Over recent years, we’ve seen an unprecedented interest arise in ‘Joshi’ Wrestlers. Thanks in large part to Asuka, Io Shirai and Kairi Sane from WWE and Riho and Hikaru Shida in AEW. Even Sarray (FKA Sareee) is now in the US wrestling under the WWE NXT banner.
That being said, AEW has been at the forefront of this movement with the great title reigns from Hikaru Shida and Riho. Their Women’s Championship Eliminator Tournament, held back in February, had an entire side of the bracket dedicated to showcasing just a taste of the talent that the Joshi Puroresu world has to offer. They brought in amazing talents like Yuka Sakazaki, Mei Suruga, Veny, the insanely popular Maki Itoh and even the veteran Aja Kong. Given how strongly AEW has booked and promoted their ‘Joshi’ talent so far, I figured I’d take a look at five women in the Joshi world that could benefit AEW greatly.
Granted, the sheer amount of talented women in Japan makes this list very hard to come up with. So I decided to go with talents that the casual Joshi fan may not be familiar with. So, names like Giulia, Momo Watanabe and Mayu Iwatani will not be appearing in this list. I’ll also be avoiding any of the women that AEW brought in for their tournament back in February, as well as any of the Joshi talent currently signed to WWE or any other US-based promotion.
Without further ado, here are the five women I feel could benefit from joining the AEW Women’s Division.
5. Utami Hayashishita – World Wonder Ring Stardom (Stardom)
At number five is “Big Daddy’s Third Daughter” Utami Hayashishita. At just 22 years old, she is another competitor with many years ahead to hone and complete her character. A Techniker Powerhouse, Utami is known for delivering hard-hitting matches. If she has one area that she needs to improve in, it’s her promo’s. She’s gotten better, but she’s still got a long way to go. While she is weak in that area, she is very solid in the ring. She’s no Konami or AZM, but she is entertaining and could grow into a very well rounded and gifted performer. Due to her lineage, she was pushed hard at the very beginning of her career and that hid her deficiencies at the time. She won several titles in Stardom very early in her career, and many feel she was too ‘green’ and not ready for those belts, but she has improved greatly since her debut and she will only get better. AEW could offer her many veteran performers to learn from, like Hikaru Shida, and I could see her eventually rising above a mid-card talent into someone capable of carrying a promotion on her back.
Dream AEW Match: Utami Hayashishita vs. Nyla Rose
4. Lulu Pencil – Gatoh Move Pro Wrestling
Coming in at number four is The Freelance Writer, Lulu Pencil. Lulu is very new to the professional wrestling scene, debuting in 2019, but she has quickly become a standout and fan-favourite within the Gatoh Move promotion. She excels at the comedy bit and this is what has made fans fall in love with her. She so much fun to watch, being hilarious all the time and she does her job well. She’s not a ring general or anything and she doesn’t need to be. That said, she’s not exactly considered a winner. She’s won 1 out of her 25 matches this year and last year went 4-47. Despite losing the vast majority of her matches thus far, she is still a competitor trending upwards due to her ability to make you laugh and keep you smiling. Her gimmick fits her perfectly, refreshingly so, and she makes it seem so effortless. It’s as if her gimmick is in fact how she is in real life. I feel she would be able to connect with US fans and provide them with endless entertainment value. She may not end up holding many championships but that’s okay because she will make you smile. Be warned though, when watching a Lulu Pencil match, you may want to turn down your volume. She has been known to scream during her matches.
Dream AEW Match: Lulu Pencil vs The Bunny (Allie)
3. Tam Nakano – World Wonder Ring Stardom (Stardom)
Coming in at Number Three is the leader of the Cosmic Angels faction of Stardom, Tam Nakano. The 33-year-old Nakano is another of the top talents that Stardom has to offer. During her tenure, Tam has become the master storyteller of Stardom. Every action she takes fits in with the story she is currently involved in. While still is not as good technically as some of the top stars, her charisma and interactions are so good you don’t care. Nakano has not achieved much on paper in the world of Stardom, but in reality, she has cemented herself as a figurehead in the top card within the last four years. Over the past few years, Tam has been involved with some of the most intriguing stories in Stardom including her feuds with Oedo Tai, her feud/arc with Arisa Hoshiki and her recent feuds with Giulia and the collapse of STARS. Tam has shown that, though her acting may fall to the side of melodramatic, she has the ability to deliver incredible stories and keep the audience entertained. She’s one of those women who isn’t afraid to put her body on the line in a match, even having several Hardcore matches in her career thus far. Nakano is out to prove that she isn’t just another pretty face, and though she is very demure in stature, she will kick your head off.
