KAIRI discusses her run in WWE, tagging with Asuka, travel woes, transition to main roster

Prior to the revelation of her return to STARDOM, KAIRI sat down with Proresu TODAY to discuss her time living in the U.S. as a part of WWE

Photo Courtesy: WWE

KAIRI looks back at her time as a part of WWE.

During the STARDOM press conference today, it was revealed KAIRI (Kairi Sane) is returning to the promotion and she is scheduled to make her in-ring return on March 26th. She’ll also be competing on the 27th of March and both of those events are emanating from Ryōgoku Sumo Hall.

KAIRI joined WWE in early 2017 and it was in the summer of 2020 that she opted to return to Japan, but she remained under contract with WWE. Prior to her return to STARDOM, KAIRI chatted with Proresu TODAY and had an extensive conversation about her time living in the U.S. and her run in the sports-entertainment company.

In part one of the interview, KAIRI shared that there were times when she grew frustrated because she felt her English did not come off well while talking on-screen. She added that she practiced her English quite often in class at NXT.

There were times like that, but there were also times when I was so frustrated that my English didn’t come out right in the actual performance, even though I had practiced a lot in the microphone performance class at NXT, that I cried.

In KAIRI’s first year with WWE, she won the first-ever Mae Young Classic tournament. She would win her first championship in the company one year later at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 4 where she bested Shayna Baszler. She expressed that the period before she became champion was the most stressful.

She felt that by her coming into WWE and winning the Mae Young Classic right off the bat, it raised the bar for her which led to her feeling the pressure.

The period before I became champion was the most difficult for me mentally. I won the Mae Young Classic right after I came to the U.S., so the bar was raised from the start, and that put a lot of pressure on me.

KAIRI joined WWE’s main roster coming out of WrestleMania 35 in 2019. She was paired up with Asuka and they formed ‘The Kabuki Warriors’ that was initially managed by Paige. In part two, the former Women’s Tag Team Champion said the turnaround for her coming to the main roster was quick.

She was informed the day before her debut that she needed to be at the venue. KAIRI immediately went to Io Shirai and hugged her. It was mentioned in the interview piece that KAIRI did not get to spend as much time with Io in WWE that she would’ve liked.

They told me out of the blue. They told me the day before. There’s nothing from the coach, and all of a sudden they text me and say, ‘Come to the SmackDown venue tomorrow.’ So I didn’t get on the NXT bus and went straight to hug Io [Shirai]. We both cried.

She then dove into the travel woes that she experienced on the road. She explained that NXT was more of a family atmosphere and they traveled and ate together. On the main roster, there were occasions when KAIRI would have to travel alone. She added that if talents were late to the venue, they would be fined.

NXT is like a family where you work together as a group and eat together and go to hotels together, but WWE’s Raw and SmackDown are the complete opposite. You have to check out the next venue on the map and drive there by yourself. You may arrive at 3:00 in the evening or fly at 4:00 in the evening. If you are late, you will be fined.

She went on to tell the story of when she was driving to the next city and she caught a flat tire on the highway in the middle of the night. She could not change the tire, so she drove slowly to a gas station to put air in the tire, drove back to the rental car agency and slept until they were open and could assist her.

I got a flat tire while driving on the highway in the middle of the night. I couldn’t change the tire, so I had to drive slowly, go to a gas station to put air in the tire, go back to the rental car agency, sleep until they opened, and then have them change the flat tire in the morning.

During her time teaming with Asuka, they captured the Women’s Tag Team Titles on one occasion. KAIRI thoroughly enjoyed teaming with Asuka and was surprised that they were so well received by the crowd because they were supposed to be heels.

I was happy from the bottom of my heart [teaming with Asuka]. I was really happy. It was great fun. I was very nervous at first, and she was a big senior and someone I admired. I was very nervous, but she was very kind and friendly, and said with a smile, ‘If you have any questions, just ask!’

Since I was a heel, I thought I would be booed more, but I was surprised at how many people cheered me on. I think people accepted our new style, or the fact that we broke new ground.

We had a lot of fun doing it, and we laughed a lot backstage. Even when we had problems like the ones I mentioned earlier, we laughed about them when we were together.

She dove into the presentation of her on-screen character. She is comfortable with adapting to other people’s styles and in regards to her team with Asuka, she was thinking about what would be best for them as a unit.

KAIRI had a conversation with Paul Heyman and asked him about changing the image of the Kabuki Warriors from pirates to more of a Japanese style of presentation to give her and Asuka a sense of unity.

I’ve worked with a lot of people in the past, but I like to adapt to their style. I often think about what kind of tag team would be comfortable for both [wrestlers], and what would bring out the best in their characters. So I talked to Paul Heyman about changing the image of the Kabuki Warriors from pirates to Japanese style, to give them a sense of unity.

KAIRI later added that she appreciates how many times strangers have helped her in the U.S. She stated that there were many times when she was lost and would be guided by someone she didn’t know. In return, whenever she sees a foreigner in Japan that appears to need help, she does her best to assist them.

On the 2/18 POST Daily News Show, John Pollock will be joined by Karen Peterson to chat KAIRI’s return to STARDOM.

About Andrew Thompson 8443 Articles
A Washington D.C. native and graduate of Norfolk State University, Andrew Thompson has been covering wrestling since 2017.