Asuka. Image Credits: WWE

Kanako Urai, or better known as Asuka, is a Japanese professional wrestler who is currently signed to WWE, performing on the brand Raw and SmackDown brand. Born on 26th September 1981, she started her professional wrestling career in the A to Z promotion in June 2004.

Asuka has clinched numerous titles and the accomplishments under her belt along with a background in badminton and figures skating as well. Inspired by the likes of Keiji Mutoh, Saturo Sayama and Minoru Suzuki, Asuka got trained under Yuki Ishikawa and debuted on all-female promotion A to Z against Leo-na in 2004.

Having retired in March 2006, Asuka returned to the ring a year and a half later as a freelance wrestler for various promotions such as JWP Joshi Puroresu, NEO Japan Ladies Pro-Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Wave, Reina Joshi Puroresu, Smash and Wrestling New Classic (WNC).

Asuka. Image Credits: WWE

Before joining WWE, Asuka had won the JWP Openweight Championship, NEO Tag Team Championship, Reina World Women’s Championship, Smash Diva Championship and Wave Tag Team Championship. Asuka signed a developmental deal with WWE in August 2015 and became the first Japanese female wrestler signed with the company in over 20 years.

Asuka spent two years in the NXT (the then-developmental branch) of WWE before she was moved to the promotion’s main roster in September 2017. During her time in NXT, Asuka was a former NXT Women’s Champion with a reign of 510 days as the longest in the title’s history. She also was the Female Competitor of the Year in 2016 and 2017 as well as the Overall Competitor of the Year (in 2017) NXT Year-End Award winner.

In addition to her accomplishments, she is also billed as the one to have “the longest undefeated streak in WWE history” which ended at 914 days in the women’s championship. In January 2018, Asuka won the inaugural women’s Royal Rumble match.

Asuka is a former SmackDown Women’s Champion, Women’s Tag Team Champion (with Kairi Sane) and the 2020 Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match winner, becoming the first to win both the women’s Royal Rumble and Money in the Bank matches. After winningRaw Women’s Championship, Asuka became the third Women’s Triple Crown Champion and the second Women’s Grand Slam Champion.

In 2017, Asuka became the first Japanese wrestler to top Pro Wrestling Illustrated‘s (PWI) annual PWI Female 50 list. Asuka has also worked as a freelance graphic designer and video game journalist and through her work with Microsoft she has been sponsored by the company, wearing an Xbox 360 logo on her gear.

Personal life

Asuka graduated from the Osaka University of Arts Junior College. Asuka wrote for Xbox Magazine and designed graphics for Nintendo DS and various mobile applications. Meanwhile, Asuka also owns a hair salon in Yokohama called Another Heaven. Prior to her career in professional wrestling, Asuka had a sports background in badminton and figure skating.

Professional wrestling career

Early career (2004–2010)

Being a fan of the likes of Keiji Mutoh, Satoru Sayama, Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Antonio Inoki, Akira Maeda, Nobuhiko Takada, Masakatsu Funaki, Volk Han and Minoru Suzuki, Asuka decided to try her hand in the professional wrestling.

There she was trained by Yuki Ishikawa and Asuka adopted the ring name Kana. She made her professional wrestling debut for all-female promotion A to Z on 16 June 2004, in a match against Leo-na. Asuka spent the first part of her career with A to Z, and then suddenly on 19th March 2006, she announced her retirement due to chronic nephritis.

During her time away from the ring, Asuka opened her own graphic design agency. After spending a year and a half away from professional wrestling, Asuka made a comeback on September 22, 2007, and worked as a freelancer for promotion such as Ice Ribbon, JWP Joshi Puroresu, NEO Japan Ladies Pro-Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Wave and Pro Wrestling Zero1.

Asuka.Image Credits: WWE

Meanwhile, Asuka also formed the Passion Red stable with Nanae Takahashi, Natsuki Taiyo, Ray and Yumiko Hotta in NEO, which later went on to become her new home promotion. On 10 October 2009, Kana teamed with Takahashi to defeat Hiroyo Matsumoto and Kyoko Inoue for the NEO Tag Team Championship and registered her first professional wrestling title. The duo held the title for two months but then, finally lost it to Ayumi Kurihara and Yoshiko Tamura on 31st December 2009. On January 24, 2010, Kana quit Passion Red.

Pro Wrestling Wave (2008, 2010–2015)

Asuka had made some appearances for Pro Wrestling Wave in 2008 but was regular near the end of 2010 when the NEO Japan Ladies Pro Wrestling folded. On 24 July 2011, Asuka defeated Ayumi Kurihara in the finals and win the 2011 Catch the Wave tournament.

And then on 30th October, Asuka (along with Kurihara) defeated Ran Yu-Yu and Toshie Uematsu to win the Dual Shock Wave 2011 tournament and became the first-ever Wave Tag Team Champions. Apart from being a tag team champion with Kurihara, Asuka also regularly teamed with Mio Shirai as Triple Tails.

