Match Point is an on-going series at Last Word on Pro Wrestling, where we look at intriguing matchups in indie wrestling and beyond. They may be dream matches, first-time matchups, or hotly anticipated rematches. AEW Double or Nothing 2021 is just around the corner and one of the featured matches involves the AEW Women’s World Championship. Let’s take a look at the upcoming match between champion Hikaru Shida and challenger Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D.
As of May 23 of this year, Hikaru Shida has been AEW Women’s World Champion for over one year. She defeated Nyla Rose at Double or Nothing 2020, ending “The Native Beast’s” title reign at 101 days. Since then, Shida has represented the AEW women’s division during one of the most uncertain periods in the world. Starting in the spring of 2020, AEW entered what has since been called the “Pandemic Era.” Despite wrestling most of her matches in front of small or absent crowds, Shida has been an undeniable pillar of the division in question. One year later, at Double or Nothing 2021, she will defend her title against Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D.
The AEW Women’s World Championship Reign of Hikaru Shida
To say that Hikaru Shida has been invaluable to the AEW women’s division would be an understatement. Even before she won the title, she was one of the company’s featured stars, and understandably so. At 30 years old, Shida boasts over a decade of in-ring experience, developed as a result of her time in such organizations as Ice Ribbon, Pro Wrestling WAVE, and Gatoh Move Pro Wrestling. When Shida finally put an end to Rose’s title reign last year, it was a declaration that the Kanagawa-born AEW star had arrived. What followed was a title reign that, while limited in regard to potential contenders, showed just how capable Shida was.
For over 365 days, Shida battled various opponents. From industry veterans such as Thunder Rosa and Ryo Mizunami to up-and-comers including Anna Jay and Tay Conti, the AEW Women’s World Champion got the most out of her opponents. Shida’s work, as champion, extended beyond in-ring competition, too. She was heavily involved in the AEW Women’s World Championship Eliminator Tournament, producing matches in Japan involving ASUKA, Aja Kong, Shida’s former mentor in Emi Sakura, and others. This illustrated both a level of trust on the part of AEW and a deeper understanding of Shida’s wrestling savvy.
The Doctor Will See You Now
As Hikaru Shida was grinding away as champion, Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. was slowly climbing her way to the top of the AEW women’s division. Since turning villainous early last year, Baker became a more prominent star in the company. As a babyface, many AEW fans saw her simply as a wrestler with potential. Once the proverbial switch was flipped, and Baker was allowed to break free as a heel, the sky was the limit for the real-life dental surgeon. An injury and nose surgery kept her out of the ring for much of 2020, though she was able to develop her self-important persona in the meantime.
Fully healed, 2021 was the year for Britt Baker to show just how capable she was in the ring. The most prominent example of this was her Lights Out Match with Thunder Rosa this past March; the year prior, Baker entered what would become a blood feud with “La Mera Mera.” While Rosa won their Lights Out encounter – the first women’s main event on AEW Dynamite, at that – Baker’s performance wowed fans and wrestling critics alike. To many, this was the doctor’s breakout performance. This began a path of dominance en route to the AEW Women’s World Championship she challenged for, only to fall short, multiple times in the past.
Britt Baker’s Rise to the Top of the Rankings
Following the aforementioned Lights Out Match, Britt Baker went on a tear on AEW programming, including Dynamite, AEW Dark, and AEW Dark: Elevation. With the unyielding support of her makeup artist turned assistant, Rebel (Not Reba,) Baker climbed her way to the top of the AEW Rankings for the women’s division. As she racked up wins over the likes of Alex Gracia, Skye Blue, and Julia Hart, Baker’s stock continued to rise. From the perspective of the avid fan, it wouldn’t have been long until she was back in the title picture. Furthermore, she wouldn’t be shy about letting the champion know it.
On the April 21 edition of AEW Dynamite, Hikaru Shida successfully defended the AEW Women’s World Championship against Tay Conti. Following this competitive encounter, Shida’s celebration was cut short by Britt Baker. The doctor set her sights on the tron above, which indicated that she was the new number one ranked contender. Not only had the doctor fought her way to the top but Shida had a new challenger lying in wait.
Britt Baker Targets Hikaru Shida
In the weeks that followed, the challenger set out to prove that she wasn’t intimidated by the champion. Earlier this month, All Elite Wrestling held a photoshoot for Forbes; this shoot included, among others, AEW executives Tony Khan and Cody Rhodes, FTR, and of course, Shida and Baker. As the photo shoot wrapped up, Baker insisted they take a few pictures with her holding the AEW Women’s World Title. After attempting to pry the title from Shida’s hands, the two women’s wrestlers engaged in fisticuffs before needing to be separated.
In a sitdown interview with Jim Ross, Baker aired her grievances with the current AEW Women’s World Champion. Baker thought back to her match with Shida in April of 2020; in said match, Baker suffered a broken nose, the sight of the bleeding doctor becoming iconic in its own way. Despite this, Baker said the experience changed her, saying she’s now “hard to kill.” Baker gave Shida her just due as the champion during an uncertain time in wrestling but guaranteed that there would be a new titleholder.
It was apparent that Britt Baker was set on sending a message. On the May 19, 2021 edition of AEW Dynamite, Hikaru Shida was successful in submitting Rebel. Following the match, Baker attacked her Double or Nothing 2021 opponent, curb-stomping her head onto the AEW Women’s World Title. Baker showed that she was more driven than ever. Perhaps Shida would have to kill her rival to maintain her status at the top of the AEW women’s division.
Hikaru Shida vs. Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. – In Closing
The stakes couldn’t be any higher heading into Double or Nothing 2021. In front of the first capacity crowd since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hikaru Shida will defend the AEW Women’s World Championship against Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. Both participants have much to prove, too. For Shida, a win over the challenger would mean that her status as the top women’s star in the company will continue. For Baker, to vanquish Shida would result in not only the biggest victory of her career but, more importantly, the AEW Women’s World Championship that has eluded her for so long. Who wants the victory more? Tune into Double or Nothing 2021 this Sunday to find out.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can catch AEW Dynamite Wednesday nights at 8 PM ET on TNT and AEW Dark: Elevation (Monday nights) and AEW: Dark (Tuesday nights) at 7 PM ET on YouTube.
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