This weekend, Royal Rumble will air live from Minute Maid Park in Houston, TX. The event usually sets the tone for their programming for the rest of the calendar year. Heading into the thirty-third annual gimmick pay-per-view, Asuka vs. Becky Lynch has the most significant story implications.
For the third year, WWE’s women’s division will compete in their own Royal Rumble match. So straight away, it’s intriguing to see both former winners meet in a one-on-one match for the Raw Women’s Championship. Even more, this is a showdown that has been in the making for a year.
Last year at the event, “The Empress of Tomorrow” stunned the Pheonix crowd when she beat Lynch definitively to retain the SmackDown Women’s Champion. Of course, that victory became sort of an afterthought. Later, “The Man” entered the women’s Royal Rumble match and eliminated her rival, Charlotte Flair, to punch her ticket to WrestleMania.
The rest is history, literally. Lynch went on to become one of the first women to headline “The Show of Shows” and Asuka infamously dropped the title to Flair a week before the event. This set up a Winner Takes All Match, which “The Man” ultimately won to become the first woman to hold both titles.
Lynch continued her run as one of the biggest stars in the company, gracing several pay-per-view posters. Meanwhile, Asuka languishing in the tag division until The Kabuki Warriors won the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship at Hell in a Cell.
For the first time on the main roster, Asuka turned heel. Since, she has enjoyed her best run outside of NXT. This eventually put her on a collision course with Lynch. The Kabuki Warriors defended their titles against Lynch and Flair at TLC, the same event where Asuka beat them for the SmackDown Women’s Championship.
At the end of the night, the champions retained, giving “The Empress of Tomorrow” a third high-profile win over “The Man.” This made Lynch look unsure of herself for the first time in over a year.
Asuka seemingly has her number, and she can’t accept that. After all, her need to prove she is the best is what birthed “The Man” persona; it’s one of her defining characteristics.
It’s why she turned on her longtime friend, Charlotte Flair, at SummerSlam 2018. This was also why she goaded Sasha Banks to return after WrestleMania 35, which sparked a heated rivalry between them last year.
Lynch isn’t the underdog we originally fell in love with it. However, Asuka presents an obstacle for her that reminds us of the fire she displayed for most of 2018. Despite all of her accomplishments, she desperately needed this challenge.
On the other hand, Asuka vs. Becky Lynch is the feud both women need right now. Although she is undefeated against “The Man,” Asuka hasn’t been afforded a meaningful run indicative of such a feat.
Her reign as SmackDownWomen’s Champion was uneventful. In fact, she spent most of it off of television while the woman she defeated was a fixture on both brands.
Becky questioned Asuka’s tactics of using the green mist now. Still, it had to sting knowing she beat Lynch fair and square but she ended up on the kickoff show at WrestleMania 35. At the end of the night, “The Man” raised both belts, one of which she never actually beat Asuka to attain.
That’s what makes this feud so engaging. Fans could easily side with either competitor. Asuka is clearly the antagonist in this story, but it’s hard not to root for her at this point. In a way, it feels like she is in the same spot Lynch was over a year ago.
WWE clearly underestimated her popularity and the second she stopped playing by the rules she got more opportunities. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s the crux of this story.
Deep down, Lynch has to know she isn’t being held back anymore. When she achieved her dreams last year she avoided the one person who could take it all away. On the other side of the ring, Asuka has as much to prove against the woman who rose to the top of the company even after she bested her.
No matter whose side you land on, Asuka vs. Becky Lynch is a must-see match. Other than a few hiccups, WWE has done a great job making it feel important. The outcome could change the trajectory of both competitors heading into WrestleMania 36.
Who are you rooting for this weekend? Drop a comment below and be sure to check back with Bell to Belles for more women’s wrestling news.