When the dust settled on TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs, Asuka reigned supreme as the new Women's Champion for the blue brand. Why?
Clearly, most fans believed either Becky Lynch or Charlotte Flair would walk away with the championship when the Triple Threat Match was said and done. Asuka, to many, was viewed as a throw-in competitor meant to keep Charlotte and Lynch looking strong on their way to bigger and better things at The Royal Rumble and WrestleMania 35. Instead, WWE shocked everyone by having Asuka go over on both competitors.
There are some good reasons to believe WWE wasn't as out to lunch as some fans might have first thought when the title changed hands.
While Becky Lynch has seemingly taken over the Women's Division in WWE and is perhaps the most popular WWE Superstar in the company, an underground swell has been brewing for Asuka. The Empress of Tomorrow was brought into to WWE with great fanfare and brought up to the main roster with a tremendous winning streak in tow. She was uniquely unstoppable until Vince and company decided to knock her down a peg at WrestleMania when she lost to Charlotte Flair. Asuka almost immediately became an enhancement talent following that loss.
Often not used on WWE programming, it was a stark contrast to how much WWE had pushed her character prior to that point. The longer she was gone and more underutilized she became, the more the fans wanted to see her rebound. The height of that popularity hit during a segment on SmackDown Live where Lynch had to name her replacement to fight Ronda Rousey at Survivor Series. Asuka was the clear favorite of the fans.
The Element Of Surprise
In the circles of professional wrestling, there is a theory that suggests, if everyone is expecting Lynch or Flair to win, it would make sense to go another direction to throw people off. Asuka winning was a treat most fans didn't expect and as the match built during the pay-per-view, you could hear the live audience noticeably change towards being in the corner of the Empress.
When she finally was able to climb the ladder and grab the belt, what was a shocker at the start of the match became a pleasant surprise for many in attendance. This was the right time to deviate from the expected plan and Asuka has the street cred to be believable as the woman who could beat both Flair and Lynch in a match.
Different Plan for Lynch and Flair
Where Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair are going, the belt isn't all that important. Both superstars on a direct course towards Ronda Rousey and WrestleMania and to get there, it's not about the title, it's about possibly beating the Baddest Woman on the Planet.
First, Lynch and Flair may battle each other. Then, both will set their sights on Rousey who cost them the opportunity to take home the gold. Eventually, Lynch will be the face of Women's Division and like a Steve Austin before her, she doesn't need a belt to be popular. Whereas, Asuka benefits from having it and a strong feud can be set up for her to fight to defend the belt.
What This Means
Asuka will move on to a tremendous reception at this week's episode of SmackDown Live and will likely have to respond to Lynch and Flair who aren't happy but also look to defend herself in the face of a new challenger for the Women's Championship.