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Previewing the AEW Women's Eliminator
Submitted by Damn Fine Wrestling on 02/04/2021 at 12:05 PM


By JDB

Last night, All Elite Wrestling finally unveiled the participants for their highly anticipated Women’s Eliminator. The winner will get to face off against current title holder Hikaru Shida for the AEW Women’s Championship.

While there are aspects of this eliminator to comment on, as a longtime fan of Joshi Puroresu, I want to do AEW a solid here and run down exactly who is in this tournament for those who may not know the Japanese side.

Last night seemed to be an indication that the women’s division will (finally) no longer fly under the radar of AEW. From a magnifique matchup between Thunder Rosa and Britt Baker, to a believable hype package for Jade Cargill, the time has hopefully come for this division to be thrust into the spotlight. (We’ll see what happens over the next few weeks of course)

With that, here is a rundown of participants for this illustrious tournament.

JAPAN

Aja Kong
Age: 50
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
Height/Weight: 5’5 | 227 pounds
Promotion: Freelancer, known for All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling
Accomplishments: Too many to count…
Finisher: Uraken (Spinning Backfist), Brainbuster
Notables: Considered one of the best women’s wrestlers of all time. A legend in the industry right up there with the likes of Manami Toyota.

Yuka Sakazaki
Age: 23
Birthplace: South Town, Japan
Height/Weight: 5’2 | 128 pounds
Promotion: Tokyo Joshi Pro/AEW
Accomplishments: Princess of Princess Champion (TJP)
Finisher: Magic Girl Splash
Notables: Trained in the DDT Dojo, Yuka is considered to be one of the brightest up-and-comers in Japanese women’s wrestling today. Yuka is the total package, both in wrestling ability and charisma. She is best known in America for her time in AEW.

Veny (Asuka)
Age: 22
Birthplace: Yokohama, Japan
Height/Weight: 5’9 | 148 pounds
Promotion: Freelancer
Accomplishments: World Woman Pro World Champion, x3 DDT Ironman Heavy Metal Champion
Finishers: Moonsault Press, Shooting Star Press
Notables: VENY, (known as ‘Asuka’ in Japan) was trained by legend Ayako Hamada. She is the first transgender wrestler from Japan.

Emi Sakura
Age: 44
Birthplace: Chiba, Japan
Height/Weight: 5’2 | 154 pounds
Promotion: Gatoh Move
Accomplishments: Too many to count…
Finishers: La Magistral, Tiger Driver
Notables: Co-Founder Ice Ribbon promotion, current owner of Gatoh Move Wrestling out of Bangkok, Thailand. Known in America for her matches in AEW. A ring savvy veteran with 25 years of wrestling experience.

Ryo Mizunami
Age: 32
Birthplace: Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
Height/Weight: 5’3 | 147 pounds
Promotion: Freelancer
Accomplishments: Held championships in JWP, NEO, WAVE, and many others.
Finishers: Fire Thunder Tombstone (Hot Limit), Dragon Suplex
Notables: Mizunami comes as not an underdog, but a largely underrated wrestler in this field of 8. As a freelancer, she has made appearances in Gatoh Move, SEAdLINNNG, Ice Ribbon, and Sendai Girls.

Mei Suruga
Age: 21
Birthplace: Kyoto, Japan
Height/Weight: 4’10 | Unknown
Promotion: Gatoh Move
Accomplishments: Current Asia Dream Team Tag Champion with Baliyan Akki
Finishers: Propeller Clutch, Houkiboshi
Notables: The youngest of the group, Mei has superstar potential and a bright career ahead. She is trained by Emi Sakura and should be easily adored by AEW fans.

Rin Kadokura
Age: 27
Birthplace: Chiba, Japan
Height/Weight: 5’1 | Unknown
Promotion: Marvelous That’s Women’s Pro Wrestling
Accomplishments: Current WAVE Tag Team Champion
Finishers: Death Valley Bomb, Double Wrist Armsault
Notables: Not much is known about Rin on my end, but this Marvelous trainee debuted in 2016 against Ayako Hamada. It remains to be seen if she’ll make an impact in the women’s eliminator.

Maki Itoh
Age: 25
Birthplace: Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan
Height/Weight: 5’3 | Unknown
Promotion: Tokyo Joshi Pro
Accomplishments: International Princess Champion, DDT HMW Champion
Finishers: Flying Bighead, Ito Special (Texas Cloverleaf)
Notables: Dubbed the “Cutest Pro Wrestler” she has recently taken to love the word “motherf***er”. This Japanese idol/pop star is making waves in the scene as one of the more entertaining joshi talents on the planet. She sings in the idol group Tokiwoikiru.

Preview: The Japanese side is pretty well-stacked, though my heart wanted a few from from Stardom. This is a solid showing, and some names do stand out. Matchups have been released via Maki Itoh's Twitter page, and breaking down these matchups, I could see Maki Itoh and Yuka meeting in the semifinals as TJP wrestlers.

Prediction: I see Emi Sakura and Ryo Mizunami making the quarterfinals with Maki Itoh and Yuka Sakazaki. While Emi vs. Yuka in the semifinals might be predictable, as they are both signed to AEW, it makes the most sense given the bracket. Yuka recently dropped her long held Princess of Princess Champion last month. This frees her up to be a larger part of the AEW roster.

Winner: Yuka Sakazaki

UNITED STATES

Serena Deeb
Age: 34
Birthplace: Oakton, Virginia
Height/Weight: 5’4 | 128 pounds
Promotion: All Elite Wrestling
Accomplishments: Current NWA Women’s Champion, OVW Women’s Champion
Finishers: Belly-to-Belly Suplex, Spear
Notables: Known best for her time in the Straight Edge Society in WWE, Deeb has made a name for herself as a premier women’s wrestling talent as NWA Women’s Champion. She would be considered a heavy favorite were she not taking on Riho in the first round.

