Io Shirai
Photo Credit: Alex Santa Maria

Io Shirai Retains NXT Women’s Title Against Candice LeRae At WWE NXT TakeOver 31, Gets Challenged By Toni Storm

At WWE NXT TakeOver 31, Io Shirai defended the NXT Women’s Championship in a match where LeRae hoped to cement her spot as a top competitor in NXT’s women’s division. Shirai took control early on, and LeRae went to the outside to regroup. LeRae gained the upper hand with a springboard dive off the apron, but Shirai fired back with one of her own. LeRae grounded the champion and dominated a stretch of the match. The challenger tossed LeRae around the ring and planted her with a suplex for a two count.

Shirai rallied and stomped LeRae in the midsection. The champion hit a 619 and a springboard dropkick for a two count. LeRae slammed Shirai face-first into the mat. A double-underhook backbreaker gave Shirai some momentum, but LeRae powerbombed Shirai. A German suplex dropped LeRae, but the challenger hit Shirai with one of her own. LeRae locked in the Gargano Escape, but Shirai reached the ropes. LeRae accidentally hit the referee, and Shirai planted her with an Air Raid Crash. LeRae countered a moonsault, and Shirai accidentally blindsided the referee. Johnny Gargano ran to the ring wearing a referee shirt and tried to fast count a pin, but Shirai still kicked out.

Gargano got the title, and the referee argued with him. He distracted the referee while LeRae hit Shirai with the title, but the champion still kicked out. Shirai hit a Spanish Fly and a moonsault for the win. After the match, Toni Storm appeared on the video screen. She said she’s going to remind everyone it’s always Toni Time, and she told Shirai she’ll see her around.

RELATED: WWE NXT TakeOver 31 Results (10/4/20)

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