Asuka is an absolute wonder. Known on the indy scene and in Japan as Kana, she almost singlehandedly began a new generation of Joshi excellence upon her arrival in the international scene and did everything there was to do, tearing the house down in Stardom, Shimmer, SMASH, and pretty much everywhere else. Then she came to WWE, and mind blowingly became one of the most dominant champions in wrestling history, remaining undefeated for 2 glorious years and becoming the biggest drawing card in NXT. With her recent injury, she was forced to vacate the belt, and WWE made it clear that when she returns it will not be to NXT, but instead will be marked by her debut on either Raw or Smackdown, making her quite literally the most exciting “free agent” in all the wrestling world. But now the choice has to be made. Asuka is coming, and nobody is ready for Asuka. But…
The coin toss dictates that Psycho will go first.
There are three simple reasons why Asuka should be drafted to Smackdown upon her main roster arrival. Smackdown…
1) …has more consistent and credible storylines
2) …will utilize her properly
3) …has Charlotte
Asuka is a very special talent, ladies and gentlemen. She transcends all barriers, linguistically and otherwise. The moment she walks into a room, every single other thing is electrified. Very few can compare in the wrestling world. This has become blatantly so since her NXT debut. As such, her presence in WWE must be handled carefully, because they have proven they can take organically exploding popularity and run it through the mud quickly.
Bringing her to Smackdown will greatly reduce the chances of this happening. Smackdown takes care to include all their stars, keeping them fresh in viewers’ minds – resulting in thoughtful and memorable storylines. Smackdown magnifies its performers’ strengths, allowing them to get the most out of any performance. Smackdown hasn’t played hot potato with the Women’s Championship, so Asuka would not be unnecessarily rushed – nor would her reign be stilted by an early loss. All this allows for Asuka to arrive unchained, ready to battle a fiery roster including Becky Lynch, the magnificent champion Naomi, and the arguably(???) greatest woman in WWE, both in kayfabe credentials and actual ability – Charlotte. Pepper in the still-breaking-out women for Asuka to annihilate before setting up a massive showdown with The Queen, and you have a recipe for the greatest NXT call-up run of all-time.
It makes a lot of sense to have Asuka debut on the RAW roster. In her first few NXT TakeOver events, every woman Asuka faced is now currently on the RAW roster. And all but on the matches had a 3 ¼ star or higher rating. Dana Brooke, Emma, Nia Jax, Bayley, and Mickie James have all felt the wrath of the Empress of Tomorrow. But now it’s time for the whole WWE Universe to see what she can do. By having Asuka face people she’s faced before on major events, it will get her used to the WWE schedule easier, and having familiar people around will also help.
RAW needs that big babyface. Sasha fits that currently, but she’d make the perfect heel to Asuka’s face. While they’re building Asuka up, by defeating the likes of Emma, Dana, Mickie, and Nia, they can slowly turn Sasha heel. Have her team with Asuka against Nia and Alexa, only for Sasha to turn on Asuka in the match. Asuka vs. Sasha for the tile at WrestleMania sounds perfect. Sasha could state that Asuka has never faced anyone like the Boss. It certainly has that dream match like feel.
Another reason Asuka should start on RAW, is more eyeballs watch RAW, and you want your future star women’s wrestler to be in front of as many people possible.
Right out of the gate, you mentioned RAW is filled with women she’s already faced. Meaning we’d be treading old ground. Asuka should have fresh experiences. Smackdown is full of new opponents, almost all of better quality than the likes of Dana, Nia and Mickie. Bringing her to RAW would be a poor move based on that alone. Asuka is a woman who doesn’t need opponents she’s familiar with because she knows how to make herself look good. And familiarity with opponents has little bearing on how quickly she adjusts to the schedule.
