clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Writers’ Room: But really, was Becky Lynch tapping to Asuka the right call?

The Writers’ Room takes you into the Cageside Seats staff Slack channel for a look at our answers to interesting, pressing or weird wrestling questions.

Today, we’re rewinding less than a week to discuss if Becky Lynch tapping out to Asuka at the Royal Rumble was the right call.

Brent Brookhouse: Now that we’re removed from the moment a bit...what does everyone think of Becky dropping the match clean by tap? And have your feelings changed since being “in the moment?”

Geno Mrosko: I still don’t like it, but for reasons different than how I initially felt about it. My first thought was, well, you don’t have your top stars tap clean in the middle of the ring in title matches (especially to someone you aren’t even going to put on TV that same week).

But what bothers now is that it’s clear they were going for making her an underdog for one night and that’s completely disconnected from the character she became a star with. Becky Lynch, Underdog was the character that just kept failing. I mean, it still worked in the Royal Rumble, but it just felt like narrative disconnect for me.

Brent: I’m in the same boat with my feelings changing a bit but almost reversed. I was fine with it because it gave Asuka a huge, title reign-legitimizing victory and set her up for her own Mania build. The fans clearly didn’t abandon Lynch in it happening and it leaves that story in the back pocket for post-Mania.

But then to completely avoid Asuka on TV is such a boneheaded decision. She should have had SOME sort of moment to acknowledge that yes, she did that. So, if you aren’t capitalizing on what you set up, why bother?

Geno: Almost like they didn’t want to take any of Becky’s shine away by having the champion who tapped her clean come out and, you know, remind us that she tapped her clean. It just goes against any kind of logic to think that Asuka wouldn’t be shouting that from the rooftops. “Becky couldn’t beat me, so she ran off to challenge the Raw women’s champion.”

Instead, Becky leads off the show and Charlotte is interrupting her while Asuka is nowhere to be found.

Brent: Or to at least have Becky say something about Asuka holding on to the belt because she’s coming for her after she finishes with Ronnie.

Geno: If anything, that de-legitimizes the title and makes it look second rate. Which is funny because so many said her winning was a way to legitimize Asuka as champion. These are sacrifices that must be made sometimes, I fully understand that, but I still think there was a better way to get there that doesn’t make the SmackDown women’s title look so second rate.

Brent: I mean that’s entirely what I said. Legitimize Asuka, she won the belt because of Rousey so you re-establish her as an absolute killer. Which I’m all for. But you don’t do that by then ignoring it the first opportunity to do so.

You also have the top two stars on Smackdown running to get after the Raw champ. She could have easily been given 60 seconds to say something about Becky running after Rousey and away from her after what she did at the Rumble.

Geno: There’s something to be said for the idea that this is a marathon and not a sprint but it’s very clear what the idea was here, and I don’t know that there’s any changing how this looks for Asuka.

The women on SmackDown this week were either arguing over the women’s title on the other show, or declaring for the match to determine women’s tag team champions. It‘s just not a good look for Asuka or the SmackDown womens’ title.

Rev. Claire Elizabeth: I agree with basically all of this but I think it needs to be said-- the bridging, Cattle Mutilation-style Asuka Lock that did the job here was the coolest goddamned thing.

Tommy Messano: Wish Becky struggled more to get out of Asuka’s new submission or like many have suggested passed out from it instead of tapping. Watching it back, it still feels like a quick tap from your anti-hero.

Geno: Especially when, later in the very same show, she hurt her leg and was shouting “I can still go, fight me.”

Cain A. Knight: If the idea was that Asuka needed the win to keep both Asuka strong as well as have a legit opponent ready for Becky sometime post-Mania, then I think it’s understandable for Becky to lose to her at the Royal Rumble. However, the tap out was a big no-no. They should have gone the Owen Hart over Bret Hart route for the finish. A sudden pin out of nowhere, but still clean.

