Best known to us in the West for her appearances in SHIMMER, the 28-year old’s eight-year career has been riddled with injuries, most notably a broken clavicle in 2007 that forced her onto the sidelines for over a year. Nevertheless, despite these setbacks she has not been without success, winning a host of titles all around the world including the WAVE Tag Team Championship (with Kana), the NEO Singles Championship, the CMLL World Women’s Championship and most famously for us, the SHIMMER Tag Team Championship with Ayako Hamada.
The daughter of the owners of a barbecue restaurant frequented by wrestlers, Kurihara was exposed to the industry at an early age, being trained by the likes of GAMI, AKINO and Mariko Yoshida. Making her debut in 2005 at the age of 20, she quickly began to make a name for herself, with her high-intensity style, high pain threshold and trademark missile dropkicks. After breaking her clavicle in a tag team match in NEO in mid-2007 then re-aggravating it in her return match a few months later, she ended up out of action until December 2008, wrestling twice on her full-time return on a show she produced and put together herself.
In 2009 she went over to Mexico for a number of dates, donning a mask and going by the name A*YU*MI, while back home in Japan she won her first ever championship, teaming up with Yoshiko Tamura to win the NEO Tag Team Titles. In 2010 she got her first exposure to the American audience, wrestling at SHIMMER’s volumes 29 through to 32, defeating Tomoka Nakagawa, Nikki Roxx and Sara Del Rey on respective shows followed by losing to Daizee Haze by countout, but cementing her place among the favourites of the SHIMMER faithful. She returned later that year for Volumes 33-36, narrowly losing in a title match against then-SHIMMER Champion Madison Eagles. On Volume 38 she had an epic match against Ayako Hamada, with whom she would team up the following year to win the SHIMMER Tag Team Championships from Daizee Haze and Tomoka Nakagawa.
In November 2011 she won the CMLL World Women’s Championship from Marcela, before losing it back to her a few months later. 2012 continued to be a success for Kurihara – despite losing the SHIMMER Tag Team Titles in March to Courtney Rush and Sara Del Rey, she was the winner of WAVE’s 2012 “Catch the Wave” Tournament, and teamed up with her former trainer AKINO to win the Oz Academy Tag Team Championships from Aja Kong and Sonoko Kato. She got 2013 underway on an unfortunate note, fracturing an orbital bone at an Oz Academy match on February 15th.
Kurihara announced today that due to the amount of injuries she has been working through for the past few years, it would be for the best to leave the business on a high note. Her official retirement show and match will take place on August 4th at Korakuen Hall, Tokyo. However, fortunately for us she has also announced one final appearance at SHIMMER, where she will be competing on their iPPV debut at SHIMMER 53 on April 6th in Secaucus, New Jersey as part of WrestleCon, where she will face Mercedes Martinez for the first (and indeed, last) time.
Everyone on the Diva Dirt team would like to extend their utmost thanks and appreciation to Ayumi Kurihara for everything that she’s done in her career, and to wish her all the best in whatever she chooses to do next in her life. Thank you, Ayumi!