Asuka, Ayumi Kurihara
Asuka, Ayumi Kurihara.Image Credits: Twitter

On 1st February 2012, Kurihara, Mika Iida and Shuu Shibutani were made the official members of Triple Tails. Four days later to this, Asuka and Kurihara lost the Wave Tag Team Championship to Ran Yu-Yu and Toshie Uematsu.

On March 6, the new incarnation of Triple Tails was named White Tails, in reference to Wave’s top villainous alliance, Black Dahlia. On November 27, Asuka defeated Yumi Ohka in a singles match and then she declared herself the new “ace” of Wave.

Being the 2011 Catch the Wave winner, Asuka was granted the entrance into the Wave Single Championship tournament on February 17, where she defeated Mio Shirai in her semifinal match. However, a month later, on 17th March, Asuka was defeated in the finals of the tournament by Yumi Ohka.

On April 21, Asuka and Mio Shirai defeated Misaki Ohata and Tsukasa Fujimoto to win the Wave Tag Team Championship, bringing the first title of the Triple Tails S. The duo made their first successful defence on July 7 against Fujimoto and Kyusei Sakura Hirota. On July 12, the White Tails produced their final event before the dissolution of the group, during which Kana wrestled Ayumi Kurihara to a ten-minute time limit draw.

Three days later, Asuka and Shirai lost the Wave Tag Team Championship to Shidarezakura (HikaruShida and Yumi Ohka) in their second defence. From September 1 to October 6, Asuka teamed with Yumi Ohka and participated in the 2013 Dual Shock Wave tournament.

The team made it all the way to the finals of the tournament but eventually lost to Las Aventureras (Ayako Hamada and Yuu Yamagata) in a three-way match, which also included Muscle Venus (Hikaru Shida and Tsukasa Fujimoto). In July 2015, Asuka made it to the semifinals of the 2015 Catch the Wave tournament but was defeated there by eventual tournament winner Yumi Ohka.

Japanese independent circuit (2010–2015)

On April 29, 2010, Asuka held her first self-produced event, titled Kana Pro. This event witnessed her losing to Meiko Satomura in the main event of the evening. On June 19, Asuka formed the Triple Tails stable with the Shirai sisters (Lo and Mio), and together the three of them worked for several promotions across Japan.

Asuka. Image Credits: Wrestling TV

The second event of Kana Pro held on 10 January 2011, saw Asuka and Yuki Ishikawa lose to Carlos Amano and Yoshiaki Fujiwara in the main event. And then again, the Kana Pro’s third event on September 24 saw Kana lose to Kengo Mashimo in the main event.

Meanwhile, on October 29, Kana was elected the 8thpresident of 666, a small independent promotion for which she had wrestled previously. On November 5, Asuka took part in the final event held by the Battlarts promotion, defeating Aki Shizuku in a singles match.

Asuka made her debut for the DDT Pro-Wrestling promotion on 12th March 2012, participating in the eight-person 10-mins battle royal for the Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship. Initially, she lost it by just 50 seconds remaining in the match to Antonio Honda, only to regain it via submission when the game was just 22 seconds from the end time.

In those last few seconds, Asuka pinned Michael Nakazawa and won five minutes into the match. On April 8, Asuka defended the title in another ten-minute battle royal, during which she had nearly lost the title twice to Michael Nakazawa and once to Keita Yano. However, each time Asuka managed to regain her position and left the match with it, now she is a five-time champion.

On April 25, Asuka made her first appearance for the Ribbon in three years. She teamed with Aki Shizuku to defeat April Davids and ICE×60 Champion – Hikaru Shida. Five days later, on April 30, she lost the Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship to Ayumi Kurihara at a Pro Wrestling Wave event during the opening match of the 2012 Catch the Wave tournament.

Asuka. Image Credits: WWE

On May 5 at Ice Ribbon’s Golden Ribbon 2012 event, Asuka defeated Hikaru Shida in a non-title singles match. On May 12, Asuka made her Mexican debut – Toryumon Mexico’s DragonMania VII event and defeated Syuri in a single match.

In early July, Asuka and Mio Shirai took part in the 2012 Japan Expo in Paris, France. Asuka returned to Ice Ribbon on October 20, teaming with new ICE×60 Champion Mio Shirai in a tag team main event, where they defeated Maki Narumiya and Tsukasa Fujimoto.

She left WNC in December 2012, after which Kana started appearing regularly in both – Ice Ribbon and JWP. As per the reports, she was brought into JWP by her friend Arisa Nakajima. However, the president of the promotion Command Bolshoi, who was one of the wrestlers upset by her 2010 manifesto, was clearly not pleased by the arrangements.

On 24 February 2013, Triple Tails stable held its first self-produced event in nine months, where Asuka and Mio Shirai wrestled Arisa Nakajima and Ayako Hamada in the main event tag team match. On May 5, Asuka made another appearance for JWP, submitting JWP Openweight Champion Arisa Nakajima in a tag team match, where she and Rydeen Hagane faced Nakajima and Nana Kawasa.

