Former NXT Women’s Champion Kairi Sane has spoken honestly about why she decided to bring her career in WWE to a close and return to her native Japan.
Kairi Sane signed a deal with WWE in the spring of 2017 and debuted for the company that summer, going on to win the inaugural Mae Young Classic tournament. From there The Pirate Princess became a popular fixture on NXT, capturing the NXT Women’s Championship from Shayna Baszler at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 4 in August 2018.
In April 2019, Sane joined the main roster of WWE where she formed The Kabuki Warriors tag team with compatriot Asuka. Together the pair won the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship at Hell In A Cell 2019, holding the gold until WrestleMania 36 in 2020.
In July 2020, WWE announced that Kairi Sane was to return to Japan but she remained an ambassador for the company and even did some Japanese language commentary. Sane left the company when her contract expired in December 2021 and she has since returned to Stardom where she competes as KAIRI.
Speaking to Entame Next (translation via Reddit user DamieN62) Kairi Sane detailed her decision to leave WWE and says life in the US was never meant to be a long-term plan for her:
“When I left Japan in 2017, I promised my fans that I would go on a long journey, but that I would come back grown-up. I told that to President Rossy Ogawa (now Executive Producer). In the first place, my goal was to learn first-class professional wrestling, and I didn’t really intend to live permanently in the US.”
“I thought about retiring from wrestling. This is a personal story, but I lost my best friend to illness. I made a vow at her graveside and promised to make it happen: I was going to participate in WrestleMania. I wanted to make it happen for sure. Thanks to that, I was able to compete in three WrestleManias, had a title match with Asuka as Kabuki Warriors, became a champion in both NXT and WWE, and even received an award for the NXT overall competitor of the year.”
“After I moved to the U.S., my personal life was secondary to my professional life, and I was flying around and competing four times a week without a break, but then the pandemic hit, and I suddenly had time to myself. Then I took the time to do some introspection. I thought, ‘Where am I going to go from here?’ I had a sense of accomplishment that I had fulfilled my promise to my best friend and that I had done everything I could in my three years with WWE, and after several consultations with WWE, I decided to leave.”
Kairi Sane then spoke of her decision to begin wrestling once again for Stardom and says the experience she gained in WWE is getting put to good use now:
“After I returned to Japan, I had not been watching professional wrestling with much enthusiasm. But when I went to Stardom’s Budokan last year, the feeling of “I want to fight with everyone someday” came up from my heart. However, even if I were to return, it would be the first time in about two years that I would be in the ring.”
“The pacing of the matches and the rules were different from those in WWE, and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to adapt quickly. However, I had been training in the gym even when I was not competing, so I was in good physical condition.”
“Another aspect of my decision to return was that I was confident in my three years of learning and experiencing wrestling in WWE. I am proud of the fact that I once protected Stardom during a period of stagnation as a player president, I am proud of the fact that I was at the forefront of WWE women’s wrestling during its reform period, and I am proud of the fact that I have overcome both of these challenges.“