AEW News

Hikaru Shida Claims She Is “Struggling To Survive In The Current AEW”

Hikaru Shida

Former AEW Women’s Champion Hikaru Shida detailed the struggles she faces in the ever-changing landscape of AEW.

Japanese wrestling superstar Hikaru Shida reigned as AEW Women’s Champion for just over a year, beginning when she defeated Nyla Rose at Double or Nothing 2020 in a No DQ match. After defending against the likes of Thunder Rosa, Tay Conti, and Ryo Mizunami, her record-breaking reign came to end at the hands of Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. at the 2021 edition of Double or Nothing.

Hikaru Shida has spoken in the past about her frustrations during her championship run, which took place during the pandemic era of wrestling that saw fans restricted from shows due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns.

Now, in an interview for the Japanese publication Weekly Pro Wrestling, Hikaru Shida detailed her experiences in the ever-changing landscape of AEW and says that it’s much harder to survive as a Japanese wrestler in the current environment than it was when she first joined the company.

“AEW is an organization that is constantly changing, and the wrestlers come and go very rapidly. TV and YouTube. If you’ve been following AEW on FITE TV or YouTube, you’ll know that the women’s division in particular has seen an increase in the number of young and dynamic wrestlers over the past year.

“At the time of the launch, the women’s division of AEW relied heavily on Japanese female pro wrestlers, and that was one of the selling points of the division. But that was only for a while after the launch. Nowadays, being a Japanese female pro wrestler is not as much of an advantage as it used to be.

“On the contrary, it has become more of a handicap in terms of language barrier, obtaining a work visa, and the Corona disaster. I myself am no exception to this, and even as a member of the AEW since its inception and a former Women’s Champion, I am struggling to survive in the current AEW.”

Hikaru Shida also made note that while AEW gives its wrestlers a lot of freedom to do their own thing, the responsibility of making her way in a new country with very little assistance was daunting. She spoke about her friend Emi Sakura overcoming similar difficulties but still not being heavily featured on TV after moving to America.

“In AEW, there is a high degree of freedom for the wrestlers, but because of that, everything is their responsibility. For example, there is basically no assistance from the organization in finding a place to live, even if you are Japanese. That’s how it was for me.

“So when I heard that Emi Sakura was moving to the U.S., I was worried. I’ve been studying English since I was a child, and I speak English better than most people think, but I still had a lot of trouble. Sakura, on the other hand, was at a level where even daily conversation was questionable.

“Even so, she found a room on her own and is desperately trying to seize the opportunity at AEW. But even though she came to America with such determination, she was not given a chance to participate in the TV matches. There is a fierce battle to get a chance to compete before you can show off your skills in a match. That is what AEW is today.”

Still, Hikaru Shida doesn’t believe Japanese women’s wrestling has been forgotten entirely, and believes things may change again after difficulties with COVID-19 are not such a restrictive factor.

However, AEW is an organization that is always pursuing new possibilities, and I don’t think that Japanese women’s wrestling has disappeared from that list of options. Once Corona settles down, there will be a day when AEW and Japanese women’s wrestling can interact in a new way. That being said, I would like to take this opportunity to say that even if we are able to sign a contract, it’s just the start.”

In recent weeks on AEW programming, Hikaru Shida has been embroiled in a feud with Serena Deeb. In their last encounter, Deeb was victorious after attacking Shida’s leg.