Post-match, Asuka and Nakajima came to blows, as Nakajima claimed that she was now defending all of Joshi against Kana. Ahead of Ayumi Kurihara’s impending retirement, she and Asuka came together on July 26 to produce the “kanAyu” independent event, which saw Asuka and Genki HoriguchiH.A.Gee.Mee!! lose to Kurihara and Masaaki Mochizuki in a main event tag team match. On August 18, Asuka returned to JWP and became the new JWP Openweight Champion, defeating Alisa Nakajima.

After this win, Kana portrayed herself as the villainous outsider – smearing makeup on Nakajima’s face, while she went on to gloat over capturing JWP’s top title during Plum Mariko’s memorial event. On September 16, Asuka made her first successful title defence against Manami Katsu, who was the-then reigning JWP Junior and POP Champion.

And on October 14, she made her second successful title defence against Hanako Nakamori, the JWP Tag Team and Daily Sports Women’s Tag Team Champion. While continuing to badmouth JWP and its wrestlers, Kana also entered a storyline, where she began professing her love for Arisa Nakajima, much to the bewilderment of the former champion.

Being a part of the storyline, she refused title challenges made by Kayoko Haruyama and Leon, instead named Nakajima her next challenger. On December 15 at JWP’s annual year-end Climax event, Asuka lost the JWP Openweight Championship back to Nakajima in her third title defence.

Asuka. Image Credits: WWE

On 27 December 2013, Asuka and Mio Shirai disbanded Triple Tails stable, with their final self-produced independent event that was to take place in early 2014. The following year, on 25th February 2014, Asuka produced an independent event titled KanaProMania in Korakuen Hall, witnessing her defeat Meiko Satomura in the main event.

On April 16, Kana took part in a rare women’s match promoted by Pro Wrestling Noah, defeating JWP representative Rabbit Miu. After Asuka and Mio Shirai produced Triple Tails.S’ final independent event on 15th May, she officially dissolved the partnership. This saw her featuring a main event tag team match, where Asuka and Arisa Nakajima defeated Shirai and Kayoko Haruyama.

On the next Kana Pro event on June 16 at Korakuen Hall, Asuka and Naomichi Marufuji were defeated by Meiko Satomura and Minoru Suzuki in an inter-gender main event tag team match.

On October 5, 2014, Asuka made a special appearance for All Japan Pro Wrestling. She teamed with Mika Lida in a tag team match, but the duo was defeated by Shuu Shibutani and Yumi Ohka. During the next Kana Pro event on October 7 in Korakuen Hall Kana was pinned by Syuri in a tag team match.

Following KanaProMania: Pulse held on September 15, Asuka announced that she would go on an indefinite hiatus from professional wrestling. Asuka teamed with Hikaru Shida and Syuri in a winning effort against Arisa Nakajima, Rina Yamashita and Ryo Mizunami.

Smash (2010–2012)

On June 25, 2010, Kana made her debut for a new Smash promotion of Yoshihiro Tajiri and lost to Syuri in the main event of Smash. After the match, Kana challenged Syuri to a rematch that was made official on June 30. In the rematch on July 24 at Smash.5, Kana defeated Syuri via submission in just three minutes.

As part of the attempt to get her over as the top villain, Kana wrote a manifesto for the Weekly Pro-Wrestling magazine, published on August 4, in which she attacked the entire Joshi Puroresu community and claimed it was full of wrestlers with no personality and bad attitudes wrestling in an unrealistic manner.

Asuka. Image Credits: Bleacher Report

This article led to a confrontation between Kana and the wrestlers from the JWP Joshi Puroresu promotion on August 30 at Smash.7. But it never led to a direct match. Kana then began feuding with Tajiri, and on December 24 an intergender match was held at Happening Eve with Tajiri defeating Kana.

But, nevertheless, Kana re-emerged on January 29, 2011, as the leader of the Triple Tails stable with the Shirai sisters and dubbed herself as ‘Sekai no Kana’which literally translates to “World Famous Kana”. Meanwhile, she continued to work against the opposite sex, teaming with the Shirais to defeat Tajiri, Ken Ohka and Yoshiaki Yago on February 25.

In April, Kana entered a feud with the former WWE performer Serena. She stemmed from a comment she made, calling Kana a talented “amateur” wrestler, while she herself had worked for the top promotion in the world.

This had Kana rifled up who vowed to make Serena respect her. In the first encounter on April 30 at Smash.16, Serena teamed with Makoto and Syuri to defeat the Triple Tails in a six-woman tag team match, with Serena pinning Kana with the spear – her finishing manoeuvre.

And then again on May 3 at Smash.17, Serena defeated Kana with a spear in the first singles match between the two. A month later, on June 9, Smash started a tournament to crown the inaugural Smash Diva Champion, where Kana defeated Lin “Bitch” Byron in her first-round match.

