AEW kicked in the door of weekly professional wrestling on network TV on October 2nd with the highly anticipated inaugural edition of Dynamite.
The company had already set the wrestling universe on fire with its four summer events: Double or Nothing, Fyter Fest, Fight for the Fallen, and All Out. These events introduced the world to AEW’s vision for the future of the wrestling business. Not only was October 2nd the first ever episode of Dynamite, it was the night when AEW crowned its first ever women’s champion.
The championship match would pit Nyla Rose versus the Japanses sensation Riho. Both of these competitors had to earn their way into the championship match during the events leading up to the premiere of Dynamite. Nyla Rose would be the first to claim her spot in the championship match by winning the Women’s Casino Battle Royale at AEW’s All Out from The Sears Centre in Chicago, Illinois. The match pitted 21 women against each other with the winner earning a title shot on the first ever episode of Dynamite.
Riho would quickly follow and claim her spot during the same pay-per-event by defeating Hikaru Shida at All Out. The two title contenders would finally meet on that Autumn evening in October with the title on the line. When it was all said and done Riho walked out of the ring and out of Washington D.C. as the first ever Women’s champion a feat that Nyla Rose was none too happy to acknowledge.
We all know who the current women’s AEW champion is but we don’t know really know anything about her so let’s take a closer look at Riho.
It would not normally be noteworthy to point out that someone has been working on developing and honing their craft for 13 years. It becomes noteworthy however when you realize that the person in question is just 22 years old. Yes, you read that right. Riho has been wrestling since she was nine years old.
Even this may seem somewhat plausible if we were talking about an enormously large child that grew into an even larger adult but at 5’0” tall and 99 pounds Riho doesn’t fit that bill. So how in the hell does one go from wrestling as a nine year old to being the AEW women’s champion?
Riho began her journey into the world of professional wrestling in Japan in 2006 working for multiple promotions throughout Japan. Her work ethic and athletic ability allowed her to carve out a fan following and make a name for herself in the ultra competitive world of Japanese wrestling.
At the age of 19 Riho began to expand her wrestling resume by competing in countries outside of Japan. Her resume is bursting with both single and tag team titles including her arguably most prominent title, the AEW women’s championship. Riho currently holds both the AEW women’s championship and the World Wonder Ring Stardom title.
One relationship that may have resulted in Riho signing with AEW is her relationship with Kenny Omega.
Omega credits Riho for being his…
“…start into Japanese wrestling, after i only knew WWE.”
Six years later Omega was able to return the favour and come to the rescue of Riho after she was blindsided by Nyla Rose just moments after winning the AEW title.
Riho is a tactical wrestler who uses her skill and athleticism to overcome her diminutive stature. With moves like the Northern Lights Suplex and the Gannosuke Clutch she is able to neutralise much larger and stronger opponents. Riho has been featured in Double or Nothing, Fyter Fest, Fight for the Fallen, and All Out prior to winning the AEW women’s championship. The fact that she appeared in all four of these events shows the respect and how highly the powers that be think of Riho.
She has cemented herself in the annals of AEW history as the first ever women’s champion at just 22 years old. What she has been able to achieve in her brief yet impressive years in professional wrestling is what some wrestlers strive to achieve throughout their entire career.
Her overall win-loss record in AEW is 6-1, including a championship match victory, with her lone blemish coming by way of a tag team loss. She is 4-0 in singles matches since joining AEW, Her 6-1 record gives her the most wins in all of AEW, men’s or women’s division, and she is only beaten percentage wise in wins vs. losses, among those with at least three matches (two or fewer matches is too small a sample size to use as a basis for comparison) by Chris Jericho, 5-0. In a company where wins and losses matter, Riho has established herself as a force to be reckoned with.
What’s next for Riho is anybody’s guess. She successfully defended her world title against Britt Baker DDS on Dynamite from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 16th. I would expect a second title defence to occur in the very near future, perhaps even as early as November 9th in Baltimore, Maryland at Full Gear. The only women’s competitors with a winning record, as a singles wrestler, are Brandi Rhodes and Emi Sakura.
I’m not sure if AEW would have both Cody Rhodes and Brandi competing in a championship match on the same night. Maybe they would and it could work – they could cast them as the ultimate power couple. AEW has demonstrated that they are anything but predictable so who knows? It seems clear that Riho has established herself on top of the AEW world as women’s champion and she has no plans of vacating that championship anytime soon.
I am curious to see who she will feud with next. Nyla Rose would certainly love another shot at both Riho and the championship belt. Maybe a mixed tag team with Kenny Omega is in the cards after the altercation following Riho’s win over Rose at All Out. I know that no one in the women’s division will ever underestimate her again. Riho is no longer the underdog of the division, she is the big dog with a target on her back. She had better watch her back as the rest of the women want to take the championship hardware from her.
You can find me on Twitter @ngtriplett. Thanks for reading.