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After Asuka defeated Alexa Bliss in a non-title match on ‘RAW’, rumors have spread that there’s a possibility Asuka could snag the Women’s Championship title before Royal Rumble’. It would be the best thing for WWE.
On January 28, WWE will have its very first women’s Royal Rumble match. Aside from its clear relevance in the history of women’s wrestling, the announcement was significant in other ways, like in the future outcome of both the Raw and SmackDown Women’s Championship title. Similar to the men’s match, the winner of the Royal Rumble women’s match will win a spot against the current title holder at WrestleMania 34, with the chance to snatch the belt away.
Why is this detail so important? It’s simple. Royal Rumble has the potential to completely shift the story lines and leaders before the big event.
There’s one particular story line that Raw fans are excited to see play out. Last week, Alexa Bliss, the Raw Women’s Champion, tapped out to Asuka’s new armbar finisher in a non-title match. The far-reaching implications of the win wasn’t lost on fans and analysts. If the champ could easily be defeated by submission, what does that say about her opponent? What does that say about the future of the title?
The Empress of Tomorrow likes to cloud herself in a fog of mystery, claiming that “no one’s ready for Asuka”. She’s been right, so far. Since Asuka debuted in TLC in October, she’s remained undefeated in WWE. Before her move up, the former NXT Women’s Champion retired from the program in September as the title holder, boasting an impressive 523-day reign.
Her record run put her against some of the most talented female athletes in the business, and yet, she still remains undefeated in one-on-one competition in the two years she’s been with the company. When it was announced Asuka was moving to Raw, it was widely agreed upon that she was desperately needed for the division. The talent that has moved up from NXT has been detrimental to the shaping and progression of the Women’s Division.
While at WWE, her influence has been felt in every show and pay-per-view. She was the last standing at the Survivor Series women’s tag team elimination match, which suggested she was next in line for Raw’s title. It wasn’t a question of if she would ever see a title, but when.
The night after Survivor Series, all of the rumors spreading around the WWE universe proved true, and Paige made her anticipated reappearance with two other women, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville, in a team they dubbed Absolution. Though they are clearly making a case to be heels, it was clear Absolution would align with no other female, including the Goddess of Heels, Bliss.
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Soon after, Absolution teased an attack on Asuka after her wins against Dana Brooke and Alicia Fox.
Surprisingly, and perhaps confusingly, Absolution let Asuka slink away without a fight or a beat down. With the precedent Absolution has set thus far, it was doubtful they would let Asuka get away because of fear or hopes for an alliance.
That turned out to be the case weeks later, when Paige finally set her sights on Asuka, before being taken down by the entire Raw women’s locker room.
It may have been to set up a highly rumored and anticipated fight pitting Asuka against Paige, which would be WrestleMania caliber booking (though Paige’s WWE career is reportedly in jeopardy due to an injury).
The fight that could have pitted Sasha versus Bayley, for awhile, seemed to be the anticipated event, but has so far looked to be unlikely.
So, we’re left to ponder the original question. What does Asuka’s win over Bliss really predict? Generally, if someone beats a title holder in a non-title holder match, they get a shot at the title. It’s not unreasonable, with all of Asuka’s success, to consider that WWE could put the title in Asuka’s hands before Royal Rumble, setting up a monumental event at WrestleMania 34. No set match has been announced by Raw General Manager Kurt Angle, but he has teased one, so most expect a match to occur either before or during Royal Rumble.
It’s hard to imagine anyone rooting for Little Miss Bliss in a match against the Empress of Tomorrow. Though her matches continue to improve, Bliss has had the longest reigning Women’s Championship run and the fans are ready to see new blood. A Bliss vs. Asuka match at WrestleMania 34 would invoke yawns, not ticket sales. Who could stand against Asuka in a WrestleMania match if she was given the title before Royal Rumble?
Thirty female names, past, present, and new, will show up for the Royal Rumble match. Many predict Ronda Rousey will show up to take her spot in the Royal Rumble match. Though it certainly would make for an interesting event, many would have a problem with a newcomer with no wrestling experience winning the first ever Royal Rumble match.
Fans are tired of seeing the Women’s Division settle into mediocre fights with little to no real opportunity to rise. The Royal Rumble announcement was only the beginning. The WWE universe demands entertaining and monumental fights between talented women. Setting Asuka up with the title prior to Royal Rumble would do just that.
Bliss could always invoke her rematch clause at Royal Rumble, if indeed Asuka stole it from her. She would do best to remember, though: no one’s ready for Asuka.