Originally published at Ryo Mizunami interested in returning to AEW, recalls winning Women's Title Eliminator tourney
If any of the quotes from the following podcasts or video interviews are used, please credit those sources and provide an H/T and link back to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.
** Episode #109 of ‘The Wrstling Podcast’ featured an interview with Ryo Mizunami. Ryo stated that she is interested in competing for AEW again but currently, her focus is on what she can do in the UK. Mizunami last wrestled for AEW in the U.S. in 2021. She said the following via a translator:
Yes, she does wanna go back to AEW. Yes, there is a lot of unfinished business in AEW and in the U.S. in general but, her current focus/desire is the U.K. actually. Millie McKenzie and Nina Samuels were in Japan at the end of the year last year and they were working Sendai Joshi and Mizunami saw them and said, ‘Wow.’ They felt like a new breed, sort of a hybrid of the Japanese and the U.K. style and she saw them and said, ‘Wait, if I go to the U.K., there’s more of wrestlers like these? I gotta go to the U.K.’ so, that’s her goal right now is she wants to go, she hopes that she goes there and meets a bunch of new wrestlers in that breed that will help her expand her horizons as a wrestler too so, in conclusion, yes, do AEW, America, of course but, you know, the focus at the moment is the UK.
She looked back on winning the 2021 AEW Women’s World Championship Eliminator tournament. Initially, Mizunami did not realize how big the opportunity was because she started the tourney in Japan around familiar faces. The magnitude of what she was doing hit her when she wrestled Nyla Rose in the tourney final on AEW Dynamite. At the time, Mizunami did not know what ‘pay-per-view’ meant or what it is.
So everything just happened in a flash so, it only hit her of the magnitude of what had been accomplished (winning 2021 AEW Women’s World Title Eliminator tourney) when she looked back at it later but in the beginning, the tournament in Japan, it was at a venue where she knew, wrestling people she knew so it really didn’t hit her that this was gonna be a big deal. But then when she went to the States, she first wrestled Nyla Rose on TV. So that’s when it really hit her first, before the pay-per-view when she realized she was gonna be on live American TV and then she beat Nyla, going onto the pay-per-view (Revolution). At the time, she didn’t even know what pay-per-view meant, she didn’t even know what a pay-per-view was so you know, she was just focused on going in there, having a good match and winning the belt but after everything was done, she’s like, ‘Oh my God. What have I done?’ The magnitude was just unimaginable but it only hit her afterwards. But, that experience has helped her greatly in forming what she wants to accomplish as a wrestler and how she wants to perform as a wrestler so that experience is being levers even to this day right now.
** The latest edition of Rewind, Recap, Relive featured Melina. There was a portion of the conversation where she spoke in-depth and candidly about how WWE positioned certain talents like Mickie James, Jazz and Lisa Marie Varon and compared that to how blondes were presented. She also mentioned that she wishes she had someone to take her under their wing during her time in WWE. Melina spoke about her heritage and the following response was stated after she was asked about her time working with Beth Phoenix.
I also wanted to be the person who thanked the people who came before me that entertained me and took me out of my daze when I needed it, who took me into this storytelling thing and just not care, have no cares in the world type of deal. I wanted to do that for somebody else the way they did that for me but I also wanted to be a representation that I never got to see growing up. The only person who I got to see that looked like me was Wonder Woman, except she had blue eyes. So I can’t be pretty unless I had blue eyes back in those days, that’s what I thought. So for me to be a Latina, to be out there, it meant everything to me because I represent somebody who you don’t really get to see out there and it’s like, yeah, we have J. Lo, but J. Lo went blonde but then there’s the sad thing is I had to do all this stuff and it’s like, okay, I gotta do this, I gotta wear the skirts, I gotta go blonde, I gotta do this but once I make it, once I finally become a wrestler, I can wear the pants now. It’s like, wear the skirts, this is what I’m supposed to do, this is what I’m supposed to do and then once I finally make it, I can go back to the dark, I could go back to wearing pants, I could do this on my own worth, like what my talent is, what I really could do and I’m really proud of the marks I’ve made, even if it gets buried underneath the rug, even if everybody erases me. I set a chain in motion and I’m glad because so many girls out there, I never thought I’d be able to see a lot of ethnic women in WWE. No offense to blondes (she laughed). You know I love everybody, you have no idea. I love every country. Everybody is like, oh no, you gotta be all Latin’d out. That doesn’t mean I’m not proud of my heritage. I learned about every country and I love every country. I look at all my friends and I love all their features and their skin and their eyes and their hair. Everybody’s an individual, the way they see things. I love everything and I know people can’t understand that because it’s like, oh