WOH Wrestler Of The Year: Sumie Sakai

Sumie Sakai’s journey, which began in 2002 when she defeated Simply Luscious in the first women’s match to take place on a Ring of Honor show, finally reached its destination on April 7, 2018 at Supercard of Honor. That night, before the largest crowd ever in ROH, Sakai made history by becoming the inaugural Women of Honor World Champion.

Despite her considerable in-ring skills and 21 years of experience, Sakai was perceived as an underdog to win the highly competitive tournament. However, the sentimental favorite who moved from Japan to the U.S. 15 years ago, defeated Hana Kimura and Kagetsu, both of whom are top stars in Japan’s Stardom promotion, in the first two rounds to advance to the final four at Supercard of Honor. Sakai defeated Tenille Dashwood in the semifinals and then knocked off Kelly Klein in the finals. It was the first time Klein had been pinned since making her WOH debut two and a half years earlier.

Sakai successfully defended the championship over 251 days against top challengers such as Dashwood, Madison Rayne, Jenny Rose and international stars Hazuki and Chardonnay before losing the title to Klein in a four-way elimination match at Final Battle last month that came down to her and Klein.