Before making a splash in the international wrestling arena, Hikaru Shida fine-tuned her craft in Japan's renowned Ice Ribbon promotion. Yet, by 2014, a shift was in the wind. The rising star, who now proudly holds the AEW Women's Championship, decided to take her career into her own hands by venturing into freelancing.
This move not only expanded her wrestling vistas but also introduced her to an invaluable mentorship from her once rival, Kana. Today, the world knows Kana as the formidable Asuka, a force to be reckoned with in WWE. During an insightful session with journalist Denise Salcedo, Shida took the opportunity to elaborate on her rapport with Asuka.
"While we might not be in regular touch now, back when I transitioned to freelancing, Kana-san was a beacon. She imparted lessons on negotiation strategies, the nuances of freelancing, and much more," recalled Shida.
"Shida: Mentorship and Fading Ties"
"She took on the role of a mentor, guiding me through the intricate dance of professional wrestling.
To me, she was akin to a wise teacher, always ready with counsel and advice. Her freelance journey had parallels with mine, making her insights even more pertinent," Shida continued, a touch of nostalgia evident in her voice.
"But after she carved her niche in the U.S., our interactions dwindled, limited to just a few conversations." However, the passage of time and physical distance hasn't diminished the respect Shida holds for the ex-WWE Women's Champion.
Asuka's wisdom was instrumental, not only in guiding Shida through the unpredictable waters of freelancing but also in understanding the dynamics of the wrestling industry beyond Japan's shores. Shida feels indebted to Asuka for lessons on upholding the dignity and responsibilities that come with a championship title.
"Despite our limited communication in recent times, in my eyes, she remains an unparalleled mentor. She's given me a template on how to conduct oneself as a champion, especially while making waves internationally," Shida expressed. "My respect for her is unwavering. Watching her succeed, achieve, and inspire has been a sheer joy."