Find out what it means to Sumie Sakai to be the first Women of Honor champion, what famous match inspired her to move to America to wrestle, what she learned by watching “Jerry Springer” and “Maury” and more.
1. If you weren't a pro wrestler, what would you be doing for a living?
I never thought I would be a pro wrestler. I wanted to be a gold medalist judo Olympian or school teacher when I was kid. I was working at a senior hospital care center before I was a pro wrestler. I really loved that job. I think I would still be working at the senior hospital if I had never watched pro wrestling live.
2. How did you first become interested in American pro wrestling back when you were living in Japan?
I didn’t know America had pro wrestling. I was not a pro wrestling fan. Once I began wrestling I grew to love it. One day my senpai (mentor) Lioness Asuka told me that she could tell I love pro wrestling. It was very true when she said that to me. I got many chances to wrestle with so many famous wrestlers. I was so happy that I made a goal to challenge for Lioness Asuka’s title. I won a very tough two-day tournament. Then I got the chance to challenge her at the Korakuen Hall main event. But I had broken my leg before the big day. I was so sad I thought I would quit pro wrestling. Around that time my friend showed me a videotape of the Dudley Boyz versus Hardy Boyz versus Edge and Christian ladder match. After seeing that match I really wanted to try going to America to study pro wrestling. I went to Killer Kowalski’s school to begin training American style.
3. What is your favorite building to wrestle in?
In Japan, at Korakuen Hall, because I debuted at Korakuen Hall on April 20, 1997. I was so nervous for my first match. In USA, at Murphy Recreation Center in Philly, because I debuted at ROH on June 22, 2002 there. That place made me want to come back to USA. I love the 2300 Arena also. I was training there and I have wrestled there so many times. I have so many great memories.
4. What is your favorite American TV show?
My English is still not really good but when I came to America in 2002 my English was like a 2-year-old baby. I always watched the “Jerry Springer” and “Maury” shows because fighting couples are always the same everywhere in the world.
5. What is your favorite American food?
I love candy so I would have to say Sour Patch Kids or sour Skittles. When I first came to America the candy was so much sweeter than in Japan. It was difficult to eat at first but now I’m eating it all the time.
6. Do you have any hobbies?
When I am not wrestling I do MMA training. I’m studying jiu-jitsu at the Renzo Gracie BJJ gym in Philadelphia. My trainer, Daniel Gracie, is a good friend. I love learning from him. My favorite submission is the armbar.
7. What's a subject you'd like to know more about?
Minoru Suzuki’s training style. When I met him for the first time at ROH last year I talked with him a lot. I have so much respect for Minoru Suzuki. He is a legend in not just Japan but the world. Cheeseburger and I respect him so much. We wanted to learn about Suzuki-san’s training regimen. He told us how he trains before a match. We want to become great professional wrestlers like him someday, so we will do his training before our matches as well.
8. Can you put into words what it means to you to be the first Women of Honor Champion?
I’ve always had to fight for everything in my personal life. I never gave up in life and I knew I couldn’t give up in the tournament. Winning the tournament and becoming the first champion made me forget all of the hardships and obstacles in my life up until now. I proved to myself and everyone that I can overcome any challenge.
9. Did you do anything special after Supercard of Honor to celebrate your title win?
I had a plan to go see my friend Sammy, who is fighting Stage 4 cancer. She finished her last chemo so I wanted to show her my title belt as a surprise to celebrate together. But she was very sick that day so I celebrate with her this week.
10. What message would you like to deliver to the fans?
When I won the tournament I wanted it to be a victory for everyone. I want to make Women Of Honor the best women’s wrestling in the world. So many great wrestlers came to be part of this tournament, including Tenille Dashwood and the women of Stardom. I want to see Women Of Honor continue to grow and become better every day so that more women will come here to compete to be the best in the world.