2017 saw the birth of NXT’s newest Japanese star, Kairi Sane. The former World Wonder Ring standout made her American debut in the WWE’s inaugural Mae Young Classic. Her presence in the tournament was felt immediately as the indie darling won over fans and critics alike winning the Mae Young Classic and securing a spot in the Fatal Four Way match for the vacant NXT Women’s championship.
Her transition to NXT TV was flawless as she filled a much needed baby face role after the departure of Asuka. At the time of this article, she is in a program to determine the number one contender for Ember Moon’s NXT Women’s Championship.
There is no doubt in my mind that the Pirate Princess can be the NXT Women’s Champion. There is no doubt that she can be a star in NXT. There is no doubt that she could be a bonafide number one work horse just about anywhere. However, in WWE there is only one goal: to make it to the main roster. It is this eventuality where myself and my fellow compatriots at Thought From The Bench fear that everyone’s favorite Anime inspired superstar will meet her demise.
First, lets look at what makes her so special. If we look at NXT as being a fan base of the “smart” wrestling fans, then its easy to understand how Kairi Sane could be as over as any other indie darling. Her work rate is on par with all other amazing Japanese performers, her elbow drop would make Randy Savage jealous and oh yeah, she is a FUCKING PIRATE! How bad ass is that?
Now, lets take a look at what maybe holding her back.
First and foremost is unfortunately, her nationality. The challenge integrating to an American audience is enough to sink her ship. The WWE has had its fair share of Japanese stars come through and not once has their been a legitimate reign from one of them. It’s a shame that the gifted wrestlers from the land of the rising sun are reduced to comedy roles or will often become jobbers and fade away. Currently on the main roster are two of the greatest Japanese superstars to ever appear in WWE with Shinsuke Nakamura and Asuka. Since Nakamura’s debut, hardcore fans have been left clamoring for more than just glimpses of the King of Strong Style. Sam Roberts has said repeatedly that he thinks it’s a case of the wrong opponents. That shouldn’t be a problem for the biggest free agent from Japan ever. This is clearly an inability to get over on the undercard which in turn, could keep us from getting the Wrestle Kingdom rematch we are all clamoring for. As for Asuka, her debut has been a slow burn. She looked strong at Survivor Series, and the recent timidness shown by Absolution to attack her on RAW was a good start, but we are one crappy loss to Alicia Fox away from her going from undefeated in NXT to a losing streak Curtis Hawkins would be proud of.
The second part of Kairi Sane that has me worried is her size. In the WWE Women’s division, you do not have to be built like Charlotte to be a champion. Alexa Bliss has proven that small workers can be great champions. However Kairi’s physical structure is similar to Sasha Banks. Skinny, not very muscular, and at times appears weak by comparison. In the past, the WWE has taken Sasha Banks off TV for extended periods to give her rest because they are fearful of the toll its taking on her physically. The Legit Boss has publicly stated she did not agree with the decision, but with the WWE’s track record of burning out smaller talents quickly, you can understand why they are trying to protect one of the women’s divisions biggest draws.
The third and final reason I fear that Kairi Sane’s future with WWE is the curse of the NXT Gimmick. Its no secret that some of NXT’s brightest stars have fallen straight down the card to jobberville. Bo Dallas, The Ascension, Emma, The Vaudevillains, Tyler Breeze, and most recently Tye Dillinger all had major runs on NXT television and were huge crowd favorites. However, once the main roster came calling, their once bright star was dimmed significantly. Whether it’s the WWE fans just not taking to them or the star not being given the proper time and space to get over, the track record for “Characters” coming to the main roster is not good. NXT has been most successful bringing up more traditional wrestlers like, Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe, Seth Rollins, and Big E. The middle ground being Finn Balor, Bailey, and Bray Wyatt who have all gone through peaks and valleys. This track record seems to spell doom for someone whose entire identity is that she is a Pirate Princess.
Taking into account that Kairi is already in an uphill battle by being Japanese, being smaller than most. and then an over the top anime-style pirate gimmick, well, it’s easy to see how her future may look bleak.
In all honestly, I hope she can be the one to break the mold and prove that you can be all these things and still be a legitimate main event player in WWE. There are real examples like Mick Foley, Kane, Undertaker, Goldust, and of course The Doctor of Thuganomics. Keeping in mind that John Cena, The Undertaker, and Mick Foley are all once in a life time performers who were bound to be stars, do you think Kairi Sane is on their level? Do you think in spite of a stacked deck against her, the Pirate Princess can capture WWE Main Event success? Or is she doomed to a future endeavors letter in the not so distant future?
Let us know what you think in the comments bellow. And make sure to like and subscribe so you get all of our future content Thanks for following Thoughts From the Bench Wrestling.