On August 11 at Smash.20, Kana defeated Syuri to set up a rematch with Serena in the finals of the tournament. On September 8, Kana finally took her revenge and defeated Serena to become the inaugural Smash Diva Champion.

On November 24 at Smash.23, Kana lost the Smash Diva Championship to Tomoka Nakagawa in her first defence. On January 19, 2012, at We Are Smash, she defeated Nakagawa in a rematch to regain the title. Kana’s second reign ended on 19th February at Smash.25 when she lost the title to Syuri, ending the long-time rivalry and making peace with each other.

On March 14, Smash held the final event of the promotion before ceasing operations, Smash. Final, during which Kana teamed with ÚltimoDragón to defeat Mentallo and Syuri in a tag team match.

American independent circuit (2011–2014)

On 3rd August 2011, Kana was reported to make her debut in the United States in early October, working for all-female promotion Shimmer Women Athletes on 1 and 2 and for Chikara on 7 and 8. In her Shimmer debut on Volume 41, Kana was shown in early segments ignoring Sara Del Rey and Cheerleader Melissa’s welcoming.

Later, she defeated Mia Yim in her first match for the promotion. And then later that same day on Volume 42, Kana defeated Del Rey via submission. She went on to defeat Cheerleader Melissa the following day on Volume 43 during a match to determine the number one contender to the Shimmer Championship.

After that, Kana defeated Lu Fisto on Volume 44 in her final match for the weekend. The following weekend, on October 7 in Burlington of North Carolina, she made her debut for Chikara, defeating Jessie McKay in her first match.

This was followed by Kana getting beaten up by Sara Del Rey in the main event of a show in Kingsport, Tennessee. Kana returned to Shimmer Women Athletes on March 17 on Volume 45. Kana teamed with LuFisto in a losing effort against Hailey Hatred and Kalamity.

Asuka. Image Credits: Metro.Co.UK

Later that same day on Volume 46, she was defeated in a singles match by Mercedes Martinez. Next day on Volume 47, Kana and LuFisto defeated Christina Von Eerie and MsChif in a tag team match. She went on to defeat Kellie Skater on Volume 48, in her final match of the weekend.

Kana returned to Shimmer on October 27, 2012, challenging (along with LuFisto) the Canadian NINJAs (Nicole Matthews and Portia Perez) for the Shimmer Tag Team Championship as part of Volume 49. Later at Volume 50, Kana was defeated by Ayako Hamada in a singles match, going on to defeat Athena in a single match the following night on Volume 51.

She also teamed with Lu Fisto in a tag team match (her final match of the weekend) and defeated Made in Sin (Allysin Kay and Taylor Made). On April 6, 2013, at the Volume 53 internet pay-per-view, Kana and Lu Fisto, once again, unsuccessfully challenged the Canadian NINJAs for the Shimmer Tag Team Championship in a four-way match, also including the teams of Global Green Gangsters (Kellie Skater and Tomoka Nakagawa) and Made in Sin.

A week later on 13th April, Kana returned to singles action at the tapings of Volume 54, defeating Jessie McKay. Later on Volume 55, Kana was defeated by Madison Eagles in another singles match. The following day, Kana first defeated Ayako Hamada, Mercedes Martinez and Yuu Yamagata in a four-way match on Volume 56, before finishing her weekend with a win over Kalamity in a single match on Volume 57.

Upon her return to Shimmer on October 19 at Volume 58, Kana and LuFisto were given another shot at the Shimmer Tag Team Championship but were defeated the Global Green Gangsters who were the defending champions. She returned to Shimmer on October 18, 2014, unsuccessfully challenging Cheerleader Melissa for the Shimmer Championship at Volume 67.

Wrestling New Classic (2012)

On 5th April 2012, Tajiri named Kana as part of the roster of Wrestling New Classic (WNC) which was the follow-up promotion to Smash. For the first time since 2006, Kana signed a contract to make WNC her new home promotion, which officially ended her freelancing days.

However, the deal still allowed her to continue working for Pro Wrestling Wave and producing her own independent events. On April 26 at WNC’s first event, Before the Dawn, Kana teamed with Mio Shirai in a tag team match.

The duo defeated Makoto and Syuri, as Kana pinned Makoto for the win. Post-match, Kana verbally assaulted Makoto, which led to Shirai turning on her and siding with Makoto. At WNC’s second event – Starting Over conducted on May 24, Kana (while teaming with Syuri) submitted to Makoto in a tag team match, as Rihoreplaced an injured Mio Shirai to team with Makoto.

Two days later at the Go! Go! West: Osaka, Kana submitted to Makoto again, only this time it was in a singles match. On June 17, Kana produced her first Kana Pro event in collaboration with WNC. She and Kenichi Yamamoto were defeated in the main event by Daisuke Ikeda and Syuri.

