Photo credit: WWE.com.
In her first title defense since winning the Raw Women’s Championship at Money in the Bank, Asuka retained against Nia Jax at Backlash on Sunday after they wrestled to a double count-out.
The two were brawling on the outside as the referee was making his 10-count. Asuka felled Jax with a kick to the head but was unable to re-enter the ring before the ref completed the count.
The Empress of Tomorrow won the women’s Money in the Bank ladder match on May 10, but it wasn’t until the following night on Raw that she learned what was truly on the line.
Becky Lynch announced she was pregnant, and as a result, she relinquished the Raw Women’s Championship. That ended her historic title reign at 399 days and immediately put Asuka over as her successor and the new face of the Raw women’s division.
Asuka and Kairi Sane held a championship celebration the next week, but it was interrupted by Jax. After she ran the new titleholder down on the mic and criticized the way she won the belt, The Empress attacked her and sent her out of the ring.
Later that night, Jax jumped Sane backstage to send a message to Asuka. A furious Empress then confronted The Irresistible Force, who attempted to ignore her. In return, she was felled by a kick to the head courtesy of Asuka.
The following week on Raw, Jax was part of a Triple Threat match with Charlotte Flair and Natalya to determine the No. 1 contender for the Raw women’s title. She won by pinning The Queen of Harts and earned a title shot at Backlash.
Asuka and Jax have faced each other many times over the years dating back to their stints in NXT. Entering Backlash, The Empress was a perfect 5-0 in televised singles matches against her rival, and she also beat her at many house shows and in multiple tag team matches.
Despite Asuka’s dominance, there was some thought that Jax could beat her at Backlash. The Irresistible Force had been on a roll since returning from injury after WrestleMania 36, while The Empress was essentially handed the title due to Lynch’s pregnancy rather than actually winning it from someone.
Asuka has been a central figure on Raw in recent months, though, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Given how much she has been featured in matches, promo segments and even commentary, it is clear she has become a favorite of Vince McMahon.
Perhaps that played a role in her retaining Sunday, but with Jax still in the picture and other capable challengers like Shayna Baszler and Charlotte waiting in the wings, a long title reign is far from guaranteed.
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