No, Asuka hasn’t been “ruined” on WWE’s main roster
523 days of being the NXT Women’s Champion.
That’s really all you need to know.
But let’s delve into Asuka’s WWE main roster debut for this particular piece. It’s been a hot-button topic for wrestling fans — well, everything almost always is — because of how WWE has booked her in her first two main roster matches.
No, Asuka didn’t lose. She won convincingly over Emma this past Sunday night at the TLC pay-per-view and then again on Monday Night Raw the next night. But apparently it was the way that she won that has some people up in arms saying they’ve already ruined her.
Yep… an NXT legend who has just gone 2–0 in her first two matches on the main roster has already been ruined. Wrap your head around that.
Let’s take a trip back to September 23, 2015. It was Asuka’s NXT debut and the beginning of her legendary run to the top. If we think about that and compare it to where Asuka is now, I don’t think many would argue she’s had one of the greatest runs in the modern wrestling era. She remains undefeated to this day in her WWE career.
Now, I may not agree with the people who say Emma got “too much” offense in her matches with Asuka. Let’s not forget, despite how she’s been booked, Emma is still a very talented performer and a good wrestler. She is. Nobody should deny that. But it’s understandable, to a point, that people have already lost faith in WWE because of how they, as fans, want Asuka to be booked. And they want Asuka to be booked as an unstoppable monster the way Brock Lesnar was booked beginning in the summer of 2014.
But here’s the problem with that: while she’s dominated competition in the form of getting wins, Asuka hasn’t been known for completely destroying her opponents and making them look like fools. That’s what Nia Jax did. That’s what Braun Strowman did. Those examples are meant for the casual viewing audience on Monday nights. Strowman and Jax were meant to be built up on the main roster because, quite simply, they were languishing for a long time up until that point.
With Asuka, it’s not like that at all. Her previous accomplishments are what makes Asuka, Asuka. WWE hasn’t debuted her as some sort of new act. They really telegraphed her debut with many vignettes and Michael Cole listed her accomplishments on commentary multiple times. That’s how you make someone feel special. That’s what feels real. If you’re worried WWE will do Asuka wrong, that’s a perfectly fine feeling to have. Their batting average for giving fans what they actually want isn’t impeccable. However, if you think Asuka needed to debut as an unstoppable monster killing the entire women’s division, you’re completely missing the point of who and what Asuka is.
Is she dominant? Yes. In terms of wins and losses. She’s got a great move set. But Asuka has been in plenty of competitive matches in NXT. You’d think — in theory — that she would face stiffer competition on the main roster. Again, you want to suspend your disbelief and believe this is real competition, right? Asuka killing the main roster really does nothing for anyone surrounding her. And, if you’re a fan that really touts the women’s division and wants to see it succeed, how is Asuka completely murdering everyone the right call?
It doesn’t make sense.
Asuka doesn’t need to be built into something special. She already is something special. The casual fans already know this because of the vignettes that have aired and if they actually listen to the Raw commentary team [God bless them] they’d understand just how big of a deal Asuka really is.
Killing Emma doesn’t make Asuka any more special, and it completely buries Emma. As of this writing, Emma looks a lot better than she has during her stay on the main roster thus far, and it only took two good matches against Asuka to do so.
That tells me more about Asuka than Emma.
Vaughn Johnson of philly.com, Brian Isley of NBA Panel and brianisleylive.com, and I talked about this very topic on this week’s edition of The Straight Shooters podcast. We are pretty much all in agreement that it’s not necessary to build Asuka into an unstoppable monster on the main roster because she doesn’t need it. But, at least on Twitter, that doesn’t seem to be the prevailing narrative among wrestling fans. I think Vaughn nailed it.
This is what I’d been saying ever since Sunday night. In my TLC recap on PhillyVoice.com, I wrote this:
“This match did a lot for Emma, who’s been missing something since returning from injury on the Raw roster. This gave her some purpose and she worked with Asuka to have a good opener that the crowd was pretty hot for. No, it wasn’t a squash to make Asuka look unstoppable and a force to be reckoned with, but it helped out Emma immensely. Of course, that’s not what many will come out of this match thinking. I understand it, but Asuka “killing” Emma doesn’t really do anything for me. I thought this match was better for what it was than a squash would’ve been. Let’s see how WWE books Asuka moving forward.”
If there’s one thing WWE deserves when it comes to Asuka, it’s the benefit of the doubt. She’s been on the main roster for less than a week. She’s had two matches. Let’s not overreact because she’s not what you want her to be. Because, for all intents and purposes, what you want her to be may not be what’s best for the company.
Shocking, I know.
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