The rivalry between Kana and Makoto continued even at the WNC’s event on June 22. Makoto ended her losing streak by pinning Kana in a tag team match, with Kana in the team with Syuri while Mio Shirai was back at Makoto’s side. On July 15, Kana defeated Shirai in the singles match, after which she had another heated exchange with Makoto, who had been sidelined from in-ring action with a fractured wrist.

Asuka. Image Credits: Give Me Sport

However, after the event, Syuri turned on Kana after losing to Ayako Hamada which ended their uneasy alliance. Syuri joined a new villainous stable formed by Akira and StarBuck. After this, the first match between Kana and Syuri was placed at a WNC event on August 2. Syuri, Akira and Star Buck defeated Kana, Hajime Ohara and Tajiri in a tag team championship of the event.

And then again on August 30, Kana, Mikey Whipwreck and Tajiri were defeated in a Barbed Wire Board Deathmatch by Syuri, Akira and StarBuck. Kana, Whipwreck and Tajiri were also defeated in a rematch the following day in Osaka. However, they came back to win the second rematch on September 1 in Toyohashi, ending the villainous trio’s win streak in the process.

In the main event of a WNC event on September 17, Kana earned her revenge over Syuri, defeating her via submission in a tag team match, where she teamed up with Tajiri to face Syuri and Akira. During a press conference the following day, Kana and Makoto announced that they were coming together to produce an event at Shinjuku Face on November 9, celebrating their common birthday, respectively.

On November 9, Kana and Makoto produced the first Mako Kana Pro event. Early in the event, the two teamed to defeat the Ice Ribbon team of Hamuko Hoshi and Hikaru Shida. Later, in the main event, Kana teamed with Sendai Girls’ Pro Wrestling’s Kagetsu, against Syuri and JWP’s Arisa Nakajima and wrestled to a thirty-minute time limit draw.

The match was billed as the first confrontation between Kana and Nakajima, who both started their careers in AtoZ. On November 26, Kana entered the WNC Women’s Championship tournament, defeating Makoto in her first-round match. However, two days later, she was eliminated in the semi-finals of the tournament by Nagisa Nozaki, as Kabushiki Kaisha DQN stable mate Jiro Kuroshio impeded the dual.

Following the match, Kana quit WNC and once again became a freelancer, claiming that she had not been paid for months and had not been able to get in contact with the promotion’s president Tsutomu Takashima. On December 4, WNC officially released Kana from her contract.

Reina Joshi Puroresu (2014–2015)

On August 30, 2014, Kana began working for Reina Joshi Puroresu as a storyline consultant. After Kana used her power to strip Ariya and Makoto of the Reina World Tag Team Championship, she and Arisa Nakajima defeated Lin Byron and Syuri in the tournament final, becoming the new champions on November 20.

On December 26, Kana defeated Syuri to win the Reina World Women’s Championship. Following the win, she reformed Reina as the promotion’s new “general producer” (GP). In early 2015, Kana launched her own stable, originally named Kana-gun (Kana Army), but renaming it as Piero-gun (Clown Army) due to all members adopting Kana’s clown makeup.

The members of the stable included native wrestlers Makoto and Rina Yamashita, foreigners Alex Lee, Cat Power and La Comandante while the male wrestlers Hercules Senga and Yuko Miyamoto.

Asuka. Image Credits: TalkSport

On January 12, 2015, Kana and Nakajima made their first successful defence of the Reina World Tag Team Championship against Goya Kong and Muñeca de Plata. The following month on February 25 at KanaProMania: Advance, the duo (Kana and Nakajima) lost the Reina World Tag Team Championship to Hikaru Shida and Syuri. 0

This was followed by Kana losing her position as the Reina GP to Shida on 25th March, as she and her stablemates(Cat Power and Yuko Miyamoto) were defeated in a six-person tag team match by Shida, ShiroKoshinaka and Zeus.

In May, Kana made her first successful defences of the Reina World Women’s Championship against visiting Mexican wrestlers. She defeated Gitana on May 17 and Reyna Isis on May 29. On June 13, Kana made her third successful title defence against Yako Fujigasaki.

Before her departure from the promotion, Kana relinquished the Reina World Women’s Championship on August 31. She wrestled her final match for the promotion on September 4, when she and Syuri defeated Konami and Makoto in a tag team match.

Beginning of WWE career

NXT Women’s Champion (2015–2017)

On August 22, 2015, Urai attended WWE’s NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn event in Brooklyn, New York. The rumours about her signing with WWE were soon confirmed at the press conference held on 8th September in Tokyo. She became the first female Japanese wrestler to sign with the company since Bull Nakano in 1994.

She joined WWE’s the then-developmental territory NXT and adopted the ring name Asuka. On September 23, she made her debut appearance which ended in a confrontation with Dana Brooke and Emma. Meanwhile, Asuka defeated Dana in her debut match on October 7 at NXT TakeOver: Respect and continued racking victories over various wrestlers – including the main roster performer Cameron.

