Nobody Is Ready for Asuka! Quite possibly the most successful Japanese personality in WWE history, Asuka signed for the company in September 2015, following in the footsteps of compatriot Bull Nakano, and made an immediate impact, having gone undefeated for 914 days (about two and a half years). During that period, she was NXT champion for 510 days (April 1, 2016, to August 24, 2017) and won the first women’s Royal Rumble in history (2018).
Born on September 26, 1981, in Osaka, Japan, Kanako Urai (her real name) started working as a graphic designer, but, meanwhile, decided to become a pro wrestler, having made her ring debut on June 16, 2004, when he was 22 years old.
After working for several Japanese and American independent promoters and becoming a mother, she caught the interest of WWE, the company in which she has already won the NXT Women’s Championship (one reign), the Raw Women’s Championship (two), the SmackDown Women’s Championship (one ) and the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship (three, alongside Kairi Sane, Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss). In parallel, she won the Royal Rumble match in 2018 and the Money in the Bank match in 2020.
It is therefore worth remembering the ten best fights of Asuka’s career, in chronological order.
NXT Takeover: London (December 16, 2015)
Asuka vs. Emma
Asuka made her NXT debut during the September 23 episode, having been confronted by Dana Brooke and Emma when signing her contract in the presence of General Manager William Regal.
Just over two weeks later, in her in-ring debut for WWE, the Japanese woman beat Dana at TakeOver: Respect in just over five minutes. In that match, Emma tried to interfere but was attacked by Asuka.
In the weeks that followed, Emma began to tease Asuka, having together with Dana Brooke planned an attack on the Japanese girl in the November 25 episode.
All of this led to the booking of a match between Emma and Asuka for NXT Takeover: London.
NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II (August 20, 2016)
NXT Women’s Championship: Asuka (c) vs. Bayley
At TakeOver: Dallas, Asuka defeated Bayley via submission, due to the former champion fainting, to win the NXT Women’s Championship. However, on the May 18 episode of NXT, Nia Jax defeated and injured Bayley, sidelining her for a few weeks.
At TakeOver: The End, Nia Jax replaced Bayley, who would be entitled to a rematch for the title at that event but was defeated by Asuka. Bayley would return to action on the June 22 episode, having beaten Deonna Purrazzo.
In the weeks that followed, tensions between Asuka and Bayley escalated to the scheduling of a title match between the two for TakeOver: Brooklyn II. On the August 17 episode, the champion and former champion signed the combat contract.
NXT Takeover: Orlando (April 1, 2017)
NXT Women’s Championship : Asuka (c) vs. Ember Moon
Champion since April 1, 2016, when she beat Bayley at TakeOver: Dallas, Asuka defended the title against Nia Jax, Mickie James, Billie Kay, Peyton Royce and Nikki Cross in the months that followed, remaining undefeated. Also remaining undefeated was Ember Moon, who had debuted on NXT in August 2016. Naturally, she became the main contender for the NXT Women’s Championship.
NXT (June 23, 2017)
Last Woman Standing / NXT Women’s Championship: Asuka (c) vs. Nikki Cross
Asuka successfully defended the NXT Women’s Championship at TakeOver: Orlando, but began to show villainous behaviour at that event, pushing the referee against Ember Moon to avoid her opponent’s finisher (The Eclipse ).
Weeks later, Asuka attacked Ember Moon, Nikki Cross and Ruby Riott, the final entrants in a battle royal to determine the top contender for the title at NXT TakeOver: Chicago. This attitude led to a fatal four-way match between Asuka, Moon, Nikki and Ruby for the title, but Ember Moon missed the match due to injury. At TakeOver: Chicago, Asuka beat Nikki Cross and Ruby Riott to retain the NXT Women’s Championship.
However, a three-way elimination match between Asuka, Nikki Cross and Ruby Riott was scheduled for the June 14 episode of NXT, with the title in June. After Ruby Riott’s elimination, Asuka and Nikki fought outside the ring until the match was declared a no-contest. The fact that there was no winner between Asuka and Nikki Cross led to the scheduling of a Last Woman Standing match between the two for the June 28 episode.
NXT Takeover: Brooklyn III (August 19, 2017)
NXT Women’s Championship : Asuka (c) vs. Ember Moon
On the June 28 episode of NXT, Asuka successfully defended the title in a Last Woman Standing match against Nikki Cross. However, Ember Moon returned to action and was scheduled to face Asuka for the title at TakeOver: Brooklyn III.
