at WWE. Kairi signed with the WWE on the 13th of July 2017 during the first round of the all-female Mae Young Classic tournament. Kairi’s WWE Television debut was against Tessa Blanchard.
Before the match began, a special promo was played to familiarize us with the newcomer. Kairi mentioned how much the opportunity to take part in the tournament meant to her as the only Japanese participant. Kairi wanted to showcase the Japanese style of professional wrestling and was destined to be standout star amongst all 32 participants in the tournament.
Kairi made her way to the ring all kitted out in pirate attire, even including a pirate ship’s helm in hand. Before Blanchard had even stepped onto the stage, the crowd was already on Kairi’s side, enthusiastically chanting the name of the young babyface.
The bell sounded, the lights dimmed and the match had officially begun. To make things even more special, the match was being called by Good Ole’ J.R and WWE Hall of Famer and former multi-time Womens Champion, Lita. The second that both women touched to begin the lockup, the crowd erupted. One half of the crowd were chanting ‘Let’s go Tessa!’ and the remaining half were chanting ‘Let’s go Kairi!’ It was clear that both women had the backing of the fans.
Kairi endured some exceptional chain wrestling from Blanchard early on. Kairi followed up by bouncing Blanchard off the ropes and hitting a running blockbuster, a strike attack that targeted Blanchard’s neck. At this point, the entire crowd was chanting for Kairi, feeding Kairi adrenaline. Blanchard, who had the size advantage over Kairi, trapped her opponent in the corner and hit a nasty looking DDT, planting Kairi’s skull into the mat. The resilient Sane kicked out after a two count pin attempt from Blanchard, proving that she was not going to let this opportunity slip through her fingers. Kairi go herself back into the match, retaliating with a spear to Blanchard that had so much force that it could have caused serious damage to Blanchard’s spine.
Kairi then began to ‘walk the plank’ by marching diagonally across the ring towards the corner turnbuckle. Kairi charged from the turnbuckle and impacted Blanchard’s chest with a strong running elbow strike. Kairi then signalled that this would be the end of the match, by teasing her signature elbow drop. However, Blanchard had made it to her feet a little too early for Kairi, so Kairi decided to hit Blanchard with a diving forearm attack to the face.
Kairi followed up with a pin fall attempt of her own, yet Tessa Blanchard kicked out at two! Blanchard momentarily gained the upper hand over Kairi by delivering an onslaught of clotheslines that were followed up by a number of back suplexes. Blanchard left Kairi laying in the mat while she scaled the turnbuckles. Once Kairi realised she was in trouble, she launched towards Blanchard but was sent flying back down to the mat, courtesy of a hard-hitting headbutt from Tessa Blanchard.
Blanchard continued the attack by successfully delivering a cannonball senton drop to Kairi, inflicting a crazy amount of pain to her opponent. But, to the absolute shock of Blanchard, Kairi kicked out at what must have been a two and a half count! Kairi managed to block a kick to the face from Blanchard and grappled her opponent to the ground. Kairi hit Blanchard with a stiff kick to the spine, then immediately followed up with a spine buster. Kairi then signalled to the crowd one more time that it may be time for her signature elbow drop. Kairi was feeding off the intensity from the crowd and, with that, confidently climbed atop the turnbuckle and delivered the ‘In-Sane Elbow’ to Blanchard, thus picking up the three count victory to advance to the second round of the tournament!
What an impressive debut this was. The captain was ready to set sail.
Winning the NXT Womens Championship
On August 18th 2018, Kairi Sane went one-on-one in the semi-main event against Shayna Baszler at NXT: TakeOver Brooklyn IV for the NXT Womens Championship. To make it to this match, Kairi defeated both Candice LeRae and Nikki Cross in a triple threat match to become the No. 1 Contender for the title. Baszler may have thought she had a mental victory over Kairi before this match even began, as she had her ‘Four Horsewomen’ at ringside cheering her on, as Ronda Rousey, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir were all in attendance to watch their friend defend the NXT Womens Championship.
Kairi began to play some mind games of her own very early into this match by locking Baszler into a leg lock submission move. Baszler is known as the ‘submission magician’. A submission loss to Kairi this early into a Championship match at TakeOver would have completely humiliated Baszler and Kairi knew it. As the match went on, Kairi got into the head of Baszler more and more and it started to show. Kairi didn’t let up though as she continued to ride the waves of momentum during this match.
In her efforts to take out the Champion, Kairi sailed through the air, jumping off the apron and smashing Baszler in the face with a flying strike. Baszler caught up with Kairi in the ring and countered an oncoming attack. Baszler proceeded to attempt to disfigure Kairi’s limbs by wrenching on her foot and twisting it in ways that it should not have been able to twist in the first place. Kairi was in trouble. The Pirate Princess was being brutalised by the sadistic Champion. The more Baszler mocked Kairi, the more cocky Baszler got. Baszler began slapping Kairi in the face, just insulting the challenger. This was the biggest mistake the Baszler could have made.
Baszler taunted Kairi one too many times and, in doing so, awoke a beast that dwelled inside of the vessel of Kairi Sane. Kairi unloaded lefts and rights, connecting with Baszler’s skull with every shot. Baszler could not block a single strike from Kairi. Kairi connected with a spinning back-fist that knocked Baszler to her knees, and followed things up with an erupting rolling neck breaker. Kairi delivered a second rolling neck breaker for good measure then began to chop the chest of Baszler as she leant up against the turnbuckle completely helpless.
