Who’s Ready for Asuka? A Look At Who Could Step Up To The Challenge at WrestleMania 35

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Photo: WWE

There is a devastating vacuum currently occupying the SmackDown Live Women’s Division.  With Becky Lynch having submitted to Asuka and then subsequently winning the 2019 Women’s Royal Rumble Match just last month, there is suddenly a noticeable gap in the SmackDown Women’s Division.  With Charlotte Flair strongly rumored to be weaseling her way into the Becky Lynch vs Ronda Rousey match at WrestleMania XXXV, it becomes even more apparent that there doesn’t appear to be anyone on Smackdown who could pose a viable, believable threat to Asuka’s reign as SmackDown Women’s Champion.  So with Becky and – potentially – Charlotte being gone (at least temporarily) from SmackDown, just who is ready for Asuka? Join us as we take a look at five potential opponents for the Empress of Tomorrow.

Shayna Baszler 

Photo: WWE

This might just be the least likely matchup on this list, but what a matchup it would be.  Posing a significant threat to Asuka, Shayna Baszler is also probably the most believable opponent to feature in this list.  The selling point here is the Champion vs Champion aspect – SmackDown Women’s Champion versus NXT Women’s Champion raises the stakes and prestige of this match even further. Additionally, putting the current NXT Women’s Champion in a high-profile main roster debut match against the most successful NXT Women’s Champion in the history of NXT is, frankly, an intriguing prospect.  However, with Baszler a certainty to be wrestling at NXT Takeover the night before WrestleMania, this is, for now, likely little more than a dream match.

Kairi Sane

Photo: WWE

Another NXT entree is Kairi Sane.  Seeing as though Sane is out of the title picture in NXT and, potentially, without a match at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn V, this is probably more likely than the Baszler match.  Whereas the Asuka/Baszler match could be built as a dream match never seen before, the Asuka/Sane match could be built as a Japanese feud gone international.  The two Japanese superstars have a lot of history together and – if given enough time and effort by creative – this feud could be pretty interesting in a WWE ring.  However, would this feud really work with both women working babyface? Probably not.  It is also difficult to imagine Asuka turning heel between now and WrestleMania; it’s even more difficult to imagine a Sane turn anytime soon.  Therefore, for now, this WrestleMania match is unlikely.

Naomi 

Photo: WWE

Probably the least exciting match of the list, but one of the more likely.  Before Asuka received a renewed push towards the end of 2018, she was frequently teaming with Naomi – they also appeared in numerous backstage segments together.  Is this friendship something they will return to? Possibly.  Would it be a high profile match? Doubtful.  However, it cannot be overlooked that Naomi is a talented worker.  With the right opponent, she is capable of having decent matches.  What better opponent than Asuka?

Mandy Rose

Photo: WWE

With Becky having returned to being a babyface (or at least a tweener) and Charlotte kinda/maybe/sort’ve being a maybe tweener, Mandy Rose might just be the number one female heel on Smackdown.  Additionally, she has been given a lot of TV time in recent weeks and has managed to show a personality that she had previously not been given the opportunity to show.  Most importantly, she is a relatively fresh opponent for Asuka and someone who has not held the Smackdown Women’s Championship before, so could this be Mandy’s time to shine? Quite possibly.  It is an interesting scenario which pits the old-school diva (Mandy) against the present-day wrestler (Asuka), so there are a number of different stories to be told here.

Twenty Woman Battle Royal

Photo: WWE

Let’s be honest with ourselves; this is a real possibility.  With Becky – the woman most strongly associated with the championship in question – having been in a multi-woman battle royal at last year’s WrestleMania, maybe this year the championship is relegated to a similar spot. This would be the least desired outcome as Becky, Charlotte and Asuka have each played their part in elevating the Smackdown Women’s Championship to what was – just a few short months ago – the most prominently featured championship within the company.  With Becky and Charlotte both leaving the title picture and Asuka maybe not (yet) holding the momentum she did just 12 months ago, this match could happen.  Should it happen? Absolutely not.  WrestleMania is a long show and if they can’t fit in a one-versus-one match for the Smackdown Women’s title, then something is wrong.  However depressing it may be, it is still a possibility and therefore makes this list.

That concludes the list.  There are, of course, many women on the Smackdown Live roster who are perhaps more likely than some of those who made this list, but at the end of the day, we can only speculate.  The Smackdown Women’s Championship currently might just be the only championship on the main roster that we cannot definitively predict a contender for.  Whoever faces Asuka this year will have a great opponent and – hopefully – we all get a great match.  Let’s just hope it’s not another battle royal.

Who do you think will challenge Asuka at WrestleMania? Feel free to comment below! 

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