It’s been a pretty successful couple of months for Ayumi Kurihara. At the start of October, she won the SHIMMER Tag Team Championship with Ayako Hamada, and successfully defended it through to the end of that batch of tapings. At the end of last month, she and partner Kana won the Dual Shock WAVE Tag League to claim the promotion’s doubles straps, and today, the 27-year old won arguably the most prestigious title in her career to date by becoming the CMLL World Women’s Champion, defeating Marcela by coming from behind to win by two falls to one – the outgoing champ had only won the belt at the end of last month on her thirteenth attempt.
The previous champion, Amapola, held the title for a whopping 1,442 days. Marcela’s latest reign lasted just 29 – the shortest in the title’s history. This victory makes Kurihara the fourth Japanese woman to hold the championship.
This isn’t the first singles title that Ayumi has held. She has also been the Xtreme Latin American Wrestling Extreme Champion, as well as being the final NEO/NWA Pacific Champion before the promotion closed down at the end of last year. However, this World Championship (a title that has been in existence for close to 20 years) is undoubtedly the biggest shot in the arm for Kurihara, who won the belt in the main event of her 6th Anniversary celebration show in Tokyo, made even sweeter in that she had the belt presented to her by the first titleholder, Bull Nakano, who – as you can tell from the photo – is still piling on the weight ahead of her retirement show in January.
The title change itself is something of a surprise in that Marcela’s reign was so short. In the past, CMLL World Women’s title reigns have been somewhat lengthy, with most pushing the one year mark – with the exception of Lady Apache, who held the belt for a mere 90 days in 1996. To have a title which usually has such stability flip-flopped at such a pace is unusual. Indeed, at the time, we surmised that Marcela would enjoy a number of successful defences against the likes of Princesa Blanca, La Commandante, Hiroka and most likely Amapola again, but things became clearer as the days went on.
Rumours began circling that CMLL wanted to get the belt onto Ayumi, but were not keen on having her defeat Amapola to do so. As a result, Marcela became the middlewoman that Kurihara could beat to gain the championship. It became clear that Marcela was not going to be a force to be reckoned with on November 11 when she was defeated by Princesa Blanca in a match for Blanca’s (less prestigious) Mexican National Women’s Championship. As it transpires, the rumours turned out to be pretty accurate, as here we are, with Kurihara as the new World Champion.
In a way, it taints Kurihara’s title win. Granted, Marcela is a hell of a talent and has a great body of work behind her, but had Ayumi been the one to end the four year reign of Amapola, it would have skyrocketed her credibility as champion from the very start. Even though we surmised incorrectly on the duration of Marcela’s second reign, we would expect Ayumi’s run at the top to be longer and with more success than the previous titleholder. CMLL really needs for that to happen, as this is a title that now needs some stability in the coming months.
Nonetheless, congratulations to Kurihara, who fully deserves the belt after a few great years of top quality matches in Japan, Mexico and the United States. Given the number of stamps she has in her passport, she truly is a world champion.