On Monday night, Yuka Sakazaki reintroduced herself to AEW fans.
The Magical Girl took on Mei Suruga in the first round of the AEW Women’s World Championship Eliminator Tournament. While it was a tightly contested match, she was able to prevail and advance. Now she moves on to the semifinals to take on Emi Sakura.
It was the first time AEW fans have seen her in almost a year. Her last match with the promotion came on the February 29, 2020 episode of AEW Dark. But before that, she was already a star overseas in Japan. So, who really is Yuka Sakazaki?
The South Town, Japan native planned to pursue a career in comedy before switching to wrestling. She trained in the DDT Dojo before debut for Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling on December 1, 2013. At their Raising an Army event, she and Nonoko defeated Erika Ura and Shoko Nakajima.
Afterward, she went on a six-match losing streak. Her next win came on April 26, 2014, when she and Nonoko defeated Chikage Kiba and Nakajima. A few months later, she entered the Tokyo Princess Cup for the first time. She defeated Kanna in the first round, then lost to the eventual winner, Nonoko.
Sakazaki made her DDT debut on August 17, where she, Nakajima, and Erin lost to Kiba, Kanna, and Miyu Yamashita. In July, she again entered the Tokyo Princess Cup, but this time lost to Yamashita in the first round. The following month, she picked up her first win in DDT against Mizuho.
She spent the next few years wrestling for both Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling and DDT. She picked up several wins against the likes of Azusa Takigawa, Kanna, and Hyper Misao. Sakazaki entered the Tokyo Princess Cup again in 2016 and defeated Marika Kobashi in the first round. Then, she lost to Nakajima in the second.
On June 4, 2017, Sakazaki captured her first title, beating Yuu for the Tokyo Princess of Princess Championship. Less than a month later, she entered the Tokyo Princess Cup for the fourth time in her career. She advanced all the way to the finals before losing to Reika Saiki.
Her first Tokyo Princess of Princess Championship defense came on August 26 against Saiki. Unfortunately, she was unable to retain her title, ending her reign at 83 days. After that, she and Nakajima entered a tournament to crown the new Tokyo Princess Tag Team Champions.
They advanced to the finals after defeating Takigawa and Nonoko, as well as Maki Itoh and Mizuki. In the finals they became the new Tokyo Princess Tag Team Champions, beating Maho Kurone and Rika Tatsumi.
Nakajima and Sakazaki successfully defended the titles on two separate occasions. The first came on November 23 and then again on January 4, 2018. Their third defense came on February 3, but this time they weren’t as lucky. NEO Biishiki-gun (Azusa Christie and Sakisama) ended their reign at 112 days.
Once again, Sakazaki entered the Tokyo Princess Cup. She made it all the way to the finals before losing to Yuu. After that, she teamed with Mizuki to compete in the Yeah! Metcha Tag Tournament. They advanced to the finals and won after defeating the team of Misao and Nakajima.
She and Mizuki then competed for the Tokyo Princess Tag Team Championships on August 25. Sakazaki captured the title for the second time in her career after the pair defeated Itoh and Saiki.
On February 7, 2019, All Elite Wrestling held a press conference for their inaugural pay-per-view, Double or Nothing. Several wrestlers were announced for the event on May 25, including Sakazaki. There she made her AEW debut in a six-woman tag match.
A month later, she and Mizuki defended the Tokyo Princess Tag Team Championships against NEO Biishiki-gun. The challengers dethroned the champions, ending their reign at an impressive 287 days.
Sakazaki returned to AEW a few weeks later at Fyter Fest. There, she competed in a triple threat with Riho and Nyla Rose. However, she did not factor into the decision.
She then returned to Japan to again compete in the Tokyo Princess Cup. She made it to the semifinals before being eliminated by Yuna Manase. Then, on November 3, she defeated Nakajima to capture her second Tokyo Princess of Princess Championship.
After that, Yuka Sakazaki made her AEW Dynamite debut on February 5, 2020. She pulled off a shocking upset, defeating Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. Baker attacked her after the match, knocking out several of her teeth in the process. She appeared two more times for AEW, once on Dynamite and once on Dark. The COVID-19 pandemic hit soon after, and she returned to Japan.
Sakazaki competed in the most recent Tokyo Princess Cup. She advanced to the second round and lost to Hyper Misao. She went on to defend the Tokyo Princess of Princess Championship several times. On January 4, 2021, she lost the title to Tatsumi, ending her reign at an astonishing 428 days.
This kicked off a run where she and Mizuki won five of their last six matches. Her most recent match was her win against Mei Suruga on Monday night.
With her energetic, high-flying style, it’s easy to see why Yuka Sakazaki is a fan-favorite in Japan. While her time inside an AEW ring was limited, perhaps that will change shortly. Based on her performance so far, she may be a favorite to win.
Regardless, the future is bright for her in both AEW and Japan. The Magical Girl will be someone to watch for a very long time.
Here is an updated version of the tournament bracket.