The 2018 Royal Rumble pay-per-view is over and done with, and we can arguably look back at it as one of the best, if not the best, of the decade. After years of frustrating fans with the likes of Batista and Roman Reigns as the winner, the creative team finally gave the WWE Universe a men’s Royal Rumble match winner they can almost unanimously get behind – Shinsuke Nakamura. The storytelling was brilliant in the men’s match’s final minutes, and while the women’s Rumble match didn’t come with as much drama, it was great for what it was – the first-ever female equivalent of a yearly WWE tradition. That match was won by Asuka, and while a lot of us may have expected her to win anyway, we might as well look at the possible reasons why WWE went all-in with the Empress of Tomorrow as the last woman standing.
The most obvious reason we can think of is a desire to keep her momentum going strong after a historic 523-day run as NXT Women’s Champion, and an undefeated streak in singles matches that remains unbroken to this very day. Fans aren’t expecting anything less than a career-making WrestleMania moment for Asuka come April, and there’s no better way to do it than having her win the female Royal Rumble. Now that she’s won it, there are three women who might end up facing her at WrestleMania 34 – Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss, SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair, and the debuting former UFC Bantamweight Champion, Ronda Rousey. We think it’s going to be a toss-up between Bliss and Rousey, though Asuka leaving her options open at the close of the Royal Rumble does add a lot of intrigue to her immediate future storylines, and at least two choices for potentially show-stealing matches at WrestleMania.
In relation to the above theory, there’s also a possibly genuine desire on the part of WWE’s creative team to stop making busts out of hot prospects coming out of the developmental ranks. This is something WWE should want to get right this time after botching the main roster pushes of former NXT champions like Bo Dallas, The Ascension, and Bayley. Until Sunday night’s men’s Royal Rumble victory, even Nakamura was struggling through a lackluster main event run, and not everyone is sold on how Samoa Joe, Bobby Roode, and Finn Balor have turned out on the main roster so far. Long story short – WWE seems to have had more misses than hits when it comes to NXT champions getting called up, and Asuka is as sure a hit as you can get.
PREVIOUSLY: ASUKA WINS 2018 WOMEN’S ROYAL RUMBLE
Additionally, could this is WWE’s way of recognizing the fact that Japan is a hotbed for wrestling talent? We’ve seen how New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Wrestle Kingdom 12 was a big hit with fans all over the globe, and how the likes of Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada (not to mention Chris Jericho) have helped New Japan become more than just a niche product for the home audience and only the most passionate of wrestling fans. It was only a few years ago when Yoshi Tatsu was doing jobs and appearing solely on B-shows. Japanese WWE Superstars like Taka Michinoku, Kenzo Suzuki, and even Hakushi (aka Jinsei Shinzaki) were given ethnic stereotype and/or comedic gimmicks even further back, and never got past the mid-card. With Shinsuke Nakamura and Asuka winning the men’s and women’s Royal Rumble matches, respectively, this could be WWE’s long-overdue way of recognizing and respecting Japanese talent.
For our last few theories, we’ll have to go back to the basics – the men’s Rumble match was won by a SmackDown Live Superstar, so it simply stood to reason that someone from Monday Night Raw would win the women’s edition. That could have also been someone like Sasha Banks or Bayley, but since Alexa Bliss has convincingly won feuds over both women, that leaves Asuka as her next top challenger for the Raw Women’s Championship. And let’s face it – SmackDown Live‘s women’s division has seen better days, and none of the blue brand women in the female Royal Rumble, not even former champions Becky Lynch, Naomi, and Natalya, nor Riott Squad leader Ruby Riott, had a realistic chance of winning the match. Either way, it had to be someone from the red brand, and there was no better or more logical choice out there than Asuka.
No matter how you look at it, nobody deserved to win the first-ever female Royal Rumble more than Asuka did, and now that she’s headed to WrestleMania in any case, WWE has to make sure they don’t ruin a good thing, and keep booking her strongly before, during, and in the immediate foreseeable future after ‘Mania.
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