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AEW Women's World Championship Eliminator Tournament
February 16, 2021

by Samoa Rowe

Britt Baker

Taped from Japan, airing on Youtube, hosted by Excalibur.

Tournament Match - Round One:
Mei Suraga vs. Yuka Sakazaki

Sakazaki has been MIA from AEW throughout the pandemic era, and she still owes Britt Baker some payback for breaking her tooth about a year ago. Sagura gets into Sakazaki's head early by yelling, fake-outs, and spins her in an Oklahoma roll. Sakazaki comes back with a shoulder tackle, Sagura bridges up but takes a vertical suplex. Sazakai tempts a DQ with a hanging head scissors. They swat away each other's dropkicks and Sakazaki rolls into an STF. Sagura barely gets a rope break and fakes out a springboard maneuver (likely saving face for a botch). Scoop slam by Sagura gets 2. Sagura applies a deliberate, vicious Last Chancery. Sagura follows with a flying double sledgehammer to the spine, Sakazaki answers with a flying elbow shot. Delayed suplex by Sakazaki, but Sagura avoids the Magical Girl Splash. Sakazaki absorbs a crossbody and reverses the pin attempt, leading to a frenzied exchange with many nearfalls. Northern Lights Bomb by Sakazaki and Magical Girl 450 Splash ends it at 10:23! Sakazaki shines as a lovable, yet dangerous competitor. Solid match, but a bit long winded from a narrative standpoint, **¾.
Winner: Yuka Sakazaki

Tournament Match - Round One:
Veny vs. Emi Sakura

Speaking of long absences, I don't think we've seen Sakura in AEW since the fall of 2019. She's since ditched the Freddie Mercury cosplay gimmick, instead dressing as an actual British queen. Sakura has the experience advantage over Veny, but misses a running boot when the rookie leans back. Sakura unleashes some Mongolian Chops and throws Veny by the hair. Sakura works a surfboard stretch and then chops the throat. Veny responds with a back handspring elbow and then a springboard crossbody. Veny is pleased with herself and nails a top rope moonsault to ringside. Sakura answers with a double underhook backbreaker and springboard senton. Veny delivers a running SSP, but Sakura counters into a Dragon Sleeper. Sakura hits a running crossbody block and Vader Bomb. Veny blocks a second Vader Bomb, and works a deep armbreaker. Sakura gets the ropes, but Veny continues a relentless beatdown. Sakura hits a desperate butterfly driver for a breather. Veny wins a slugfest and nails a missile dropkick for 2. Both women look exhausted as they exchange nearfalls. Veny hits a sitout chokeslam but Sakura kicks out! Veny misses a moonsault, and Sakura regains the Dragon Sleeper. Sakura finishes with a Tiger Driver at 12:34! Really good back and forth match that had me second guessing the outcome, ***½.
Winner: Emi Sakura

Veny rejects Sakura's show of respect and pushes her over.

Tournament Match - Round One:
Maki Itoh vs. Ryo Mizunami

Itoh is rocking a pop star gimmick and lip syncs her theme song while dancing into the ring. I love her already. Mizunami hasn't been seen in AEW since the original Double or Nothing event in 2019, so she beats Sakura and Sakazaki for the longest hiatus of the evening. Itoh isn't intimidated by Mizunami and punches after a clean break. Mizunami repays the punch, and Itoh begins fake crying in dramatic fashion, giving her a brief advantage. Mizunami hits an effortless shoulder block and then whips Itoh into a running tackle. Leg drop by Mizunami gets 2, and then a series of chops in the buckles. Excalibur basically runs down Mizunami's Wikipedia page while she beats Itoh down. Itoh comes back with a DDT and then a bulldog. Itoh declares herself to be the cutest in the land but then hits a decided un-cute headbutt. Itoh works a Boston crab, but Mizunami kicks her off. Power slam by Mizunami gets 2, as does a leg drop. Mizunami wins a slugfest, but Itoh rolls her into a half crab. Itoh then blocks a lariat and headbutts the arm! They trade headbutt, and Itoh builds some momentum, hitting a tornado DDT for 2! Itoh misses a diving headbutt, and Mizunami spears her in half for a great nearfall. Mizunami thrashes Itoh around in a vice grip and wins via submission at 11:13! Another very good back and forth match, carried as much by their personalities as the ring work itself, ***½.
Winner: Ryo Mizunami

