AEW Women’s Eliminator “Show 2”: February 22, 2021

The PG Era Rant for the AEW Women’s Eliminator Tournament “Show 2” (woo hoo), February 22, 2021.

Split Squad! The US regional is from the AEW Arena, the Japan regional is from the Ice Ribbon Dojo.

Your hosts are Excalibur and Taz.

TONIGHT! Ryo Mizunami is in for the first of her life against Aja Kong! Yuka Sakazaki faces the wily veteran Emi Sakura! Tay Conti is the David to the Goliath of Nyla Rose! And Dr. Britt Baker, DMD, squares off with Anna…

(touches earpiece)

…I’m getting word that Anna Jay has dislocated her clavicle and is out of the tournament. Baker will instead face… Madi Wrenkowski.

Before we begin, here’s the bracket!

Britt Baker

—————————–

Madi Wrenkowski

———————————————————-

Nyla Rose

—————————–

Tay Conti

—————————————————————————————

Leyla Hirsch

—————————–Rosa

Thunder Rosa

———————————————————-

Riho

—————————–Riho

Serena Deeb

—————————————————————————————(challenger at Revolution)

Aja Kong

—————————–Kong

Rin Kadokura

———————————————————-

Maki Itoh

—————————–Mizunami

Ryo Mizunami

—————————————————————————————

Emi Sakura

—————————–Sakura

VENY

———————————————————-

Mei Suruga

—————————–Sakazaki

Yuka Sakazai

Opening match, first round: Nyla Rose (23-7) vs. Tay Conti (5-1 in 2021). With everything going on on the US side, this match will go a long way to see how the bracket will fall into place. Rose is either going deep or a huge upset victim the way she’s been booked throughout AEW, and Conti is someone who can either be given the springboard or get told “not yet”. And without Anna Jay, the obvious second round match is off the table. Exaclibur says it’s a tossup.

Lockup goes nowhere. On round 2, Nyla with a throwdown, but Conti pops up and gets in Nyla’s face. Rose with a big kick to the gut and a slam for one as Excalibur goes over their history. Another slam, but Conti falls out the back and goes for a dragon sleeper. Rose throws her off and gets a Hennig neckbreaker (!!). Rose pummels Conti and gets a suplex. Rose throws Conti into the corner, adding a boot choke as Conti is limp. Beal out of the corner and Rose toys with Conti. Rose offers a free shot, and Conti takes advantage with leg kicks… but one of them is caught into a dragon screw.

Leg DDT follows and Conti crawls to the corner, where another boot choke ensues. Rose drops her weight on Conti’s ankle on the bottom rope, then gets a splash for two. Had to turn to face the hard cam before covering, you know. Rose with a shinbreaker lock, but Conti with a roundhouse kick and quickly slaps on a kneebar out of nowhere. Rose kicks out of it and tries the Beast Bomb, but Conti hangs onto the top turnbuckle to get a rana. Spinning heel kick gets two. Conti charges into a lariat from Rose and both are down. Blind charge by Rose misses and Conti slugs away with forearms and a running knee.

Judo hiptosses follow to set up a pump kick. Hammerlock DDT gets a close two. Then one more on another try. Then another two. Conti looks like she feels it slipping away. They slug it out on their knees, which is always going to go Rose’s way, and they stand up to chop each other. Conti slaps the taste out of Rose’s mouth, then does a tilt-a-whirl into a dragon sleeper. Rose yanks the pad off trying to reach the turnbuckle, then stacks Conti up for two. She tries to throw Conti into the exposed bolt, but the ref won’t allow it. Conti cradles out of it for two, but it would’ve been three without the ref clearing out the debris.

Rose backdrops Conti over the top onto the stage off of a charge, and on the outside, it’s a Death Valley Driver! Conti is done, dead, over… or not, as she shoots the arm up at two. Rose is shocked, but stays on top with the Beast Bomb to win at 8:46. Now that was a good story being told – the inexperienced wrestler letting emotions get in the way compared to the veteran getting business done. This was Conti’s best AEW match. **3/4

Second round match: Emi Sakura (4-4) vs. Yuka Sakazaki (2-4). Over to Saitama now, and the empty studio. Sakura comes out with two red-jacketed students (Mei Suruga being one of them). The joke here: Sakura did a Freddie Mercury gimmick for a while in Japan, but due to copyright in the US has changed it to royalty. See, she’s still a Queen! Taz has no idea what to do with Sakazaki – “she has a… certain level of exuberance.”

