Since Becky Lynch relinquished the Raw Women’s Championship in May, the finishes to several prominent WWE women’s matches have come as a result of a disqualification, count-out, and other hijinks to avoid a wrestler suffering a pinfall or submission defeat. This tactic once served as a staple for bookers and creative personnel within the wrestling world to protect wrestlers they wanted to feature prominently for the future.
While this appears as a complement to the performer and their standing within the organization, it does little to progress stories and establish a meaningful connection for that wrestler with the audience. A promoter can experience diminishing returns the more they utilize this storytelling device. Viewers can become disenfranchised if they feel these match outcomes happen too frequently in relation to decisive endings. Since May, the number of times disqualification, count-outs, and non-finishes has been implemented into WWE’s women’s matches has grown. A pattern has become evident, and it may prove detrimental to the WWE women’s brand if this does not change soon.
Let’s begin by looking at the trajectory of Asuka starting with the Money in the Bank event. The COVID-19 pandemic certainly forced WWE—among other promotions—to rethink and retool the way they tell stories with their wrestlers. Therefore, the Women’s Money in the Bank Match took place inside WWE’s corporate offices in Stamford, CT. WWE found a unique way to feature this high-stakes contest to determine who would earn a future Women’s Championship match.
The match concluded with Asuka standing tall and holding the Money in the Bank briefcase. Many agreed that she earned her position as the briefcase holder due to her growing popularity and ability to stand out in this current environment with no live audiences.
The following night on Raw, Becky Lynch announced that she would have to vacate the Raw Women’s Championship, which she held for over a year. Becky opened the briefcase to reveal that Asuka didn’t simply earn a chance to fight for the title but she captured the title itself as the red and white championship belt lay nestled inside. In this symbolic and literal passing of the torch, it appeared that WWE trusted “The Empress of Tomorrow” with the immense responsibility of following in the footsteps of a woman that had become WWE’s most popular star.