Potential Opponents For The New NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai

Io Shirai

Following NXT TakeOver: In Your House on Sunday, Io Shirai is the new NXT Women’s Champion. The victory opens up an avenue of brand new matches for the championship as Charlotte Flair is no longer clogging the division. And while the women’s division has over a dozen options to fight Shirai during her new reign, there are four names that really jump out for exciting feuds moving forward.

Candice LeRae

NXT TakeOver: Toronto II saw these two women go one on one following Shirai’s turn on her former friend. Many believe that Shirai and Candice LeRae had one of the best matches in all of WWE last year, and perhaps the best in the women’s division. It was 15 minutes of excellent action that could have a completely different dynamic the second time around. Io’s character has developed over time to be more of a tweener than a straight-up heel, while LeRae has left behind the underdog girl next door character to become the “Poison Pixie” who will do anything to win. A second match between the two for the NXT Women’s Championship could be the perfect feud for Shirai to kick off her title reign.

Dakota Kai


Now on to the firsts for Shirai. Despite both being highly respected in-ring performers, Io Shirai and Dakota Kai have never gone head-to-head in singles action. Kai has come into her own since her return from injury in 2019, finding comfort in her new gimmick as the vindictive, uncaring version of herself. She has been receiving the credit from the higher-ups, including Shawn Michaels who compared her relationship with Raquel Gonzalez to his with Diesel during his own career. Those are some lofty expectations that put her in the driving seat to be one of the main faces of the women’s division going forward. The prospect of a match between her and Shirai for the title is tempting for fans to anticipate. A big win in the coming weeks could move her to the front of the line to take on Shirai first.

Shotzi Blackheart

Since her signing, Shotzi Blackheart has solidified herself as one of NXT’s brightest stars (literally). Being able to separate herself from the rest in terms of being different, Shotzi’s future can only lead her to an NXT Women’s Championship opportunity soon enough. Her ability to have no regard for her own body gives her one of the more unique movesets in the division. Blackheart vs. Shirai could be one of the most anticipated matches as they have never had a chance to tangle before. The dynamic of the over the top Blackheart and the dark, sinister Shirai would lead to a match that could have fans walking away wanting even more.

Tegan Nox

Photo: WWE

The most appealing feud for Io Shirai comes via “The Girl with the Shiniest Wizard.” Tegan Nox has yet to receive an NXT Women’s Championship match in her career due to various injuries that held her away from the brand. However, with her injuries being behind her, it may be time for her to rise to the main event, and facing Shirai could be perfect. What is most interesting about a potential match-up is looking back at the second Mae Young Classic in 2018. Had Nox not suffered the injury to her knee, Shirai and Nox were destined to face off in the semifinals. With that match not going down, a chance to hold if for the NXT Women’s Championship would absolutely be the next best thing. Nox vs. Shirai is a match that will eventually come, it’s just a question as to how long NXT will hold it off. When it does happen, excellence should follow between the two.

There has yet to be word on what could be in store for Rhea Ripley, who has suffered a fall from grace after her epic end of 2019. She could always step up to face Shirai sooner rather than later. But what she is in need of is some big wins under her belt before even sniffing the NXT Women’s Championship any time soon. These four women above very well make up perfect opponents for Shirai moving forward with a number of others also on the roster to follow up.

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