They say that anything can happen in the WWE Universe, and yet the total domination and destruction Asuka has caused amongst her female competitors has been wholly unique and in that sense a shock to many fans. Born Kanako Urai, she competed in a variety of Japanese and American independent wrestling companies as Kana before WWE finally took in 2015, changing her name to Asuka in the process.
Regardless of what they called her, the Empress of Tomorrow has impressed fans while scaring the hell out of her opponents with her second-to-none wrestling ability and frighteningly vicious persona. Having fully conquered the women of NXT to an extent where she no longer had any competition, Asuka recently relinquished the WWE training ground’s Women’s Championship to start working her way up to the main roster.
On September 11, 2017, WWE officially announced Asuka had been signed to the Raw brand, and a few weeks later at No Mercy, it was confirmed she’s be making her debut at WWE TLC against Emma. While those who followed NXT and Asuka’s time prior to WWE are obviously very excited about this news, others who find themselves unfamiliar with her work might be wondering what the big deal is. If that’s you, keep reading for a crash course in the Empress of Tomorrow with our list of 15 amazing facts you should know about Asuka.
17 Her Favorite Wrestler Is Triple H
Shocking as it is that Asuka didn’t exactly have any female role models when deciding to become a wrestler, she nonetheless did indeed have plenty of idols who inspired her to enter the squared circle. It just so happens that all of Asuka’s favorite grapplers were men. Again, Asuka shows a surprisingly American approach to the subject of her inspirations, claiming that her absolute favorite wrestler of all time is none other than her current boss, Triple H. Granted, everyone in NXT says something like this at one point in their career, yet Asuka may well have been telling the truth, given the two share some cerebral assassin-like qualities. Either way, Triple H obviously isn’t the only wrestler she likes, as she’s mentioned a few other favorites from her homeland including Keiji Mutoh/The Great Muta, Akira Maeda, and Minoru Suzuki.
16 She Started A Life Of Sports With Badminton and Figure Skating
Talent like Asuka’s doesn’t come out of nowhere, and indeed, the future Empress of Tomorrow was preparing for a life in athletics from a young age whether she knew it or not. For as violent and vicious as Asuka would later become, though, the two sports she most commonly played as a child were far more tame, preferring badminton and figure skating to any sort of wrestling or fighting. Of course, it would be just as terrifying to see Asuka’s unsettling smile from across the court as she launches a shuttlecock into your direction as it would when she does so inside the squared circle. As for the figure skating, it could be actually said the sport has several qualities in common with wrestling, as performance and precision are extremely important to both. Unfortunately for her opponents, however, the delicacy of figure skating is something she’s entirely left behind.
15 She Wowed Fans On The Independent Scene Before WWE Took Notice
Roughly half, if not more, of the NXT roster has had a significant amount of experience in pro wrestling prior to WWE hiring them and attempting to remold them in their image. A smaller, but still significant, portion of that same group actually happen to have a whole lot of training in the business, entering basically as fully fledged stars ready for greatness. It could easily be argued Asuka was of this ilk, having wrestled a solid ten years before WWE hired her and starting making her a superstar. Primarily wrestling as Kana during this time, Asuka worked for a wide variety of companies in the US and Japan, including Pro Wrestling Wave, Smash, DDT Pro-Wrestling, and JWP Joshi Puroresu. Most impressively, Kana managed to win a championship or two in every one of these organizations, her career path being lined with gold from the beginning to her current state.
14 She Owns A Hair Salon In Japan
In addition to being an absolute killer inside the ring, most fans would agree the Empress of Tomorrow has an incredibly creative and often fetching fashion sense. Her clothing is just one way Asuka expresses herself visually, along with her masks, looks, and oh yes, that wild, beautifully colored hair. As it would turn out, Asuka’s kind of an expert when it comes to that last area, as one of her side jobs away from wrestling is owning a hair salon in Yokohama, Japan called Another Heaven. Appropriately, Another Heaven deals primarily in what have been called “alternative” hairstyles, similar to Asuka’s own unique hairdo and many other pop icons from the Land of the Rising Sun. One has to assume that as her American wrestling career is taking off, Asuka has less time to deal with business back home, but she still appears to have some stock in the company to this day.
