While WWE’s women’s revolution hasn’t exactly gone according to plan, the rise of Asuka remains one of the division’s greatest success stories. When Asuka was brought into NXT, she was introduced as something different. She was promoted as a warrior with a quirky personality and the ability to completely destroy her opponents. She didn’t lose cleanly during her NXT run and is arguably the most dominant female WWE star ever. The sky is the limit for Asuka, and WWE is more than happy to promote her as the future of the division and one of their brightest stars.
While there are many photos that WWE use to promote Asuka as a different kind of competitor who may be the face of the women’s division, there are other photos from Asuka’s career that the company isn’t as eager to share with the general public. Many of these photos come from Asuka’s time in Japan where she established herself as a dominant, strange, and downright steamy star. While WWE has tried to erase certain parts of Asuka’s past from the internet, there are photos from her early career that they’ll never be able to shake. These are eight pictures of Asuka the WWE doesn’t want you to see, and seven they can’t show you enough.
16 Don’t - Asuka’s History of Enduring Pain
WWE wants you to know that Asuka is a dominant performer, but they want you to know that she’s a dominant performer within the confines of their particular style. They don’t want you to know that if they really decided to let Asuka off the leash, she’d probably prove to be tougher than most of WWE’s male competitors. Asuka’s toughness is on full display in this photo. Not only is she competing against a male wrestler, but the male wrestler in question happens to be Minoru Suzuki; one of the toughest wrestlers ever. In this particular match, Suzuki gave Asuka an almost uncomfortable beating that was highlighted by this particularly painful piledriver spot (a banned move in WWE). If WWE had their way, they probably wouldn’t show you the full amount of punishment that Asuka suffered in Japan.
15 Do - Asuka and Triple H
It was recently revealed that the reason Triple H takes so many photos with NXT and young wrestlers is that WWE believes that the average audience will latch on to wrestlers if they see them with a big name like Triple H. So, Triple H occasionally posts a picture of himself “putting over” a young wrestler. That appears to be what he’s doing here with Asuka. Those who follow the backstage new scene know that Triple H has been high on Asuka’s potential for quite some time. Those who don’t follow the scene probably understand that simply by noticing that Triple H is pointing at her. We have to admit that this is a pretty effective way to put eyes on a wrestler. It’s certainly a photo WWE wants you to see.
14 Don’t - Asuka's Gravure Videos
Remember how we were saying that the female wrestling scene in Japan is a little bit different? Well, a big part of the reason that is the case is that promoters still encourage their performers to participate in modeling shoots designed to promote their sex appeal. This is especially true of “gravure” shoots which are basically the Western equivalent of softcore adult entertainment (minus the nudity...most of the time). Asuka/Kana actually participated in quite a few gravure shoots over the years. Now, there’s nothing in these videos which is strictly speaking…” revealing,” but there are quite a few scenes that we guarantee you WWE wouldn’t let their female performers participate in. This shower sequence featured above is most certainly one of them. Actually, that shot is one of the tamer stills from that sequence.
13 Do - Asuka as a “Total Diva”
See, it’s not that WWE is against promoting Asuka as a sexy wrestler. It’s clear that she doesn’t fit the traditional WWE definition of sexy - she’s not a tall blonde - but it’s clear that the company recognizes that she is attractive. However, they’re clearly more interested in trying to morph Asuka into more of a traditionally attractive WWE female wrestler. Failing that, they’re perfectly happy to present Asuka as a traditional “diva” whenever possible. In fact, we’re pretty certain that this entire photo shoot/promo was done in the interest of promoting Asuka as a potential addition to the Total Divas roster. There was a rumor going around that they were considering doing just that, and photos like this certainly help soften the potential blow of that announcement.
12 Don’t - Photos From Asuka’s “Comedy” Matches
Right, quite a few of these photos clearly require us to explain the culture of Japanese women’s wrestling. In Japan, women wrestlers will often wrestler their male counterparts. This is something that WWE fans would actually like to see the company adopt. After all, there are quite a few female wrestlers on the roster more than capable of mixing it up with the men. However, there are aspects of mixed gender Japanese wrestling matches the company wouldn’t - and probably shouldn’t - adopt. For instance, male Japanese wrestlers have no problem using sexual violence and crude humor in their matches with female competitors. We’ll leave it up to you to decide whether that has any value, but as you can see from the photo above, that style of wrestling can lead to some awkward photos.
11 Do - Asuka's WWE Character
WWE has done an admirable job of promoting Asuka as something different. It’s easy enough to let a wrestler go on a win streak, but it’s much harder to get people to really buy into them as something different. For instance, WWE initially did a good job distinguishing Shinsuke Nakamura, but have failed to really capitalize on their good groundwork. Asuka, however, has developed quite nicely as a unique character. This photo does a great job of really capturing her WWE character image. You’ve got the strange mask, unique attire, and, most importantly, the championship belt around her waist. This is a photo that WWE puts out when they want you to go, “Wow, who is that?” Again, it’s pretty effective in that respect.
10 Don’t - Asuka’s Bloody Past
You know how Asuka will come to the ring wearing a mask or some minor face makeup? Doesn’t that really help her distinguish herself from the rest of the roster? Well, as it turns out, WWE really just let Asuka carry that concept over from her time in Japan. There, she loved to use big events as an excuse to break out some outlandish costumes. The makeup shown in the photo above is certainly one we wouldn’t expect to see in WWE anytime soon. This particular costume showcases Asuka’s fondness for violence in her outfits quite well. Given that WWE doesn’t even like to see blood in blood feuds, we’re guessing that they’re not in a hurry to see one of their female wrestlers casually bust out the vampire/ghoul look.