Riho
Age: 23
Birthplace: Shinagawa City, Japan
Height/Weight: 5’1 | 99 pounds
Promotion: All Elite Wrestling
Accomplishments: First ever AEW Women’s Champion, IWA Triple Crown Champion
Finishers: 619, Diving Elbow Drop
Notables: Trained by Emi Sakura, Riho was the first ever AEW Women’s Champion. She has made other appearances in Ice Ribbon, DDT, Gatoh Move, and of course, Stardom.

Britt Baker
Age: 29
Birthplace: Punxsatawney, Pennsylvania
Height/Weight: 5’7 | Unknown
Promotion: All Elite Wrestling
Accomplishments: Zelo Pro Women’s Champion, IWC Women’s Champion
Finishers: Lockjaw, Baker Buster
Notables: Trained by Candice LaRae, Baker has become the face of the AEW Women’s Division. She should be the odds-on favorite to win. Baker is simply a joy to watch in and out of the ring, and is the clear flagbearer for the company's women's divison.

Tay Conti
Age: 25
Birthplace: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Height/Weight: 5’6 | 125 pounds
Promotion: All Elite Wrestling
Accomplishments: Trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, trained by Sara Amato (WWE). Holds a black belt in judo.
Finishers: Step-Up Rolling Cross Armbar, Gory Special Into Knee Strike
Notables: Tay has been a force in AEW as of late. Still a little green in the business, she has seen vast improvements since making the jump to AEW from NXT. Conti’s stock keeps rising, as her in-ring ability keeps improving.

Thunder Rosa
Age: 34
Birthplace: Tijuana Baja California, Mexico
Height/Weight: 5’3 | 119 pounds
Promotion: All Elite Wrestling
Accomplishments: Lucha Underground Trios Champion, NWA Women’s Champion
Finishers: La Rosa, Snake Sleeper
Notables: Another strong entry into this tournament, Thunder Rosa is a seasoned veteran who should be considered one of the best wrestlers in North America right now. Her feud with Britt Baker will no doubt leak into the eliminator.

Nyla Rose
Age: 38
Birthplace: Washington, D.C.
Height/Weight: 5’9 | 169 pounds
Promotion: All Elite Wrestling
Accomplishments: AEW and WOW Women’s Champion
Finishers: Camel Clutch, STF
Notables: Was the first transgender wrestler signed to a major U.S. wrestling promotion. Currently managed by Vicki Guererro. Always a favorite to win in any contest or tournament.

Anna Jay
Age: 22
Birthplace: Brunswick, Georgia
Height/Weight: 5’8 | 143 pounds
Promotion: All Elite Wrestling
Accomplishments: None. Yet…
Finishers: Scissors Kick, Bicycle Kick
Notables: A lot of potential for Anna Jay, as this young talent only had her first pro wrestling match in late 2019. Trained by Glacier and QT Marshall, she comes in as a fan-favorite due to her alliance to the Dark Order.

Leyla Hirsch
Age: 25
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Height/Weight: 4’11 | 125 pounds
Promotion: All Elite Wrestling
Accomplishments: #473 in PWI’s Top 500
Finishers: Cross Armbar, Diving Moonsault
Notables: Leyla trained in the CZW Dojo with DJ Hyde, which makes her a bit dangerous. Leyla is still very young, and should have a successful future in the industry. She reminds everyone of the female version of Taz.

Preview: The U.S. side shapes up pretty well. My only complaints come in the form of the talent that is getting left behind for this tournament. Shanna has a solid 2021 record, and should have been included in the eliminator. I could make a case for Abadon, Ivelisse, Big Swole, and Red Velvet as well. Still, this is a very solid 8, and it should make for great matchups.

Prediction: I think it’s clear that Hirsch, Anna Jay, and Conti are there to be ousted in the first round. While I think it would be great to have Hirsch or Conti tap out Nyla Rose in a first round upset, I don’t see the quarterfinals as anything but Rose, Rosa, Baker and Riho. I’ve got Baker and Rosa in the semifinals to continue their feud.

Winner: Thunder Rosa

Finals: Thunder Rosa vs. Yuka Sakazaki

Winner: Thunder Rosa

While everything thinks this is Britt Baker’s time (and it should be), I think Rosa will overcome the odds to face Yuka in the finals, and WIN. Thunder Rosa has experience working for Tokyo Joshi Pro, specifically in matches with Yuka. These two should be able to have a great finals leading to Rosa getting a shot at Hikaru Shida. This could lead to a win for Rosa and a future AEW Women's Championship match between Baker and Rosa.

While no official matches other than Riho/Deeb have been announced, I would assume we're getting the 7 matches on the U.S. side over the next few weeks of Dynamite, with the Japanese side either pre-recorded and pushed on AEW Dark, or multiple YouTube channels. Beyond recaps, I don't see AEW showing full matches on the Japan side on Dynamite -- though I would welcome it with open arms.

In conclusion, I just want this to be the start of AEW continuing to make their women's division feel important. It should even be noted that talents from Mexico (Rosa), Russia (Hirsch) and Brazil (Conti) are participating, making this a true global contest. Ultimately, AEW has the opportunity to not just create an important women's eliminator, but set the groundwork for the future of their women's division.

I would love to see multiple stories play out in this tournament beyond Baker and Rosa -- whether that's Tay Conti joining the Dark Order, friction between Nyla Rose and Vicki Guererro in an upset loss, or perhaps an outsider starting beef with a competitor in the tournament. It's not necessary, but the more stories woven into the women's division, the better.

Either way, I am ready for this eliminator, and suffice it to say, I can't wait, motherf***ers.






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