Tournament Match - Round One:
Rin Kadokura vs. Aja Kong

Like Mizunami, Kong hasn't been seen in AEW since the first PPV. Rin has a notable size disadvantage and looks for a hot start with an immediate running dropkick. Rin's blows have little effect and Kong plows through her with a tackle. Kong showboats a bit and hits an elbow drop and covers as if she expected to win. Kong no-sells Rin's strikes and shows her how it's done. Spike Piledriver by Kong only gets 2. Rin counters into a DDT and hits a running dropkick to the head. Missile dropkick by Rin but Kong grabs the ropes. Kong blocks a suplex and hits an opportunistic Bonzai bomb. Rin blocks a back drop driver, and Kong lariats her down and gets 2 on a cocky pin. Rin wrenches Kong off the buckles and nails a swinging DDT and then a running cannonball into the corner. Rin misses a somersault senton, and Kong hits a back drop driver, but RIN KICKS OUT! Kong can't finish with a clothesline either, so she hits a diving elbow for the win at 7:02. Kong still looks monstrous and ate Rin for lunch, but I wish she'd won with that back drop driver, **½.
Winner: Aja Kong

AEW Women's Championship Eliminator Tournament- February 23, 2021

Oh no, Anna Jay has wrecked her shoulder and will be out for 6-12 months. Hopefully, she'll return in front of a full arena crowd.

Taped from Daily's Place, Excalibur and Taz are hosting.

Tournament Match - Round One:
Nyla Rose vs. Tay Conti

Tay isn't scared of Rose and gets right into her face. Rose knees the gut and hits a scoop slam. Conti kicks the back, but Rose takes control with a snapmare. Vertical suplex by Rose, and Conti looks dazed. Conti hits some Judo kicks to the leg, but Rose answers with a sick dragon screw leg sweep. Rose goes to work on the ankle, but Conti counters into a leg lock. Conti counters again with a rana and gets 2 with a spin heel kick. Conti absorbs a clothesline and hits some Judo throws and a hammerlock DDT for a great nearfall. They trade shots and slaps, Conti slips into a Dragon Sleeper, Rose grabs a buckle pad to break free. Referee Aubrey Edwards stops Rose from lawndarting Conti into the exposed steel and she almost gets pinned. Rose throws Conti onto the entrance stage and then hits a murderous DVD! The Beast Bomb finishes at 8:40. Good match with no downtime, Rose looked totally at ease in her role, and Conti seems to have improved by leaps and bounds since arriving in AEW, ***¼.
Winner: Nyla Rose

We head back to Japan for some semifinal matches. Excalibur and Taz are still on the call.

Tournament Match - Semifinals:
Emi Sakura vs. Yuka Sakazaki

Sakazaki goes right to work on the leg, and Sakura fires back with Mongolian chops. Sakazaki dropkicks Sakura to ringside and follows with a somersault senton off the post. Sakura knocks Sakazaki off the apron with a crossbody block, and her servants interfere with a beatdown. Sakura hits a draping backbreaker off the apron. Sakura appears very self-satisfied as she dismantles the back. Sakazaki desperately counters into a back drop and then delivers a flying elbow. Sakazaki hits a Northern Lights bomb and applies a leg lock. Tightrope dropkick by Sakazaki gets 2. Sakura answers with a Dragon Sleeper into a spinning neckbreaker. Vader Bomb by Sakura gets 2, while the servants chant “We will, we will, rock you!” Sakazaki gets draped into a reverse tree of woe but lifts herself up to avoid Sakura's head of steam. Rana by Sakazaki gets 2, so she hits a Flatliner. Sakura blocks the Magical Girl Splash and dishes out a backbreaker. Twisting Vader Bomb by Sakura gets yet another nearfall. Sakazaki hits an airplane spin facebuster, but Sakura pops up for another backbreaker. They quicken the pace with frantic stiff shots and pinning predicaments until Sakura reapplies the Dragon sleeper, and then a double underhook slam, but Yuka gets a rope break. Sakazaki finishes with a crucifix pin at 13:47. Good match in it's own right, but felt a bit redundant in the context of the other tournament matches, ***.
Winner: Yuka Sakazaki

