AEW’s Women’s Championship Eliminator Tournament will see 16 women will compete to become the number one contender for Hikaru Shida’s Women’s Title.The tournament will take place on two continents, with matches held in the United States and Japan.
Here we take a look at the competitors, starting with the Japanese side of the draw:
Better known as ASUKA in Japan – a name she won’t be using in this tournament for obvious reasons, Veny has been part of the women’s Japanese wrestling scene since 2015.In 2020 she won both the World Women Pro-Wrestling Diana World Title and the Independent World Junior Heavyweight Championship.She lost the latter of these titles to Shota in DDT on Boxing Day 2020.
At 4 foot 10 inches tall, Suruga will be the shortest competitor involved in the tournament and at 21 years old, also the youngest.Primarily competing these days for Gatoh Move Pro-Wrestling, she is currently one half of the Asia Dream Tag Team Champions with partner Baliyan Akki.Suruga made her professional wrestling debut in 2018; she was trained by fellow tournament entrant Emi Sakura.
Wrestling since 2016, Kadokura was trained by Chigusa Nagayo of the AJW Dojo.Competing around the Japanese women’s circuit Kadokura wrestles for several companies including Marvelous and Pro-Wrestling WAVE.She’s a current WAVE Tag Team Champion with Itsuki Aoki, a title they have held since January 2021.
“Hello Motherf*****s” was Itoh’s statement on social media following the announcement of her participation in the tournament.This seemed to endear her to AEW EVP Cody Rhodes who says he wants her to win.Wrestling for Tokyo Joshi Pro-Wrestling she is a former International Princess Champion.Itoh also performs as part of the Japanese ‘idol’ group Tokiwoikiru.
Ryo Mizunami will be making her return to AEW having competed in the six-woman tag team match at Double Or Nothing 2019.She teamed with Riho and current AEW Women’s Champion Hikaru Shida to defeat Aja Kong, Emi Sakura, and Yuka Sakazaki.Mizunami is a 16-year veteran who has competed in various promotions around Japan.Her most recent championship came in 2018 when she won her second Regina di WAVE Championship in Pro Wrestling WAVE.
No stranger to AEW fans, Sakura will be competing for the company for the first time since December 2019.Sakura has been wrestling for a quarter of a century and has held a plethora of championships including the AJW and the IWA Triple Crown titles.Sakura is also a wrestling trainer, she has helped train numerous Joshi wrestlers in Japan including Mei Suruga and Riho.
Kong is a legend of professional wrestling.A 34-year veteran she is by far the most experienced competitor in the tournament.She won her first championship in 1988 and has held dozens of titles during her career, including holding the OZ Academy Tag Team titles with current AEW Women’s Champion, Hikaru Shida.Kong wrestled one match for WWE at Survivor Series 1995.Teaming with Bertha Faye, Lioness Asuka, and Tomoko Watanabe, they would defeat a team led by Alundra Blayze including Chaparita Asari, Kyoko Inoue, and Sakie Hasegawa.
Another familiar face to AEW fans, Sakazaki last competed for the company in February 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down international travel.Sakazaki also competes for Tokyo Joshi Pro-Wrestling where she is a two-time Princess of Princess Champion.‘The Magical Girl’ had her biggest victory in All Elite Wrestling when she defeated Dr. Britt Baker on AEW Dynamite in early 2020.
The United States side of the draw has a real international flavour to it. Here we look at the eight women competing in AEW’s Women’s Championship Eliminator Tournament in the States:
Deeb is currently the reigning NWA Women’s World Champion.She made her AEW debut in September 2020 losing to the women she would eventually defeat for her title, Thunder Rosa.Previously, Serena Deeb had worked as a coach at the WWE Performance Center since 2017 and had competed in the Mae Young Classic tournament.WWE fans may recognise Deeb for her run as a member of CM Punk’s Straight Edge Society in 2010.She famously had her head shaved by Punk on SmackDown by way of initiation to join the group.
Riho was the first AEW Women’s Champion and she competes in this tournament with the aim of reclaiming that crown.Famously making her debut in professional wrestling at the age of 9, Riho has more experience than most for a 23-year-old.Riho would lose the AEW Women’s Championship to Nyla Rose in February 2020.She also competes for the Stardom promotion in Japan where she is also a former High Speed Champion.
Dr. Britt Baker has been at the heart of the women’s division in All Elite Wrestling since the inception of the company.She would win the first women’s match in company history at Double Or Nothing 2019, defeating Awesome Kong, Nyla Rose, and Kylie Rae in a four-way match.A 5-year professional wrestler, Baker now hosts her own talk show segment on AEW programming, ‘The Waiting Room.’
Tay Conti is a martial arts expert with a black belt in judo and a blue belt in Brazilian ju-jitsu.A native of Brazil, Conti made her debut in AEW as part of another tournament – the AEW Women’s Tag Team Cup.Teaming with her ally, Anna Jay, the two would lose in the semi-final of this competition to eventual winners Diamante and Ivelisse.Prior to this Tay Conti competed in NXT as Taynara Conti.She wrestled there from 2017 until her release in early 2020 as part of budget cuts by WWE.
Hirsch may be the underdog in the competition, at least in the US half of the draw.Hirsch only made her debut in AEW in autumn 2020.In that match, she lost to the woman she’d hope to face by winning this tournament – Hikaru Shida.In her short career, she has competed for CZW, wXw in Europe, and for Stardom in Japan.
Anna Jay listened in June of 2020 following a thrashing from Abadon when Brodie Lee told her “join the Dark Order.”Upon joining the group, 22-year old Jay’s career has gone from strength to strength.In one of the most infamous moments on AEW television, Jay would choke out Brandi Rhodes following Dark Order’s beat down of the Nightmare Family.Following this, Jay had the nickname ‘Queen Slayer’ bestowed upon her by Brodie Lee.Having only a handful of matches before joining AEW, Jay is the least experienced competitor in the tournament.
‘The Native Beast’ Nyla Rose is another former AEW Women’s Champion entering the tournament.Rose would win the championship from inaugural champion Riho in February 2020.She would lose the title three months later at Double Or Nothing to current champion Hikaru Shida.Rose has been dominant in AEW, now aligned with Vickie Guerrero, she will be hoping to lie, cheat or steal her way to victory in the Women’s Championship Eliminator Tournament.
Thunder Rosa made her AEW debut in September of 2020 as the reigning NWA Women’s World Champion.She would face Hikaru Shida in a ‘champion v champion’ match at All Out 2020 where she would lose to the AEW Women’s Champion.The following month Rosa would also lose her NWA Women’s World Championship to fellow tournament competitor, Serena Deeb.Thunder Rosa has also competed in mixed martial arts for Combate Americas.She lost her one and only fight so far in November 2019.Thunder Rosa will be looking for success in the tournament and hoping to take ultimately take the title back to the graveyards of Tijuana, Mexico.
The first round kicks off on AEW Dynamite with ‘Legit’ Leyla Hirsch taking on Thunder Rosa in the first round. Keep an eye out on AEW Dynamite and here at Inside The Ropes for the latest from the tournament, including dates and the all-important brackets.