The Destruction of Asuka on the Main Roster from Dominant to Diminished | Smark Out Moment

The Destruction of Asuka on the Main Roster from Dominant to Diminished

Posted by Greg Coleman Thursday, March 28, 2019
WrestleMania weekend 2016 proved to be an important weekend for the Women's Revolution in WWE. At WrestleMania 32, Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks competed in a Triple Threat match for the re-introduced WWE Women's Title.

This move signaled a departure from referring to their female talent as Divas instead referring to them as Superstars, which is how their male counterparts are referred. However, the biggest moment for the Women's Revolution happened the Friday night before WrestleMania at NXT Takeover: Dallas. That moment was day 1 of an historic championship reign by one of the most dominant forces the world of pro wrestling has ever seen: Asuka.

When Asuka made her debut in NXT in 2015, I could see that she was different from any other woman I've ever seen grace a WWE/NXT ring. The same way I looked at Goldberg or Brock Lesnar when they debuted and you got that sense it was something special there, I got that feeling with Asuka.

She displayed a blend of brutal striking with a proficiency in submission that is usually reserved for the elite fighters in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Asuka wasn't just beating her opponents, she was destroying them. Asuka was a woman of few words but the few words she did utter would turn out to be prophetic during her NXT run: 'No one is ready for Asuka!'

Asuka came into NXT Takeover: Dallas as an undefeated challenger to the title held by then champion Bayley. Bayley was a huge fan favorite who had finally won the NXT women's title in what many regard, myself included, as the greatest women's wrestling match ever when she defeated Sasha Banks at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. However, on this night, Bayley wasn't ready for Asuka, as Asuka defeated her to remain undefeated and become the new NXT Women's Champion. This would become day 1 of an historic title reign.

Asuka beats Bayley

Asuka became one of the most dominant champions in the history of pro wrestling. Unlike her male counterpart, Goldberg, who was limited in the ring, Asuka was putting on great matches during her undefeated run.

The Last Woman Standing match with Nikki Cross on NXT was one of the greatest and most physical women's matches I have seen in my nearly 30 years of being a wrestling fan. This match happened long before the Charlotte-Becky match at Evolution which was billed as the First-Ever Last Woman Standing match.

Ember Moon would come to the closest to defeating Asuka during her NXT women's title reign but in the end, even she wasn't ready for Asuka. Nobody was.

Asuka would get called up in  September 2017 and a result relinquished the title she never lost in NXT. Asuka's 510 day reign as NXT Women's Champion is the longest title reign in NXT Women's Title history. Asuka proved she was not only the best women's wrestlers ever, but that she was one of the best wrestlers ever. A strong case could be made that during her NXT run, no wrestler in WWE was above The Empress of Tomorrow.

NXT greatest champ ever

Asuka continued her undefeated streak on Raw, highlighted by her being the Sole Survivor for the Raw Women's Team in their win over the SmackDown Women's Team at Survivor Series 2017.

The inaugural Women's Royal Rumble was announced to take place in January 2018. Asuka was still undefeated and she was considered a favorite to win this match even with the speculation of Ronda Rousey appearing on the show in some form. Asuka won the first-ever Women's Royal Rumble to remain undefeated and earn the right to face the champion of her choosing at WrestleMania. She chose to face Charlotte Flair for the SmackDown Women's Title to set up a dream match between the most decorated champion in WWE women's wrestling history and the most dominant woman in WWE women's wrestling history.

Asuka entered WrestleMania 34 with a nearly 3 year undefeated streak intact. WrestleMania should've been her coronation as one of the greatest ever on the main roster. Asuka defeating The Queen to become the SmackDown Women's Champion would have been one of the greatest WrestleMania moments in history and continued her undefeated streak in the process.

What happened instead was met with shock and disappointment. Flair forced Asuka to tap out to retain her title and, more importantly, hand Asuka her first loss. Just like that, the greatest undefeated streak in modern history—914 days—had come to an end. In hindsight, Asuka's mystique and dominance ended this night as well.

Undefeated no more

Asuka losing this match was a terrible idea. There was absolutely no reason to kill her momentum and beat her in the manner WWE booked her to lose.

WCW didn't get much right, as many of their former employees will admit to now, but one thing they did get right is Goldberg beating Hulk Hogan on July 6 at the Georgia Dome for the WCW World Heavyweight Title on Monday Nitro. The WCW brass knew this moment wouldn't be best utilized to give Hogan another accolade on an already iconic and hall of fame resume, but to give Goldberg a major accolade to build his. The same principles applied to Charlotte and Asuka. Asuka should've had her WrestleMania moment instead of giving Charlotte yet another WrestleMania moment. This would be the start of Asuka's downward spiral of 2018.

With Asuka's undefeated streak over, WWE felt it was the best course of action for her character to continue to have her lose high-profile matches. Asuka would lose in her two title matches against Carmella, who had cashed in her Money in the Bank briefcase to defeat Charlotte a few weeks after WrestleMania. Carmella, while talented, isn't nearly on Asuka's level as a wrestler.

