Io Shirai has an official opponent for NXT TakeOver 31 - and her name is Candice LeRae.
This was confirmed when LeRae won a battle royal to be crowned number one contender to Shirai's NXT Women's Championship on last night's show. Candice, Indi Hartwell, Kacy Catanzaro, Dakota Kai, and Shotzi Blackheart comprised the final five, with Rhea Ripley and Raquel Gonzalez knocking each other out of the ring after dominating long periods, and LeRae attacking rival Tegan Nox before the bout to put her out of contention.
It eventually boiled down to LeRae and Blackheart. Both looked to be on a precarious position on the ring steps, though Candice was able to counter Shotzi and send her flipping to the floor, scoring the victory. She celebrated with husband Johnny Gargano after the bell.
LeRae vs. Shirai was the first match to be scheduled for TakeOver 31, which goes down on 4 October. Kyle O'Reilly vs. NXT Champion Finn Balor was confirmed later in the show.
Shirai and LeRae have shared an NXT ring many times, though they have only gone one on one twice: in August and October 2019. Both characters have come a long way since then, making this a fresh, exciting pairing.
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WhatCulture's Senior Wrestling Reporter. A fan since 1992, still geeking out for everything from WeeLC to mid '80s Jim Crockett Promotions. Give him a follow @andyhmurray. You'll have a great time. Maybe.