In just under a week, AEW is running what they are billing as the largest wrestling show of all time: AEW All In London at Wembley Stadium.

There is one person I want to spotlight who deserves and, in my view, has earned a spot on that show.

For many AEW fans, Emi Sakura is the wrestler who did the Freddie Mercury gimmick in the early days of the promotion. Since then, Sakura has rarely appeared on TV, so it’s not surprising that for those who don’t know her career, the idea that she should be at Wembley Stadium would seem strange.

For those who know, however, Emi Sakura is one of the most influential wrestlers of her generation, both on and off screen, and appearing at Wembley makes all the sense in the world.

Coming into the wrestling business at the age of 17, Sakura rubbed shoulders with wrestlers like Manami Toyota, Terry Funk, and Luna Vachon in FMW and AJW. By the mid-2000s, she took the bold step of launching her own promotion, Ice Ribbon, a promotion that has gone on to host well over a thousand shows and continues to this day.

Sakura would then start Gatoh Move, a promotion that, despite its boutique nature, punches well above its weight in gaining worldwide critical acclaim, with matches regularly placing in Voices of Wrestling’s Match of the Year. It’s also the home turf of former AEW women’s champion Riho and a new generation of wrestlers such as Mei Suruga, Yuna Mizumori, and Chie Koishikawa.

Sakura is a prolific trainer, and it’s not just Gatoh Move alumni that she has played a key role in developing. Two AEW women’s champions have been trained by Sakura, including the current holder, Hikaru Shida. Current TJPW champ Mizuki was a Sakura graduate. Go through the list of Sakura trainees, and you’ll find a list of some of the most well-renowned women’s wrestlers, including the likes of Tsukasa Fujimoto, Ray, and Tsukushi.

Sakura also has a deep connection to the United Kingdom.

In 2011, Ice Ribbon collaborated with EVE to create a series of shows highlighting the UK and Japan women’s scenes. Sakura has toured the UK numerous times since, helping to strengthen the scene with her unique expertise and flamboyant style. Sakura is also an ambassador for the industry in Asia, helping to set up promotions in Thailand, and making appearances in Singapore, Malaysia, and China.

Unlike WWE, one of AEW’s great strengths is acknowledging that a world exists outside its borders.

AEW isn’t afraid to mention other promotions or canon histories of wrestling. It does this because AEW realizes that wrestlers are better with a pedigree. The company has done well to showcase wrestlers from NJPW with a regular Forbidden Door PPV showing how the sum is greater than the parts. However, regarding the legacy and the career of legends like Emi Sakura, AEW has not done a great job. Yet, Sakura has been the perfect ambassador for the company, not least in Gatoh Move, where she regularly promotes AEW and, during the pandemic, encouraged watch-alongs.

In the ring, while opportunities have been sparse, she stepped up whenever she’s been given the opportunity, whether it’s being part of the international women’s tournament or facing Jamie Hayter in a match earlier this year on Rampage that, according to Cagematch, is one of AEW’s highest rated women’s matches of all time.

With a career that has left footprints within rings worldwide, Wembley would be a fitting and meaningful stage for Emi Sakura to perform on and a chance for AEW to show it values the legacy of women’s wrestling.

Thank you to all in the Voices of Wrestling community Discord who contributed their knowledge to the research of this article.