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The Empress of Tomorrow: Examining Asuka's Record-Setting WWE Career

Relentless admired by both her peers and the WWE Universe, let's look at what makes Asuka so special.

By Chris Phelan
Asuka looks on while in the ring

Most people's "rise" is often linked to their "fall," and WWE Superstars are no different. Nearly all Superstars have dealt with their fair share of heartbreak, drama, and shocking losses that have ultimately given them the strength to overcome adversity and stand alone at the top of the mountain. Well, except for Asuka. She's been dominant since day one. 

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Today, we're shining a light on Asuka, one of the most beloved and decorated women's champions in WWE history. Let's look at her record-setting WWE career – and where she goes from here.

Asuka's Professional Wrestling Journey Starts in Japan

Asuka walks to the ring

Like many WWE Superstars, Asuka began her career on the independent scene. However, her humble beginnings in the professional wrestling industry didn't start in small gyms in the United States – she learned the ropes in Japan. Competing in countless women's promotions across the country, Asuka developed her trademark charisma and stellar in-ring moves, making her a fan favorite wherever she performed. In a way, it was inevitable that Asuka drew the attention of WWE's top brass – she was a natural sports entertainer, and fans worldwide were clamoring for the top wrestling company in the world to take a shot on her. 

RELATED: Bianca Belair, Asuka Team Up Against 'Big Time Baby' Becky Lynch Ahead Of Hell In A Cell

When William Regal announced Asuka's signing with NXT, the WWE Universe became unglued: Asuka was the first Japanese wrestler to be signed to a WWE contract in over 20 years. Fans in Japan had known of Asuka's greatness for years. Now, it was officially time for American audiences to experience the same.

Asuka’s NXT Debut and Statement Win

Asuka leaning on the top rope of the ring

At NXT TakeOver: Respect in October 2015, Asuka was officially unleashed – and unfortunately, Dana Brooke was on the receiving end of her punishing and dominant in-ring style:

Asuka's quick ascent up the ranks in the NXT women's division was unlike anything fans had seen before. While Bayley's rise in NXT was slow and organic, with countless speed bumps along the way, Asuka mowed down her competition easily, eventually steamrolling Bayley herself to win the NXT Women's Championship in April 2016. No, you didn't read that incorrectly – it took less than six months for Asuka to climb to the top of the NXT women's division and become champion. Truth be told, we barely think she broke a sweat doing it! In fact, by the time she became champion, Asuka had never been pinned or made to submit in any match she competed in.

Of course, being dominant in NXT typically leads to one thing: a promotion to WWE's main roster. After being forced to relinquish her NXT Women's Championship due to injury, it was announced that she would make her main roster debut on Monday Night Raw in the fall of 2017 – with her undefeated streak intact. 

True to form, Asuka quickly dispatched her first handful of opponents on Raw, delighting the WWE Universe with her unique charisma and moves. Of course, just a few months later, Asuka's career trajectory would change for the better.

Making History at Royal Rumble 2018

Asuka stands on the top rope

When it was announced that the 2018 edition of the Royal Rumble would feature the first-ever women's Royal Rumble match, the WWE Universe was stunned. Although the Rumble had been around in one form or another since the late 1980s, an all-female match was thought by many to be a pipe dream. When the finalized 30-woman lineup was announced, it was clear that WWE was bringing in the big guns to compete at the shot at making history, and Asuka found herself participating alongside all-time greats of the women's division. 

Asuka took her undefeated streak into the Royal Rumble that year – and against all odds, she became the inaugural winner, guaranteeing a title shot at WrestleMania after a particularly dramatic ending sequence against prohibitive favorite, then-WWE Superstar Nikki Bella. In the blink of an eye, Asuka found herself on her personal Road to WrestleMania – and a showdown against Charlotte Flair. By that point, Asuka's undefeated streak, spanning across her time in NXT and the main roster, had reached the 800-day mark. 

In the eyes of the WWE Universe, Charlotte Flair's days as champion were numbered. 

The Record-Breaking Undefeated Streak Finally Ends

Asuka walks to the ring

Sometimes, life isn't fair. The wrestling world was shocked when, at WrestleMania 34, Charlotte Flair successfully defended her SmackDown Women's Title against Asuka, not only dashing the fan-favorite's title aspirations but also putting an end to her record-breaking undefeated streak via submission. 

For Asuka, it was a sign that she possibly couldn't handle the pressure presented on the main roster. She was no longer a big fish in a small pond, and Charlotte's dismantling of her at WrestleMania could have derailed Asuka's career entirely. Thankfully, the Empress of Tomorrow carried on undeterred.

With the unwavering support of the WWE Universe refusing to let her move backward, Asuka kept climbing the ladder metaphorically and literally! She memorably captured the SmackDown Women's Championship – and once again made history – at TLC 2018, defeating Charlotte and Becky Lynch in the first-ever women's Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match.

From that point forward, Asuka knew she had the tools necessary to accomplish whatever she wanted in WWE. The Empress of Tomorrow had essentially become the Empress of Today. Even when she turned her back on the WWE Universe, the fans never turned their backs on Asuka, a testament to her dedication to sports entertainment. From her entrance to her in-ring style, Asuka is living proof that some WWE Superstars are truly one-in-a-million. 

Present Day: Still Going Strong

Asuka standing in the ring, smiling while holding a mic in her hand

With a resume like Asuka's, it shouldn't surprise anyone that she is still in the upper echelon of WWE Superstars. Although her 914-day undefeated streak is years behind her, Asuka still is collecting championships like The Miz collects bad haircuts – she most recently held the newly-established WWE Women's Championship throughout the summer of 2023 before ultimately losing it in a chaotic Triple Threat match at SummerSlam to Bianca Belair.

Asuka's in-ring accomplishments are arguably too many to mention – she has never ventured too far away from singles gold – and even her Kabuki Warriors tag team title run with Kairi Sane showed that she has the in-ring skills to dominate the women's tag team division seemingly whenever she wants. 

Alongside Bayley, Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, and Rhea Ripley, Asuka is a certified WWE Grand Slam Champion, capturing the WWE Women's Title, Women's World Championship, NXT Women's Title, and the WWE Tag Team Championship at different points in her career, accomplishing that goal in a little over a four-year timespan.

Eight years ago, Asuka was barely a blip on the radar of the WWE Universe. At that time, the women's division seemed inevitably set up for success: talents like Charlotte Flair would be the ones to lead WWE into a new era of women's wrestling. But through sheer heart, determination, and talent, Asuka broke through and became those Superstars' equal. Now, nobody can speak the names of Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, or Bayley without also mentioning Asuka.

So what's next for the Empress of Tomorrow? With Kairi Sane's recent return to WWE, could a Kabuki Warriors reunion be in the cards? Or will Asuka set her sights once again on singles gold? Whatever she decides to do, she will prove – as she always has – that nobody will ever be ready for Asuka.

You can tune in to Peacock to watch WWE's Survivor Series on November 25. In the meantime, catch up on all things WWE Universe on Peacock.

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