well, your opinion doesn’t mean anything because you love everything but like, eh, when I don’t like something, you’ll know it means something (she laughed). So you’ll know… and people get all upset because, oh, you love everything else. Why couldn’t you love that? I don’t know. Now you know I don’t love everything. But, all of these things meant a lot. It’s so weird because for my time, even though — something I wanna write about eventually where everyone kept telling me, well you could have learned and asked questions from here, here and there, it’s awkward being a woman at the time where kind of everything you do has sexual innuendos and the person that I was back then, I wanted to avoid that. It was like why do people have to touch me when they do stuff? Why do you have to relate everything to sex when you talk to me? And I couldn’t understand that because I’ve never been around that back then. So, I didn’t ask a lot of questions to be taught, I didn’t ask questions like, well, can you teach me the psychology of this and this and that? I had to watch and overhear people teach each others. Some trainers did. They were really great at explaining everything, they made me feel comfortable. But, watched a lot of videos, I learned on my own and I kind of think, God, if only I could have had somebody who really did take me under their wing, what I could have learned and I wish I could have learned so much more because I loved wrestling so much. Oh… it was art, it was brilliant and I wish I could have learned more but at the same time, it is what it is and I love working with every girl… And it’s not to say Beth (Phoenix) doesn’t deserve what she has, but there are other women who like, say Jazz and Lisa (Marie Varon), I’m always gonna say that. Why don’t they get the credit? It’s all about the opportunity and what does WWE wanna push? Do they wanna push their blondes or do they wanna push people who made ‘em work? And I know people are gonna be upset with that but really, if you dissect it all and see the history of WWE, there’s so many other girls. What about Mickie (James)? Mickie was working there and then they didn’t keep her. They just put her in these crap positions. They tested her out with announcing, they tested her out with this and this and that and then they let her go and it’s like, okay, well she’s capable. We know she’s capable. Why not keep her? So you have to question all these things and that’s the sad part of what I learned when I — you know, it’s 50/50. I love WWE, I will highly praise them for a lot of reasons but it’s another thing when you’re a wrestling fan and you love everything and then you take a look behind the curtain and then that’s not what you thought it was supposed to be. They’re not terrible, but there’s injustices and it’s heartbreaking as a person who had such a naïve and hopeful and dreamy mind that you wish these people who deserve better should’ve gotten better and they never did, like Chyna. Chyna deserved better. There’s a lot of heartbreak in it but at the same time, that’s all of life, right?
At length, Melina has spoken about the 2022 WWE Royal Rumble and sharing the ring with Mercedes Moné. She detailed the ideas herself and Moné discussed beforehand that they did not get to do in the ring.
For me, the way my facials are… the matchup, the expressions I remember (from what I talked about with Mercedes Moné prior to our Royal Rumble spot) was b*tch, you think you can do my moves? And then claim ‘em for yourself? I’m the f*cking O.G. and you are me? And it was kind of like this where it was tit for tat. I’d go for the move, she’d go for the same move. Tit for tat with our moves until we distract each other with each other’s moves that we don’t have, like it’s not the same until the final. It was a good tit for tat where it’s hard-hitting but then at the same time, acrobatic. But it was more about the storytelling of these moments where we’re hitting each other’s moves and we look each other in the face like, f*ck you, and then going from the outside, something where I almost eat it to the outside and then I’m about to get in because I get her one good and then she gets me out, something to that effect.
Staying on the topic of the Royal Rumble, Melina had been of the mindset that WWE would never call her back for something like that. She thought she’d only be brought back to the company for Monday Night Raw spots and situations alike.
Going back (to WWE), even though I’m happy, I’m happy as is, it’s just like, I get in tune with all these memories and then I feel the memories so I remember them but I look back and I think, God, there’s no way they’re ever gonna invite me back. Why would they? Who am I to them? And I’m a person who, I’m minding my own business and did what I was told. I didn’t kiss ass, I just did what I needed to do and I think they wanted me to say something like, hey, please don’t fire me, please don’t let me go. Say anything, do anything, like oh, I’ll do more. I just thought maybe this is my time so I just go with it and so I think they had this thing where — I’m not explaining it right because I’m trying to keep it short but I’m making it longer than it should be. But, I didn’t think that they were ever gonna call me back. Little Raw here, little Raw there, kind of like nothing little parts and they were gonna give me a moment for the (Royal) Rumble and that’s what I always wanted and they gave it to me but then I was like, there you guys are! (She laughed).
