According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Io Shirai turned down a spot in the inaugural Women of Honor Championship Tournament because she is still hoping to be medically cleared by WWE at some point, and the thought was that working with Ring of Honor might hurt her chances of being signed.
Shirai is arguably the top women’s wrestler on the planet in terms of in-ring ability, and the biggest name for women’s wrestling in Japan and her home promotion STARDOM. She was expected to sign with WWE in 2017 after a tryout at the Performance Center, with several conflicting reports stating that she had already agreed to the deal, but an issue was found in her medical screening that forced the company to rescind their offer. STARDOM’s number two Kairi Hojo would later debut in the Mae Young Classic as Kairi Sane and go on to win the entire tournament.
Despite Io Shirai’s absence, several names from STARDOM will compete in the Women of Honor Championship Tournament, which is already underway with the first two opening round matches available on the ROH YouTube channel. Those names include HZK, Mayu Iwatani, Kagetsu and Hana Kimura.