I started writing an article about “Moneyball” signings Tony Khan could make for AEW’s women’s division but, as happens with a lot of my writing, scope creep becomes an issue (a common trait for writers with ADHD) so I had to reign it back in. The conception of this article came from the idea that to build the best possible wrestling roster, you need more than stars. Because if everyone is a star, then no one is. And as soon as you have too many stars you only have so many “top spots” to go around and a lot of them will begin to look neglected or lose their lustre or become “just a guy”. On the opposite end though, if you bring in wrestlers who are just there to eat losses like Homer eating donuts in Hell, there better be some type of promise or charm that keep fans wanting to see them again. When AEW launched in 2019, they had this with the likes of Darby Allin, Jungle Boy, and Orange Cassidy. Fans glommed onto these fresh faces but also understood part of the fun of following their story was seeing them lose to top stars but each time getting incrementally closer to that top tier status.
The antithesis of this “Moneyball” signing idea would be Megan Bayne, who Fightful revealed AEW has had under contract all this time, even now as she’s working in Stardom. Look, Bayne is a talent that you absolutely sign if you’re AEW. But if/when they bring her in, she can’t be someone who takes a lot of losses. She needs to be in at least a TBS Title program almost immediately and kept strong. She’s “the new monster in the territory”. That means moving some women who’ve been there a lot longer than Bayne down the card and also limiting who she can wrestle as whoever faces her also needs to be able to afford taking that ‘L’.
And here is where we finally come to Mei Suruga.
Outside of the GOAT Mercedes Monè herself, Mei Suruga is the #1 Free Agent—WITH A BULLET—that I’d like to see Tony Khan pursue. And when it came to writing about “Moneyball” signings that Tony Khan could make, it became apparent that Mei belonged in a category all on her own. Suruga would be such a valuable piece to this womens division. The 24 year-old Mei Suruga’s ceiling as a talent in AEW is World Champion. Yet standing at just 4’10”, it’s realistic that Mei would struggle with the larger AEW roster. Like the Darby’s and Jungle Boy’s before her, she could justifiably grind it out for years in the mid-card with a mediocre win-loss record, all while bringing an act that would keep AEW fans wanting to see more and more of her despite the losses.
Subjectively, Mei Suruga’s in-ring skill and athleticism would be second-to-none in AEW. Not only is she lightning quick and dextrously nimble enough to pull off spots that you’ve never seen before but she’s creative enough that they’ll be scenarios you’ve never even thought of. But what truly makes her the right talent for an American wrestling audience is her language transcending charisma, charm, and sense of humour. It’s callous to say, but unless you’ve got a wrestling promoter who’s committed to bringing Joshi wrestling to America and being patient with it, even the best Joshi talent will likely struggle to get over with North American wrestling fans who aren’t already predisposed to Joshi wrestling. It’s just a different audience.
Mei, however, has Universal Translator-level emoting and physical comedy chops. Her whimsy and exuberance are invincibly contagious. She has a 6th sense for taking even the most outlandish premise and making it coherent and absorbing, like she did in a match on AEW Dark where she kept threatening to bite (eat?) Bryce Remsburg. And, unlike a lot of Joshi talent who could be incredible on AEW television IF they’re given lots of time and focus to tell their story their way, Mei can enchant audiences in sub-5-minute matches, especially the more you get to know her character’s beguiling nature.
I could go on about the possibilities of Mei Suruga in AEW but the best way to convey my argument to you as a reader would be for you to watch Mei Suruga vs AZM from the 2022 Stardom Cinderella Tournament PPV. If you happen to have a subscription to Stardom-World but somehow haven’t watched this match, WATCH IT NOW! I showed this match to my nephew who I had just gotten into wrestling earlier that week and despite no English commentary and his relative newness to wrestling, he found it in enthralling. If you don’t currently pay 920 yen per month to Bushi Road for this privilege, the next best option is to watch YouTuber Meerkat Ultra’s breakdown of this match and wider philosophy of Mei Suruga’s in-ring psychology.
I should take a minute to note that maybe Mei Suruga has her own personal or professional reasons for not already being in a major North American wrestling company. Maybe Tony Khan has already approached her but she derides more professional satisfaction (maybe even more money, I don’t know) from doing her own thing. But if that isn’t the case, Mei Suruga feels like found money to me and like someone who you can bring in who doesn’t necessitate the need to bump a dozen or so talents down the card to make room for her. You can bring her in, delight your audience, and put over women currently signed to your company off the hop. And down the line, should Tony Khan decide it’s the best direction, she’d be a worthy and entertaining World or TBS Champion for AEW.
Thanks for reading and, as always, let the women in your life know how much you appreciate them. 🙂