** June 25th is the date of AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door II. At the 2022 installment of the pay-per-view, Claudio Castagnoli debuted and defeated Zack Sabre Jr. Claudio told the ‘Under the Ring’ podcast that he hopes to be part of this year’s event.
I’m really looking forward to Forbidden Door because it’s kind of like a fantasy thing for a lot of fans to have. Two successful promotions overlap and you can see your favorites going up against each other in a dream scenario and I hope I’ll be part of it this time around and it’s in Canada, which I feel like Canadian wrestling fans are extremely passionate and I’m very much looking forward to this year’s.
Earlier in the conversation, Castagnoli named veterans and agents at AEW he likes to get advice from, one of which is Dean Malenko. The ROH World Champion then explained why he likes to learn from the younger talents as well.
There’s plenty of people in AEW that have tremendous knowledge. Just from the top of my head, Dean Malenko, who’s one of the coaches there who helped me with a bunch of my matches at Ring of Honor and AEW. I mean, if you have Dean Malenko to run some ideas by or some stuff, why wouldn’t you take advantage of that? Arn Anderson’s there or some of the more veteran talent or even some of the younger talent because I don’t know what’s current, I don’t know what’s cool for a 20, 25, 26, 30-year-old, you know? So some of the stuff, I like to run past some of the younger guys, some stuff I like to ask some of the more veteran guys so, I feel like it’s a very important thing to have that balance.
** Ahead of Austin Theory defending the WWE United States Championship against John Cena at WrestleMania 39, he spoke to Chris Van Vliet for an interview. Theory recounted his first conversation with Cena and it happened at the WWE Performance Center in 2019. Talents were told to hang around and then Cena appeared and spoke to everyone in a group setting and offered to speak to anyone who wanted to chat personally.
The first conversation (with John Cena) came about – and it’s funny because I brought up that photo that he posted on his Instagram. It was at the Performance Center one day, and we were all leaving. And we got told, ‘Hey, just everybody stay. We’re gonna have a little meeting before everybody leaves’ and out comes John Cena. And he took the time out of his day to come down there and talk to everybody that’s aspiring to be on the main roster. And a lot of us weren’t even on NXT TV then. So this was the very beginning for me. And he told us, you know, ‘I’ll answer any questions you guys have, but if there’s anybody that wants to talk to me, you know, personally, I’ll stay here all day, I’ll go in this room in the office, and you guys one by one can come in there.’ And I remember waiting, like three hours to talk to him. And I just went in there. And I remember the first thing I showed him was the picture of me as a kid, where I couldn’t afford the shirt and the wristband, so I made my own kind of off-brand stuff. But I was eight years old, and I showed him the picture. I was like, ‘Man, this is probably crazy. But check it out.’ He’s like, ‘Man, that’s not crazy, that’s awesome.’ And we got to sit there and I kind of just really just asked everything I could, you know, because this is the source. This is the man that’s held it down for well over a decade. It was a lot for me to take in though at the time, because he was spitting knowledge. But, I’m still, you know, whoa, this is John Cena, so, I’m just trying to take everything in man. But that moment specifically, I’ll never forget. And I just remember, leaving that room that day like, whoa, I’m here, I met the person that inspired me and motivated me, and now it’s on me to build this journey and to actually make it happen. And I know I can do it, because I’m the inevitable Austin Theory.
Looking back on the period of his current main roster run when he was consistently taking selfies, Theory said the phone he used was connected to a company tablet and those who have access to the tablet could see every photo he took on the phone.
There’s so many (selfies I took). I think one of the funniest ones was when Brock Lesnar put the cowboy hat on my head in the corner, you know, trying to downgrade me and I just took a selfie with it on, I thought that was a great one. A funny quick story about those selfies though is I guess the phone that I was using is tied to like the company tablet, which I guess certain people have the tablet and Wade Barrett, (he) specifically has the tablet. So at NXT every Tuesday after all, even from the live events, he would see every selfie that I took, he can see them all. Yeah, so it’s cool but I mean, in some matches, man, I probably took 30, like it would be a lot of photos. I was just clicking away man. You know, you want to try to get that perfect one and you’re sweating and you just beat somebody up. It’s a lot of work.
