Lavalle’s Blog: Asuka’s WWE winning streak came to a premature end at WrestleMania 34

By April Lavalle, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@imatoofbrush)

Although Asuka’s record-breaking streak lasted over two-and-a-half years and an impressive 276 matches, it still feels like it came to a premature end when ‘The Empress’ shockingly tapped out to Charlotte Flair during their intense 13-minute WrestleMania match on Sunday. The finish to Charlotte and Asuka’s match was a shock to most, and I am still not convinced that it was the right move.

After The Empress relinquished her NXT Title due to injury, the Asuka buzz started and had only grown until her debut on Raw October 27 after weeks of build up and many, many promotional packages. After six months of Asuka crushing every opponent she had on both on Raw and in the Mixed Match Challenge, it seemed clear that creative wanted to go the distance with her.

So it made perfect sense when Asuka went on to win the inaugural Women’s Royal Rumble and chose to challenge the Women’s Champion on the Smackdown brand. Charlotte is one of the best wrestlers in the WWE today, and after building Asuka to be what seems like an unstoppable force it only makes sense to have these two incredible women beat the ever-loving shit out of each other.

And they did!

From entrance to finish, Asuka vs. Charlotte was a main event-worthy match by all accounts. However, that does not mean it was perfect.

Perhaps we should have known that Asuka was doomed after Charlotte, accompanied by several beefy dudes, entered the Superdome in a golden robe on an actual throne, to the tune of her legendary father’s music. Asuka’s bedazzled mask paled in comparison. But fans knew it was all over for Asuka when Charlotte hit that stunning Spanish Fly and proceeded to lock into the Figure Eight, causing Asuka to tap.

Of course, a loss to Charlotte Flair is nothing to be ashamed of, but Flair did not need this win. A former Divas, Raw, Smackdown, and NXT champ, we have seen Charlotte do it all— including lose. Charlotte retaining doesn’t particularly do anything for her besides confirm what we know— she is really good. It would have been nice to see Charlotte chase the belt for awhile, especially because she hasn’t had such a worthy competitor in quite some time.

However, Asuka winning the title at WrestleMania would have only been the beginning for The Empress. Instead, we saw Asuka tap after one submission attempt in an anticlimactic — and confusing — end to a match over two years in the making.

Ultimately, Asuka took the loss graciously and proclaimed that Charlotte was ready for Asuka…but where was the person whose “MY STREAK” scream had become somewhat of a battle cry? Sure, it was a nice display of sportsmanship, but it made me yearn for the Asuka who slapped Ronda Rousey’s hand out of the way…the one who elicited “Asuka’s gonna kill you!” chants from the crowd.

Not only that, but it was disappointing that both Royal Rumble winners lost their high-profile matches at WrestleMania, especially given their country of origin. It makes me wonder if Vince McMahon doesn’t trust two Japanese wrestlers who speak little English to be the faces of his company. Both Asuka and Shinsuke Nakamura have yet to hold any titles on the main roster, despite having impressive reputations from their wrestling careers in Japan and being hugely popular with fans. Instead, we saw two white, veteran wrestlers retain their titles. And while AJ and Charlotte are talented and more than worthy champions, I felt that the WWE missed their opportunity to make an interesting change.

Of course, there are many who are already looking at the silver lining of Asuka’s loss. Some speculate that Asuka had to lose to set up an eventual Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair feud for WrestleMania 35. Others wonder if it’ll be Ronda Rousey vs. Asuka at next year’s WrestleMania. With Carmella’s successful cash-in on Smackdown this week, it is clear that Asuka didn’t lose at WrestleMania so Charlotte could retain. Then why did she? To let the audience know that she is not as strong as the company allowed you to believe for so long?

Here is one theory: WWE wrote themselves into a bind by giving Asuka her streak. WWE clearly made Carmella the first Ms. Money in the Bank without having a clear direction for her in mind, but knew that wanted her to have a successful cash-in. And creative probably knew better than to have Carmella end Asuka’s streak, so they decided to let her take the loss at the hands of Charlotte. Plus, now that Charlotte no longer has the belt, she can be moved to Raw, and Asuka could be moved to Smackdown during next week’s Superstar Shakeup. So in the long term, yes, I can see why Asuka needed to lose her WrestleMania match for booking purposes— but that only means that the WWE undermined their own storytelling at the expense of logistics, which is a shame.

And look, Asuka doesn’t need ‘The Streak’ to solidify her place as one of the top wrestlers in the company, but it feels like the WWE did a disservice to their own storytelling by ending it how and when they did. On the bright side, Asuka has a clean slate to wrestle without risking feeling too stale or predictable. And, more than anything else, at least I can now watch Asuka wrestle without the anxiety of ‘The Streak’ ending in a really absurd way.

April Lavalle joined the Prowrestling.net staff in June 2017. Follow her online at Twitter.com/imatoofbrush and visit Aprillavalle.com.


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Readers Comments (18)

  1. It was not so much that Asuka lost that was bad but how she lost that was horrible. Her tapping out is what ruined it and turned that match into a burial. WWE needs to put a stop to all these tap outs. These tap outs do nothing but bury the talent and are very stupid.