All the while, she continued her feud with Dana Brooke and Emma. On December 16 at NXT TakeOver: London, Asuka defeated Emma in a highly appreciated dual. The performance of both the wrestlers was highly praised by the critics such as Dave Meltzer, calling the match “fantastic”.

Asuka vs Dana Brooke
Asuka vs Dana Brooke. Image Credits: Twitter

On the January 13, 2016 episode of NXT, Asuka participated in a battle royal to determine the number one contender for Bayley‘s NXT Women’s Championship. However, she was eliminated second-to-last by Eva Marie who later lost to Carmella.

On the February 10 episode, battle royal winner Carmella lost her title match against Bayley. Asuka saved Carmella from a post-match attack by Eva Marie and Nia Jax. But, afterwards, she had a staredown with Bayley to want a shot at her title. Finally, on April 1, Asuka defeated Bayley by technical submission, winning the NXT Women’s Championship at NXT TakeOver: Dallas.

She successfully defended the title against Nia Jax on June 8 at NXT TakeOver: The End. In summer 2016, Vince McMahon contemplated moving Asuka to the main roster during the 2016 draft, but NXT head Triple H dissuaded him, calling Asuka “the one person NXT could not afford to lose” and the brand’s “anchor”.

Asuka remained in NXT and rekindled her feud with Bayley, before she again defeated Bayley on August 20 at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II. After her successful title defence against Mickie James on November 19 at NXT TakeOver: Toronto, Asuka displayed the first signs of villainous behaviour when she refused to shake her opponent’s hand after the match.

On the January 11, 2017 episode of NXT Asuka was overpowered by The Iconic Duo (Billie Kay and Peyton Royce). Nikki Cross came to help her rescue but then herself attacked Asuka. Following this, Asuka demanded to defend her title against all three and won the subsequent fatal four-way match on January 28 at NXT TakeOver: San Antonio.

In early February, Asuka became the longest-reigning singles champion in NXT history, male or female. In March, Asuka wrestled on several house shows with WWE’s main roster as a replacement for an injured Naomi.

Asuka vs Bayley
Asuka vs Bayley. Image Credits: WWE

By this time, WWE had begun promoting Asuka’s “undefeated streak since her arrival” in NXT. The fierce Japanese wrestler never lost a match by submitting or being pinned. But she did come up short in the previously mentioned battle royal held in January 2016 and the tag team match along with the one fatal four-way match on NXT house shows in March and May 2016, respectively, all the while other wrestlers were pinned.

In her successful title defence against Ember Moon on April 1 at NXT TakeOver: Orlando, Asukaagain behaved like a villainess. She shoved the referee into her opponent to avoid Moon’s finishing manoeuver (the Eclipse) to win the match.

Asuka also attacked Ember Moon, Nikki Cross and Ruby Riott, who were the final competitors in a battle royal to determine her challenger for NXT TakeOver: Chicago. Subsequently, Asuka had to defend her title against Nikki Cross and Ruby Riott in a triple threat match with Ember Moon missing due to a shoulder injury.

But, again, she managed to retain her title at the event on June 20. In June, Asuka decisively defeated Nikki Cross in a Last Woman Standing match to retain her championship. This had her surpassing the winning streak of Goldberg and Rockin’ Robin’s record-setting 502 days WWE Women’s Championship reign.

On August 19 at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III, Asuka retained her title reign as she defeated the returning Ember Moon. However, during the match, she broke her right collarbone which forced her out of action for six to eight weeks. This meant Asuka had to relinquish the NXT Women’s Championship at the August 24 NXT tapings which aired on September 6, ending her reign at 510 days.

During her farewell segment, NXT General Manager William Regal called her “one of the greatest champions in WWE history” and also mentioned negotiations to move Asuka to WWE’s main roster.

Main roster debut and undefeated streak (2017–2018)

After multiple vignettes in the upcoming weeks, on the 11th September 2017, episode of Raw, Asuka was assigned to the Raw brand. A month later on 22nd October, at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, Asuka defeated her old rival Emma in her in-ring debut.

At the Survivor Series held on November 19, she represented Team Raw in a Survivor Series match against Team SmackDown and was the sole survivor, lastly eliminating Tamina and Natalya. Throughout the next few months, Asuka was on her win streak, defeating the likes of Dana Brooke, defeating in 3 seconds and setting a new WWE record for the fastest submission win in a women’s match. She also defeated Alicia Fox and Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss in a non-title match.

Asuka vs Alexa Bliss
Asuka vs Alexa Bliss. Image Credits: WWE

On January 28, 2018, at the Royal Rumble, Asuka won the first women’s Royal Rumble match. She entered at number 25 and eliminated her former rival Ember Moon. Nikki Bella was the last to be eliminated by her as Asuka earned the women’s championship match at WrestleMania 34.

Throughout January and February, Asuka started a feud with Nia Jax, who attacked her during and before her matches and wanted her title opportunity at Wrestlemania. Asuka defeated Nia Jax on February 25 at Elimination Chamber and again on the March 5 episode of Raw.