** The topic of Bobby Lashley came up during Josh Barnett’s conversation with Comedy Store Wrestling. Barnett feels that if Lashley and Brock Lesnar went 2-out-of-3 for takedowns, he could be convinced Lashley would win. The former UFC Heavyweight Champion then recounted his experiences grappling with Lashley.
He’s (Bobby Lashley) such a sick freak, and to the point where if him and Brock Lesnar were to face off and do two-out-of-three for takedowns, I don’t know who’s gonna win. In fact, I might even be convinced to bet on Bobby and that’s not to say that Brock is bad. No, no, no. By no means am I actually casting any aspersions upon Brock Lesnar’s wrestling abilities because I know they are top notch. He’s a stud, guaranteed, I back it. Bobby is slept on for his amateur wrestling and I wrested Tony Nelson who’s a two-time NCAA Champion. He can be anywhere from high 240s and really diet down or wrestle hard at 280. The guy’s a beast from Minnesota. I’ve wrestled Mark Coleman and Tom Erikson. I have wrestled tons and tons and tons of the highest-type caliber guys you can come across in the US. Reese Andy and I were training partners. He was NCAA runner-up twice…But Bob, you get in on this dude and it’s so nuts. At that time, he’s probably like 250. I’m in on a single and I’m trying to run the pipe and move him around and I step in, elevate him. I’ve torqued his underside leg and I think I got him going down, like I’m gonna score it and somehow like a f*cking cat, you know what I mean? With the butter side bread on it like that little meme, he just lands right on his all fours, pops back up, keeps fighting and goes after three different takedown options off of every defense I throw and then finishes and I just go, ‘F*ck you Bobby. That’s some bullsh*t. I’m not even gonna pull the athleticism card. I’m just gonna say you’re nuts. It’s insane how much you’re able to manage a sort of thing’ but, I have taken Bobby down before and you know it’s true Bobby. Come on, you gotta know it. You gotta admit it so I’ve taken Bobby down but, the score is still in his favor. He’s one of the sickest athletes I’ve ever come across, an incredible wrestler, I love how smooth he is and how quick his transitions can be and one guy at the gym was gonna spar him and he tells me later, he goes, he sees Bobby across the ring, he’s like, ‘Alright.’ They’re doing MMA sparring, they got the MMA gloves on. Looking at him and he feels like, he describes it as Bobby’s on one side of the cage and he’s on the other and Bobby basically makes a level change and goes, ‘There’s no way he’s gonna shoot –’ and all of a sudden, he’s in on him from some insane distance, as fast as he could blink and down he goes.
** While guest appearing on ‘Podding With Ego’, BLK Jeez expressed that he’s interested in returning to IMPACT Wrestling. He wrestled there earlier in his career as ‘Rashad Cameron’ and the first go-round did not go as planned from his perspective. He feels he would shine if he went back.
I think I just want closure with a couple of things. There’s a company in particular, I’m interested in that company but I think it is — I think I want closure on my own terms. We’re talking about IMPACT. Did a handful of times at IMPACT years ago, (as) Rashad Cameron, and back then, I would have said that I didn’t get a fair opportunity. That’s bullsh*t. It just wasn’t my time. It was years ago so now, the experience level is there, everything is there now. Being with NWA in the last year-and-a-half, it’s taught me to be able to adapt even more than I could before. So it’s like, even when it comes to any and everything in this game, I’m ready for it all. So I am interested in IMPACT because I already know, I can walk in that door tomorrow and shine.