After these loses, Asuka toiled in relative obscurity on SmackDown with her only exposure coming as a part of tag team with Naomi as they did battle with the IIconics and Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville. It appeared that the once dominant Asuka and all of her main roster potential was officially dead and buried until December when Asuka found her way into the first-ever Women's Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match at the TLC pay-per-view.

Asuka would finally claim the SmackDown Women's Championship at TLC 2018 to win her first title on the main roster. However, even this win wasn't as gratifying as it should've and could've been as Ronda Rousey interfered to cost Charlotte and Becky the match by knocking them off a ladder.

Still, Asuka fans like myself rejoiced that Asuka had finally broken through and things appear to trending upwards for the Empress. Asuka would go to Royal Rumble 2019 and successfully defend her title against 'The Man' Becky Lynch in  dominant fashion, forcing the hottest wrestler in the world to tap out. Things were going well and I was feeling pretty confident about Asuka's positioning on the Road to WrestleMania and then two things happened.

First main roster title

First, Charlotte was added to the Raw Women's Championship match, which removed a high-profile challenger from SmackDown for Asuka to wrestle at WrestleMania. Secondly, on an episode of SmackDown, Mandy Rose beat Asuka in a non-title match. Granted, she didn't lose the title but having her lose to Mandy Rose, who hasn't accomplished anything as a singles wrestler, felt like a regression back to when Carmella was beating her in the summer of 2018.

Asuka successfully defended her title against Rose at Fastlane and appeared to be well on her way to defending her SmackDown Women's Championship against someone at WrestleMania, even if it were relegated to the WrestleMania Kickoff show. And then Tuesday happened.

Charlotte and Asuka were set to wrestle and to the surprise of all, the match was announced to be for the SmackDown Women's Championship. This was a red flag for me, because why would a title be defended this close to WrestleMania when a title defense for Asuka had not been announced at that point for Asuka at WrestleMania? But I was hopeful that this would be a way to make fans care about the SmackDown Women's Championship and Asuka specifically, as she had been turned into an afterthought due to being severely overshadowed by everything surrounding the build towards the Raw Women's Championship Triple Threat match.

To my chagrin, this impromptu title match was not made to elevate Asuka, but again to use Asuka as stepping stone to elevate Charlotte, who didn't need that boost. History repeated itself because nearly 1 year to the day when Charlotte defeated Asuka by submission to end her undefeated streak at WrestleMania, Charlotte defeated Asuka by submission to once again kill all of Asuka's momentum and take her SmackDown women's title in the process.

Now Asuka will likely not appear at all at WrestleMania and rumors are aplenty that the Raw Women's Championship match will become a match where both the Raw and SmackDown women's titles are on the line or that the titles will be unified. Again, WWE made a terrible decision involving Asuka and further damaged her character which was just starting to gain some steam.

No road to Mania

WWE has ruined some quality NXT call-ups before such as Shinsuke Nakamura, Samoa Joe, Bobby Roode, Apollo Crews, Tyler Breeze, and The Ascension just to name a few. Trust me, the list isn't limited to these names. The treatment and booking of Asuka has by far been the worst of any NXT call up and there is no excuse for the destruction her character has suffered at the hands of the main roster writing and booking teams.

Before you reach for the "she can't cut a promo" excuse, do me a favor and tell me your favorite Charlotte Flair promo. How about your favorite Ronda Rousey promo? How about your favorite Carmella promo? Feel free to respond below. Next, tell me what women's wrestler currently on the WWE roster is definitively better than Asuka and has proven themselves to be better, not more accomplished, than Asuka since her NXT debut in 2015. The only names that come to mind as being on Asuka's level are Charlotte, Becky, and Sasha Banks but I wouldn't rank Asuka below either of them in-ring.

The treatment of Asuka on the main roster is troubling given that there are currently two tremendously talented Japanese women's wrestlers in NXT in Io Shirai and Kairi Sane. Neither of them have come close to accomplishing what Asuka has accomplished in NXT. Why should they feel good about their prospects of being a main roster success when they are eventually called up? I am sure they would be more than happy to perform in NXT and not become high-class jobbers to Vince McMahon's current favorite whenever they show up.

With the rise of All Elite Wrestling, a running commentary among smart wrestling fans (or smarks, if you will) is that underutilized or misused talent should go to AEW. This has even become the subject of some pretty funny memes which have certain wrestling personalities as facetiously announcing they are going to AEW.

In the case of Asuka, I say this with all sincerity, she should go to AEW. I believe she's accomplished all that she can in WWE as a main roster talent and if the reports are true that the brand split may come to an end when SmackDown goes to Fox in October, then it will be even less opportunity for her to shine and showcase her talent.

To The Empress of Tomorrow and the most dominant women's wrestler in the history of women's wrestling I say this: you deserve better and Vince McMahon doesn't deserve you.

Thanks for reading! What are your thoughts on Asuka's main roster tenure? Keep the discussion going by dropping a comment below!

Greg Coleman is a long-time pro wrestling fan who aspires to be a wrestling writer. Greg is a frequent Smark Remark and Triple Threat contributor on Smark Out Moment You can follow him on Facebook and Instagram.


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