Riho Beats Emi Sakura, Retains AEW Women's Title at Full Gear 2019

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistNovember 10, 2019

The faces of North Koreans are illuminated by stage lighting as they watch pro wrestlers enter the arena, Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014 in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Koreans got their first look at pro wrestling in about 20-years on Saturday when former NFL lineman Bob
Wong Maye-E/Associated Press

Riho defeated Emi Sakura at All Elite Wrestling's Full Gear on Saturday night to retain the AEW Women's Championship.

On the first episode of AEW Dynamite, Riho became the first women's champion in AEW history by scoring an upset win over Nyla Rose. Just a few weeks after that, Riho beat Britt Baker in a title match on Dynamite to further establish herself as the woman to beat in AEW.

It was unclear who she would face at Full Gear as recently as one week before the event, but Sakura was chosen as Riho's opponent after Sakura beat Allie, Penelope Ford and Sadie Gibbs in a Fatal 4-Way match on AEW Dark.

With that win under her belt, Sakura looked to gain more momentum on the go-home episode of Dynamite before Full Gear when she teamed with Jamie Hayter against Riho and Shanna. Sakura scored the win for her team when she pinned Riho, which made her look like a threat ahead of Full Gear.

Riho has been wrestling for 13 years despite being 22 years old, and she owes much of what she knows to Sakura. The 43-year-old veteran trained Riho, which brought a student vs. teacher dynamic to the table.

Sakura wasn't featured much until recently, although she did participate in a six-woman tag team match at Double or Nothing, and she teamed with Bea Priestley against Riho and Baker on an episode of Dynamite.

AEW built her up quickly, however, in hopes that she and Riho could put on an entertaining match given their history together and familiarity with each other.

The younger, more athletic Riho figures to be a cornerstone of the AEW women's division for many years, while the veteran Sakura is likely more of a player-coach who will help develop some of AEW's young talent.

That manifested itself at Full Gear with Riho retaining, which should allow her to move on and into a program with one of AEW's many other talented women soon. 

                

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