Dream AEW Match: Tam Nakano vs Kris Statlander
2. AZM – World Wonder Ring Stardom (Stardom)
At number two is AZM from the Stardom promotion. Her in-ring career began back in 2013 at an astonishing age of just twelve years old. Currently eighteen years old, she has made a name for herself in the Independent Circuit as well as becoming a major player for Stardom. With a style known as Techniker, the High-Speed Bomb Girl’s style is a perfect combination of grappling, striking, throwing and highflying. Every match that she has been in since her debut has been very fast-paced and extremely fascinating. She has a very fan-friendly style in the ring that provides excitement in spades, however, she absolutely shines as a heel character. Calling her opponents “Grandma’s” and using her trademark scowl, she has taken her teenage cockiness and turned it into a highly effective heel trait. Given how talented and popular she is, she should be considered a Wrestling Prodigy. Her age also leaves her many years to hone the talent she clearly has and could easily become the best female wrestler in the world very shortly.
Put her in the ring alongside Dr Britt Baker D.M.D, Hikaru Shida, Riho or any of the other women on the AEW roster and you have the potential for a five-star match every single time.
Dream AEW Match: AZM vs Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D
I’m sure you’ve noticed a theme by now. In the world of Joshi Puroresu, Stardom is Queen. They have the top talent within their fold and the majority of fans who follow the Joshi scene will know the promotion. They’ve introduced the world to talents such as Io Shirai and Kairi Sane. They’ve had many names come through their doors that are currently on one of the American shows. Anyone wanting to get into the Joshi world needs to follow Stardom. Plain and simple. There are several promotions now and they each have their stars, their fans and their following. Once you step foot into this world, you may not be able to look at WWE or any other American based promotion the same way. That being said, it’s time to unveil my number one. The one performer in Japan that I think would boost and benefit AEW the most if they were able to sign her.
1. Konami – World Wonder Ring Stardom (Stardom)
Number one belongs to the “Fighting Princess”, the “Submission Sniper”, the one and only… Konami.
Konami is one of those polarizing figures in the Joshi scene for fans. To some, she lacks charisma and personality. To others, she’s an amazing talent who just wants to fight and break a limb if she can. I am in the latter category. To me, Konami is the one talent that AEW absolutely needs to bring into their fold. She’s a submission specialist, she’s got lethal strikes and she is without a doubt one of the best heels that Stardom has to offer. Her technical skills are so good that I’d compare them to Daniel Bryan or Shayna Baszler. What makes Konami so lethal though is her knowledge and skill in Martial Arts. Her strikes, in combination with her technical skill, create a style that is just short of flawless. There is no doubt in my mind that she could not only carry AEW on her back but become the top heel in the entire company. There’s just something about Konami and her character. She gives off this sadistic vibe, especially in the above picture, and I would love to see her come into AEW and just lay claim to the entire division. Outside of the biggest names in Stardom, everyone should have Konami on their radar as someone to watch. There are big things in this young woman’s future, just don’t get in her way.
Dream AEW Match – Anyone. Literally anyone. I would love to see Konami go up against every single woman in the AEW roster. Even if she has faced them before.
The beauty of the Joshi world is that the women who perform night in and night out are absolutely amazing in the ring. Whether you follow Stardom, Ice Ribbon, TJPW, Gatoh Move and know the names or are just dipping your toe into the waters, there is certainly something there for you.
There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. My top five picks for who I’d like to see come into AEW and that I think could boost their women’s division. You can read more of our profiles on the stars of Joshi Wrestling here.