So it’s a moment that essentially ran under the radar until this past Wednesday night when, as seen above, Tony Schiavone had to be the bearer of bad news (yet again) to the Women’s World Champion. Apparently during the Women’s Casino Battle Royale at ALL OUT 2021, Riho was not technically eliminated by Jamie Hayter and thus could make an argument for being deserving of championship challenge consideration. A similar situation played out in 2020 when Lance Archer’s elimination of Eddie Kingston was called suspect by “The Mad King”, but unlike Riho, who may not have even been aware her elimination was invalid, Eddie was extremely vocal about the situation and would eventually parlay it into a World Title challenge against Jon Moxley on the 9/23/20 DYNAMITE.
Well AEW GM Tony Khan has ruled that Riho DOES in fact deserve that opportunity and this Friday night will get it when she faces Dr. Britt Baker one-on-one in a Black Friday Deal match! At stake is a guaranteed title match down the line, similar to the Trick Or Treat match with Abadon weeks ago (but with rules this time), yet the past of the Good Doctor and Riho does not lean favor into Baker’s camp.
On October 16th of 2019, Riho made her first defense of the AEW Women’s World Championship against Baker, and topped the challenger in a little over 8 minutes. Three months later, on the 1/1/20 HOMECOMING edition of DYNAMITE, Riho pinned Britt to retain the title in a Four Way bout that also included future champions Nyla Rose and Hikaru Shida. But those two bouts aren’t the extent of their relationship; they’ve been tag team partners, they’ve been on opposite sides of tag team affairs as well, and in the five times they’ve been foes, the balance tips 3-2 in favor of Riho. It’s not a huge advantage at all, and while the fact that Riho holds the sole one-on-one victory does carry some weight, it is reasonable to say that Baker has evolved greatly as a competitor, perhaps moreso than her Friday night foe.
In a rematch over two years in the making, this time with the championship shoe on the other foot, will Riho secure her first title match since losing it to Nyla Rose on the 2/12/20 DYNAMITE? Or will Dr. Britt Baker continue to “clean out the division” of challengers to her championship reign?