Raw women's title

The masterful storytelling of Asuka’s Raw women’s title loss

This week on WWE Raw, Asuka battled for the Raw women’s title against Sasha Banks. The outcome was a rare window into some masterful wrestling storytelling.

Going into this week’s episode of WWE Raw, there was no shortage of plot holes and illogical moments that forced the rematch between Sasha Banks and Asuka. Perhaps most notably was the stipulation that Asuka could lose the title via disqualification or count-out, an odd inclusion considering she never lost the title, to begin with.

We saw Asuka and Banks tear the house down at The Horror Show at Extreme Rules, which wasn’t exactly a surprise. There’s no denying that “The Empress of Tomorrow” and “The Boss” are two of the most accomplished in-ring performers in the industry.

However, it was the way that the match ended that created controversy. Asuka tried to use her mist, but the referee got a face full of green instead after a well-timed duck from Banks.

This opened the door for Bayley to steal the referee’s shirt and count a final pinfall herself, despite the fact she isn’t a recognized official. Sasha Banks left with the Raw Women’s Championship, though she hadn’t truly won it.

Raw women's title
Photo credit: WWE.com

Enter Stephanie McMahon. The former member of The Authority resumed her role as an authority figure to make a rematch between Banks and Asuka, but with a twist. As Stephanie McMahon declared, the title could change hands in the match via pinfall, submission, disqualification, count-out, or as a result of interference.

That left Bayley’s usual presence at ringside at severe risk, as one misstep on the outside could’ve cost Banks the belt. Now, Asuka certainly didn’t deserve to be put in this situation, but McMahon’s word was final.

As the match got underway, Kairi Sane took a proactive approach and attacked Bayley at ringside. The two brawled all the way into the backstage area, leaving Sasha Banks and Asuka to put on yet another instant classic.

After a magnificent back and forth contest, the screen inexplicably changed to show Bayley and Kairi Sane brawling backstage. However, Sane wasn’t on the offensive as she’d been when they left the ringside area.

Instead, Bayley was viciously beating down “The Pirate Princess” and continuously slamming her into a metal door. In the ring, Asuka struggled to stay focused on her opponent. She was getting ready to put on the Asuka Lock but kept turning to watch Sane getting attacked.

Now, before we continue, there’s an elephant in the room here. Why did the beatdown appear on the screen? Honestly, there’s no clear answer. Did Bayley bribe the cameraman? Was this all part of a master plan? Unfortunately, that plot hole will probably remain unfilled.

Raw women's title
Photo credit: WWE.com

Despite that flaw, the work we saw here from all four women was truly magnificent storytelling. Character motivations were key here. Bayley knew that getting involved in the match would’ve likely cost Banks the Raw women’s title.

However, there was nothing in the rules preventing her from attacking Kairi Sane. As Bayley continued to wail on Sane, she started shouting that Asuka wasn’t coming to save her.

Meanwhile, Kairi finally caves and starts screaming for Asuka to help her. Sane is in serious trouble, and she needs her friend. Asuka, looking conflicted and panicked, hesitates. She doesn’t go for Sane right away, because she knows what’s at stake.

Asuka knows that if she leaves the ring and heads backstage, she’ll lose by count-out. She’ll lose the WWE Raw Women’s Championship. Finally, she makes a decision. Asuka chooses to save her friend, even if it means losing the title.

“The Empress of Tomorrow” bolts from the ring, arriving backstage at Kairi Sane’s side just in time to see Bayley flee the attack. Bayley got back to ringside where Sasha Banks, who was beaten down and relatively oblivious to this drama, has now won the WWE Raw Women’s Championship.

Backstage, Asuka was approached about the condition of Kairi Sane. In an absolute rage, Asuka began screaming in Japanese, which one Twitter user was kind enough to translate.

Now, things have reached a true boiling point. On top of that, they’ve reached that point at the moment of Kairi Sane’s departure from WWE. That was the unspoken undercurrent of all of this.

Kairi Sane’s contract is officially up, which means her tenure in WWE has come to an end. While there were other ways WWE could’ve created a powerful farewell, most obviously a title match against Asuka, this was a powerful moment to be Kairi Sane’s last.

She’s gone but her memory has become a primary motivating factor for Asuka. Most important, and most dangerously for Sasha Banks and Bayley, Asuka now has absolutely nothing to lose.

The Kabuki Warriors won the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship back in October at Hell in a Cell 2019. While we’ve seen Asuka involved in singles competition since then, she’s never quite been the same unstoppable champion we once saw in NXT.

Asuka has been distracted by various responsibilities and focuses since that night, but all that has ended now. The Kabuki Warriors have long since lost the WWE women’s tag titles, Sasha Banks and Bayley have them now.

Asuka has lost the Raw Women’s Championship. Sasha Banks has it now. Finally, in the most personal blow, Bayley has hurt Kairi Sane taken her away from Asuka.

Asuka has lost everything. Her titles, her friend, it’s all gone. She has absolutely nothing left to lose, which makes her more dangerous than ever before.

Asuka is now motivated beyond recognition. She is fueled by rage and driven to seek vengeance. Unfortunately for The Golden Role Models, they represent everything that has been taken from Asuka.

They hold every title Asuka once held dear, and have even taken her best friend away. We could be about to see the most terrifying form of Asuka that WWE has ever given us.

There’s no guarantee WWE does things right from this point on, as evidenced by the clunky arrival at this very moment, but there’s no denying the masterful storytelling at play when Asuka lost the title. For once, things lined up and the character motivations were clear as day.

What do you think? Leave a comment and let us know what you thought of the finish of the Raw women’s title match.

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