Hikaru Shida Details Hurdles Joshi Wrestlers Face Joining AEW
Shida last wrestled for AEW on January 12
One of the selling points of AEW’s women’s division upon its inception was its standing as a platform for Japanese Joshi wrestling, with the likes of Riho, Hikaru Shida, and Yuka Sakazaki amongst others given prominent TV time.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic, and a rapid expansion of AEW has seen some the women get lost in the shuffle, even former AEW Women’s World Champion Hikaru Shida. And Shida herself has acknowledged this, writing the following for Weekly Pro Wrestling:
"In conclusion, my feeling is that the hurdle for Japanese women's pro wrestlers to come to AEW has become much higher. The major cause is the Corona disaster which is not easy to finish. And it's because the AEW Women's Division has grown so much in the past year. AEW is an organisation that is constantly changing, and the players come and go very rapidly. TV and YouTube. If you've been following AEW on FITE TV or YouTube, you'll know that the women's division in particular has seen an increase in the number of young, cute, and dynamic players over the past year.
“At the time of the launch, the women's division of AEW relied heavily on Japanese female pro wrestlers, and that was one of the selling points of the division. But that was only for a while after the launch. Nowadays, being a Japanese female pro wrestler is not as much of an advantage as it used to be. On the contrary, it has become more of a handicap in terms of language barrier, obtaining a work visa, and the Corona disaster. I myself am no exception to this, and even as a member of the AEW since its inception and a former Women's Champion, I am struggling to survive in the current AEW.
“In AEW, there is a high degree of freedom for the players, but because of that, everything is their responsibility. For example, there is basically no assistance from the organisation in finding a place to live, even if you are Japanese. That's how it was for me. So when I heard that Sakura-san was moving to the U.S., I was worried. I was worried. I've been studying English since I was a child, and I speak English better than most people think, but I still had a lot of trouble. Sakura-san, on the other hand, was at a level where even daily conversation was questionable.
“Even so, she found a room on her own and is desperately trying to seize the opportunity at AEW. But even though she came to America with such determination, she was not given a chance to participate in the TV matches. There is a fierce battle to get a chance to compete before you can show off your skills in a match. That is what AEW is today. However, AEW is an organisation that is always pursuing new possibilities, and I don't think that Japanese women's wrestling has disappeared from that list of options. Once Corona settles down, there will be a day when AEW and Japanese women's wrestling can interact in a new way. That being said, I would like to take this opportunity to say that even if we are able to sign a contract, it's just the start."
Translation via deepl from multiplyxdivide on Reddit