Geno: You had her tapping way too quickly and then later fighting through injury to win the Rumble. Too much disconnect in the single night story, and then in the wider story arc of the character.

Having said all this -- perhaps we’re off here because I’m not seeing many people who are fighting against this. I mean, most folks loved the Rumble, and loved Lynch winning, and she was the biggest star of the night at Raw the very next evening, to the point they were booing Ronda Rousey out of the building. So, what they did to Becky had zero effect on her from that perspective.

Cain: What’s extra bizarre about it is that they have gone the “no automatic rematches” route now, so they didn’t even have to book themselves into this spot by having Becky vs. Asuka at the Rumble. Put someone else in the championship match, and just have Becky wrestle in the Rumble.

Rev. Claire: I tend to think that’s just an issue with the way WWE presents submissions and finishes in general. Submissions are way undervalued and nobody ever finishes with anything besides their set two or three finishers, so instead of this coming off like “HOLY HELL ASUKA GOT HER” the way it might if big escalation finishes like this (or even like the elbows in Riddle/Ohno at TakeOver) were more common, it just felt disappointing.

Although yeah, the double dip didn’t help things there-- easily pasted over but it’s the kinda thing you really shouldn’t ever back yourself into a corner of having to paste over.

Geno: Yep. In the end, it didn’t hurt Lynch at all. Or it hasn’t seemed to.

But we can’t say it helped Asuka. Or at least not yet.

What if the idea was to keep Asuka off TV for a week so she wouldn’t be booed for beating Lynch? Like, they want her babyface, so let Lynch have her moments on both shows and take a week to get some distance so Asuka doesn’t get a bad reaction when she’s next heard from?

Tommy: That’s possible. Asuka was getting some light boos from the live crowd at the Royal Rumble. Raw and SmackDown crowds are always different after these big weekend shows. Crowd could have turned on Asuka simply because she’s not Becky.

Cain: I don’t think Asuka would be heavily booed, because she doesn’t have the “Vince is forcing someone we don’t want on us” stigma on her.

Henry T. Casey: SmackDown needs to give Asuka something on TV next week, to avoid her looking like an afterthought, for the win to help her.

Cain: My best guess right now is that Asuka ends up in the Elimination Chamber as Naomi’s partner, because I think Becky will fight Charlotte on that card, and there is no other viable opponent for Asuka this quickly.

Henry: Which devalues the Smackdown title. Because shouldn’t that be enough for her?

If you look at the SmackDown women’s roster, it’s all either tag teams (Iiconics, Mandy and Sonya), those who are distracted by men’s division stories (Lana, Carmella) and people who care about the Raw Champ (Charlotte, Becky).

Right now, Naomi, Nikki Cross and Asuka are the only potential SD Women’s Champs.

Geno: She’s a champion with no clear challenger.

Henry: Or division.

Geno: Maybe Lacey Evans can show up and say she’s not a proper lady wearing that thong on the outside of her shorts. boom, title match.

Henry: Fans would go APE if it looked like Lacey was gonna have a slight chance of pinning Asuka. I want to flip my standing desk just thinking about it.

Rev. Claire: Oh yes, let’s have the 1940s woman wrestle the Japanese woman, that won’t go horribly wrong. Hahaha.

Henry: I mean, as long as Asuka wins the feud, it’s good.

Rev. Claire: Oh, I’d be into it, it’s just I’d be on the edge of my seat waiting for Corey Graves to say the words “Pearl Harbor” the entire time.

Because you know he’d want to bring that one back into the commentator’s lexicon for this.

Cain: One thing is for sure, creative will still have nothing for EC3 while the other NXT call-ups continue to get mixed in.

Henry: Now I just want to see EC3 vs Asuka.

Tommy: Asuka vs. Otis or what are we really doing here?

Right or wrong, Asuka tapped Lynch. Now we see if they can make it work for everyone.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Cageside Seats Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your pro wrestling news from Cageside Seats