You state RAW needs a big babyface, then immediately follow up with “Sasha fits that currently.” Alexa Bliss is one of the best heels in WWE, so I see no need to turn Sasha just to give Asuka the big babyface spot. In general, Smackdown has the better environment. Whether as babyface or heel, Asuka’s character will get the thorough treatment it deserves on Smackdown, whereas on RAW she’ll win the title in 2 months max and drop it back to Alexa even quicker. And I love Sasha, but Charlotte is the bigger star. A showdown between The Empress and The Queen will make more money – what Vince actually cares about.
And while more eyeballs may watch RAW, bringing in transcendent stars will get more eyes on Smackdown, creating a symbiotic benefit to Asuka joining the roster. Ultimately, RAW doesn’t need Asuka. Smackdown does.
Your number 3, Charlotte, is exactly why Asuka should not be on Smackdown. You mention Charlotte vs. Asuka would be a money match. Charlotte is one of the most dominant female performers in recent memory, with a PPV win streak lasting over a year. Quite impressive. Charlotte should be the dominant female on Smackdown, and Asuka should be the dominant female on RAW. Bayley, Sasha, Naomi, Becky…all lose frequently, it would be very hard to build any of them back up to be a credible dominant threat.
Asuka indeed is a very special talent. So is Charlotte. Asuka should be kept far away from Charlotte. Once they are both strong, dominant leaders of their brands, they should build towards a WrestleMania match between the two. Champion vs. Champion. That would make Vince and the company a hell of a lot of money than a match between the two on a Smackdown PPV.
The RAW women’s division looks week compared to Smackdown too. Right now on RAW it just feels like the Alexa, Nia, and Sasha show. On Smackdown you have Naomi, Natalya, Charlotte, Becky, and Carmella. Asuka added to the RAW roster will give it the jolt the women’s division so desperately needs.
What you’re suggesting with Charlotte vs. Asuka waters down the brand split and takes away from the massive boost Smackdown would get from exclusively running the program between the two. Having a cross-brand Champion vs. Champion match would only serve to make one of the brands look weaker in defeat, have no actual stakes as far as a title being on the line, and completely nullify the opportunity for other women to have a title match at WrestleMania. Just because it’s on Smackdown doesn’t mean it would not be at WrestleMania. And if it were on a Smackdown-exclusive PPV, again: all the more reason to tune into Smackdown.
And on RAW, Alexa IS the dominant female. She has the charisma and It Factor to do the job. Sasha could easily be rebuilt to that level, and Naomi has not lost any more than Charlotte has. In fact, you mention Charlotte’s PPV Win Streak…where she lost frequently on TV, including the championship.
The Smackdown women’s division has depth, but that has everything to do with the booking. RAW has just as much talent with Bayley, Sasha, Emma and Alexa. The problem isn’t the talent, it’s the booking, and the reason RAW seems like it’s hurting is because everyone but Alexa has been mishandled. Look at Bayley’s run for any further proof of RAW ruining magic. It’s a recurring pattern that Asuka will fall victim to. Smackdown will present the Asuka that we, as fans, and her, as a performer, deserve.
WWE loves brand vs. brand gimmick matches. They do it at Survivor Series, showdowns in the Rumble, and even have a PPV called Bragging Rights. I don’t think either brand would lose momentum if Charlotte or Asuka lost the feud.
I’d hardly call Alexa dominant. She tries to befriend Nia so she won’t have to face her. Asuka wouldn’t do that. She’d face Nia anytime, anywhere. They never seem to pull the trigger on Sasha. Once she wins the championship, she loses it a week or two later. The crowd is behind her, but I think they would be even more behind Asuka.
The booking on RAW isn’t always terrible. Charlotte was booked extremely well, and was protected a hell of a lot on RAW. What’s happened since she’s on Smackdown? Not even in the world title picture. Asuka is a one of a kind athlete, who deserves more than playing second fiddle to Natalya, Naomi, and Carmella. If Asuka winds up on Smackdown, they’d probably have her win the title in her fast match, only for Carmella to cash in on her. On Raw, she would fit perfectly into the storylines. Alexa could beat Sasha again, and then say “I’ve beaten them all, I’m the dominant female in WWE”. Cue Asuka’s music. The rest is history.