As soon as Baszler fell to the mat, Kairi climbed atop the turnbuckle, slowly, as her foot was clearly injured. Kairi was planning to hit her signature ‘In-Sane elbow’ in hopes of discovering that treasure chest full of Championship gold. Baszler leapt to her feet, knowing that her Championship was up for grabs, and kicked Kairi right in the face as she was left atop the turnbuckle just hanging on by a thread.
Baszler hit Kairi with a superplex, with both bodies crashing to the mat below. Baszler and Kairi made it to their feet one more time. In a desperation attempt by both women, right and left hands were flying, as punches were being thrown in hopes of getting that K.O hit. Out of nowhere, Kairi bounced back and speared Baszler! Kairi scaled the turnbuckle and performed what was her third ‘In-Sane elbow’ of the match. Baszler had this scouted though, as she transitioned into her trademark twister signature move. Kairi Sane managed to flip herself out of the move and press Baszler shoulders against the mat for the three count victory!
Captain Kairi finally had her hands on Championship gold.
The Kabuki Warriors
The Kabuki Warriors were the team of Kairi Sane and Asuka. This team was briefly managed by former WWE Superstar, Paige. Paige initially introduced The Kabuki Warriors to us on an episode of SmackDown on April 16th 2019. A feud ensued between The Kabuki Warriors and the WWE Women’s Tag-Team Champions at the time, Billie Kay and Peyton Royce (The IIconic’s). This feud resulted in Kairi and Asuka becoming the No. 1 Contender’s for the WWE Women’s Tag-Team Championships. The IIconics defended their Championship’s on an episode of SmackDown a number of months later and retained the titles due to getting themselves counted out of the match.
This wasn’t the end of the Warriors’ Championship dreams, though. In October 2019, the upcoming pay-per-view event was Hell in a Cell, The Kabuki Warriors had earned a Championship opportunity against the Womens Tag-Team Champions at that time, Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss.
Winning the Women’s Tag-Team Championships
On October 6th 2019, The WWE Women’s Champions, Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss, defended their Championships against the team of Kairi Sane and Asuka. Kairi and Asuka came into this match with a mean streak, expectedly so. As a team, Kairi and Asuka were very effective in this match in taking control of the Champions and maintaining that control. There were a number of quick tags between The Kabuki Warriors, which kept both members relatively fresh throughout the match. Kairi and Asuka would not let that be the case for Cross and Bliss as they approached this match with a ground and pound aspect.
Cross and Bliss soon looked to double team and potentially take Kairi out of action whilst on the outside. Luckily for Kairi, Asuka delved back into the fray just in time, as she kicked Bliss right in the head, knocking Bliss’ lights out. The match was back in the favour of The Kabuki Warriors.
Asuka continued to brawl with Bliss outside of the ring. When the match made its way back into the ring, Asuka tagged Kairi in. Kairi launched Bliss into the corner turnbuckle then, in her signature fashion, began to ‘walk the plank’ before driving a running elbow into the face of Alexa Bliss.
Cross then started to distract the referee just seconds before Kairi went for a pin fall attempt. The referee may have been looking away, but the crowd counted the pin with the Pirate Princess. If the referee had been counting, there would have been new Tag-Team Champions at that point in the match without a shadow of a doubt!
As the match went on, Kairi attempted a number of her ‘In-Sane elbow’ drops but Alexa Bliss continued to get her knees up just in time to avoid disaster. When Kairi was down after some retaliation from Bliss, Asuka used her years of in ring experience to pull Kairi towards the corner and made the tag herself. Asuka battled with Cross, who had just been tagged in. After multiple kicks and forearm strikes from both competitors, we saw Kairi Sane running on the outside of the ring towards Alexa Bliss. Asuka has been knocked to the ground by Cross in the middle of the ring. Kairi had made her way to Bliss and was holding Bliss down so that she couldn’t move. This was all part of a masterplan by The Kabuki Warriors, as we would go on to see.
Cross lifted Asuka up in hopes of ending the match. Asuka responded by spitting green mist into the face of Nikki Cross! A tactic that we had not seen in the WWE in a very long time! This tactic was extremely effective, as the unexpecting Nikki Cross was now blinded. Asuka kicked Cross directly in the face to pick up the pin-fall victory!
Along with her fellow Kabuki Warrior, Asuka, Kairi Sane has cracked open yet another treasure chest containing Championship gold.
There are a lot of rumours going around that once Kairi returns to Japan, she will retire from professional wrestling. At the end of the day, that is Kairi’s decision. At the time of writing this, Kairi is 31 years of age. It has been documented that Kairi has suffered a number of injuries as of late. If Kairi choses to wrestle again, great! If not, she has her whole life ahead of her with her husband by her side and hopefully she can live relatively pain-free. No matter what happens, Kairi Sane has left us with unforgettable matches and moments that we can relive at any time via the WWE Network. It is hard to believe that this has only been a three year run, simply because of how much Kairi Sane has achieved in such a short amount of time. May the Pirate Princess now set sail one final time.
Thank You, Kairi Sane.