INTERVIEW: Yuka Sakazaki discusses upcoming PWG debut, CyberFight Festival, time with AEW

Yuka Sakazaki discussed her upcoming PWG debut, CyberFight Festival semi-main event match, her run in AEW and more with Andrew Thompson

Photo Courtesy: All Elite Wrestling

June 12th is the date of CyberFight Festival which will see promotions under the CyberFight banner (Pro Wrestling NOAH, Tokyo Joshi Pro, DDT and Ganbare Pro Wrestling) come together to present what is a 14-match card. The show can be watched on the WRESTLE UNIVERSE streaming service and for first-time subscribers, there is a two-week free trail offer.

In the semi-main event, the TJPW Princess of Princess Championship will be on the line when Shoko Nakajima defends against Yuka Sakazaki.

This coming December will mark Yuka’s nine-year anniversary since her in-ring debut. I had the opportunity to do a Q&A with Yuka through email and she expressed that it’s because of Tokyo Joshi Pro that she found wrestling and is grateful to be part of the promotion.

It’s because of TJPW that I met wrestling and understood [the] joys of it! TJPW and I both began on the same day so we’re like a fated existence.

Yuka is a former two-time Princess of Princess Champion and there is a chance she could become a three-time champion on Sunday. It is exciting for her to have a title match on a card like CyberFight Festival.

To have a TJPW title match amongst all this big news!! I’ll win this singles belt and become a double champion and stand at the center.

In 2022, Tokyo Joshi Pro sent out tweets about possibly recruiting new wrestlers to come to the promotion. As Sakazaki continues to wrestle around the world, she was asked to name a talent who she’d want to bring over to Japan and noted that she’d love to have Nyla Rose in TJPW.

Nyla Rose is a large wrestler who’s both physically strong and a great wrestler. I’d love to wrestle her in a TJPW ring!

Since 2019, Sakazaki has been working with All Elite Wrestling. She was on the first-ever Double or Nothing show and was most recently in action for AEW at a Dark taping on 5/27.

She enjoys the reactions from American crowds and credited the wrestlers for their communication skills despite the language barrier at times.

The reactions of the American audience and cheers are easy to understand, and it adds to the matches. The wrestlers there also do their best to communicate with me even if my English isn’t good. I’ve been supported by many people in AEW but Kenny [Omega] really brought us to many tourist spots, takes good care of us and gave us a lot of advice. I’m very thankful!

In July, Sakazaki and Masha Slamovich are making their PWG debuts at the ‘NINETEEN’ show. It’ll be the first time a woman (women) has competed at a PWG show since Candice LeRae in 2016.

Yuka is glad to see that PWG has a women’s match on the card and will do her best to live up to expectations. She isn’t sure if it’ll lead to more women being added to PWG cards but hopes she and Masha can be a part of that change.

I’m very glad to see that not only did PWG have a very rare Joshi match on the card, I’m very glad to be part of the match! I’ll do my best to live up to expectations. I’m not sure about future women’s matches but I hope that my match with Masha [Slamovich] would lead to more women’s matches there.

Last month, as the Owen Hart Foundation tournament was taking shape, AEW asked TJPW if they could bring Sakazaki over to compete against Riho in the tourney.

Sakazaki defended the Princess Tag Titles on 5/3 and then flew from Tokyo to Baltimore, Maryland to compete against Riho. She stated that she was in peak condition for the match despite the quick turnaround.

Everyone in Tokyo gave their support and with that momentum, I flew to AEW in tip-top condition and wrestled the match!! I slept really well on the flight too so I had no issues!

Back in January, actress Juria Nagano joined Tokyo Joshi Pro. Juria has a background in karate and is an active nurse. Yuka was asked from her perspective; how does she think Juria has taken to pro wrestling and here was her response:

I’m not sure how well she’s [Juria Nagano] taken to wrestling unless you ask her personally but, seeing how well received her TikTok videos are with us in it, I think she’s not too stressed being around.

