By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Women’s Championship Eliminator tournament
Streamed February 15, 2021 on the AEW YouTube Page
Excalibur welcomed viewers to the show and ran through the four first-round matches that would air during the show. A Japanese ring announcer stood in the ring and introduced the opening match in an empty venue. The AEW logo banner was placed opposite the hard camera. Excalibur noted that the first-round matches were one fall with a 20-minute time limit…
1. Yuka Sakazaki vs. Mei Suruga in a first-round match. The wrestlers shook hands before the opening bell. The referee wore a mask, face shield, and gloves. Suruga smiled as she executed an early arm drag from the ropes. She continued to smile while performed an Oklahoma Roll that led to a two count. Sakazaki came back with a suplex.
A short time later, Sakazaki applied an STF. Suruga reached for the ropes, but Sakazaki countered into a single arm straight jacket. Suruga eventually reached the ropes to break the hold. Suruga rallied and boddyslammed Sakazaki before covering her for a two count. Suruga applied a leg lock behind Sakazaki and then bridged onto her and hooked her arms. Sakazaki reached the ropes to break the hold.
Later, Suruga performed a body scissors takedown into a pin for a two count. Suruga applied another bridge submission hold, but Sakazaki broke it and ended up throwing a kick and then a sliding lariat for a two count. Sakazaki followed up with what Excalibur said was similar to a Northern Lights Bomb, then hit her Magical Girl 450 Splash for the win…
Yuka Sakazaki defeated Mei Suruga in 10:10 to advance in the tournament.
Powell’s POV: An entertaining opening match for the Japan bracket. Sakazaki will face the winner of Veny vs. Emi Sakura, which is up next. They aren’t wasting any time, as they cut right to the entrances.
2. Veny vs. Emi Sakura in a first-round match. Sakura walked out wearing a crown and a cape. while carrying a mic on a half mic stand. Excalibur noted that Veny wore a kimono that belonged to the late Hana Kimura. Sakura performed an early surfboard lock that she eventually released. Later, Sakura draped Veny over the ropes and turned it into a neckbreaker and followed up with a senton from the ropes.
Sakura delivered a backbreaker and went to the ropes. Veny shot up and hit Sakura, then performed a takedown move that brought Sakura back into the ring. Veny performed a running shooting star press for a two count. Veny set up for another move, but Sakura countered into a dragon sleeper.
Sakura performed a Vader Bomb and went for a second, but Veny put her knees up. Veny took Sakura down and then used her legs to hook the arms of Sakura, who used a foot to reach the ropes. Veny came right back with two kicks for a near fall, then ran the ropes and threw another, which resulted in another near fall. Sakura came right back with Angel’s Wings, but both women remained on the mat.
Both wrestlers traded a series of strikes in the middle of the ring. Veny got the better of it and threw a series of kicks. Veny went to the top rope and threw a missile dropkick that led to a two count. There was a good series of back and forth action.
Eventually, Sakura avoided a moonsault, then rolled Veny into a pin for a two count, then hooked her in a dragon sleeper. A short time later, Sakura performed a Tiger Driver and scored the clean pin. The wrestlers shook hands after the match, but Veny slapped Sakura out of nowhere and then left the ring.
Emi Sakura defeated Veny in 12:30 to advance in the tournament.
Powell’s POV: I didn’t miss Sakura sporting a fake mustache in tribute to Freddie Mercury as part of her entrance (and that’s coming from someone who enjoys Queen’s music). Anyway, this was an impressive match and is definitely worth checking out if you didn’t watch the show as it streamed. Also, Excalibur stated during the match that the winner of the tournament will challenge Hikaru Shida for the AEW Women’s Championship at the AEW Revolution pay-per-view on March 7. Just a warning that if the show runs beyond the top of the hour, I will have to check out for Raw coverage and I’ll finish up this report either during Raw’s commercial breaks or after the show.
3. Maki Itoh vs. Ryo Mizunami in a first-round match. Itoh sang and danced on her way to the ring. Excalibur spoke about Itoh being an idol in her younger years as a member of the LinQ girl group. Mizunami threw a hard forearm shot at Itoh, who acted like she was crying, then stomped the foot of Mizunami.
Mizunami knocked Itoh down with a shoulder block, then shook the ropes. Mizunami legdropped Itoh and covered her for a two count. Mizunami remained on the offensive and no-sold some of Itoh’s punches, but Itoh dropped her with a hammerlock DDT. Itoh performed a running elbow and followed up with a bulldog.
Itoh played to the camera. Excalibur said she asked who is the cutest in the world. Itoh dropped a headbutt to the side of Mizunami while Excalibur played up her “famously hard head.” Itoh applied a Boston Crab that Mizunami powered out of. Itoh charged at Mizunami, who powersammed her and covered her for a two count.
Mizunami clotheslined Itoh and then legdropped her for a two count. The wrestlers traded forearms in the middle of the ring. Mizunami got the better of the exchange and dropped Itoh with an elbow. Once Itoh stood up, Mizunami chopped her and knocked her down with a lariat. Mizunami charged Itoh, who rolled her into a single leg crab.
Itoh gave up the single leg crab once Mizunami neared the ropes. Itoh blowed a lariat and then performed two headbutts. Mizunami threw one of her own, but Itoh no-sold it while Mizunami acted injured. Both women put their hands behind their back and did a headbutt spot. Itoh performed a pair of DDTs for a near fall.
Itoh went up top and went for a headbutt, but Mizunami rolled out of the way. Mizunami speared Itoh and covered her for a two count. Mizunami applied a triangle submission hold, which led to Itoh tapping out…
Ryo Mizunami defeated Maki Itoh in 11:15 to advance in the tournament.
Powell’s POV: A solid back and forth match. There was a little silliness with Itoh’s hard head, but Excalibur did a nice job of explaining that it’s her gimmick. Itoh is very charismatic and I was surprised to see her lose.
4. Aja Kong vs. Rin Kadokura in a first-round match. Kadokura wore one of the Wave Tag Title belts to the ring. Excalibur noted that Kong debuted in the All Japan women’s promotion in 1986. Kong dropped an early elbow for a two count. Kong continued to dominate and performed a piledriver type move (I looked away for a second) and got another near fall.
Kadokura rallied with a DDT and a dropkick. Kadokura went up top and threw a missile dropkick and then covered Kong, who grabbed the ropes. Kadokura set up for a Northern Lights Suplex, but Kong stuffed it. Kong caught Kadokura going for a move and ended up delivering a sit-down splash for a near fall.
Kong clubbed Kadokura and then stood on her while the referee made a two count. Kong went to the ropes and was cut off by Kadokura, who threw her from the middle rope back inside the ring. Kadokura performed a tornado DDT. Kadokura performed a senton in the corner, then covered Kong for a two count. Kadokura went up top and performed a diving move, but Kong avoided it. Kong suplexed Kadokura and covered her for a two count. Kong punched and clotheslined Kadokura, then covered her for two. Kong went to the top rope and delivered a diving elbow drop for the win…
Aja Kong beat Rin Kadokura in 7:00 to advance in the tournament.
Excalibur discussed the updated brackets and hyped Serena Deeb vs. Riho in a tournament match for Wednesday’s AEW Dynamite…
Powell’s POV: Kong went over in fairly dominant fashion. That’s it for night one. The show ran past the top of the hour, so I’m off to cover Raw.