ASUKA, known as VENY in America, boasts one of the most interesting stories in the world of professional wrestling. Dubbed “the world’s first genderless pro wrestler,” she has been one of the stars to not only challenge barriers but break them down. Since her debut, ASUKA made an impact in every promotion she’s worked, from Pro Wrestling WAVE to Dramatic Dream Team. In fact, had it not been for the COVID-19 pandemic, smart money would have been on her making a splash in her United States debut. Regardless, she has made the most of every opportunity.
Prior to getting involved in wrestling, ASUKA had an upbringing unlike most. In her youth, she was a professional wrestling fan; watching such stars as Ayako Hamada would influence her to pursue it in her later years. ASUKA became involved in athletics, including nihon kenpo, largely due to her father’s influence. Despite being skilled in combat sports, ASUKA wasn’t invested. Instead, she shifted her attention to more feminine hobbies, such as makeup, which resulted in bullying from classmates.
ASUKA received her first taste of wrestling in high school. As a student in Sendai, she became the captain of the wrestling team, which her family supported. On her 16th birthday, she came out as gay to her father. Though he initially convinced ASUKA to continue wrestling, he was supportive of her choices in life. During high school, she worked different jobs to make money and ponders careers to focus on as a muscular woman. Dropping out of high school, ASUKA applied to Pro Wrestling WAVE. From there, her new path began.
ASUKA’s Start in Wrestling
ASUKA began her training under Hamada, the same woman she had watched on TV and helped inspire her. Following this full-circle event of sorts, she made her official debut in August of 2015, facing Yuu Yamagata in a losing effort. From there, ASUKA cut her teeth against other established talent, including Hamada and future AEW Women’s World Champion Hikaru Shida. As a transgender wrestler, her debut during the summer garnered considerable media attention. Not only did this bring more attention to ASUKA and her budding career but instilled confidence in those looking to get into wrestling as well.
Heading into 2016, ASUKA became a more prominent fixture in WAVE. She competed in that year’s Catch the Wave tournament, securing 2 points. The following July, she debuted for OKASA Women’s Pro-Wrestling, where she faced Ryo Mizunami in the second to last match of the night. From there, ASUKA participated in other WAVE tournaments, including the Dual Shock Wave. ASUKA’s prominence in WAVE wasn’t due to mainstream media attention, but instead the effort she put forth in each match.
Though ASUKA remained largely in WAVE throughout 2017, she was able to expand by wrestling in other promotions. She debuted for YMZ Pro Wrestling in May and Marvelous the month after. Later that summer, ASUKA appeared for World Woman Pro-Wrestling Diana. Simply put, the Japanese wrestling world was becoming aware of the “genderless pro wrestler.” Later that September, ASUKA received her first title match when she challenged Rina Yamashita for the Regina Di WAVE Championship. Though she lost, ASUKA fought valiantly in this main event encounter. Throughout the remainder of 2017, she appeared for other promotions such as SEAdLINNNG and OZ Academy.
In January of 2018, ASUKA debuted for Pro Wrestling ZERO1. It was here she worked alongside Takuya Sugawara, who had been a multi-time NWA International Lightweight Tag Team Champion. Following that year’s Catch the WAVE tournament, where she amassed 3 points, ASUKA debuted for Dramatic Dream Team in May. Working with names including Akito and Daisuke Sasaki, ASUKA became more familiar with a more comedic take on wrestling. August saw ASUKA receive her first taste of gold when she bested Takumi Iroha for the Regina Di WAVE Championship. She would hold onto the title until December when she dropped it to Mizunami. ASUKA’s first reign was a strong one, though, as she defeated Miyuki Takase and Hana Kimura, just to name a few stars.
Adding More Gold
Despite the aforementioned title loss, ASUKA wouldn’t be without gold for long. In January of 2019, at DDT Sweet Dreams, she won a battle royal to become the new Ironman Heavymetalweight Champion; she would drop the title to Saki Akai in a gauntlet match the next month. She became a more regular competitor for DDT during this year. In April, she made her Gatoh Move Pro Wrestling debut, facing Baliyan Akki in a competitive 10-minute draw. This wouldn’t be her final appearance for the promotion, either.
In June, she participated in ZERO1’s Fire Festival tournament. In Block A, she earned 5 points. September saw ASUKA win her second Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship, which she lost quickly thereafter, per the unpredictable nature of the title in question. During the fall, ASUKA contested for the SEAdLINNNG Beyond the Sea Tag Team Championship but to no avail. Her luck turned out in early November, however, concerning the KO-D Ten Man Tag Team Championship. Alongside Yuki Ino, Danshoku Dino, Mizuki, and Trans Am Hiroshi, ASUKA added said championship to her resume. ASUKA also appeared for Gatoh Move once more in 2019, facing Chon Shiryu in a draw.
The Future of ASUKA
By early 2020, ASUKA was set to make her debut in North America. In February, it was announced that she would be making her debut for EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch event the following April. Furthermore, she would wrestle under the name VENY. This event wouldn’t take place, however, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced several wrestling events to be canceled. Despite this, ASUKA continued to wrestle in Japan. Case and point, last month, she faced Mei Suruga on the sixteenth episode of Gatoh Move’s ChocoPro. Post-match, ASUKA gave a touching speech in memory of Hana Kimura, who tragically passed away the same day. Earlier this month, she also challenged for the SEAdLINNNG Beyond the Sea Championship, but to no avail.
ASUKA’s accomplishments between the ropes can’t be ignored, but for her, what’s just as important is the impact she can make outside of competition. She expressed an interest in creating friendships with other transgender people and discussing life topics relevant to them. Though there is still work to be done in terms of widespread awareness, ASUKA’s success is indicative of positive change. The “genderless pro wrestler’s” career is relatively young but her potential, athletically or otherwise, is high.
Akito vs. ASUKA (July 15, 2019)
In this match, not only was ASUKA fighting for the DDT Extreme Championship but forging her reputation in the most unique of circumstances. As the name would suggest, this Lighttube Deathmatch featured said weapon as the focal point. Neither the challenger ASUKA nor the champion Akito wanted to get up close and personal with it. Watching both competitors be as gentle with the object as possible made for comedic moments. This match had the Japanese wrestling scene buzzing and upon watching it in full, you will see why. It may not be the first style of match one would associate with lighttubes, but viewers that go into this with an open mind will be entertained
Mei Suruga vs. ASUKA (May 23, 2020)
One of the most interesting parts of Gatoh Move’s ChocoPro events has been the litany of outside talent they brought in. On this episode, ASUKA found herself in Ichigaya Chocolate Square against one of the company’s bright stars, Mei Suruga. From the get-go, one could imagine this would be a unique match-up, as the tall and muscular ASUKA towered over the diminutive “Mei-chan.” As is customary with most Gatoh Move matches, comedic moments were aplenty, including an impromptu dance-off between the competitors. They also made good use of the Ichigaya venue and its different quirks. As the more recent match featured here, it’s another worth checking out.
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