The WWE’s longest-reigning NXT Women’s Champion, Asuka, gave up her title belt on Thursday night, but it appears there will be a bright side. After suffering an unfortunate injury during last Saturday’s NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III pay-per-view, Asuka’s reign of over 500 days has been brought to an end. Still, based on what was relayed to the fans after she turned in the championship, one of the top female performers in professional wrestling today will be headed for the main roster. Will she be a part of the WWE Raw or SmackDown Live roster, and if so, how soon can fans expect to see her there?
As WrestleZone reported in their report on Thursday night, Asuka decided to relinquish her NXT Women’s Championship during the television taping for NXT at Full Sail University. Normally, the titles are relinquished when a star suffers an injury and that’s the message given in the ring. Former SmackDown Live Women’s Champion Naomi had that situation prior to WrestleMania 33. However, tonight, NXT General Manager William Regal informed fans that Asuka was handing over the title because she was in “negotiations with Raw and SmackDown,” but the injury was not mentioned as the reason for the title being turned in.
The situation was further addressed on WWE’s website with an official statement.
“NXT Women’s Champion Asuka relinquished her title to NXT General Manager William Regal tonight at Full Sail University in Orlando, Fla. After her dominant performance and historic 500-plus day reign as NXT Women’s Champion, The Empress of Tomorrow looks to her future for new opportunities in WWE, though no specific details are known at this time. Her reign will officially end on the date that her historic announcement airs.”
Basically, with the announcement, the WWE is looking to extend Asuka’s historic reign even more for the record books. There’s nothing wrong with that whatsoever, as she’s clearly been the best thing for many fans in terms of NXT. She’ll also become a strong asset to either the Raw or SmackDown women’s roster, depending on which she is chosen for, or chooses.
Of course, several immediate questions pop up, such as who will become the next NXT Women’s Champion and how? That’s unknown right now, but one has to think top contender Ember Moon is the strongest candidate to finally take over, pun intended, the women’s title. Besides Moon, there’s also Ruby Riot and Sanity’s Nikki Cross to consider.
Another big question will be which roster Asuka joins. She’s a highly popular and skilled superstar who would benefit both brands’ women’s divisions. A lot may depend on who is holding the Raw and SmackDown women’s titles when she arrives. The fact that Carmella is “Ms. Money in the Bank” provides a fitting opportunity once she cashes in. Natalya provides a highly experienced foe for Asuka too. An Asuka vs. Sasha Banks program might also work, or Asuka could start with Bayley, who she fought on the NXT roster.
It’s always tough to gauge if a new call-up to the main roster will go right for a championship shot or be slowly put into that role. In the case of Shinsuke Nakamura, it’s seeming to be slow. In the case of previous women’s call-up Paige, she was immediately put into the women’s title picture. There’s no reason Asuka couldn’t do the same.
In terms of a timetable, Asuka’s right collarbone injury could have her on the sidelines for up to eight weeks. That would put Asuka’s return to the wrestling ring right around the 2017 Survivor Series, which could make for a great surprise debut in Houston, Texas. It will be interesting to see whether Asuka claims the red brand or blue brand as her new home, though.
[Featured Image by WWE]