So, in case you have been visiting Mars, you will have noticed that we have a new SmackDown Women’s Champion. That being Charlotte Flair. Yes, the same Charlotte Flair who will be competing for the Raw Women’s Title at the company’s biggest show. We certainly cannot say that anyone saw this coming, and we certainly cannot say that WWE didn’t throw a huge curveball on the road to WrestleMania. I will express my thoughts on what this means for WrestleMania’s first-ever women’s main event in a separate column, because I believe that it is important to shed some light on what this means for Asuka.
What made Asuka unique in NXT was her dominance. Sure, you could think that a talented woman such as Ember Moon could give Asuka a run for her money, but not only is she a talented worker, but she looks the part as well. That, I believe, is an underrated part in today’s WWE. It is one thing to talk about how great you are, but if you do not look like that you can hang, who cares? For all of Asuka’s short-comings in terms of cutting promos, you certainly cannot say that she doesn’t bust her ass and try in the ring. If there is one opponent that seems born specifically to complement Asuka’s style, it is Charlotte Flair. I enjoyed their WrestleMania match heavily last year, and I enjoyed Tuesday night’s bout. Needless to say, I hated the finish. Why? Primarily because it was not needed.
Apparently, the decision to give the SmackDown Women’s Title to a woman competing for a Raw title was made literally at the last minute, and it was done to continue a silly narrative. That being Charlotte Flair was bringing “nothing” at WrestleMania. Yes, Ronda Rousey was bringing the title, Becky Lynch was bringing the fans (which isn’t necessarily true unless she secretly paid for everyone’s ticket), and Charlotte Flair was bringing nothing. To that I ask, what exactly did Charlotte Flair need to bring? Before Tuesday night’s victory, Charlotte Flair was a 7-Time Women’s Champion, a former NXT Women’s Champion and a former Divas Champion.
To the best of my knowledge, she is the only woman to have held the Raw and SmackDown Women’s Titles, the Divas Title and the NXT Women’s Title. And this was all done within the span of three or so years. She was the most decorated Superstar coming into the main event of WrestleMania. She has the greatest pedigree. She did not need a title to show that she was at least worthy of the main event at WrestleMania (although we can agree that it should be a Becky Lynch/Ronda Rousey one-on-one bout).
So, Charlotte Flair gained an artificial trophy to prove her worthiness, and where does that leave Asuka? Well, as of right now, until WWE announces a second Women’s Battle Royal at WrestleMania, it leaves her off the WrestleMania card. Why? Because apparently Vince McMahon and the other higher-ups backstage believe that any match that Asuka could have for the SmackDown Women’s Title at WrestleMania with any of the SmackDown LIVE women would not interest the fans.
Why wouldn’t a WrestleMania crowd enjoy Asuka defending against Naomi, Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville or Carmella? It wouldn’t happen to be because while she was champion, Asuka would frequently not be featured on television? It surely couldn’t be because none of the other SmackDown women have been given opportunities to prove themselves and be built up as threats? Surely not, right?
Do you understand where I am going with this? All of the problems WWE is complaining about surrounding Asuka are self-inflicted. There was absolutely no reason to take the title off of Asuka here just so Charlotte Flair can say she is bringing something. From the moment Asuka was brought to the main roster, booking decisions like Tuesday night have simply been par for the course. Whether she was losing off of James Ellsworth distractions to Carmella or nights like Tuesday night, the reason why Asuka has faltered on the main roster is an anomaly. She has transformed from someone who looked like no one could hold a candle to, to someone who chokes on big stages consistently. You’d think that a woman who defeated two out of the three women in the WrestleMania main event wouldn’t be waiting on the sidelines.
Right now, Asuka’s only hope is that Charlotte Flair is tempted to turn on Ronda Rousey and Becky Lynch in the six-woman tag team match this Monday on Raw, which may force her to defend against Asuka at WrestleMania in a rematch (something I’ve been pitching from the beginning of the year). But assuming that doesn’t happen, Asuka will be nothing more than just another figure. It seems like she and her male Japanese counterpart, Shinsuke Nakamura, has just felt like an ordinary face, and not someone we should care about.
So, let us re-ask the question in this column. Is Asuka officially done? Is there no coming back from this one incident? I personally don’t think so. Two years ago, you wouldn’t have sold me that Becky Lynch will eventually be competing in WrestleMania’s main event. So we can’t officially close the door that Asuka can right the ship on her WWE career. But as with everything else, this all solely depends on WWE’s booking team putting their collective brains together and do something that doesn’t make Asuka look like a chump, and let’s face it. Asking WWE’s booking team to think can often be a lesson in futility.
It’s sad because SmackDown LIVE has consistently been a source of quality television when weighed against Braun Strowman competing against Saturday Night Live hosts. However, what they have done to Asuka is a rare black mark. Is there no greater insult that parody television anchors already have confirmed spots at WrestleMania and Asuka does not? Is that not pitiful?
What I do know is that WWE had better get their act together and find something productive for Asuka to do. Whether this comes in the form of a heel turn, a move back to the Raw brand or whatever, I cannot truly say. But taking the title off of her for no other reason except for the fact that WWE has the power to do so is not the way to do it. Some people say it’s so that Sasha Banks, Bayley, Charlotte Flair, and Becky Lynch can all hold titles at the end of WrestleMania for a great photo-op. I don’t even think that is worth what we saw Tuesday night.