Ryo Mizunami, affectionately nicknamed Aniki, is set to make her AEW Dynamite debut as part of the finals of the AEW Women’s World Championship Eliminator Tournament where she will do battle with Nyla Rose. Ryo Mizunami is a veteran of the Japanese women’s wrestling scene who after a long career finally seems set for the stardom she has long deserved. Let’s take a look at how Mizunami got here.
Ryo Mizunami – A Joshi Veteran Set for US Success
Ryo Mizunami debuted in 2004 for GAEA Japan, then working under the name Ayane Mizunami. Mizunami trained under Meiko Satomura in GAEA, this is an important relationship that would help lead her career for years to come. She originally became interested in becoming a wrestler by watching GAEA shows, Sakura Hirota specifically really intrigued her (Mizunami spoke about this on The Joshi Pod).
The GAEA Japan roster was absolutely loaded with legendary names, so much so that one of her first matches was with the legendary Aja Kong, she also got to compete with the Crush Gals (Chigusa Nagayo & Lioness Asuka), Jaguar Yokota, Dynamite Kansai, and a host of other talented women. Mizunami’s run in GAEA didn’t last long as she debuted in November 2004 but retired in April 2005 when the promotion closed down.
During her retirement, Mizunami went to get an education with the hope of becoming a fitness trainer who would help wrestlers. Fate had other ideas for Aniki as Meiko Satomura extended an invitation to Mizunami to join her new group Sendai Girls, Ryo Mizunami joined Sendai Girls and re-debuted in July 2007, over two years after her last match for GAEA. That September she began to wrestle under the name Ryo Mizunami. In 2007 and 2008 she was a regular with Sendai Girls but made appearances in other promotions like IBUKI, and Japan Women Pro-Wrestling Project (JWP), she won her first title ever in 2009 with JWP as she captured the JWP Junior Championship & Princess Of Princess Championship.
For her last few years as a Sendai Girls talent, she actually wrestled more for Pro Wrestling WAVE and fully branched out to wrestle for Ice Ribbon, Stardom, OZ Academy, REINA, and NEO Ladies, she won the NEO Tag Team Championships in 2010 and wrestled there frequently until they shut down in 2010.
In 2012 she transferred to Pro Wrestling WAVE and became a part of their roster, they pushed her quickly as she was the runner-up of the Catch The WAVE 2012 tournament. That year she also got to wrestle in America for SHIMMER Wrestling, she had four matches there and got to wrestle notable names like LuFisto, Courtney Rush (now Rosemary), and Cherry Bomb (better known as Allie/Bunny).
Mizunami’s career was ground to a halt by a knee injury in 2014 that kept her out of action until February 2015. She got right back to normality as she competed all over Japan in 2015 and 2016 while still competing full-time with WAVE. In 2016 she had the biggest moment of her career when she captured the Regina Di WAVE Championship in December, this was the first singles title win of her career. 2016 was her most prolific year for titles as she not only won the Regina Di WAVE title but also won the Catch The WAVE 2016 tournament, the International Ribbon Tag Team Championships and the WAVE Tag Team Championships with her Avid Rival tag team partner Misaki Ohata.
Fast forward to 2019 and Ryo Mizunami was planning on retiring from pro wrestling. She competed at AEW’s Double Or Nothing event that year in a six-woman tag team match and it was this experience that convinced her to stick with professional wrestling. Later that year she left Pro Wrestling WAVE with the intention of continuing as a free agent. Her free agent run was primarily spent in SEAdLINNNG where she was a member of the popular faction MAX VOLTAGE.
Ryo Mizunami earned the chance to return to America with AEW as she won the Japanese bracket of the AEW Women’s World Championship Eliminator Tournament where she defeated Aja Kong, Maki Itoh, and Yuka Sakazaki. She will now compete on AEW Dynamite against Nyla Rose for the chance to face Hikaru Shida for the AEW Women’s World Championship at AEW Revolution.
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