UNITED STATES BRACKET 1ST ROUND WOMEN’S WORLD TITLE ELIMINATOR TOURNAMENT (#4) NWA WORLD WOMEN’S CHAMPION SERENA DEEB vs. RIHO
March 17th and March 18th….eleven months ago…two losses on back-to-back evenings; those are the last memories AEW fans have of the first-ever AEW Women’s World Champion Riho. On DARK it was a tag team loss to Britt Baker and Penelope Ford, and then, as a part of the very first show at Daily’s Place in this “new normal”, Riho would lose to Penelope Ford in a surprising upset. It was a rough couple days for the women who successfully defended the AEW Women’s Championship four times over her 133 day reign.
Riho would then return to Japan where, after a few months of downtime, she would get back to competition in July, primarily with STARDOM, and consistently worked through the rest of 2020. But ever since her forced departure, the question persisted of just when the former Women’s World Champion would be able to return to AEW and try to reclaim her crown. The answer comes this Wednesday night when, as part of the United States bracket of the Women’s World Title Eliminator Tournament, Riho comes to Jacksonville for the first time since March!
It’s a highly anticipated homecoming, for fans as well as Riho, but it is a very different landscape to which she returns. When Riho left, the ranks of the women’s division were just beginning to fill out with many of the talent who burst onto the scene throughout 2020. Just to name a handful, competitors such as Tay Conti, Anna Jay, Red Velvet, Thunder Rosa, and Diamante had not become staples of the division yet. Another of those women who had not yet made their AEW debut when Riho departed is the current NWA World Women’s Champion Serena Deeb!
Making her debut in September 2020, Deeb has gone 7-2 in her AEW run, including four successful NWA title defenses against Leyla Hirsch, Tay Conti, Thunder Rosa, and Allysin Kay, and now Serena has her eyes on the championship around Hikaru Shida’s waist. In order to get there though, Deeb has to contend with a Riho who is fixed on a shot at the championship she never had an opportunity to reclaim. It should also be noted that Thunder Rosa eagerly awaits the winner of this contest in the bracket Semi-Finals, and one would imagine she is hoping for another bout with Deeb after dropping her last two (as well as that NWA Title) to Serena.