It’s a match WWE needs. So much has been made about the two world title matches on the men’s side of the draw, that the importance of the confrontation between Asuka and Charlotte Flair for the SmackDown Women’s Title might get lost in the shuffle at WrestleMania 34 tonight.
It shouldn’t, more so, it should be talked about as one of the potential highlights of what appears to be a very good card in New Orleans. The daughter of 16-time world champion, Ric Flair, and the “Empress of Tomorrow” meet for a historic showdown of “Title vs. Streak.”
Wrestling historian and columnist for the Charleston Post and Courier, Mike Mooneyham put things into perspective in talking about the dream match.
Charlotte, who has been a major force in the elevation of the WWE women’s division, has stated on numerous occasions that her dream is to one day headline a Wrestlemania, and an epic title clash with Asuka could move her one step closer to that goal,” wrote.
Billed as “The Empress of Tomorrow,” the 36-year-old Asuka (Kanako Urai) has already set records during her time in NXT and WWE. She has yet to be pinned or made to submit since her debut in NXT, with her record reported at 265-0 and counting.
While it is expected that Nia Jax will finally take her place as the rightful champion of Monday Night Raw by defeating Alexa Bliss, the Charlotte-Asuka match has more riding on who walks away with the title. There could be a swerve or two involved during the show or after the victor’s arm is raised. Could Carmella cash in her Money in the Bank briefcase and take the title to Staten Island tonight or will she cash in on Tuesday night once she knows who her victim will be?
By rights, this should be Asuka’s night. And should Shinsuke Nakamura win the WWE World Title from AJ Styles, it would create history by having two Asian world champions at the same time in company history. Both performers are considered the best at what they do and have been successful at every port of call in their careers.
As Asuka continues to receive a huge push from WWE’s fan base, a win could eventually lead to a Charlotte heel turn – a more comfortable role for a woman who grew up watching her father billed as the “Dirtiest Player in the Game.”
She has even drawn praise from Bill Goldberg, whose famous WCW streak was broken by Asuka last May. “The ‘streak’ is in very good hands,” tweeted Goldberg, whose undefeated run through 1997 and 1998 was recognized as 173-0 before coming to an end against Kevin Nash at Starrcade ’98.
Asuka also was a major star on the Japanese circuit for a dozen years before WWE landed her in late 2015. A striker and submission artist, the engaging and charismatic Asuka combines her athletic prowess with an air of mystery.
Maybe this was the revolution Stephanie McMahon talked about almost three years ago when Charlotte, Paige, Bayley, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch embarked on a main roster career in the company. Maybe it tool Charlotte and Banks to break down the walls of equality of giving women space in the main structure of Monday and Tuesday programming. Maybe it took a strong commitment to making this kind of match happen to further the cause of women in this business.
Whatever the reasons, this is the kind of match Mooneyham and myself think could be the best part of WrestleMania 34. If so, WWE has done exactly what it has wanted to do – create a place for a true women’s evolution. It took a revolution to get here and a match for the ages to make us all understand how important tonight is for this company and this business.