In parallel, she also took a part of the Mixed Match Challenge tournament, teaming with The Miz in support of the charity Rescue Dogs Rock. With wins over Carmella and Big E, Sasha Banks and Finn Bálor, Alexa Bliss and Braun Strowman and finally taking down Charlotte Flair and Bobby Roode, they won the tournament.

After Flair retained the SmackDown Women’s Championship against Ruby Riott, Asuka challenged her for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at WrestleMania 34. At the event on April 8, Asuka submitted to Charlotte Flair, ending her WWE undefeated streak at 914 days.

SmackDown Women’s Champion (2018–2019)

On April 17, Asuka was drafted to SmackDown as part of the 2018 WWE Superstar Shake-up. She made her first appearance by saving Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch from an attack by The IIconics (Billie Kay and Peyton Royce) along with Carmella who was the then-SmackDown Women’s Champion. On the May 15 episode of SmackDown Live, Smackdown General Manager Paige interrupted Carmella, to announce that she would be defending the SmackDown Women’s Championship against Asuka at Money in the Bank.

Asuka vs Charlotte Flair
Asuka vs Charlotte Flair. Image Credits: WWE

On June 17, Asuka lost to Carmella and suffered her first official pinfall loss in WWE. Paige then granted Asuka a rematch that took place on July 15 at Extreme Rules. Once again, Ellsworth hanging above in the shark-cage successfully distracted her and Asuka lost the match to Carmella.

In September, Asuka helped Naomi, who after defeating Peyton Royce was attacked by The IIconics. This led to a tag team match between the two teams on October 6 at WWE Super Show-Down. But againAsuka and Naomi were defeated by The Ilconics.

By then, it was announced that Asuka and The Miz to participate in the upcoming second season of Mixed Match Challenge. They lasted until the semifinals, where they were eliminated by the eventual winners R-Truth and Carmella. On November 18, Asuka took part in the Survivor Series as part of Team Smackdown, where she was the last woman eliminated from Team SmackDown.

By the end of November, Asuka won a battle royal to enter her way into the first-ever women’s TLC – Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match against both Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair for the SmackDown Women’s Championship.

At the namesake event held on December 16, Asuka won the SmackDown Women’s Championship for the first time in her career with the help of Ronda Rousey who interfered and pushed both Lynch and Flair off a ladder. Throughout her reign, Asuka was able to fend off different challengers such as Naomi on the SmackDown following TLC, Becky Lynch at the Royal Rumble and Mandy Rose at Fastlane.

However, on the March 26 episode of SmackDown, Asuka dropped the title to Charlotte Flair in an impromptu match and ended her reign at 100 days. But, Dave Meltzer from The Wrestling Observer revealed that Asuka will be defending the SmackDown Women’s Championship at WrestleMania 35 against the winner of a fatal four-way match between Carmella, Mandy Rose, Naomi and Sonya Deville. However, the event was cancelled at the last minute.

The Kabuki Warriors and Women’s Tag Team Championships (2019–2020)

On April 16, 2019, episode of SmackDown Live, Paige announced to be a part of the newly formed women’s tag team that consisted Asuka and the debuting Kairi Sane from NXT. The team of Asuka and Kairi Sane, later dubbed as “The Kabuki Warriors“, was put in a feud with The IIconics (Billie Kay and Peyton Royce) over the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship.

After weeks of avoiding them, The IIconics lost to The Kabuki Warriors during WWE’s tour in Tokyo. This helped The Kabuki Warriors to earn a title match which took place on the July 16 episode of SmackDown. In the match, The IIconics retained after they got themselves counted–out. And again in August, The Kabuki Warriors failed to capture the titles from the then–champions Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross.

The Kabuki Warriors
The Kabuki Warriors. Image Credits: WWE

After a short hiatus, The Kabuki Warriors returned in September, defeating Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville. On October 6 at the Hell in a Cell pay–per–view, Asuka used a green mist on Cross and The Kabuki Warriors finally won the Women’s Tag Team Championship from Bliss and Cross.

The next night on Raw, The Kabuki Warriors completed their transition into heels and went on to defeat Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair in a non–title match, once again using green mist as their leverage. As part of the 2019 Draft in mid-October, Asuka and Sane were both drafted to the Raw brand.

The duo solidified their heel turn after Asuka spit green mist on their manager Paige, officially declaring the end of their association with Paige. The rivalry between Becky Lynch and Asuka was renewed after Lynch challenged Asuka to a Raw Women’s Championship match at the Royal Rumble in a rematch from the previous year’s event.

Asuka failed to win the title from Lynch in the challenging match at the Royal Rumble. On the February 3, 2020, episode of Raw, Asuka demanded a rematch for the title which was accepted by Lynch. But a week later on Raw, once again Asuka failed to clinch the title.

On the first night of WrestleMania 36, The Kabuki Warriors lost their WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship to Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross. This saw the ending of their reign at 181 days which was by far the longest reign for the titles in the women’s championship.