Okay, if AEW runs the women’s tag cup back, I want Sakazaki and Itoh to be a team.

Code of Honor before the bell. Sakazaki with a single-leg into a Native Deathlock. She tries an anklelock, but Sakura powers out and throws Sakazaki into the corner. Mongolian chops follow, then a hairpull slam. A second one (with Sakazaki doing a 360 on the spinout), but she misses a chop and Sakazaki gets a dropkick as Sakura bails. Sakazaki with a senton to the outside off the middle rope, but she poses for the camera and Sakura cuts her off. Sakazaki with a desperation kick that just makes Sakura smile, and she waits for Sakura to retun. They switch and Sakazaki’s on the apron, where Sakura gives her a crossbody to the floor. Sakura distracts the ref as the students beat up Sakazaki some more (Suruga being one of them suddenly is more awesome).

Sakura with a double-arm draping backbreaker off the apron to the floor. Sakazaki’s back in at 6, but can’t make contact. Sakura toys with Sakazaki before getting a rope-entwined camel clutch. She adds a leg choke against the ropes, then kicks away on Sakazaki’s back. Half-hearted facejam by Sakura sets up the Romero Special, rolling Sakazaki around the ring as she does before hooking the chin instead of the wrists! Sakura kicks her off before a rope break, then she stomps away. She stands on Sakazaki and poses, but when she tries a suplex, Sakazaki blocks it until her back can’t hold out. Sakura misses a lariat, but Sakazaki’s back elbow does nothing. Tiger backbreaker try by Sakura, but Sakazaki gets a back body drop to get a breather.

Rising knee and diving back elbow floor Sakura, but a slam goes haywire due to the back and everyone’s down. Sakazaki catches Sakura in the Calf Crusher, as Sakura’s students point to the nearest ropes for her. Sakazaki pounds away on the quads, but it allows Sakura to make the ropes. Sakazaki goes up, and a ropewalk missile dropkick gets two. Sakazaki with a hammerlock fireman’s carry, but Sakura ducks out into a dragon sleeper, forcing Sakazaki’s back to bridge. She turns it into Cross Rhodes and wants some We Will Rock You, getting the crossbody in the corner and Vader Bomb for two.

She hangs Sakazaki on the top rope and rakes the back, but when Sakazaki pops up to stop Sakura, Sakura goes to the eyes. It’s not enough as Sakazaki shoves Sakura away, getting a flying senton and spinning rana for two. Complete Shot and Sakazaki goes to the apron, but Sakura hangs her up on the ropes and the draping Tiger Backbreaker follows. Sakura with a twisting Vader Bomb for two. Sakura tries for the Tiger Backbreaker again, but Sakazaki escapes into a hammerlock airplane spin drop! What even IS that move?

Sakazaki runs into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, though, and both are down again. Sakazaki up first and she fires elbows to Sakura, who just absorbs them and fires back. Discus punch floors Sakura (who is in disbelief at the GALL of being hit), and Sakura fires chops back at Sakazaki. A big one is missed, but Sakura catches the rolling elbow into a backslide try. Sakazaki avoids it for a low head kick, but a sliding elbow misses and Sakura gets a lariat for two. La Majistral try, but Sakazaki rolls through only to be caught in the dragon sleeper.

Sakazaki is awake just enough to grab a nearby rope, but Sakura gets a body vice slam… and Sakazaki’s in the ropes again at two! Angel’s Wings try, but Sakazaki escapes and gets a sliding lariat for two. Crucifix by Sakazaki… wins it at 13:46! The ending made all the near falls just that much better in retrospect, and this is the match of the tournament so far! ***1/2 Sakura and company pound Sakazaki into a gooey paste after the match, with Hikaru Shida (in a beautiful white suit) chasing them all off. Sakazaki is amazing, I am a believer.

Second round: Ryo Mizunami (2-0) vs. Aja Kong (1-1). Excalibur addresses how Mizunami “broke a lot of hearts around the world” by beating Maki Itoh in the first round. If they’re making a big deal out of that, it makes me think we haven’t seen the last of Itoh. Mizunami is hyped up as one of the hardest hitters in Japanese wrestling, but she’s against Aja Kong, who maybe one of the few who hits harder. Kong has some metal briefcase with her as she comes out. Excalibur notes both wrestlers are taking their time getting to the ring, emphasizing how much they respect each other. Mizunami beats up the ref during the weapons check.

