Last week, Maki Itoh introduced herself to the world.
While she lost early in the AEW Women’s World Championship Eliminator Tournament, she made quite the impression. It reinforced the fact that she’s one of the most popular joshi wrestlers in the world.
But who really is Maki Itoh? Well, her wrestling journey didn’t start out the way you would expect.
Before DDT and Tokyo Joshi Pro-Wrestling
The 25-year-old Fukuoka native’s story actually starts in the world of music. On February 11, 2012, she joined the Japanese idol girl group, LinQ. She also acted in several different thriller and horror films.
Itoh, along with six other members, were removed from LinQ on June 19, 2017. Afterwards, they all became a part of Tokiwoikiru, an entertainment group. She’s still a member today, using a solo recording of Brooklyn The Hole as her entrance theme.
Her wrestling career began towards the end of 2013. That’s when she started making appearances for DDT, first on December 15. She wrestled two more times for them, once in 2014 and again in 2015.
Official Debut for DDT and Tokyo Joshi Pro-Wrestling
On December 11, 2016, she made her official debut for DDT. There, she took on Miyu Yamashita in a losing effort. She went on to join Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling on January 4, 2017. Her debut came during their Tokyo Joshi Pro ‘17 event, where she lost to Reika Saiki.
She entered the Tokyo Princess Cup on July 17, but lost in the first round to Shoko Nakajima. This came in the middle of a 14-match losing streak for her in TJPW. Her first win for the promotion wasn’t until August 26. There, she defeated Azusa Takigawa in a lumberjack match.
Not long after, she formed the Itoh Respect Army with Mizuki. They entered the Tokyo Princess Tag Team Title Tournament on September 9. The duo beat Yamashita and Saiki in the first round. They advanced to the semifinals, but lost to eventual winners Nakajima and Yuka Sakazaki.
Over the next several months, Itoh went on to compete in numerous singles and tag team matches. She then entered DDT’s Maji Manji Tournament on April 10, 2018. She eliminated Makoto Oishi in the first round, then lost to Kota Umeda in the semifinals.
A month later, the Itoh Respect Army entered another tournament for the Tokyo Princess Tag Team Championships. However, they were eliminated in the first round by Marika Kobashi and Saiki.
During the May 22 episode of DDT’s Maji Manji show, Itoh defeated Antonio Honda for her first DDT Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship. However, she lost it later in the night to Oishi.
She and Yamashita then took part in the Yeah! Metcha Tag Tournament on August 4. In the first round, they defeated Hikari and Yuki Aino. Then, in the second round, they lost to Hyper Misao and Nakajima. Itoh and Saiki had a shot at the vacated Tokyo Princess Tag Team Championships on August 25. However, they were defeated by Mizuki and Sakazaki.
Itoh won the DDT Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship for a second time on October 28 during a gauntlet battle royal. Her second reign ended on November 4, where she lost the title to Nakajima. However, she won the title back that night during another gauntlet battle royal.
This time she held the title for 13 days, losing it on November 17 during a tag match. She tried to regain it eight days later against Konosuke Takeshita, but lost by knockout. After that, she challenged for the Tokyo Princess of Princess Championship, but lost to Yamashita.