AEW star Hikaru Shida recently penned a piece for Weekly Pro Wrestling, where the former women’s champion spoke about the evolution of the promotion’s women’s division, and how it no longer relies on Joshi-wrestlers as it did at its inception. Highlights are below.
Says the early days of AEW women’s division relied heavily on Joshi-wrestlers, but that is no longer the case:
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.
How AEW did not assist in helping her or other Joshi-wrestlers find housing:
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. 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.
Says Emi Sakura had a difficult time trying to make it on AEW TV:
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.
Says she hopes that once the COVID numbers go down things will start to pick up for Joshi-wrestlers in AEW:
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.