Asuka challenges both Bayley and Sasha Banks at WWE SummerSlam 2020, and the path she’s taken there must carry her to victory, but only against one of them.
WWE SummerSlam 2020 has the potential to be one of the biggest nights in Asuka’s WWE career. Having the opportunity to leave as a champion is big, but few find themselves in two title matches on the same night with the chance to leave as a double champion.
It’s been a shocking road to get to this night, but the twists and turns of that journey show us exactly how WWE SummerSlam 2020 needs to go. Asuka is primed to walk out with a championship, but it’s the one that Bayley is currently holding, and not the one she just lost to Sasha Banks.
Everything that’s happening at SummerSlam can be traced back to one fateful night. On March 26, 2019 during an episode of SmackDown Live, Asuka suddenly found herself defending the SmackDown Women’s Championship against Charlotte Flair only 12 days before WrestleMania 35.
Going into that night, Asuka likely would’ve found herself on the main card at WrestleMania 35 in a match against multiple opponents while defending her SmackDown Women’s Championship. Instead, Asuka found herself lumped together with 16 other women in the WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal on the WrestleMania 35 Kickoff Show.
Last year, WWE robbed Asuka of a great title reign
With less than two weeks to go until WrestleMania 35, WWE made the last-minute decision that the SmackDown Women’s Championship needed to be forced into that night’s main event featuring Becky Lynch, Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey, and Charlotte Flair. In order to wedge the title in and make this triple threat a “Winner Takes All” match, they had to quickly move the title onto Charlotte Flair.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened that night on SmackDown. Asuka put up a great fight, but the title she’d fought so hard to capture against Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs Match at TLC 2018 slipped through her grasp and Asuka didn’t even get a chance to make the main card of WrestleMania 35.
Charlotte Flair went on to lose at WrestleMania 35, making Becky Lynch the SmackDown Women’s Champion and Raw Women’s Champion simultaneously. Lynch held the title a little over a month before losing it to Charlotte Flair at Money in the Bank 2019, but Bayley cashed in the Money in the Bank contract she’d just won that same night on Charlotte and left with the title.
That first reign as SmackDown Women’s Champion for Bayley lasted 140 days before she lost at Hell in a Cell 2019. However, just 4 days later Bayley regained the title in a rematch, beginning her current 300+ day reign as champion.
Asuka pursues tag team gold in WWE
While Charlotte Flair was the one who took the title from Asuka, and Becky Lynch had her moment at WrestleMania, it was Bayley who ultimately two reigns that cumulatively have lasted over four times as long as Asuka’s 99-day reign as SmackDown Women’s Champion. During that time, Asuka initially found herself with a completely new goal.
Less than one month after losing the SmackDown Women’s Championship to Charlotte Flair, Paige revealed herself to be managing the newly formed duo of Asuka and Kairi Sane. This was Kairi Sane’s main roster debut, and she got to do it alongside her longtime friend and fellow joshi puroresu legend Asuka.
In the following months, despite impressive showings by The Kabuki Warriors at every turn, they couldn’t quite capture the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions. Kairi Sane and Asuka even defeated The IIconics in a non-title match during a WWE tour of Tokyo, but The IIconics retained by getting themselves counted out in the subsequent title match.
After a few more months of struggle, The Kabuki Warriors found themselves in perfect position as they challenged reigning WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross. Asuka and Sane prevailed that night, as Asuka used the green mist for the first time in her WWE career to help them leave as champions.
And Asuka flourishes as a WWE Tag Team Champion
As a pair, The Kabuki Warriors became almost unstoppable. For 180 days they reigned, garnering victories over Dakota Kai & Tegan Nox, Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross, Bayley & Sasha Banks, and even Becky Lynch & Charlotte Flair in an unforgettable Tables, Ladders, and Chairs Match at TLC 2019.
During their time as WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions, Asuka even pursued singles gold once again as she challenged Becky Lynch for the Raw Women’s Title at Royal Rumble 2020. While Asuka had successfully defended the SmackDown Women’s Championship against Lynch at Royal Rumble 2019, she was unable to repeat that success one year later.
The Kabuki Warriors’ reign finally came to an end at WrestleMania 36, where Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross defeated Asuka and Kairi Sane. Bliss and Cross held the titles for only two months before losing them to Bayley and Sasha Banks back in May on an episode of Friday Night SmackDown.
However, Asuka finally found herself back on track in the singles division at Money in the Bank 2020. Asuka took on Carmella, Dana Brooke, Lacey Evans, Nia Jax, and Shayna Baszler in a unique match that took place inside and on top of WWE Headquarters.
Asuka becomes the WWE Raw Women’s Champion
Asuka thought she’d won the Money in the Bank contract, but found out the next night that the match had been for the Raw Women’s Championship which then-champion Becky Lynch revealed she would be vacating to take time off because she was pregnant. Asuka was back on top, and Kairi Sane got to be by her side this time.
However, Kairi Sane’s presence ended in tragedy. Just last month, as tensions heated up between The Golden Role Models and The Kabuki Warriors, Banks challenged Asuka for the Raw Women’s Championship.
Knowing the rules dictated Asuka would lose the title if she were counted out, Bayley orchestrated a vicious attack on Kairi Sane in the backstage area. Despite fully understanding her title was on the line, Asuka made the difficult decision to rush backstage and save her friend at the risk of losing to Banks.
It proved to be the last time we’d ever seen Kairi Sane in WWE, as the attack wrote her off television before her contract expired and she departed the company. Now, Asuka is not only looking for gold at SummerSlam, but she’s looking for revenge for what Bayley did to Kairi Sane.
Asuka has one huge advantage over Bayley
On top of all of that, Asuka carries a huge psychological advantage going into SummerSlam. Bayley has never defeated Asuka in a one-on-one match. Not once.
Going all the way back to their tenure in WWE NXT, it’s never happened. The first time they squared off in singles action was NXT TakeOver: Dallas, and that night Asuka forced Bayley to pass out to the Asuka Lock and began her record-shattering 522-day reign as NXT Women’s Champion, simultaneously ending Bayley’s 223-day reign as NXT Women’s Champion.
Since that night, they’ve had four other one-on-one matches. Asuka took the win in every single one of them. Asuka is already 5-0 against Bayley head to head, and yet she looks more dangerous and motivated than ever heading into WWE SummerSlam 2020.
While Asuka has two matches at SummerSlam, it’s her clash with Bayley that is most important and is the one she needs to emerge victorious in. As for Banks, “The Boss” needs to escape with her reign intact and prove her longevity as a champion.
Asuka needs to do this for herself, but most importantly she has to do this for Kairi Sane. Her best friend is gone, and the culprit is right in her sights.