KAIRI is home.
It’s a pretty normal day for most people here on this wonderful Friday. Few people in the United States were awake at 4 a.m. EST for anything other than work. Yet the wrestling fans who were awake were likely awake for Stardom’s press conference. The mystery woman who had been teased for well over a month now was going to be revealed. It felt like every single day leading up to this reveal had a new guess, a new mystery, a new question as to whether it not it would be the one everyone hoped. Well seeing that I am writing this, I can tell you it was indeed the person everyone hoped to see.
— スターダム✪STARDOM (@wwr_stardom) February 18, 2022
Better known to the rest of the wrestling world as Kairi Sane in WWE, “The Pirate Princess” made her long-awaited return to Stardom. The moment she removed her hat, the excitement poured through the veins of nearly everyone watching because, after all this time, Kairi Hojo returned home. People probably screamed. Some definitely cried. The idea that KAIRI (as she will now be known as) will get to retire on her terms in the place she molded herself into one of the greats is what excites people the most.
When talent goes to WWE, you never really know if they will return to where it all started. It felt like the past six months were packed with estimations of when her contract was up from the top wrestling journalists out there. “Next month” was said more times than anyone could count. It got to the point where you had no idea if KAIRI was going to leave or just stay put as an ambassador for the company. That, more than anything, would have left fans of “The Pirate Princess” sad that her final match came against Bayley on a random episode of Monday Night Raw where there were no fans in the building due to COVID-19. KAIRI’s career finishing in WWE was never right and it certainly wasn’t right that it was in front of nobody. It was more nightmare-ish than anything else for her fans.
And that’s not to take away from what KAIRI accomplished while in WWE. The first-ever Mae Young Classic winner. NXT Women’s Champion. Probably the best WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions with Asuka. She accomplished a lot (not enough) but it was never going to be right unless she made the return to Stardom.
The fans of Stardom are ones whose love runs deeps with the promotion. Maybe they have fallen out due to the massive shift in the promotion, but that love never fully goes away. Over the last year, they have gained more fans than ever thanks to the numerous PPV events and matches that have caught the eye of wrestling media. Some have never seen what KAIRI did in the ring in her first go-around with the promotion. And if you haven’t, you should probably stop right now and go do that (I will leave some suggestions for you in a second). There’s a reality where many fans only know her work as Kairi Sane, which is all fine and good but you have never seen the true “Pirate Princess.” The one who hit spinning back fists that would jolt anyone’s skull and possibly leave them concussed in the process. The one who would break her opponents in half with a spear. The one who had phenomenal match after phenomenal match as both the World of Stardom and Wonder of Stardom Champion.
It’s that version of KAIRI that has come home. It’s that version of KAIRI that helps people fall in love with professional wrestling.
The return of KAIRI comes at a time where Stardom has never been more popular and her addition should fans of new and old to the mix. And perfect timing as it is in time for Stardom World Climax. It was announced in the press conference that KAIRI will be competing on both night one, ~ The Best ~, and night two, ~ The Top ~. It looked as though there would be no official match announcement but the one who assesses every “newcomer” to Stardom in Unagi Sayaka decided to stroll on in to give everyone who has been paying attention a fantastic laugh. Long before Sayaka could lay down a challenge, former Wonder of Stardom Champion Tam Nakano made her way into view. Not only was she excited but she came prepared. The challenge was laid down by Nakano.
— スターダム✪STARDOM (@wwr_stardom) February 18, 2022
At Stardom World Climax ~ The Best ~ (night one): KAIRI and Mayu Iwatani vs. Tam Nakano and Unagi Sayaka.
Just like that, KAIRI was back in the mix. And teaming up with Iwatani in her first match back will be the definition of a scene and a moment come March 26. A feature match added to the same show that will see Syuri defend the World of Stardom Championship against Giulia. Somehow, it almost feels this is the bigger match of Mayu Iwatani’s weekend and she’s competing for the champion on night two. Probably the biggest match of either show quite frankly. Old Stardom fans can rejoice at the fact that two-thirds of Threedom is back together and will be wrestling in the same ring. Hell, any Stardom fan of any era can rejoice at that. This is special. Everything about KAIRI being back is special no matter who wants to try and ruin it.
As KAIRI was posing for pictures to complete the press conference, the Oedo Tai trio of Natsuko Tora, Starlight Kid, and Momo Watanabe attacked. They left KAIRI laying to show that this is their promotion now before walking off. KAIRI, bless her heart, not only shook it off but was all smiles still as being home was enough. She can deal with them later. Just like that, KAIRI feels like she is part of the roster again and it took a total of 16 minutes. As she said during the press conference, she’s in the best shape of her life and it looks as though this will be an extended stay past Stardom World Climax.
It doesn’t really matter if it’s one show, one month, one year, whatever. It’s one of those moments where you’re just happy it is happening and will go along for the ride. I’ve been talking about the greatness of KAIRI and her accolades of holding title after title may not be enough to get the entire picture. Matches like her bout with Io Shirai at Stardom’s 5th Anniversary show for the World of Stardom Championship, or any of them for that matter. KAIRI’s title defense against Joshi legend Meiko Satomura. Teaming up with Yoko Bito to face the team of Thunder Rock. Fighting a young Konami in one of the best matches in either women’s careers. The list goes on and on but the importance of Stardom bringing what made them who they are today back into the fold is what will make their potential so limitless.
Bringing that history back is what makes more fans. KAIRI and Mayu Iwatani are the embodiment of Stardom’s grand history. A lot of it goes through them. The glaring hole of no Io Shirai (yet) certainly doesn’t let the core of Stardom’s original greatness fully come to the forefront buit this certainly makes the “never say never” idea much more relevant. Stardom has been great for a very long time. They’ve gone through rough patches and losses that will never be forgotten but there is a reason Stardom is where they are right now.
KAIRI helped pave the way for Stardom to be where it’s at. Now she returns home to be a part of the hard work she put in.
I could go on and on about how out-0f-this-world excited I am for KAIRI being back in wrestling, let alone Stardom. Many of her older matches will probably be watched up until her return at Stardom World Climax as a reminder of what she can do. But this is a moment for all Stardom fans to celebrate. “The Pirate Princess” is back home where she belongs. As the lights get brighter in Stardom, the greatness of a legend like KAIRI will help make them that much brighter. We’re going to see her back with Mayu Iwatani in just over a month. She’s going to probably hit a spinning back fist on Unagi that will send her to another dimension. And KAIRI will cap it all off with the best elbow drop the business has ever seen. The fans will get to see it all.
Ahoy, KAIRI. Welcome home.
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