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WWE did the one thing they couldn’t with Asuka’s submission victory over Becky Lynch

We’re coming up on a month since Royal Rumble opened with Asuka retaining her SmackDown Women’s title by making Becky Lynch tap out.

It was a move I really didn’t like at the time. I’ve been watching pro wrestling, and specifically Vince McMahon-booked pro wrestling, for most of the 46 years I’ve been drawing breath. And in my experience, fan favorites who the company has big plans for don’t lose by submission- especially not in title matches on important pay-per-view (PPV) events.

But Lynch went on to win the Rumble itself and, until this week, has been the focal point of almost all WWE’s television programs. A lot of people whose opinions and analysis I respect told me Becky tapping to an Asuka Lock was a good thing. Even though it went against another trend I’d seen in my decades of following the New York territory (as the McMahons’ WWWF was sometimes called when I was too young to be ‘smart’) - that fan favorites who aren’t great promos aren’t often people the company has big plans for - I decided to do what we wrestling fans have to do. I would wait, and I would see.


This isn’t “I told you so” and it’s not another piece on “where’s Asuka?” It’s not even a lamentation for the Empress’ loss to Mandy Rose in her first televised match since Royal Rumble.

There were a couple arguments I bought into which convinced me maybe The Man submitting to the blue brand champ was actually a good thing. Neither seems to be happening now.

1. WWE had big plans for both women

Clearly, there are big plans for Lynch. And that’s great. One thing I will admit I was overly concerned and completely wrong about was tapping meaning Vince didn’t see Becky as a star. He does. I expect her to leave WrestleMania 35 a bigger one. And Asuka needed the submission victory because she won the belt in ladder match with unrequested assistance from Ronda Rousey. So this was the springboard they needed to propel her to bigger & better things.


The Japanese wrestler wasn’t off television because they were saving her. Part of it was logistics, sure. But they also don’t have anything planned. Not set in stone, anyway. You know, the way you would for a big star. Rumor has it they were going to use her to help establish Lacey Evans as a huge deal, but now they won’t even do that. At this point, it wouldn’t shock me if she loses to Rose or Sonya Deville on the ‘Mania Kickoff and spends the rest of the year in the midcard.

People can heat up in a hurry in WWE, so this one still merits a “wait and see” approach. But the signs aren’t pointing up for the Empress. Which makes me wonder what the point of booking her to tap The Man was.

2. Asuka’s win over Becky will normalize submission wins in WWE

This one was really intriguing. Fox wants a sports-like feel for SmackDown, right? In non-scripted combat sports, people get caught with submissions all the time. It doesn’t mean you’re weak, and fighters who tap can go on to win belts & headline shows. As a Matt Hardy gimmick might say, the Rumble opener would be the start of change in WWE philosophy which would classify my old “fan favorites who the company has big plans for don’t lose by submission” rule as obsolete!

But for that to be the case, you know what has to happen?


We’ve been reminded, almost as an aside, that Asuka’s dominance includes a successful defense against Lynch. But only once have I heard anyone remind us she made The Man quit, and that weeks after it happened, and right before the champ said, “but I don’t want to talk about Becky and Charlotte” this past Tuesday.

Even though they could spin it as the Badlass choosing to save herself should an opportunity to enter the Rumble arise. Because it order to spin it you’d have to %#(&ING MENTION IT. And you’d have to do so closer to when it happened. And you’d have to repeat it a lot to drill it into our heads and change our perception.

They haven’t. Which just ends up reinforcing the belief I and others have that fan favorites who the company has big plans for don’t lose by submission. And makes me again ask - what was the point of booking that match to end that way?

I know. I know. I’ve wasted too much time and too many words on this. It doesn’t matter - certainly not in the big picture of life, and not even really in the little picture of being a pro wrestling fan.

But because I dedicate so much of my freaking life to this pastime, I want stuff like how championship matches on one of the biggest shows of the year end to be significant in some way. That’s why, to me, WWE’s done the one thing they couldn’t with Asuka’s submission victory over Becky Lynch...

Nothing at all.

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