AEW Women’s World Champion Hikaru Shida spoke with Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated before her upcoming title match against Ryo Mizunami. The two will meet at tomorrow’s AEW Revolution PPV after Mizunami was able to win the Women’s World Championship Eliminator Tournament.
One bracket took place in the U.S. while the other happened in Japan. Shida was involved in booking the talent to help showcase joshi wrestling.
“I’ve always felt that Japanese joshi are the best in the world,” Shida said. “So introducing them to everyone is very meaningful for me. It’s kind of a way to brag about my home. I also want Japanese wrestlers to know they can reach the top of the world if they work hard. It’s not a fantasy. This is one of the biggest things I have done as champion, and I’m proud of it.”
After signing with AEW in 2019, Shida has had the opportunity to work with a number of different wrestlers on the AEW roster. Shida noted one of the bigger differences when it comes to wrestling Americans compared to those in her home country.
“The thing that surprised me most when I wrestled in the U.S. for the first time is that American wrestlers know how to show their characters so well,” Shida stated. “They apply it naturally to their wrestling. On the other hand, I think Japanese joshi style has more martial arts taste. Hard hits and disciplined skills. But the differences have been decreasing gradually.”
During the conversation, Shida also spoke about when she played a wrestler during her time as an actress in 2009. This was originally going to be the end of her wrestling career, but it was instead an inspiration to continue doing it.
“I was supposed to quit wrestling after I finished filming a movie based on wrestling,” Shida recalled. “I had always been a sports player since I started judo when I was three years old but became sick of it as I grew older. After watching my movie and seeing myself as a pro wrestler, I became inspired. After that, I began to wrestle seriously, not just as an actor.”
AEW Revolution begins tomorrow at 8 pm ET.