5. Asuka vs. Bayley – NXT TakeOver: Dallas
Holding a perfect record six months after her NXT debut, Asuka challenged the reigning NXT Women’s Champion, Bayley, at TakeOver: Dallas.
The crowd in the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center was hot. Before the match got underway, there were already dueling chants. “Asuka’s gonna kill you.” “Bayley’s gonna hug you.”
From the start, Bayley avoided the challenger’s strikes and attempted to tie her up, which led to a stalemate. “The Empress of Tomorrow” eventually found success with the hip attack. When the champion gained momentum Asuka quickly grounded her with a Fujiwara armbar.
This was the story for most of the match. Bayley would muster a gutsy display of offense and Asuka would come back twice as hard. The two eventually traded submissions holds after “The Hugger” locked in a guillotine choke, which Asuka ended with an ankle lock.
Bayley managed to fight out of it, but the damage was done. Then, the challenger went to work with a flurry of strikes, including a feint spinning heel kick like Shinsuke Nakamura’s.
This was far from a one-sided match. Bayley stayed in this fight. She even pulled off some inventive reversals. The best came when she countered a roundhouse kick and transitioned into a kneebar and later an ankle lock.
In a stunning finish, the challenger silenced the crowd when she cinched in the Asuka Lock and forced Bayley to pass out. This win and the stare down from the ring minted Asuka as the biggest threat in the division.