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Riho returns to AEW and defeats the NWA women’s champion

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The coronavirus pandemic has kept Riho away from AEW since March 2020. Riho was the first women’s champion in the promotion’s history, and she finally returned to AEW tonight (Feb. 17) in a first round match of the number one contender’s eliminator tournament. Riho faced stiff competition right out of the gate in the form of NWA world women’s champion, Serena Deeb.

The booking here appeared to be a bit tricky. Would the NWA women’s champion be eliminated in the first round, or would Riho fail in her first match back in AEW?

That question quickly disappeared into irrelevance, because Riho and Deeb put on a hell of a match that made it easy to forget about booking decision analysis.

Deeb hurt her leg in the bout but still persevered, even surviving Riho’s double foot stomp from the top rope. Both women were exhausted by the end, and Riho just barely pulled out the win with the Gedo Clutch.

Riho instantly reminded AEW fans why she was so valuable to the company for the first few months of Dynamite’s existence, and she’ll now have to deal with Thunder Rosa in the next round of the tournament.

Get complete Dynamite results and coverage here.