** The following ‘coming soon’ video aired during the NJPW New Japan Cup final show:
** Bianca Belair and Logan Paul are appearing on the next season of Kevin Hart’s ‘Cold As Balls’ show.
** DDT Pro-Wrestling ‘Judgment’ Results (3/21/23) Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan
– Dark Match: Ilusion & Munetatsu Nakamura def. El Unicorn & Raimu Imai
– Yuya Koroku & Yuki Ishida def. Toi Kojima & Kazuma Sumi
– Keisuke Ishii & Soma Takao def. Kazuki Hirata & Yoshihiko
– Vacant DDT O-40 Championship – Three Way: Makoto Oishi def. Gorgeous Matsuno and Shinichiro Kawamatsu
– Koju Takeda, Yumehito Imanari, Danshoku Dieno & Yuki Iino vs. Hiroshi Yamato, Yusuke Okada, Akito & Toru Owashi – No Contest
– Max The Impaler & Heidi Howitzer def. Antonio Honda & Super Sasadango Machine
– Saki Akai def. Masahiro Takanashi
– HARASHIMA & Keigo Nakamura def. Yukio Sakaguchi & Hideki Okatani
– Takeshi Masada def. Hikaru Machida
– KANON, M.J. Paul & Daisuke Sasaki def. Drew Parker, Hagane Shinno & Chris Brookes
– DDT Extreme Championship: Jun Akiyama (c) def. Kotaro Suzuki
– Konosuke Takeshita def. Sanshiro Takagi
– Yuki Ueno def. Samuray Del Sol
– DDT Universal Championship: Tetsuya Endo def. Naruki Doi (c)
– KO-D Tag Team Championships: Shunma Katsumata & MAO (c) def. Kazusada Higuchi & Ryota Nakatsu
– KO-D Openweight Championship: Yuji Hino (c) def. Yukio Naya
** El Desperado is scheduled to take on Daisuke Sasaki at DDT Pro-Wrestling Peter Pan on July 23rd.
** STARDOM Results (3/21/23) Act City Hamamatsu in Hamamatsu, Japan
– Starlight Kid def. Saya Iida
– Utami Hayashishita & Lady C def. Koguma & Momo Kohgo
– Tam Nakano def. Yuna Mizumori
– Syuri, MIRAI & Ami Sohrei vs. Mina Shirakawa, Natsupoi & Mariah May – 15-Minute Time Limit Draw
– Mayu Iwatani, Hazuki & Hanan def. Saya Kamitani, AZM & Miyu Amasaki
– Giulia, Himeka, Maika & Mai Sakurai def. Natsuko Tora, Momo Watanabe, Saki Kashima & Ruaka
** NJPW’s official website has a recap of a talk show that Hiroshi Tanahashi was the focus of.
** Horror At The Store welcomed WWE’s Kayla Braxton onto the show.
** Dragongate Japan Pro-Wrestling ‘Glorious Gate’ Results (3/21/23) Kobe Sambo Hall in Kobe, Japan
– Ho Ho Lun, Jacky ‘Funky Kamei’ & Jason Lee def. Dragon Kid, Eita & Genki Horiguchi
– Minorita def. Punch Tominaga
– Don Fujii & Kaito Nagano def. BIG BOSS Shimizu & Daiki Yanagiuchi
– Kagetora, Kono Mama Ichikawa, Syachihoko BOY & Takashi Yoshida def. M3K (Masaaki Mochizuki, Mochizuki Jr., Susumu Mochizuki & Yasushi Kanda)
– Shuji Kondo & YAMATO def. Kzy & Strong Machine J
– Three Way Tag Team Match: Z-Brats (H.Y.O, KAI & Shun Skywalker) def. Dragon Dia, Madoka Kikuta & Yuki Yoshioka and Ben-K, BxB Hulk & Kota Minoura
** March 21st birthdays: Anil Marik.
** GLEAT Pro Wrestling Results (3/21/23) Gorilla Hall Osaka in Osaka, Japan
– Masato Kamino, Takanori Ito, Yusuke Kodama & Issei Onitsuka def. Jun Tonsho, Kaz Hayashi, Keiichi Sato & Tetsuya Goto
– GAORA TV Championship: Minoru Tanaka (c) def. Quiet Storm
– Itsuki Aoki & Unagi Sayaka def. Michiko Miyagi & Yukari Hosokawa
– UWF Rules Tag Team Match: Shinya Aoki & Yu Iizuka def. Seichi Ikemoto & Tetsuya Izuchi
– CIMA, T-Hawk & Komander def. Hartley Jackson, Yutani & Violento Jack
– G-INFINITY Championship: Check Shimatani & Hayato Tamura (c) def. El Lindaman & Soma Watanabe
– G-REX Championship: Kaito Ishida (c) def. KAZMA SAKAMOTO
If any of the quotes from the following podcasts or video interviews are used, please credit those sources and provide an H/T and link back to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.