Lockup becomes a test of strength, and it’s a draw. They try again, and Kong pushes Mizunami to the ropes, pulling her down on the break. Mizunami pops up and fires away, but a shoulderblock is a stalemate. A second one, still nothing. The third one floors Kong and Mizunami is pumped up! Big chop to Kong in the corner, then more, into a Kobashi machine gun special, then apologizes to the ref before getting one last big chop. Mizunami pumps up the “crowd” and pulls the rope, but it gives Kong too much time and she slugs down Mizunami. Now Aja poses and Mizunami chops her back.

Slam try by Mizunami, but that’s not happening and Kong rakes the back and slams her instead. Elbowdrop misses, and Mizunami with a pair of legdrops for one, brother. Kong’s koppo kick try is caught with a kneebar, but Kong makes the ropes easily. Mizunami legdrops the knee and torques it, so Kong goes to the hair to try to break. It doesn’t work, but raking the eyes does… so Mizunami keeps pounding the knee and re-applies the anklebar. Mizunami grounds the leg and stomps on it, then uppercuts the back of the knee as Excalibur mentions Mizunami has never beaten Kong in four tries.

Mizunami tries a dragon screw, but Kong slaps her and headbutts her to her knees. Mizunami with a legsweep to give herself time to clear the cobwebs. Mizunami stomps Kong into the ropes, then gets a front facelock to keep control. Kong is whipped into the ropes, but the leg gives out and the ref checks if she can continue. Mizunami demands Kong get up and charges, but Kong sidesteps and Mizunami spills outside. Kong slumps outside and smacks Mizunami around, then slams her head into the timekeeper’s table. (This being Japan, the table doesn’t flinch.)

Mizunami eats ringsport next, and back in, Kong limps over to her metal object. The referee tells her it will be a DQ if she does this and takes the object away, so Kong with a backdrop driver instead. A second one follows, for two. Kong calls for the Backfist to the Future, but Mizunami partially blocks it. Kong kicks her hard instead to floor her, then gives a knee strike… with the bad knee. Mizunami fights through it as a result and gets a dragon screw on the bad leg! Mizunami clotheslines Kong, then a Rocker Dropper for two. She switches instantly to the arm triangle on Kong, which nearly gets the KO before Kong makes the ropes!

Mizunami wants to end it and slugs away with forearms to a staggered Kong, then blocks a lariat and lands one of her own. A second one, but Kong won’t go down. A third one, still no. A fourth one is met with a lariat from Kong and we’re slugging it out. Mizunami seems to win it, but runs into a Steinerline for two. Kong steps over Mizunami to the corner and wants a Vader Bomb, but Mizunami pulls her off the turnbuckles. Spears and Kong is down, so Mizunami goes up top. Diving legdrop somehow only gets two!

Mizunami is frustrated all to hell and wants one more lariat, but she can’t pick Kong up. Kong with Backfist to the Future out of nowhere and both women are down! Eventually, Kong crawls over for two, which makes sense given how long it took. Kong rolls Mizunami outside and follows, slugging her down and getting the metal object. She carries Mizunami to the announcers and throws the object… to Shida, before slamming Mizunami into it! But it wakes Mizunami up! She races to the turnbuckle and drops a guillotine leg on Kong out of nowhere! Mizunami’s in the ring… and Kong is not! Mizunami wins by countout at 14:45! Wow, I would’ve put money on a Rose/Kong final. That was painful to watch in a good way, but it could’ve been five minutes shorter. **3/4

First round: Madi Wrenkowski…

Never mind, because Britt Baker attacks from behind and stomps her down! Baker with a fisherman’s neckbreaker on the stage and Rebel is waving the towel to celebrate. Excalibur notes that Madi is a student of Thunder Rosa, whom Baker hates. Baker throws Madi around the ring into the apron, then the guardrail. She chokes Madi against the guardrail, then enters the ring to distract the ref as Rebel chokes Madi. Madi is right ticked and beats up Rebel, but Baker pounds Madi from behind to stop it. Madi reverses a whip into the guardrail and dropkicks Baker against it, then back in (finally), we begin.

