NXT Star Hasn't Signed WWE's Latest Contract Offer, Free Agent Next Month?

Unless something changes, this world-renowned star could be heading out of WWE.

Io Shirai silhouette

Io Shirai could be on the verge of becoming a free agent as she hasn't yet signed WWE's latest contract offer.

Dave Meltzer writes in the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter that the former NXT Women's Champion could leave the promotion next month unless something changes. The 32-year-old has reportedly told people that she wishes to return to her native Japan to be closer to her family.

Should Shirai leave WWE under these circumstances, she would be free to appear and sign for other wrestling promotions immediately. Wrestlers who depart the promotion upon their contract's expiration are not bound to a non-compete clause.


Meltzer states that there is currently no expectation within Io's old home promotion, Stardom, that she will return there. But if the two parties wanted to make that happen, there would be nothing stopping them, legally.

Shirai has been assigned to NXT for the duration of her WWE run, which commenced with her signing in spring 2017. The Japanese star, regarded as one of the best wrestlers in the world predating her time in WWE, has been sidelined through injury since April. Should she become a free agent, she will immediately be one of the most sought-after people in wrestling.


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Senior Reporter
Senior Reporter

Andy has been with WhatCulture for six years and is currently WhatCulture's Senior Wrestling Reporter. A writer, presenter, and editor with 10+ years of experience in online media, he has been a sponge for all wrestling knowledge since playing an old Royal Rumble 1992 VHS to ruin in his childhood. Having previously worked for Bleacher Report, Andy specialises in short and long-form writing, video presenting, voiceover acting, and editing, all characterised by expert wrestling knowledge and commentary. Andy is as much a fan of 1985 Jim Crockett Promotions as he is present-day AEW and WWE - just don't make him choose between the two.