Top Japanese Champion Rumoured To Make Royal Rumble Appearance [POTENTIAL SPOILER]

WWE Royal Rumble

With the news that Sasha Banks is heading to Japan, it has now been reported that a top Japanese star could potentially be going in the opposite direction for the Royal Rumble.

Banks is set to appear at Wrestle Kingdom 17 in January 2023, although she is not expected to wrestle. However, it is believed that she will be setting up a future clash with the IWGP Women’s Champion. On the card, inaugural champion KAIRI will defend her title against Tam Nakano. The championship is a new joint endeavour between New Japan and STARDOM, with KAIRI winning the championship following a tournament at Historic X-Over on November 20th.

KAIRI Heading To The Royal Rumble?

Writing in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer discussed Banks’ upcoming appearances and how they play into the IWGP Women’s Championship picture. Meltzer dismisses rumours that Banks was supposed to be the inaugural champion. However, plans regarding the first champion were changed, with KAIRI winning instead of Mayu Iwatani. This was due to contractual issues with Iwatani, and the desire to have the title regularly featured in the United States.

Interestingly, prior to the decision being taken to make KAIRI champion, there was speculation that she could have been set for a surprise appearance in the 2023 Royal Rumble. KAIRI previously worked with WWE from 2017 until 2021 under the name Kairi Sane.

“An interesting part of that story is that it had been rumored Kairi would be in this year’s Royal Rumble, but those rumors were prior to the decision changing with her getting the IWGP women’s title, which could change the dynamic.

KAIRI signed with WWE in March 2017, initially competing in the first ever Mae Young Classic. The “Pirate Princess” ended up winning the tournament following victories over the likes of Bianca Belair, Dakota Kai, Toni Storm and Shayna Baszler.

Under the name Kairi Sane made her NXT debut that October, reigniting her feud with Baszler the following year. The highlight of her run on the black and gold brand came against her long-time rival at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn IV where she defeated Baszler to win the NXT Women’s Championship. Although her run with the gold lasted only 71 days as he lost out to Baszler at Evolution.

Sane moved to the SmackDown roster in 2019 where she joined Asuka to form the Kabuki Warriors tag team with Paige as their manager. The pair were WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions for 171 days.

The star last wrestled for WWE in July 2020.