Baker attacks Madi in the back when Rebel distracts her, then chokes her against the ropes and throws an elbow. Sling Blade by Baker, and Baker mocks Madi to the camera. Cravat by Baker, and she adds knees to the head. Baker gets a butterfly suplex and smiles about how good she is, then gets a regular suplex. Baker taunts Madi, who shoves her away, so Baker with a suplex that powers through Madi’s small package attempt. Baker toys with Madi and says she wants one more, but Madi blocks it. Baker slugs her for her insolence, but Madi uses knees to stop the suplex and gets an X-Factor.

Crossbody into the corner and a kick to the spine, then she gets a snapmare and facejam for two, with Baker grabbing the ropes instead of kicking out. Madi tries a monkey flip, but Baker throws her off and drops her with a Flatliner to the turnbuckle. Baker with a boot choke in the corner, and another suplex try, but Madi spins out and chops away. Blind charge by Baker eats boot and Madi goes up, but a diving crossbody airballs. Air Raid Crash by Baker gets such a close two the ref couldn’t stop himself from hitting the mat a third time. (It happens.) THE GLOVE IS ON as Baker tells the ref to do his job, and a low kick and Lockjaw ends it at 5:17 plus shipping and handling pre-match. That’s about what it should’ve been. 3/4* Baker adds a curbstomp post-match because she’s a jerk. Rebel then doodles on Madi’s face… and it’s Rosa’s facepaint they’re drawing as a message is being sent. Lockjaw is teased again, but Baker just laughs at the thought she needs to.

So we’ll have Baker/Nyla on Dynamite Wednesday, with Riho/Thunder and Sakazaki/Mizunami on Sunday. In addition, it’s Shida/Suruga/Kadokura vs Sakura/VENY/Itoh as a bonus match.

Well, before the tournament I was thinking this was going to be Kong/Nyla in a monster dream match. Now, obviously, that’s off the table. It seems the US side is coming down to Rosa/Baker in One Last Match, which is pretty solid booking as escalating the stakes on a rematch is always worthwhile. I know I might get in trouble for saying Sakazaki/Sakura was better than Riho/Deeb, but that’s just how I see it and I can’t wait for Yuka to make her way back to the States. She made Suruga look great, and now she put on an incredible performance with Sakura. Thus far she’s the tournament MVP.

Conti lost nothing in losing to Nyla, and Madi had nothing to lose as she was the heavy underdog to Baker. Thus far, no damage has really been done in the US side of the bracket. And given who’s left, I could see any of Riho, Nyla, Baker, or Thunder winning the US half, and any of the remaining six performers facing Shida in a good challenge. I have no idea who the favorite is now – I would’ve said Kong as a favor to Shida to give her a big name foe on PPV, but now? Everything’s in the air.

TOMORROW! AEW Dark has the following!

  • Aaron Solow looks for his first win against Ryan Nemeth!
  • The Batiri re-unite as Louie Valle and Chris Peaks face Alex Reynolds and John Silver!
  • Lee Johnson faces Serpentico!
  • Cody’s student Brooke Havok will face off against Leyla Hirsch!
  • Eddie Kingston is in action against big indie name JD Drake!
  • Max Caster battles Marko Stunt!
  • Brian Cage looks to destroy John Skyler!
  • PLUS: The Varsity Blonds, Peter Avalon and Cezar Bononi, Kip Sabian, KiLynn King, Jurassic Express, Ivelisse and Diamante, QT Marshall, Top Flight, and an atomics with Bear Country teaming alongside Joey Janela and Sonny Kiss!

See you then! Here’s the new bracket!

Britt Baker

—————————–Baker

Madi Wrenkowski

———————————————————-

Nyla Rose

—————————–Nyla

Tay Conti

—————————————————————————————

Leyla Hirsch

—————————–Rosa

Thunder Rosa

———————————————————-

Riho

—————————–Riho

Serena Deeb

—————————————————————————————(challenger at Revolution)

Aja Kong

—————————–Kong

Rin Kadokura

———————————————————-Mizunami

Maki Itoh

—————————–Mizunami

Ryo Mizunami

—————————————————————————————

Emi Sakura

—————————–Sakura

VENY

———————————————————-Sakazaki

Mei Suruga

—————————–Sakazaki

Yuka Sakazai