On the April 13 episode of Raw, Asuka defeated Ruby Riott and got qualified for the Money in the Bank ladder match. At the eponymous event, Asuka won the Women’s Money in the Bank match.

Raw Women’s Champion (2020–present)

On the Raw, Becky Lynch revealed that she had vacated the Raw Women’s title due to her pregnancy and that the ladder match was in fact for the vacated Raw Women’s Championship rather than a championship match contract. This announcement made Asuka the new champion of the Raw Women’s Championship.

She joined Bayley and became the second Women’s Grand Slam winner and the third Women’s Triple Crown winner after Bayley and Alexa Bliss. Asuka embraced Becky Lynch after the announcement and chanted her name, thus turning Asuka’s face in the process.

However, later, it was revealed that she had broken the Kayfabe and showed a genuine reaction to the announcement. On the next Raw, The Kabuki Warriors officiated their face turn, beginning a feud with Mia returning Nia Jax.

Asuka vs Nia Jax
Asuka vs Nia Jax. Image Credits: WWE

At Backlash, Asuka retained the title against Jax after both were counted out. A rematch was scheduled, where Asuka again retained the title. She presumably lost the Raw Women’s Championship to Sasha Banks at The Horror Show at Extreme Rules after she indirectly blinded the referee with the green mist.

Bayley removed the referee’s shirt, putting it on herself and counted the pinfall, which was unofficial. The following night on Raw, Stephanie McMahon ruled that the result was reversed to a no-contest. Thereafter, Asuka retained the championship, despite Banks having taken possession of the actual belt.

However, a week later, Asuka officially lost the title via count-out in their rematch, where the belt could change hands by pinfall, submission, count-out, disqualification or interference. Sasha Banks won the title when Asuka chose to get herself counted out to save her Tag Team Partner, Kairi Sane, from an attack by Bayley.

Other Achievements

  • Asuka has released three gravure DVDs, titled Manifesto (2011), Manifesto II (2012) and Manifesto Final (2015).
  • Asuka and Mio Shirai have also released a gravure DVD together, titled Sadistic Tails (2012).
  • She appears as a playable character, like Asuka, in the video games WWE 2K17, WWE 2K18, WWE 2K19, and WWE 2K20.
  • On September 1, 2019, Asuka launched her own gaming and cooking channel on YouTube, KanaChan TV. She had teased the channel with several posts on her Twitter account before formally announcing the channel. KanaChan TV features playthrough videos with her own bilingual English/Japanese commentary as well as lifestyle content.
  • Asuka has also been a frequent guest on fellow WWE wrestler Xavier Woods‘ own YouTube channel UpUpDownDown.

KanaChan TV YouTube Channel Information

Channel: KanachanTV

Years active: 2019-present

Genre: Gaming/cooking/lifestyle

Subscribers: 352 thousand till 4 June 2020

Total Views: 19.5 million

Championships and Accomplishments

  • CBS Sports: WWE Match of the Year (2018) vs. Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs
  • DDT Pro-Wrestling: Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship (5 times)
  • JWP Joshi Puroresu: JWP Openweight Championship (1 time), Best Bout Award (2013) vs. Arisa Nakajima on December 15, Enemy Award (2013)
  • Kuzu Pro: Kuzu Pro Diva Championship (1 time)
  • NEO Japan Ladies Pro Wrestling: NEO Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Nanae Takahashi
  • Osaka Joshi Pro Wrestling: One Day Tag Tournament (2011) – with Mio Shirai
  • Pro Wrestling Illustrated: Ranked No. 1 of the top 50 female singles wrestlers in the PWI Female 50 in 2017, Woman of the Year (2017)
  • Pro Wrestling Wave: Wave Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Ayumi Kurihara (1) and Mio Shirai (1), Catch the Wave (2011), Dual Shock Wave (2011) – with Ayumi Kurihara
  • Reina Joshi Puroresu: Reina World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Arisa Nakajima, Reina World Women’s Championship (1 time), Reina World Tag Team Championship Tournament (2014) – with Arisa Nakajima
  • Smash: Smash Diva Championship (2 times), Smash Diva Championship Tournament (2011)
  • Sports Illustrated: Ranked No. 5 in the Top 10 Women’s Wrestlers of the year in 2018

WWE accomplishments

  • NXT Women’s Championship (1 time)
  • WWE Raw Women’s Championship (1 time)
  • WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship (1 time)
  • WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Kairi Sane
  • Money in the Bank (Women’s 2020)
  • Royal Rumble (Women’s 2018)
  • Third Women’s Triple Crown Champion
  • Second Women’s Grand Slam Champion
  • Mixed Match Challenge (Season 1) – with The Miz
  • NXT Year-End Award (3 times)
  • Female Competitor of the Year (2016, 2017)
  • Overall Competitor of the Year (2017)
  • WWE Year-End Award for Women’s Tag Team of the Year (2019) – with Kairi Sane
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