AEW’s women’s world championship eliminator tournament commenced by spanning across the globe. The YouTube special featured matches from the USA and Japan as Nyla Rose was a beast, Yuka Sakazaki showed skill instead of magic, Ryo Mizunami slayed a legend, and Dr. Britt Baker DMD crushed Thunder Rosa’s protege.
Watch the show here.
The broadcast opened with breaking news that Anna Jay was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to injury. Madi Wrenkowski was named as her replacement against Dr. Britt Baker DMD.
Excalibur and Taz were on commentary.
US first round: Tay Conti vs Nyla Rose
Neither Vickie Guerrero nor Anna Jay were ringside. In the first impact of importance, Rose used a trip to take down Conti as a way to mock Conti’s martial arts skills. Rose commenced with a power attack. Conti responded with a dragon sleeper on Rose’s back, but the brickhouse quickly tossed Conti down to the mat to maintain her momentum.
Rose offered Conti a free shot, so Conti obliged with two rough thigh kicks. Rose caught the third to execute a vicious dragon screw leg whip. Rose proceeded to work the leg. Rose picked her opponent up for a powerbomb, however, Conti countered into a hurricanrana. Conti found her groove for a big knee, judo tosses, a pump kick, and a hammerlock DDT.
.@TayConti_ has gain momentum in this first-round match. Can she keep it going to become victorious?— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) February 23, 2021
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1, 2, Rose kicked out. Conti became flustered and wasted energy on ineffective covers.
Both women got to their knees to exchange strikes and slaps. Conti ran the ropes to hop on Rose’s back for another dragon sleeper. As Rose was trying to escape, she ripped off the turnbuckle pad. Rose attempted to smash Conti into the exposed steel, but referee Aubrey Edwards blocked the path. When the ref turned her back to deal with the pad, Conti scored a roll-up. Edwards was slow to start the count, and Rose kicked out. Conti could have and probably should have claimed victory on that roll-up, since she had Rose pinned for more than three seconds.
Rose turned up her aggression to finish the game. She lifted Conti over the ropes to crash down onto the stage. The Native Beast followed with a DVD on the hard surface.
@NylaRoseBeast absolutely destroyed @TayConti_!— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) February 23, 2021
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Conti was rolled back into the ring but still able to kick out of a pin. Rose ended the match with a Beast Bomb.
Japan semifinal: Yuka Sakazaki vs Emi Sakura
This was the first-ever singles meeting between Sakura and Sakazaki. Sakura entered as your highness with students by her side to handle her cape and open the ropes. It was a clear message that she is heel. Taz commented that Sakazaki’s exuberance and love for life reminds him of himself.
Sakura started by working the leg. Sakazaki came back for the first big move with a flying senton onto the floor.
.@YukaSakazaki with an attack to the outside!— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) February 23, 2021
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Sakura took control by using a running crossbody to knock Sakazaki off the apron. Your highness’ students began stomping on Sakazaki. Sakura came down to hit a double underhook backbreaker.
.@EmiSakura_gtmv continues her attack on the outside!— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) February 23, 2021
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Sakura focused on weakening the back with a rolling surfboard. Sakazaki rallied with a running knee, flying back elbow, backward falling scoop slam, leg lock, and tightrope dropkick. Sakura volleyed with a rolling cutter, running crossbody, and Vader bomb. The match progressed with both women running chains of moves. The coolest was a hammerlock airplane spin facebuster by Sakazaki.
Sakazaki dropped Sakura with a discus elbow. Sakura sat on the mat laughing. She showed Sakazaki who’s boss with several hard chops. Sakura positioned for a dangerous dragon sleeper. Sakazaki struggled to finally reach the ropes. Sakura aimed to finish the match, but Sakazaki escaped a double underhook to transition for a crucifix pin to win.
After the contest, Sakura and her goons attacked Sakazaki. Hikaru Shida ran in to scare away the baddies.
Japan semifinal: Aja Kong vs Ryo Mizunami
Kong was 4-0 against Mizunami in a 16-year span during their careers. This bout was a strategic hoss fight.
Mizunami used a shoulder block to knock Kong down to the mat early. Unfortunately, Mizunami spent too much time mime dancing to capitalize. Kong went on the attack. Mizunami fired back but couldn’t muster the strength for a slam. Kong lifted Mizunami with ease for a scoop slam.
Mizunami was the more active of the two and went to work on Kong’s leg. Kong wobbled her opponent with a slap and headbutt. Mizunami whipped Kong into the ropes, but the leg damage caused Kong to collapse on the run.
The action spilled to the floor for Kong to control the fisticuffs. Back in the ring, Kong hit two back drop drivers. She unleashed kicks, but it only fired up the fury of Mizunami. Ryo pounced for a dragon screw leg whip, clotheslines, running leg lariat, and an arm triangle choke. Drama ensued as Kong reached the bottom rope with her foot for the break.
