AEW Fyter Fest: Riho on Kenny Omega, Gatoh Move, competing at Double or Nothing & more! (Exclusive)
You first saw her in AEW Double or Nothing, where she was part of a 6-woman tag team match, also featuring 5 other supremely talented Japanese Joshi wrestlers. We'd previously caught up with Emi Sakura, also from Gatoh Move pro wrestling, who was also a part of the historic match at Double or Nothing.
This time, thanks to the translation skills of Indian pro wrestling superstar Baliyan Akki, we were able to connect and interact with Riho. She is scheduled to compete against Yuka Sakazaki and Nyla Rose at AEW Fyter Fest, on 29th June.
You have been announced for a big three-way match at AEW Fyter Fest. How special is the match for you?
Riho: I am one of the two Joshis who's been called back for a repeat after the success of AEW Double or Nothing. So, I've to work harder than ever and will perform better than ever.
How was it performing at AEW Double or Nothing? Was it the biggest crowd you have performed in front of?
Riho: Yes, it was the biggest crowd that I have performed for. However, all of the wrestlers were from Japan so thankfully, it was the same style that I'm used to, that I'm comfortable with.
The only difference is that I was performing in front of 20000 people. That gave me the feeling that everything I've done until now was for something. That it accomplished something.
Emi Sakura san told us that you will be leaving Gatoh Move pro wrestling soon. Is this to join AEW full time?
Riho: No. My plan is to stay in Japan as a freelancer and do shows both in Japan and overseas. I'm not looking to join full-time anywhere right now.
You have tagged with Kenny Omega in the past and have a special bond with him. Can you talk about this? Was he responsible for getting you to AEW?
Riho: (Laughs) I don't know if you can call it a bond. We tagged together maybe five, maybe eight years ago. I think when he saw me compete, he was fascinated with regards to my potential.
From what I've heard since then, he's watched my matches and stayed updated with regard to my progress.
He was the one who called me down. Yeah, for him to be interested in my career after so many years is special.
Do you think AEW can challenge the dominance of WWE in the market?
Riho: I think AEW is great. The mutual feeling among everyone in the AEW roster, because it's a new venture, (the feeling) is to work harder and be better than everyone else. There's a hunger, a motivation in AEW.
But other than that, it's difficult to talk about whether they can challenge WWE. But let me assure you that everyone in the company currently is working hard to be number 1 in every single aspect.
Gatoh Move is a unique concept of wrestling without a ring. How difficult is it to adapt to this style of wrestling without ropes?
Riho: People don't know this about me but I've always been wrestling all my life. Since my debut, I've been wrestling in the ring and on the mat simultaneously. At this stage of my career, I only want to wrestle in the ring, though.
So what got you started in pro wrestling?
Riho: Back when I was a school kid, I would have to do all these exercises. My teacher was Emi Sakura, the woman who is the brains behind Gatoh Move Pro Wrestling (also a participant at Double or Nothing).
She taught me how pro wrestling is an extension of physical exercise. In many ways, it's just like a workout. And it just kept going from there...
What has your relationship with Emi Sakura been like through the years?
Riho: I haven't just learned pro wrestling from Sakura San. You know, I started wrestling when I was 9. I learned how to talk, how to behave, how to grow into an adult from her. Everything I know I learned from her.
She is like a mother to me.
What do you like to do when you're not wrestling?
Riho: I like watching Disney movies. I love to shop for cute and flowery dresses. Pancakes. I love pancakes.
Baliyan Akki: She is exactly like her character. She is a princess, through and through.
Finally, what do you think of Baliyan Akki, India's favorite pro wrestler and his journey to Japan?
Riho: It's fantastic how Akki came to Japan from India to learn and become better at pro wrestling. He's close to my age, and he could have been lonely in a different country, all alone. But always cheerful and smiling. He's always working to become the best that he can.
That's really admirable. That's awesome.