THIS MATCH IS NOW CLOSED. HAPPY VOTING!
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Longtime top WWE Superstar John Cena recently appeared as a guest on Edge and Christian’s podcast, E&C’s Pod Of Awesomeness for an in-depth interview. Below are some of the highlights.
On what Roman Reigns needs to work on if he wants to be the next top guy in WWE and their ongoing feud: “In a very legitimate sense, my biggest hangup with Roman Reigns as the frontrunner of the WWE, is the fact that he seems to lack in his ability to communicate with the audience and [it’s] not that he can’t. I know Roman. Like, socially, he’s a great guy. He has a presence that’s undeniable, so I know it’s there. Just nobody had the nuts to bring it out of him, nobody. So my job in the WWE is to either be the best or be a vehicle for the best and I was going to go out there and rip that kid every single week until he said, ‘enough’. And I thought his promo on Monday was brilliant. I thought it was like what a [Garry] Kasparov chess move. Speak, say only what you need to say and let me cut a promo on myself. I, literally on the other side of the phone, got goosebumps. And I know that it didn’t come from anybody else but him. Like, he went home and was like, ‘damn it, I’m sick of it. I’m going to stamp this M.F. right here.’ And he thought of that and it was brilliant for the reasons you say: you could see it in his eyes, that those are his words, and that he believes it. The way he looked into the camera, the way he mocked me flipping the microphone, dude that’s a shot across someone’s bow. That’s a real shot and that’s why we watch.
“Although Roman and I may shake hands and play nice behind the curtain, there is an edge between the two of us of, ‘bro, I’m going to hold onto this as long as I possibly can because I feel you’re not even close to my league’ and him as a younger talent saying, ‘who the hell is this guy? And why won’t he just go home?’ and there is that conflict, that friction, and it is a professional, very respectful rivalry. It is a definitive rivalry and it’s the same with me and Dwayne [Johnson] and it’s the same with anyone I’ve ever stepped in there with because we all want to strive to be that number one. And I think in a locker room searching for personality, Roman knows who he is. He just doesn’t have everybody every week to tee off on him. Dude, we kind of matriculated with some pretty good talkers, so you either sank or swam every single F-in’ week with somebody to knock you down a peg no matter what every week. It’s rare that that exists nowadays. I was doing my best to get Roman Reigns.”
On why his feud with Reigns is happening now instead of at WrestleMania: “I can only speculate on why it is and this, not to take anything away from WrestleMania because what an impressive franchise WrestleMania has become. I mean, you can look at the stats with Forbes calling it one of the five most profitable franchises, the amount of traction it does for the [WWE] Network and the company, but I think in trying to define what a great consumer experience the Network is, we are not at the challenge of consistently trying to give the consumer unbelievable matches all the time.
“And I know personally the outside commitments from me doesn’t help anything. I mean, first of all, I’m 40 [years old], which not only 40, but also doing this televised and on a consistent level for 15 years. And I’ve made a promise to myself, once I lose a step, I can’t justify performing for the audience because I don’t want to be that person. So I’m not saying I’m there yet, but I am saying I’ve had some talks with myself about that. There’s a lot of stuff going on outside WWE personally for me, which I don’t know what else I could possibly do, so do you hold out for an event in April and sacrifice these other things that could not only be good for personal development, but overall WWE development, I’d say you take the opportunities and figure all the rest of the stuff out.”
On Reigns having some legitimate points in his promos about the schedule difference he and Cena have with WWE: “That’s where Roman has great points. Like, he is in the trenches every day earning it. He can’t ever say that I didn’t do that, but in the same vein, he’s the one doing it now and if he can step up consistently week-in and week-out, and give the same performance he has given over the last couple of weeks, then, man, I can really take an about-face and take a step away for a little bit. But if he can’t, I’ll be back around. It’s actively time where this generation of Superstars need to step up and claim it.”
Check out the complete episode of E&C’s Pod Of Awesomeness featuring the John Cena interview at Art19.com.
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