By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
ET Canada interview with Asuka
Host: ET Canada’s Shakiel Mahjouri
Interview available via ETCanada.com
In celebration of Asian Heritage Month, who are some of your favourite Asian pro-wrestlers?
There are many great Asian wrestlers in the world. When I was a teenager, I watched wrestling on TV. The Japanese wrestlers gave me energy and courage. I want to entertain a lot of people like they did for me… The Great Muta. A Japanese wrestler. He is so good and so cool.”
You are arguably the most successful Japanese superstar in WWE history. How does it feel to know Asian girls watching WWE can look at you and say, “I can be like Asuka someday?”
I want to say to Asian girls, don’t give up on your dreams! When I was 16, I wanted to be a WWE superstar. One day I asked my mom can I be a WWE superstar, and she said, ‘No, you have to go college! I also told my high school teacher, ‘I want to be a WWE superstar.’ She laughed and said, ‘Don’t be silly.’ I was shocked. I had no choice. I gave up on my dream once. I went to college and after graduating from college, I started training. I couldn’t give up on my dream. My friends gave me confidence, ‘You can do it, you can do it!’ I called a wrestling company in Tokyo. I left my hometown of Osaka, Japan. Now I am a WWE superstar. Don’t give up on your dream!
You actually retired earlier in your career due to health complications. What compelled you to give wrestling another shot?
I had a problem, but I want to entertain people. It’s my goal. My mother told me I have to fight again.
There has been a visible uptick in violence and hate speech against Asian people. How does it make you feel to see and hear about these terrible acts?
I hate it! I hate it! I don’t understand. It’s a waste of time to be hateful. Why people attack other people? We are people, right? I don’t understand. I hate it.
Would you be willing to share any of your own experiences with racism?
Yes, I have only one experience with racism. It was around the time when COVID-19 started spreading. In America, I was at the airport. A woman came towards me. When she noticed me, she covered her mouth with her hand and ran away from me. I was shocked. It never happened before COVD-19. Oh my gosh. I didn’t understand. I was shocked.
What advice would you give to non-Asian people who want to support their Asian friends and communities?
I think it’s important for non-Asians to understand and share the wonderful culture of Asians.
What is something about Japanese culture that you love that people may not know about?
I love Japanese culture such as anime and manga, cards and video games. I also love Japanese food such as sushi, sashimi, sukiyaki, takoyaki. I love beautiful nature. Some American people tell me they love Japanese anime such as ‘Dragon Ball’, ‘Naruto’. I’m proud of being Japanese.
What do you love about anime?
The graphics are beautiful and sound good. The stories are so good. I’m always watching anime and movies. But also I love American dramas. I think it’s important to enjoy and share and respect each others’ cultures.
Canadians love their sushi. Especially here in Vancouver, we are right by the water and there is a Japanese restaurant on every corner. I know you are quite the foodie. So for people looking to take the next step in their Japanese food journeys, what are some of your favourite meals?
You must try sukiyaki. Sukiyaki is so delicious! It’s sliced beef and soy sauce and sugar and tofu, vegetables. Oh! So good! Please watch my YouTube channel. I show you.
You shared the ring with Rhea Ripley at WrestleMania for the Raw Women’s championship and will do so again at WrestleMania Backlash on May 16. In a recent interview, Rhea said she waited five years for the chance to wrestle you. Is there anyone in the industry you want to wrestle that you never have?
I want to wrestle with Triple H and Ric Flair. I fought many great WWE superstars. Oh, [I want to wrestle] Ronda Rousey. One day!
You have accomplished so much in WWE over the last five or six years. What goals are still left for you to achieve?
People all over the world are watching WWE. My goal in WWE is to get more people to know me. I want to share the wonderful cultures of Japanese and Asians as an Asian.