  2. Honestly for me, it was less that Asuka lost and more that she tapped out. Why in the world would you build someone up for two years as an unbeatable badass and then have them tap out like a (for lack of a better word) “little bitch”? Why not just have Charlotte pin her? Or hell, why not have Asuka pass out in the Figure Eight. That way, Charlotte could have gotten the decisive victory and Asuka would have looked like a badass despite losing. I didn’t mind Asuka losing, it had to happen sometime and honestly, it might as well have been Charlotte since she is pretty much the John Cena of the women’s division. It was just the way she lost that put a bad taste in my mind.

  3. The loss would’ve stung less had the match been given another 5 to 10 minutes to really sell the gravity of the situation. I don’t recall Charlotte working the leg during the match, so the finish came off as incredibly premature. It seemed that given that Asuka had weakened Charlotte’s arm, the Figure 8 was doomed to fail and we were looking at a false finish. Then the match ended. This wasn’t the only match on the card that seemed to be missing a substantial chunk of time, but it was probably the most egregious (save for maybe Nakamura vs Styles).

    • That was my thing. Charlotte had her arm worked over to protect her in a tapout loss. Asuka tapped out despite her legs being fine and only being in the hold once. It was sudden and strange. It seems more and more like WWE likes to use one WrestleMania as a way to build to the next. It was a good match, and I’m not down on the ending, but Asuka wasn’t protected in any way.

  4. It was a bit short, but I still view it as the match of the night along with the Rousey match.

  5. I think you kind of answered your own question there – WWE booked themselves into a corner with the Carmella situation and chose what was (probably) the least worst outcome. What matters more in terms of Asuka is what happens next – too often in wrestling, wrestlers who have long undefeated streaks immediately begin to lose a large proportion of their matches the moment the streak is over with (exhibit A: Rusev). Hopefully it will be a long time before Asuka loses again.

  6. Why does it matter what colour the wrestlers are? This whole article is badly written. This site used to be so much better. Yourself and Will Pruett are absolutely dreadful.

    • There is absolutely no doubt that Vincent Kennedy McMahon did not book the payoff to the Asuka build to be WWE Women’s Champion for the same reason he did not do so with Shinsuke or Rusev-he believes just because he doen’t like foreigners who speak passing English no one else does either. Vince is an old-school bigot pure and simple, as are many people his age that grew up in a less diverse America where a man was a man, a woman accepted her lot, and the rest were there as cheap labor. His treatment of African-American wrestlers over the years (and today-New Day!!) is exhibit A, treatment of the women in the Attitude Era exhibit B, etc. Until HHH in in total control of the product that will never change. Vince is a billionaire, he doesn’t care that he could make even more by being inclusive in who he pushes. The only exception is Reigns, and that is because Vince is closeted bisexual.

    • Absolutely. I still read their stuff in hopes that it won’t be terrible, but it’s only the rare occasion where it’s anything more than tedious.

      • I totally agree I was so offended by that. “We saw to white…” FFS they were in main event level matches on the biggest card of the year. Dumb. Really dumb and bad writing

        • “we saw two white, veteran wrestlers retain their titles”.

          Well… What else is April supposed to say, she’s right. It’s not like AJ and Charlotte were black? lol

          soooooo… I don’t see what was offensive

          As a proud Asian American (on my mom’s side), I wouldn’t mind a person of Asian heritage being the top babyface champion in WWE. In fact I’d be proud.

          • She’s a virtue signaling POS whose entire “contribution” to wrestling is looking for something to be offended by and creating something if the first few looks don’t work.

    • In fairness, I think April may have initially had a point about the language barrier being an issue in a company built on so many verbal exchanges. Why she then had to make the jump to, and I quote, “we saw two white, veteran wrestlers” is baffling? Had Asuka been white, spoken largely only French, and unable to carry a promo in English- the same issue would still exist, and it wouldn’t have a lick to do with race or color. So why even go there? Couldn’t it have just been “we saw two English speaking wrestlers”… ?

      Let’s also not forget that Becky Lynch, who is every bit as talented as Asuka, white, and has an accent; was rumored to have been de-pushed because of her accent. And it sure looks it by where she is on the card.

      Personally, I’m glad the streak is over, though. I hated the thing to begin with because you knew they’d only let a select superstar or two beat her, and it made her boring to watch because almost all her matches felt predictable.

      • LaValle, and Pruett for that matter, has nothing of value to add to any situation. She’s just looking for controversy where there isn’t any. Asuka is still treated like a superhuman midget and Nakamura is still in the title picture with a fresh heel turn to change the dynamic.

        There’s absolutely no reason to bring race into it other than being a small minded bigot who wants to project that onto everyone else.

  7. Alias Objection April 15, 2018 @ 9:28 pm

    Even if the plan is Charlotte vs Rousey at WM 35, having Charlotte go over Asuka here was still stupid.

    They have an entire year to build Charlotte up as a huge deal, and totally ruined a potentially HUGE undefeated Rousey vs undefeated Asuka match at either Summerslam or Survivor Series.

    • The whole world has seen Rousey get her ass kicked by two real fighters. Undefeated BS isn’t going to work with anyone over 12.

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