9 Do - Asuka and Bayley
Asuka is presented as kind of a killer force. She’s basically the Goldberg of WWE’s women’s division. At least that’s the way they want to present her. However, WWE is also big these days on making sure that they’re top names are seen as likeable people. Someone that they can market to a wide audience. That’s part of the reason why John Cena has been the company’s face for so long. While we’re not sure that WWE is ready to turn Asuka into the female John Cena, photos like this go a long way to showcasing Asuka’s human side. Seeing her just hanging out with Bayley with a million dollar smile on her face really goes a long way to helping WWE sell a wholesome image for Asuka and the women’s division.
8 Don’t - Asuka’s Uniform
Right, so there’s quite a bit going on in this picture. First off, WWE probably wouldn’t allow Asuka to participate in a lingerie shoot. They still do official modeling shoots for their female performers, but they contain nothing that’s especially provocative. What’s really interesting about this particular photo shoot is Asuka’s outfit. So far as we can tell, that appears to be a recreation of a German officer’s uniform from the Nazi era. Needless to say, that’s not a piece of wardrobe that WWE would approve of in an official photoshoot. As for why she’s wearing it here, the Nazis have always had a weird cultural presence in Japan. They’re not really tolerated or encouraged, but it’s not uncommon to see them casually integrated into aspects of Japanese culture.
7 Do - Princess Asuka
While WWE isn’t opposed to their female performers not being “girly,” it’s clear that they still aim to ensure that they have no shortage of photos that showcase female performers in that light. You can argue about whether or not this is necessary, but the odds are that they’re interested in ensuring that their female wrestlers appeal to a young demographic of female fans. That’s a market WWE has always struggled with, and some within WWE seem to believe that it’s necessary to promote the Disney princess image from time to time in order to appeal to young girls. So far as that goes, you can’t really ask for a better Disney princess shot of Asuka than this one. It looks like she was just named homecoming queen.
6 Don’t - Asuka’s Strange Side
If you thought the German uniform shot was a bit strange, just wait until you get a load of this beauty. We don’t know how to really describe what’s going on here. First off, the shots of Asuka in that uniform is just never going to look right no matter what the context.Second, what’s with the Joker makeup? Even by Asuka’s standards, that’s some pretty insane makeup work that invokes some really creepy vibes. Finally, the sight of Asuka smoking what we believe is a cigar most certainly wouldn’t pass WWE’s standards. The thing about this photo, though, is that it actually sums up Asuka’s time in Japan quite well. She was a unique performer, and it was her uniqueness that caught WWE’s attention. Still, this one is going to stay buried.
5 Do - Asuka The Dominant Wrestler
Above all else, WWE wants you to believe that Asuka is the most dominant force on WWE’s roster of female competitors. Now, that might change when Ronda Rousey joins the roster, but for the time being, it’s Asuka vs. the world. This official photo of Asuka from her NXT days has been used time and time again to showcase her dominance and in-ring abilities. It’s not hard to see why. The look on Asuka’s face is pure intensity. Her form on that jump kick is flawless. This is the kind of photo you put out there when you want to encourage people to tune in just to see what’s going to happen next. There are many good photos of Asuka in action, but this is the one that really capture her WWE character.
4 Don’t - Asuka Stripping her Opponents
Before arriving in WWE, Asuka went by the name of Kana and established herself as one of the best female wrestlers in the world. The quality of her ring work was obvious, but what really set Asuka apart were her skills as a performer. Now, you need to understand that performances in Japanese wrestling occasionally includes some content that WWE has not’ approved of in about 15 years. For instance, the photo above showcases Kana taking off Lin Bairon’s top after beating her in a match where the loser was required to show the crowd their breasts. That stipulation was added after a bizarre interview in which Kana suggested it seemingly out of nowhere. Byron escaped before her clothes were fully removed, but this image certainly tells a story.
2 Do - Asuka and Shinsuke
WWE may not be too eager to dive deeply into Asuka’s past as a performer in Japan, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t willing to promote the fact that Asuka is a Japanese performer. That’s probably because New Japan Pro Wrestling has already captured the attention of nearly every Japanese wrestling fan and are now looking to invade WWE’s Western markets. To combat this, WWE has seemingly made a concentrated effort in recent years to pursue and acquire big Japanese names. None of those names are bigger than Asuka and Shinsuke Nakamura. This is the photo that WWE sends out when they want to promote the diversity of their roster and when they want to remind wrestling fans in Japan that two of the best Japanese performers in the world call WWE their home.
1 Don’t - Asuka and Mio
Remember how we mentioned Auska’s past as a gravure model? Well, if you’re really interested in seeing how intense some of those shoots could be, you should really check out her videos with Mio Shirai. Those two were not only seen as two of the best wrestlers on the planet at one point in time, but they were also seen in some very provocative videos that featured the two getting rather close. The picture of their DVD cover certainly sends a certain message, but this image is made all the more infamous due to rumors regarding some of Asuka’s past relationships and preferences in partners. While Asuka denies that she had a relationship with Mio or any other female performer, this picture and the video itself suggest she also isn’t entirely opposed to the idea.