Last night, Asuka vacated her NXT Women Championship after a record breaking 523 days. Time to take a look back at the Empress of Tomorrow’s run in NXT.
The record-breaking, dominating story of Asuka in WWE begins at the NXT TakeOver Brooklyn event in August 2015. After Samoa Joe was victorious against Baron Corbin, the camera panned around the crowd to show Hall of Famers Sgt Slaughter and Ric Flair. Interestingly, alongside these two legends was “Kanna” a Japanese wrestling superstar who had performed as Kana in her homeland and on the US independent scene.
That night had the historic Sasha Banks v Bayley NXT Women’s Championship match (where Bayley finally completed her journey to win from superfan to champion in probably the best women’s match of all time) and the “Diva’s Revolution” had started on Raw and Smackdown, with Banks, Charlotte Flair, and Becky Lynch already on the main roster, about to take part in a huge tag team match at Summerslam the next night. NXT needed new blood in its women’s division, but could “Kanna” make the transition better than other international stars like Sin Cara or KENTA?
The signing was confirmed a few weeks later, with an official contract signing on the 23rd September episode of NXT. General Manager William Regal and the commentators gave the signing the “big time” feel that it deserved, but not everyone in NXT was impressed:
The next week, William Regal called Dana Brook and Emma into his office and announced that Dana would face Asuka at NXT TakeOver: Respect (which was headlined by the Banks Bayley Ironman match). Dana wasn’t worried, until Regal showed her footage of Asuka’s brutal training regime. Two weeks later, on October 7th, Asuka made her NXT wrestling debut.
Now, maybe this is hindsight, but this very first entrance makes Asuka look like a superstar. And in the match that follows, Asuka displayed hard hitting strikes…
a painful arsenal of lightening-quick submission holds…
and a beautiful release German suplex.
She even found time to throw in some taunting, mocking Dana Brook’s poses:
After five minutes showcasing her skills, Asuka finished off the former bodybuilder with the Asuka Lock, a crossface chickenwing with body scissors.
The commentary – Corey Graves especially – sang her praises throughout. Asuka had dismantled one of the NXT regulars (Brook had competed in a number 1 contenders match just before), and taken care of Emma who was watching at ringside, although in a nice call back to the contract signing, her issues with the Australian weren’t quite finished –
Asuka’s winning debut made her out as future star of NXT. In the next part we will look at the build to her match with Emma at NXT TakeOver London.
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.
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