WrestleMania 34 (April 8, 2018)
WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Asuka
On the main roster since September 2017, Asuka won the first women’s Royal Rumble match in history in 2018, earning the right to choose the women’s title she would fight for at WrestleMania 34, at a time when she had not yet suffered any defeat in WWE.
After Charlotte Flair successfully defended the title at Fastlane, the Japanese appeared and challenged The Queen to a match for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at the biggest event of the year.
TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs 2018
Tables, Ladders and Chairs / WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship :
Becky Lynch (c) vs. Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair
At Survivor Series, SmackDown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch was scheduled to face Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey, but after suffering a broken nose and concussion she was replaced by Charlotte Flair, who ended up being disqualified for having brutally attacked her opponent.
On the following episode of SmackDown, Charlotte explained that she attacked Ronda in defence of Becky Lynch, but a week later, she said that she did it for herself.
Initially, a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match was scheduled between Becky and Charlotte for TLC, but the remaining eight women of SmackDown demanded a title opportunity.
Given this requirement, a battle royal was scheduled between the eight, with Asuka winning. The Japanese thus earned the right to be added to the title match, making it a triple-threat TLC match.
The Horror Show at Extreme Rules (2020)
WWE Raw Women’s Championship: Asuka (c) vs. Sasha Banks
On the June 22 episode of Raw, after retaining the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship alongside Bayley, Sasha Banks issued a challenge to champion Asuka for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship. The Japanese woman accepted, and the match was scheduled for Extreme Rules.
Although Sasha Banks was a SmackDown wrestler at the time, she and Bayley could appear under any WWE brand once they were the tag team champions.
WrestleMania Backlash (2021)
WWE Raw Women’s Championship: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair
After a month of being announced as a new member of the Raw roster, Rhea Ripley made her main roster debut on the March 22 episode and later that night challenged champion Asuka to a match for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMania 37.
At the biggest event of the year, Ripley won the title after applying a Riptide.
Ripley defended the title against Asuka the following night, on Raw, but the match ended in a no-contest after interference from the returning Charlotte, who attacked Asuka.
A week later, Charlotte lost a match to Asuka due to a distraction caused by Ripley. After the duel, Flair became enraged and attacked the referee.
Due to the referee assault, Charlotte was suspended by authority figure Adam Pearce but was reinstated on the orders of another authority figure, Sonya Deville, upon a public apology by Charlotte on Raw. On the May 3 episode of Raw, a match between Ripley and Asuka for the Raw Women’s Championship was scheduled for WrestleMania Backlash, but Charlotte was eventually added to the match by Deville.
Hell in a Cell 2022 / WWE Raw Women’s Championship :
Bianca Belair (c) vs. Asuka vs. Becky Lynch
At SummerSlam 2021, Bianca Belair was supposed to defend the SmackDown Women’s Championship against Sasha Banks. However, Sasha did not appear due to unknown reasons. Carmella was announced as Sasha’s replacement, but, before the match started, Becky Lynch returned to WWE after a year and a half absence – she had been a mother –, attacked Carmella and challenged the champion, having defeated her in 26 seconds. Several duels between Becky and Bianca followed, with the Irishwoman retaining her title. However, both were transferred to Raw in that year’s draft, which led to Becky exchanging belts with the former Raw champion, Charlotte Flair, who in turn had been transferred to SmackDown.
Months later, already on the road to WrestleMania 38, Bianca Belair won the Elimination Chamber match at Elimination Chamber to receive a match against Becky Lynch for the Raw Women’s Championship at the biggest event of the year.
At WrestleMania 38, Bianca Belair defeated Becky Lynch to capture the Raw Women’s Championship, avenging her loss at the previous year’s SummerSlam. Weeks later, on the April 25 episode of Raw, Becky announced that she wanted a rematch for the title, but it was interrupted by Asuka, who thus returned to WWE events after nine months of inactivity due to injury.
Two weeks later, Asuka faced Bianca Belair in a match in which the Japanese would receive an opportunity for the title in case of victory, but the duel ended in a no contest after interference from Becky Lynch, who attacked both.
The following week, Asuka beat Becky to earn the right to face Bianca Belair for the Raw Women’s Championship at Hell in a Cell, but on the May 23 episode, Becky defeated Asuka and was added to the title match.