On tonight’s episode of NXT (which was taped August 24th), it was made official that Asuka not only vacated the NXT Women’s Championship, but that in doing so, she will be graduating to the main roster sometime soon.
This was kept vague for several reasons, with William Regal simply saying he and Asuka have “started negotiations with the Raw and SmackDown general managers” to allow for flexibility as far as the timing of her call-up as well as which brand she goes to.
Since she’ll be recovering from an injury, this could take place so many months from now that the entire landscape of both women’s divisions could be entirely different, but I think it’s still worth looking at the current conditions of the rosters to try to determine what the best course of action is for The Empress of Tomorrow.
The Case for Monday Night Raw
Obviously, no matter what happens with the brand split and however many times we’re told differently, no fan is dumb enough to think that WWE doesn’t still value Raw as the flagship show.
Given Asuka’s phenomenal record of a 523 day title reign and a still undefeated match history, she has more clout to her character than anybody on Raw or SmackDown including the majority of the male competitors as well.
With that in mind, it seems to make sense that Raw would be the place for her to go as that’s always going to be the prioritized place for talent, as evidenced by how Brock Lesnar never leaves, John Cena was just shifted over, all three of The Shield members are there, the newer Universal Championship was implemented there instead of SmackDown, and so forth.
As far as feuds go, Raw is packed with potential, even if we ignore some of the lesser women on the roster like Dana Brooke and Alicia Fox who will never really make that much of a splash.
We’ve seen some good matches out of Asuka being paired up with Bayley, Nia Jax and Emma, so those three women are obviously on the list of people she could feud with at some point to rekindle those feuds now that all four of them are more experienced in their craft.
The same goes for Mickie James, who I feel is criminally underutilized on Monday Night Raw, but that’s another story for another article. Asuka was integral in her reintroduction to WWE and I’d love to see another go-ahead with those two.
There are three feuds we haven’t seen yet, though, that are even more important.
Sasha Banks vs. Asuka is one of the biggest money-matches in the women’s division that can happen in the future and it definitely will at some point. What will be interesting is which of the two goes into the feud as the heel, since both have proven they’re able to pull off both the villain and the hero.
Nobody in WWE can touch Alexa Bliss right now as far as character work, so while she won’t put up as much of a fight against Asuka, the fans will assuredly eat it up.
Lastly, whenever she’s back in the ring (if it ever even happens at all), one of the biggest threats to Asuka will be Paige, who built herself up long ago to get that top tier status and make the audience feel like she is one of the hardest tests for Asuka’s career.
There’s a lot of success to be found on Raw for Asuka, but that doesn’t mean it’s a one-sided victory…
The Case for SmackDown Live
At a cursory glance, SmackDown is definitely in second place, yet there’s more potential hiding under the surface.
Right off the bat, we have to address the obvious in that there’s no bigger match the women’s division can put on right now (save for the Four Horsewomen vs. Four Horsewomen angle if that happens) other than Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka.
That match alone is probably reason enough to send Asuka over to SmackDown as she can definitely be an adrenaline boost to the women’s division there, which has been a bit stagnant as of late despite being the better of the two this time last year.
Nikki Bella is still going to be away for a while doing Dancing with the Stars, Lana seems to have reverted back to a managerial capacity, and Carmella is still learning the ropes to a certain extent, so Asuka would be a force of nature tearing through that division.
In the process, she could lock horns with Becky Lynch in a series of what I’m sure would be great matches, and there’s also Naomi and Natalya who can’t be forgotten about. All three of those women are among the best in-ring competitors the women’s division has had in years, so if anybody is going to test Asuka’s limits in the squared circle, they have just as much of a right to make those claims as anybody on Raw.
When it comes to Asuka’s destructive force, we can’t disregard Tamina, either. Hopefully, after a few months of building her up with this Lana storyline, Tamina can be in a position where she’s actually considered the true heavy of the SmackDown women’s division and it takes someone like Asuka to really challenge her, which is something Asuka has only dealt with in Nia Jax. Nobody else has been as physical of an opponent.
My Point of View
If nobody is ready for Asuka, then she shouldn’t go to either brand, right? Too bad, ladies, because whichever side gets her, it’s going to be The Asuka Show for quite a while afterward.
So here’s what I’m thinking: this entirely depends on what alternative plans WWE has in the woodwork.
For example, if the Horsewomen vs. Horsewomen match is going to happen, the only two places it can really go down are Survivor Series or WrestleMania (preferably). I’d much rather see Survivor Series play out the way it did last year, with a main roster Raw vs. SmackDown match, another for the Raw women vs. the SmackDown women, and another for the tag teams. Plus, Mania is just the bigger deal, isn’t it?
Assuming that can happen, Asuka won’t be involved in the WrestleMania match, but she can get a match of her own as a champion for either brand, defending against someone else who isn’t involved like Alexa Bliss, Paige, Nia Jax, etc.
We also don’t know if any other women are going to be brought up to the main roster in the next few weeks or months once the Mae Young Classic is finished, which should result in a sudden influx of talent including Kairi Sane, Rhea Ripley, Dakota Kai and plenty, plenty of others. This means we could very easily see Peyton Royce and Billie Kay make the jump over to Raw or SmackDown as well as possibly Ember Moon and maybe even someone like Liv Morgan or Ruby Riot.