13 She’s A Huge Fan Of Video Games
With a strong background in sports, a serious interest in fashion, and let’s not forget a penchant for ripping women’s arms out of their sockets, it’s hard to imagine Asuka has all that much free time. Surprisingly, whenever she somehow gets a chance to get away from her many jobs, the one thing Asuka always runs to is video games. Like everything else in her life, the Empress of Tomorrow isn’t playing around when it comes to her passion for games, as she claims to own a collection of more than 3,000 titles across a couple dozen systems. Asuka owns everything from retro consoles like the NES to modern day machines like the Xbox 360, citing Call of Duty, Red Dead Redemption, and Okami as some of her favorites. Not only that, but Asuka has also written for the Japanese Xbox Magazine, offering her opinions on popular titles. And that’s not all for Asuka’s connection to gaming…
12 She Was A Graphic Designer Before Getting Into Wrestling
For many fans, it’s probably already pretty darn cool to know the vicious Empress of Tomorrow who terrified NXT as Asuka also loves a good first-person shooter on her days off. Always one to go big or go home, Asuka wasn’t content to simply write about her love of video games for magazines. To get a far more firsthand experience in the gaming world, she also spent several years as a graphic designer. In this capacity, Asuka helped design games for various phone apps and most impressively, the Nintendo DS. Unfortunately, it looks like the games she worked on were only released in Japan, so American audiences who don’t speak the language are pretty much out of luck in finding them. However, it’s still awesome knowing the person all women in WWE should fear is so unconcerned with her victims that she sits behind a computer screen making games when not forced to deal with them.
11 She Wasn’t Interested In Women’s Wrestling When Growing Up
Given a few facts this list is going to cover as it continues, it could easily be argued that Asuka is the most successful female wrestler in the WWE Universe today. As the company loves reminding viewers, they’ve been in the midst of a so-called women’s revolution for the past several years, and Asuka is most definitely helping grease the wheels of time in this regard. For this reason, it might come as a pretty big shock to learn that Asuka actually had almost no interest in women’s wrestling when she was growing up. Now, were she an American, this wouldn’t be all that surprising, as the genre barely had any spotlight until recently. However, in Japan, women’s wrestling was more popular than ever in the mid ‘90s, with stars like Manami Toyota and Kyoko Inoue considered some of the best sports entertainers in the world. Somehow, though, Asuka missed out on their rise. Of course, that isn’t to say she didn’t have any interest in wrestling at all…
8 She Almost Retired Before Her Career Truly Took Off
More so than any other industry on the planet, “retirement” is almost an entirely meaningless word in professional wrestling. However, when a prospective superstars decides to call it quits a mere two years into their career due to a serious health problem, it feels pretty reasonable to believe them when they say it’s over. That’s what Asuka did back in 2006, having just recently made her debut for the short lived promotion Major Girl’s Fighting AtoZ (short for ARISON to Zenjo). Two short years after her first match in June of 2004, Asuka was diagnosed with chronic nephritis. While fighting the disease, Asuka continued her previously described work in graphic design, and once she defeated the condition in 2007, it was straight back to the ring. Stronger and more of a fighter than ever before, Asuka has yet to think twice about ending that first, short retirement.
7 She Has Released Four Gravure Videos
Thanks to women like Asuka, the females of pro wrestling are finally started to get noticed for their skills in the ring, and not just their beautiful bodies and gorgeous looks. That said, some men will never be able to completely ignore such things, and there’s nothing wrong with that in the appropriate setting. Asuka is well aware that some fans out there might be more interested in her body than her bodyscissors, and has released four gravure DVDs to cash in on that market. For those who don’t know, gravure is a form of modeling, with the videos largely consisting of glamour shots of Asuka in revealing bathing suits and sexy outfits. Given Asuka’s image in America, this might be a bit of a shock, but fans of puroresu are likely aware that releasing videos like these is actually rather common amongst Japanese wrestlers, and famous women in general.
6 She’s The Longest Reigning Champion In NXT History
All right, so to be entirely fair, the accolade Asuka has accomplished in becoming the longest reigning NXT champion in history is slightly marred by how short the brand has been around. The brand made it’s debut in 2012, and the Women’s Championship in particular was made a year after that, meaning it’s only been around a whopping four years at the time this article is being written. That said, the amount of time Asuka has reigned as NXT Women’s Champion is incredibly impressive regardless of how long the opportunity has existed. For 510 full days, Asuka held the belt with pride, conquering all challengers without breaking a sweat. This next statistic will obviously get less impressive over time, but as of right now, Asuka was the NXT Women’s Champion for a third of the belt’s existence. Though her records aren’t entirely unbeatable, it will take at least a year and a half for anyone to come close to them.
