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4 questions and 4 reasons to be excited about Asuka’s debut

WWE Logo (Phelan Ebenhack/AP Images for WWE)
Phelan Ebenhack/AP Images for WWE

Nobody is ready for Asuka? Who are you kidding, Asuka? With all due respect, we have been waiting a long time for you join us on Sunday and Monday nights. “The world famous,” the “Empress of Tomorrow,” whatever you want to call Asuka, she is the right woman to take WWE’s women’s revolution to the next level. Here’s why.

Asuka is Asuka – Asuka did not change who she was based on baby-face or heel alignment during her steamroller-like run through the NXT women’s roster. Whatever the storyline, her character made decisions that fit her character. The Asuka that hid behind a referee to survive at NXT Takeover Orlando was the same woman who battled Bayley with honor and respect in her title debut one year earlier. It never felt forced or fake.

Perfect Storytelling – No woman has ever gone from NXT to the main roster with a better backstory. Heck, no person has ever gone from NXT to the main roster with a better backstory. Sure, Kevin Owens had an epic debut, but his departure from NXT was disorganized and predictable when he dropped the championship. Asuka’s story is so perfect that she has never lost in a WWE ring, and does not have to go back down to NXT to awkwardly transition her title to another superstar.

Glorious Domination – Asuka can be the woman to succeed where powerhouses like Nia Jax or Kharma have failed since the division said goodbye to Beth Phoenix. Think about the crowd reaction when Braun Strowman’s music hits with the hunger for destruction that follows. Asuka can be that and more for the women’s division. Emma is taking credit for the women’s revolution again? Boom, hit Asuka’s music. Alicia Fox wants loses her mind again? Boom, hit Asuka’s music. Take it one step further. Is Enzo running his mouth during the Royal Rumble? Boom, Asuka kicks his face in.

Merchandise – Asuka may not have the same connection with kids as Bayley or Sasha Banks in the WWEshop.com department, but a mask always sells. The more kids (and adults) see Asuka destroy her foes every Monday in her Kabuki-Ish (shout out to Brother Love) mask, the hotter it sells. With the grand stage of the main roster, Asuka takes her unique pre-match attire and entrance themes to the next level.

FOUR QUESTIONS

Who is Asuka?

If you are reading this, you have probably heard of Asuka. But put yourself on the couch of your average wrestling fan that only watches pay per views on the network or watches Monday Night Raw and that is it. To them, Asuka is nothing but a few video highlights and a promo from Emma through which they probably fast forwarded. It is essential that Corey Graves and (gulp) Michael Cole get across who Asuka is without the same overkill as other recent NXT call ups. How should the commentators explain Asuka? Let her entrance and in-ring do the talking. Yes, she is the undefeated Empress of Tomorrow…

How does Asuka communicate?

Not every wrestler needs to cut 10-minute promos, but they need to get their message across in some way or why are they there? Asuka can do her talking in the ring, but that is not how communication takes place on Monday and Tuesday nights. Look at Shinsuke Nakamura and how tough it has been to get his message across. Don’t let Asuka get pigeonholed into being “the artist” or “the empress.” Becoming the first Paul Heyman girls is a dream for many fans, but there are other options for a mouthpiece. Lana and James Ellsworth are successful side-pieces to villainous women. Options are out there.

What should be her first real feud?

It depends on if WWE wants her has a fan favorite, a heel or someone on the fringe, but the logical choice is Bayley. It may feel stale to fans that watched them fight in NXT but both are improved wrestlers with changed characters over their time apart. Don’t forget that Asuka is just two years removed from uprooting her life in Japan, and Bayley was one of the first to show her the ropes in NXT. Have Asuka go to war with Bayley and a few things happen. First, you get heat with young girl in the audience. Second, the “look at me” fans that tried to boo Bayley out of the building this summer have a new favorite wrestler. Third, it naturally leads to built-in stories with Sasha Banks and Mickie James before whatever big plans take place on the road to WrestleMania and beyond.

Who breaks the streak?

Sorry Curt Hawkins, but face the facts. Asuka’s streak is the most valuable one in sports entertainment since Brock Lesnar put the one in 1-21 three years ago. This streak cannot be ended lightly. When it does, it has to mean something. Of the active women in WWE, no matchup is more anticipated than Asuka vs. Charlote Flair, and no woman is a bigger threat to the longest winning streak in the company.

Sam Hellman spends his work hours as a college football and basketball writer with 247Sports on the CBS Sports network. A product of the Attitude Era, Hellman has been a life-long follower of professional wrestling and is proud to put his thoughts to print on the FRS Slam platform.

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