Sakura and her servants put the boots to Sakazaki, but AEW Women's Champion Hikaru Shida runs in to clear them out.

Tournament Match - Semifinals:
Ryo Mizunami vs. Aja Kong

Both women are tough customers and aggressively feel each other out, but it's Mizunami who manages to knock Kong off her feet first. Mizunami chops the chest, but gets carried away showboating, and Kong comes back with an open hand slap. Kong mocks Mizunami's mime mannerisms and Mizunami ambushes from behind. Scoop slam by Kong but she then misses an elbow drop. Leg drop by Mizunami gets 1. Kong quickly escapes a kneebar, but Mizunami continues targeting her knee. Kong's leg is so injured that she collapses from an Irish whip. Kong manages to dump Mizunami to ringside and hobbles in pursuit. Kong grabs a trash can, but allows the ref to take it away. Kong hits a pair of back drop drivers. Mizunami blocks a spinning back fist, and Kong sacrifices her bad leg to land some kicks. Mizunami dragon screws the bad leg to buy some time. Leg drop to the head by Mizunami and then a triangle choke. Kong survives, but Mizunami hits a barrage of stiff shots. Kong fires back and hits a lariat for 2. Spear by Mizunami and flying guillotine leg drop gets 2. Kong desperately hits her spin back fist, but collapses under her bad leg. Kong hauls Mizunami to a production area and tosses a trash can at Shida, who unwittingly holds it for her to smash Mizunami's skull. Despite the weapon shot, Mizunami makes it back to the ring to beat a countout, but Kong cannot due to her leg injury. I actually like that finish a lot. Kong's leg injury made for a compelling story and it paid off with a novel ending, ***½.
Winner: Ryo Mizunami

Back to Daily's Place!

Tournament Match - First Round:
Dr. Britt Baker (with Rebel, not Reba) vs. Madi Wrenkowski

Britt ambushes Madi during her entrance and puts her down with a swinging neckbreaker on the stage. Excalibur speculates that Britt is being extra mean because Madi is Thunder Rosa's protege. Madi takes a shot at Rebel and Irish whips Baker into the barricade. They finally enter the ring, with Baker in firm control. Britt seems to be toying with Madi as she hits a butterfly suplex. Britt reverses Madi's small package into an exploder suplex. Madi blocks another suplex and hits a facebuster. Madi rallies and smashes Baker's face into the canvas for 2. Britt smashes Madi into the buckles and stands on her throat. Madi misses a high crossbody and Baker hits an Air Raid Crash for only 2. That was a generous nearfall. The glove goes on and Lockjaw ends it at 5:18. Strong showing for Baker, who never looked to be in any real danger and looked ruthless throughout, **½.
Winner: Dr. Britt Baker

Britt puts Madi down with a Curb Stomp. Rebel helps draw a parody of Thunder Rosa's facepaint on Madi with a marker. Good angle, I'm happy to see this feud continue.

Final Thoughts: This tournament is a remarkable improvement over the Women's Tag Team Tournament from last summer. I want to give Excalibur a shout out for his excellent commentating throughout, as he did a lot to make me feel like I knew who all these women and characters were, even those I was seeing for the first or second time. If AEW can get full access to the Japanese talent in a post-COVID world, this division is really going to pick up. Both parts are available for free on AEW's Youtube channel, go check them out.

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