The Damage CTRL angle is a big moment for professional wrestling


The ranks of Damage CTRL grew with the addition of Asuka and Kairi Sane, setting the stage for a huge moment in professional wrestling.

The November 10 edition of WWE SmackDown saw a major angle in the main event when Asuka joined Bayley, Kairi Sane, Dakota Kai, and Iyo Sky as a new member of Damage CTRL. It was a moment that many could see coming once the match was announced, but still, an angle that builds to something major in WWE.

Of course, WWE Survivor Series is on the horizon and this situation can easily turn into a match for either WarGames or the standard five-on-five contest. If the matches are kept at four-versus-four for WarGames, Bayley, Sane, Sky, and Asuka versus Bianca Belair, Charlotte Flair, Shotzi Blackheart, and one other individual (perhaps Mia Yim) is a suitable contest. It’s a big match that pits some of the top names on the main roster against each other. But this development has implications well beyond the upcoming PLE.

North American professional wrestling rarely presents a women’s faction as a top group in a main angle. Usually, these angles are built around the idea of a “Mean Girls” trope, with a group of women bullying others on the roster for the most superficial of issues. Look at Toxic Attraction as a recent example of such. The retooled Damage CTRL has the opportunity to be something else on a larger scale. A group of women focused on being the most dominant group centered around the WWE Women’s Champion.

And then there’s the fact that WWE has centered this group around three Asian women. While it may be too easy to predict expect Bayley to be jettisoned from the group. Asuka and Sane have several in-storyline reasons to despise her and when they jump Bayley, it will be well deserved. The seeds for Sky to turn on her are being planted as a part of the longer story between the two going all the way back to before Money in the Bank. It will be interesting to see what’s done with Kai. Expect her to be written off television a bit before coming back as Bayley’s partner when she’s cleared.

But an angle centered around three Asian women who are famed Joshi performers is huge for WWE. This promotion has long faced criticism about its booking of people of color. That’s especially true with how performers of Asian descent have been treated. Most are booked to play tired stereotypes that fit Vince McMahon’s worldview. Or take situations like 2018 when Asuka and Shinsuke Nakamura won their respective Royal Rumbles just to both lose at WrestleMania that year. The disrespect shown to people is hard to ignore.

While this developing faction angle doesn’t solve all those historic issues at once, it is important to see on television today. The professional wrestling fanbase is a diverse group of people representing varying identities across the world. WWE taking the time to correctly build and present a faction of Japanese women who are some of the best wrestlers in the world will be a big moment for the promotion and the industry.

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