5 Triple H Wouldn’t Let Vince McMahon Call Her Up To Raw
Earlier in this list, it was covered that Asuka long considered Triple H her favorite wrestler, or so she claimed after getting hired by The Game to work for NXT. Whatever the reason for the praise, Triple H has more than reciprocated the kind words, at one point referring to Asuka as the most important wrestler on his brand’s roster. In fact, HHH was so dead-set on forming the developmental territory around the Empress of Tomorrow he actually begged his father-in-law Vince McMahon to keep her off-limits when writers were deciding on which wrestlers to get called up to the main roster. Presumably, this discussion took place around April of 2017 when WWE had their “Superstar Shake-up,” though The Game wouldn’t reveal the story until August. Barely a month later, HHH has lost the talent he begged his boss to let him keep, so we’re not really sure who won that fight in the long run.
4 She Loves American Rock Music
Once again, the most visible female Japanese wrestler in WWE eschews the culture of her own homeland and shows a strong predilection towards the American version, although this time, we aren’t talking about wrestling. In the same way Asuka calls Triple H her favorite wrestler, preferring his WWE style to Japanese legends like Keiji Muto, the Empress of Tomorrow claims to have little interest in Japanese music. Instead, she loves to rock out to American bands like Aerosmith, Guns ‘n Roses, and Bon Jovi. These trends also hold true to her film interests, as Asuka has mentioned some of her favorites include American classics like Platoon and The Godfather, and not the thoughtful dramas of Akira Kurosawa. Obviously, where a person comes from doesn’t necessarily dictate their tastes in art, as popular trends are irrelevant to taste. Still, it’s pretty funny/awesome to picture the Empress of Tomorrow banging her head to “Paradise City.”
3 Her Name References A Wrestling Legend
No matter how famous a wrestler is prior to joining their roster, WWE will almost always inevitably give them a new name upon their debut. As already mentioned, Asuka was like many others in this regard, having built up a solid fan base under the name Kana before WWE made her switch things up. Explaining the move on Twitter, Asuka told fans the name means “future,” representing her great prospects in the WWE Universe. Many fans believe that Asuka’s name is also at least in part a reference to the iconic Japanese wrestler Lioness Asuka, one half of The Crush Gals with Chigusa Nagayo. Together, the Crush Gals were easily the most popular female tag team in wrestling history, and on her own, Lioness Asuka was a highly accomplished singles wrestler for All Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling. Though the younger Asuka may not have seen much of her work, the influence is definitely felt in her hard-hitting style.
2 She Left NXT As An Undefeated Champion
It’s impressive enough that Asuka reigned as NXT Women’s Champion longer than anyone else in the brand has touched any piece of gold. Compounding the feat significantly is the fact she actually spent her entire time in the brand without ever once losing in singles competition, and never being responsible for her team losing in her rare tag team defeats. Asuka remained unpinned until the very end, getting called up to the main roster without ever losing her championship. Ultimately, Asuka was forced to relinquish the gold after breaking her collarbone, though she nonetheless won the match where the injury occurred. Asuka probably would’ve needed to give up the title, anyway, as it was announced she had been signed to Raw in the same segment where she handed the belt to NXT GM William Regal.
1 She’s Recognized As Having The Longest Undefeated Streak In WWE
It’s hard to imagine that in her short time in WWE, Asuka has already done something absolutely historic. That said, the accomplishment she currently holds is the sort of thing a wrestler needs to establish right at the start of their career, or else it’ll fall apart pretty quickly. As of this writing in September 2017, Asuka is undefeated in singles competition and has never been pinned in tag team competition. According to WWE’s record books, this two year streak without ever taking an official loss is the longest undefeated streak any wrestler has experienced.
Asuka’s record is both in terms of length and actual victories in the ring, as Asuka’s current streak stands somewhere around 187-0, well over Goldberg’s historic 173-0 tear through WCW in the late ‘90s. While Asuka’s reign doesn’t beat that of The Fabulous Moolah or Bruno Sammartino’s seven years with the WWE Championships, both of those competitors lost tag matches and even singles matches by DQ over that time, while Asuka was truly, completely undefeated. Naturally, the most impressive part of Asuka’s streak is that it still isn’t over, and the way we see it, there’s really no end in sight.