WWE NXT’s reigning Women’s Champion Io Shirai may want to consider changing her theme to Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust”. Since Shirai’s reign as champion begun, she has conquered every challenge to her title, defeating luminaries of the division such as Rhea Ripley, whose move to RAW is being heavily teased. However, her challenger on March 10’s NXT, Toni Storm, walked into the ring as the one woman that Shirai had never gotten the better of. With Ripley’s move to the red brand imminent, Storm has a vacuum to step out of her former NXT UK rival’s shadow-she hoped to do so by heading into NXT Takeover: Stand and Deliver as women’s champion.
Io Shirai Retains Against Toni Storm
The tension between the ambitious challenger and the formidable champion was palpable as the two entered the ring. Storm and Shirai locked up, grappled, both athletes reading each other and looking for an opening. Storm made the first offensive mood, striking Shirai. Shirai responded by tackling her and unleashing a hail of punches on Storm. Storm struck back, and both Shirai and Storm got on their feet and traded strikes and kicks. Storm cannonballed into Shirai, knocking the champion out of ring.
Storm prepared a flying assault, but Shirai struck, aiming kicks and a knee strike at Storm. They once again traded blows, each trying to weaken the other. Shirai rolled Storm through in a shoulders down cover, which Storm escaped. Not deterred, Shirai quickly changed tactics, dropkicking Storm with both feet, and locking her in submission. Storm escaped Shirai’s grasp of her neck, but Shirai hit Storm with a drop that sent her outside the ring. Storm rallied, and pushed Shirai into the steel steps. Storm slapped Shirai, and the two brawled by the plexiglass barricade that separated them from the crowd.
Storm rolled Shirai back into the ring, got a cover, but Shirai kicked out at the critical moment. Storm, fired up, tossed Shirai, kicked her, and tried to submit the champion, trapping her with her thighs as she targeted her neck. Shirai got free, but Storm didn’t let up, dropping Shirai’s upper back over her knee, and attempting a flying elbow strike. Shirai rallied with a clothesline, wrapped around the ropes and delivered a kick with both feet to Storm, delivered a flying slam to Storm, and covered. Storm kicked out, but Shirai managed to roll her through shoulders down. When Storm evaded this cover, too, Shira delivered a ruthless stomp, both feet landing on Storm’s stomach. It was clear that both competitors were leaving it all in the ring, holding nothing back in the battle for the NXT Women’s title.
Shirai, the “Genius of the Sky”, took to the ropes, but Storm was having none of it and pursued, climbing the ropes and headbutting Shirai. Storm tossed Shirai, followed it up with forearm strikes, and a bridge cover. Shirai escaped, and as the Storm and Shirai got back on their feet, Storm targeted Shirai’s neck with a series of strikes.
Storm tried her signature Storm drop, but Shirai got hold of her first and hit a back drop. Shirai climbed and executed a moonsault, both women landing sprawled outside the ring, making it back in the ring within the count of seven. Shirai took to the post again, but Storm halted her air assault and slammed her into a sit down power bomb. Shirai kicked out of Storm’s hold; she tried the maneuver again, with the same result.
Shirai punched Storm, and tried to put her in submission. Storm quickly scrambled to touch the ropes, breaking Shirai’s hold. Shirai was accelerating her assault, hitting Storm with flying knee strikes. She took to the ropes, clearly looking to finish Storm, but Storm evaded Shirai on her landing and instead managed to deliver another sit down power bomb to the champion. Storm climbed the ropes, but Shirai evaded her and got hold of her, finally managing to painfully submit Toni Storm. Though she’d given her all to the challenge, Toni Storm tapped out, and Io Shirai retained the WWE NXT Women’s Championship. Another one had indeed bit the dust, and once again Shirai had come out on top over one of the best that the NXT women’s division had to offer. However, with Ripley moving on, Toni has more leg room to show off her considerable talents, and 2021 may yet be her time to storm.
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