In the three weeks since Royal Rumble, Women’s champion Asuka has appeared SmackDown television once. That was in a video package on the Feb. 4 episode. She does not have a match scheduled for Sunday’s Elimination Chamber pay-per-view (PPV), not a feud in place for anything beyond that - including April 7’s WrestleMania 35.
Unlike the last couple Wednesdays, I hadn’t planned on addressing the Empress this week. I wasn’t expecting to see her on last night’s show, and understood - even if I didn’t entirely agree with - why. But a couple things came up in the last day or so that made Asuka, and plans for her & the title she carries, worth spending another few hundred mid-week words on.
Yesterday afternoon, Natalya went on Twitter to post this, floating an idea based on the fact that the two women vying for the Raw Women’s title are from SmackDown (yes, I love Ronda Rousey’s challenger Sunday, but I’m already writing Ruby Riott off):
And Natty wasn’t the only red brand Superstar wanting to follow in Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair’s show-crossing footsteps:
Me too— $asha Banks (@SashaBanksWWE) February 12, 2019
Worth noting, but so much happens on Twitter these days, who can tell what’s WWE sanctioned and what isn’t, right? Normally, you’d write those off and move on, unless...
A relatively reliable dirt screen source like WrestleVotes followed it with a rumor about Asuka. This tweet more or less runs through what we thought through last week about how the SmackDown Women’s champ didn’t have any reason to be on TV until after Elimination Chamber, but also drops a tease of their own about what’s beyond that for the Japanese Superstar:
Been getting a ton of Asuka questions. As far as I know, they do have a plan for Mania. Just wasn’t wise for Asuka to be featured the last few weeks. WWE doesn’t want excessive “brand jumping” prior to WM, leaving only Lana or Vega for Chamber. That’s not a PPV matchup WWE wanted— WrestleVotes (@WrestleVotes) February 13, 2019
In another tweet today, WrestleVotes said they heard from a source that “the Women’s division roster is slowly going to be crossing over more between both shows.”
Putting those ideas together with the Natalya tweet... is Asuka’s WrestleMania 35 opponent a Raw Superstar?
If Charlotte & Becky are headed to the rumored Triple Threat with Rousey, that doesn’t leave many options on SmackDown. There are a lot of talented performers there and in the free agent pool. But they’re either match-ups we’ve seen (Carmella, Naomi), not people who could either hang with Asuka for a decent amount of time in a singles match (Lana, Zelina Vega, The IIconics) and/or aren’t established enough that WWE would give them a ‘Mania title shot (Sonya Deville, Lacey Evans, Nikki Cross).
Meanwhile, over on Raw, you’ve got Natalya, and depending on how the Women’s Tag titles shake out, Sasha or Bayley. They’re not matches I’m dying to see, but WWE may want either Alexa Bliss or Nia Jax in a high-profile match come April 7.
There are lots of options, and lots of talk. What will come of it, and when?
As fun as it is to think about, I hope we get some answers soon. Because it’s more fun to watch Asuka wrestle.