Women’s Champion Asuka hasn’t wrestled on Smackdown since tapping Becky Lynch at the Royal Rumble. What’s next for The Empress Of Tomorrow?
There are two women’s champions on the main roster in WWE. One’s a megastar, embroiled in the hottest feud in wrestling at the moment, and consistently is featured in prominent spots on the card, week in and week out. Then there’s one that hasn’t been featured live on WWE TV in two weeks. Have you figured out which is which?
Sure, obviously Ronda Rousey is more than just the RAW women’s champ. She’s a crossover star, a mainstream draw who has earned her spot in the grand scheme of WWE’s talent positioning. But why do we get a champ on Monday nights who seemingly has her hands full each week, and then Asuka gets left out in the cold?
Last we saw of the Empress of Tomorrow, she was retaining her Smackdown Women’s Title in a fantastic match against Becky Lynch at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view. That was two weeks ago, and after being completely absent the Smackdown after the big show, all we got this week was a video package confirming that Asuka was, indeed, here and ready to cause havoc.
It was a pretty nifty package, but is that all we should be getting at this point? Asuka’s been champ for over a month now, and like I previously mentioned, owns a huge victory over Becky Lynch since becoming the blue brand’s champion.
But now what? Who’s next to step up to the plate for Asuka?
Smackdown has really put themselves into a corner here with their women’s booking. The focus has been completely on Asuka, Becky and Charlotte Flair for the past few months. Asuka’s now beaten them both, in triple threat action in addition to her one-on-one victory over Lynch.
Now, we’ve got Elimination Chamber, Fastlane and WrestleMania on the horizon, and no apparent plans in place for Asuka. I’m not saying she has to defend her title at both of the intermediate PPV’s between now and Mania, and she could even miss both of them if need be, but what’s the plan for the Show of Shows here?
See, it would be perfect if the WWE just kept things simple and went with Charlotte-Asuka for WrestleMania. It would be a fantastic match, a rematch of last year’s WrestleMania women’s title match on the Smackdown side, which has your story built in right there.
Charlotte destroyed Asuka’s undefeated streak, and a bit of her mystique went by the wayside, as well. What better way than to reassert Asuka’s position at the top of the mountain than by having her avenge her loss on the Grandest Stage of ‘Em All?
It makes too much sense, right? Then why do I have the feeling that it isn’t going to play out this way?
You see, Charlotte seems like she’s got another title in mind, and another fish to fry. The buzz right now is that Charlotte will be added to the RAW Women’s Championship match between Ronda Rousey and Becky Lynch, making it a triple threat.
Will that match be awesome? Yes. Is it necessary? I don’t believe so, especially because it weakens the Smackdown women’s title picture.
After Charlotte, who is next in line for Asuka? Because Smackdown has paid so much attention to the Becky-Charlotte saga, they’ve done a subpar job at building up the women’s division behind them. They’ve got no credible challengers at this point.
Carmella? Naomi? They wouldn’t make sense on the heel/face aspect of things, and do either of those two feel like a big-time WrestleMania match waiting to happen? Not really, unfortunately.
I think your challenger for the belt lies with either Sonya Deville or Mandy Rose, and I’m hoping it’s Sonya. Nothing against God’s Greatest Creation, but Sonya’s in-ring work is more polished, and I think that her and Asuka’s styles will mesh well together.
But even with them, are they credible enough? Mandy’s been on a nice little streak as of late with wins over Naomi, but she’s embroiled in a storyline with her that doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon. Meanwhile, Sonya’s been playing second fiddle, and hasn’t had a chance to showcase her skills in any sort of meaningful way for the last few months.
Those are the top four women outside of the holy triumvirate of Becky-Asuka-Charlotte on Smackdown, and none of them feel like contenders. Smackdown has a lot of work to do over the next two months if it wants to build someone up to take on Asuka. Hell, even if Charlotte does stay on Smackdown and challenges Asuka, it would be wise to build up the rest of the women’s roster anyway because depth is key, and right now the Smackdown women’s division doesn’t have it.
I don’t expect to see Asuka at Elimination Chamber. I don’t even know when to expect her next back on television. But I do expect the WWE to do better by her, and better by the entire women’s roster, and book her a challenge for WrestleMania.