AEW owner Tony Khan promised a surprise debut this week, as he promoted a mystery opponent for The Bunny in an Owen Hart Foundation Tournament qualifying match. With no shortage of top female free agents available, speculation quickly ran wild.
On Wednesday night, the speculation ended as none other than Toni Storm made her AEW debut to a warm welcome from the South Carolina crowd.
Wrestling her first match since leaving WWE in late December of 2021, Storm looked as though she hadn’t missed a step, pinning The Bunny following a short piledriver, identified as Storm Zero by Excalibur, to advance to the tournament.
Storm made her pro debut back in 2011 in Australia, working for several years on the Australian independent scene before beginning to work primarily out of the UK starting around 2014, working in England, Northern Ireland, and working several dates for WXW in Germany.
Toni made her debut for World Wonder Ring Stardom in 2016, and in her fourth match for the promotion, defeated Io Shirai for the SWA Undisputed World Women’s Championship, a title she went on to hold for a record-breaking 612 days. After she came to WWE for the inaugural Mae Young Classic and eventually joined the NXT:UK roster, Storm would continue to work for Stardom intermittently through 2019.
In 2017, Storm was a part of the inaugural Mae Young Classic tournament, losing in the semi-finals to Kairi Sane. She would win the tournament the following year, defeating Io Shirai in the finals.
She made her debut with NXT:UK in June of 2018 on the second WWE UK Championship Tournament show at Royal Albert Hall. In January of 2019, Storm won the NXT UK Women’s Championship, which she would go on to hold for 230 days, losing to Kay Lee Ray at NXT UK Takeover: Cardiff in August of that year. She would bounce between NXT and NXT UK for the next several months, before settling stateside in January of 2020.
In July of 2021, she made her main roster TV debut, in a win over Zelina Vega. Her last televised match for WWE was a tag team victory with Sasha Banks against Charlotte Flair and Shotzi.
She wrestled her last match for WWE at a live event on December 28.
We shall see who she’ll wind up facing in the Owen Hart Foundation Tournament as a newly minted member of the AEW roster.
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