Both women went full force unloading blows. Mizunami tossed Kong down from the turnbuckles then hit a spear and flying leg drop. Kong was able to kick out of the cover. Kong arose for a surprise spinning backfist, but she was too damaged to make a speedy pin. That delay allowed Mizunami time to escape.
Spinning back fist by @ajakonguraken connects!— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) February 23, 2021
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On the floor, Kong played Shida for a sucker. She tossed a trashcan to the champ at the Japanese commentary table, who unwittingly held it for Kong to smash Mizunami into. The shrewd move meant Kong did not technically cheat in using a foreign object. That tactic backfired in waking up Mizunami.
As the count was reaching 10, Mizunami sprinted to the ring to clobber Kong with a leg drop. Kong fell to the floor, and Mizunami rolled into the ring to win via count-out.
US first round: Dr. Britt Baker DMD vs Madi Wrenkowski
Wrenkowski was billed as Thunder Rosa’s protege. Baker attacked from behind during Wrenkowski’s entrance. The dentist hit a swinging fisherman’s neckbreaker on stage then pounded her opponent around the ring. Wrenkowski reversed an Irish whip into the barricade and nailed a dropkick.
Both women entered the ring for the match to officially begin. Baker controlled the flow with suplexes.
Big time butterfly suplex by Dr. @RealBrittBaker D.M.D. onto @Madi_Wrenkowski in your main event match.— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) February 23, 2021
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Wrenkowski’s offense revolved around smashing Baker’s face. This was a minor mental mistake on Baker’s behalf to be concerned about her previously broken nose. That could be used to play into future matches.
For the finish, Wrenkowski missed a flying crossbody, then Baker pounced for an Air Raid Crash. A head kick and lockjaw submission closed it out.
After the bell, Baker curb stomped her foe. Reba drew Thunder Rosa’s face paint design on Wrenkowski as a way to mock the training relationship between Wrenkowski and Thunder Rosa.
The message from @RealBrittBaker & @RebelTanea has been sent to @thunderrosa22!— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) February 23, 2021
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Let’s take a look at the current bracket.
The tournament will progress with Dr. Britt Baker DMD versus Nyla Rose on Dynamite. Sunday will feature Thunder Rosa versus Riho and Yuka Sakazaki versus Ryo Mizunami as part of a Bleacher Report special. That Sunday show will also have a trios match with Hikaru Shida, Mei Suruga, & Rin Kadokura versus Emi Sakura, Veny, & Maki Itoh.
That was a decent showcase for the women. Three of the four bouts were solid with the main event being an extended squash. The contests of quality each had a believable false finish moment to keep me fully engaged as a viewer.
The match order should have had Dr. Britt Baker DMD versus Madi Wrenkowski in a different spot. With Anna Jay’s sudden injury, it became completely obvious that Baker would advance. That sucked all the drama out of the main event. I would have had Aja Kong versus Ryo Mizunami as the closer. I assume that Kong’s name has enough broad awareness that her loss is a big moment.
Nyla Rose versus Tay Conti told a good underdog tale, even though the underdog lost. Rose’s performance re-established herself in the AEW pecking order as the beast that she is. If she loses in the tournament, then this match laid the groundwork to springboard that person even higher with an impressive victory. Tay Conti looked strong in defeat. She upped her game for the big challenge and was arguably robbed by the referee. Her star still shines bright. Conti’s mental break was an interesting twist that leaves a door open for Anna Jay to stay on screen through injury in the role of coach. Conti needed guidance in that moment. Jay could be able to provide inspiration going forward.
I’m not really a fan of Yuka Sakazaki. She is skillful, but she comes across like a little kid. I do love that airplane spin though. Her match with Emi Sakura did well by often teasing finishers with counters. It made me presume the win would definitely come by signature move, so that smartly set up Sakazaki for the three count on her crucifix roll-up as an unexpected surprise.
Aja Kong versus Ryo Mizunami was the most interesting bout for the evening. It was hoss monster against badass hoss. Mizunami’s persistent spirit to attack made me fan. I hope she emerges from the Japan bracket. The count-out finish was a good concept in theory, but the execution was iffy when Mizunami suffered no effects from the trashcan hit. Her quick resilience made that spot seem pointless.
The main event went as expected. Dr. Baker ran through her inexperienced adversary. Baker did look strong with her suplexes and aggressive application of the Lockjaw. Her rude treatment of Madi Wrenkowski added another log on the fire of desire to see Thunder Rosa knock the dentist’s teeth out. I’m curious to see if Anna Jay’s injury opens the door for Wrenkowski’s future. The story is there for her to be Thunder Rosa’s equalizer toward Reba, and then it will be case of Wrenkowski maximizing her minutes into earning a bigger role.
Share your reaction to the special edition of matches from the women’s tournament. Which contest stole the show?