The The AEW Women’s World Championship playoff tournament has only been positive for AEW so far.
Many fans have been frustrated that female wrestlers haven’t played a larger role on AEW TV since its inception, but injuries and the pandemic have robbed the company of talent it would have used.
They have yet to show who they have, of course, but the talents of joshi – Japanese female wrestlers – had to be a big part of the division before COVID.
Now, with this eliminator tournament, AEW has one group participating in the US and one in the US, opening up opportunities for Joshi women who couldn’t travel.
Yuka Sakazaki, Emi Sakura, Aja Kong and Ryo Mizunami have progressed from the first round last week and the show has been universally praised.
With the first round of the US bracket wrapped up yesterday and the Japanese bracket slated to take place on YouTube, talkSPORT spoke to Kenny Omega, one of AEW’s biggest influences on the women’s division, to have his opinion.
“I tried to watch as much joshi wrestling as I could when I was in Japan during the decade I was there in the country. I have said in several interviews, I thank Joshi for bringing my love back to pro wrestling when I was in a drought looking for things to make me feel something, ”Omega said.
“To be able not only to have some of the athletes involved in the tournament who were in this period [he was in Japan] having deadly matches like Emi Sakura, Aja Kong and Ryo Mizunami, we also have newcomers like Yuka Sakazaki and Maki Itoh who clearly have a bright future in the professional wrestling world.
“They’re doing it the right way. Every time you see them they add something to their arsenal, they get better.
“For me on AEW – and I had seen it on TJPW, I can’t lie [laughs] – It was great to see Yuka Sakazaki making her debut with Firebird Splash, or the Magical Girl splash.
“To give these women an opportunity and for them to not only answer the call but also to overdeliver… I know they represent AEW so maybe there is a bit of bias, but for me to watching that live stream Monday and to figure it all out as everyone was taking it live, I just had a big smile on my face from ear to ear.
Omega explained that it was actually AEW Women’s Champion Hikaru Shida who brought the Japanese side of this tournament together.
“I enjoyed every minute. Every match had something unique to offer and I couldn’t have been more proud of them and I couldn’t have been more proud of Hikaru Shida, in fact.
“She really went the extra mile and put everything in place herself in Japan. These things don’t come from nothing. She really wanted to showcase more of the female wrestlers, the girls stuck in Japan, and introduce some of the women she worked with when she was freelance.
“So we had a few of the other freelancers like Veny, for example. She wrestles in Japan under the name Asuka. And Veny absolutely killed him against Emi Sakura. Just an amazing game. It gave people a taste of what they were missing, what they lacked in the world.
“It’s a shame that you can’t see all of the best things all the time every week, but I felt extremely proud to host something to let people see what is going on in this world of Joshi and how it is. our athletes. do too, ”Omega said.
Is Omega going to try and secure some of these talented women in AEW’s women’s division?
“All I can say given the global climate we’re in right now, it’s a very trying and very difficult time to make real promises, I don’t want people to hold their breath.
“But if I had my way and I could manipulate global travel schedules as I wanted [laughs] I think it would probably be a safe bet if you were to see more than one of these women on AEW TV again.
“And that will certainly always be my first interest; put these girls in the spotlight, get more TV time for our athletes. So I’m so happy that the tournament opens the eyes of a lot of people.
“The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and the women also killed him on the TV show. Thunder Rosa and Leyla Hirsch in the first round. Rhio and Serena Deeb … one thing I love about this tournament, I feel like now that we have a little bit of time to have these matches, these women are really showing that there is no “ good matches for a wrestler ” compared to men’s wrestling or comparing them to men or team wrestling or whatever.
“I really believe they completely leveled the playing field and they really set the standard this particular Wednesday where I was like he was the technical star of the night and I challenge anyone to beat him.
“It was a huge statement for the women and I just feel like the tournament in general has been an incredibly positive statement for the women’s wrestling and that’s what I have always hoped for from the start,” he said. declared Omega.
Watch AEW Revolution on March 8 from 1 a.m. in the UK with FITE TV. Kenny Omega defends the AEW title against Jon Moxley in an explosive barbed wire match!