At the 2021 CyberFight Festival, Yuka wrestled Miyu Yamashita for the Princess of Princess Title. Yuka is set on topping what she did last year and is not feeling any pressure heading into the match with Shoko.

Of course! I’ll have a match better than last [CyberFight Festival], and there’s no pressure!!

Over the past month, the likes of CyberFight President Sanshiro Takagi and Bushiroad CEO Takaaki Kidani have talked about the possibility of lifting restrictions so that crowds can verbally make noise at shows.

DDT Pro-Wrestling is lifting that restriction for their July 7th show. Yuka talked about how crucial fans making noise is to the performances that wrestlers give in the ring.

I think that the cheering of the crowds really gives extra power to the wrestlers. It feels like we’re fighting together and when I’m down, it feels like they’re giving me an extra push. I’m so glad!

Circling back around to Yuka and Shoko Nakajima, their careers have been intertwined since 2013. Yuka’s first match in TJPW involved Shoko. Sakazaki said they are rivals and their respective desires to win only makes each other better.

She’s my rival! When our mutual desire to win burns brighter, we naturally improve each other.

Prestige Wrestling, which is based on the west coast, has a working relationship with Tokyo Joshi Pro. They’ve welcomed in Miyu Yamashita and Maki Itoh. Yuka said that if she receives an offer to go there, she’ll go for sure.

Of course [I’d like to appear for Prestige Wrestling]! If I receive an offer, I’ll go for sure!! However, there’s red tape beyond my control so it’s not always a 100 percent guaranteed thing. Receiving such offers in itself is important and I’m glad that people would love to see me there!!!

Yuka can be found on Twitter @YukaSakazaki and on Instagram @yuka_sakazaki_ayayayay. As of this writing, here is the CyberFight Festival match card:

  • Kickoff Show: Muscle Sakai & Yukio Naya vs. Soma Takao & Kazuki Hirata
  • Kickoff Show: Hyper Misao, Yuki Aino, YuuRI, Pomu Harajuku & Haruna Neko vs. Nao Kakuta, Maya Kiryu, Moka Miyamoto, Arisu Endo & Kaya Tori
  • Kickoff Show: Yukio Sakaguchi, Saki Akai & Hideki Okatani vs. Ken Ohka, Yuna Manase & Mizuki Watase
  • Kinya Okada & Kawei Fujimura vs. Toui Kojima & Yuya Takashika
  • Miyu Yamashita, Maki Ito & Juria Nagano vs. Hikari Noa, Suzume & Yuki Arai
  • Iino Yuki, Danshoku Dino, Imanari Yumehito & Akito vs. Sanshiro Takagi, Kendo Kashin, Shinya Aoki & Yumiko Hotta
  • Princess of Princess Title #1 Contender’s Match — Four-Way: Rika Tatsumi vs. Mizuki vs. Yuki Kamifuku vs. Miu Watanabe
  • Takashi Sugiura, Kazuyuki Fujita, Masa Kitamiya, Daiki Inaba & Shuhei Taniguchi vs. Michael Elgin, El Hijo de Dr. Wagner Jr, René Duprée, Simon Gotch & Timothy Thatcher
  • HARASHIMA, Naomi Yoshimura, Chris Brookes & Masahiro Takanashi vs. Yuki Ueno, Shunma Katsumata, MAO & ASUKA
  • Rob Van Dam, Yoshinari Ogawa & HAYATA vs. Kaito Kiyomiya, Daisuke Harada & YO-HEY
  • Tetsuya Endo, Jun Akiyama & Kazusada Higuchi vs. Naomichi Marufuji, Atsushi Kotoge & Yoshiki Inamura
  • Kenoh vs. Daisuke Sasaki
  • Princess of Princess Championship: Shoko Nakajima (c) vs. Yuka Sakazaki
  • GHC Heavyweight Championship: Go Shiozaki (c) vs. Satoshi Kojima
About Andrew Thompson 4228 Articles
A Maryland native and graduate of Norfolk State University, Andrew Thompson has been covering wrestling since 2017.