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Road To WrestleMania 39: Asuka vs. Bianca Belair

“When Asuka can go years being undefeated, that’s just showing that shes in a class all by herself.” – Molly Holly.

Bianca Belair looks to make it a three-peat when she defends her Raw Women’s Championship against Asuka at WrestleMania 39. The EST’s reign is approaching the one-year mark, while The Empress of Tomorrow is out to end her WrestleMania losing streak. The question remains: Is Bianca Belair truly ready for Asuka?

Asuka’s nearly 20-year career has taken her all over the world as she started in Japan before debuting for WWE NXT in 2015. Right off the bat, Asuka was a force to be reckoned with, racking up wins until she dethroned Bayley for the NXT Women’s Championship. 510 days later, Asuka’s dominant reign came to an end only because she was out of competition and moved up to Raw as a result.

She continued her winning ways on the main roster to set up the honorable distinction of winning the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble match in 2018. And rather than target the Raw Women’s title then-held by Alexa Bliss, Asuka pursued the face of WWE’s women’s division in Charlotte Flair.

Flair and Asuka squared off for the SmackDown Women’s Championship in what has since been regarded as one of the best women’s matches in WrestleMania history. Unfortunately, though, Asuka tapped out. Her coveted win streak was over.

The following year, Asuka lost the SmackDown Women’s title to Flair just days before WrestleMania, relegating her to the WrestleMania battle royal. At WrestleMania 36, Asuka and Kairi Sane walked in with the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship, but they did not leave with their gold. WrestleMania 37 had similar fate as Asuka lost her Raw Women’s Championship to Rhea Ripley, putting an end to all the work she put in during the pandemic era.

Meanwhile, Bianca Belair was on the come up. Fans learned what The EST was all about when she won the 2021 women’s Royal Rumble and headlined WrestleMania 37 in historic fashion by beating Sasha Banks for the SmackDown Women’s Championship. Later that year, Belair lost her title to Becky Lynch in seconds, leading many to wonder if Belair’s impressive success was all a fluke. However, The EST proved it wasn’t just five seconds of fame when she pinned Lynch at WrestleMania 38 to avenge her loss and win her first Raw Women’s Championship in the process.

Following that victory is when Belair officially had the opportunity to get acquainted with Asuka after they had minimally crossed paths in multi-woman matches in the years prior. Asuka was back from injury and hungry for gold. Lynch was lost without a title for the first time in years. And Belair was tasked with doing everything in her power to maintain her status as champion.

They were all on a collision course for a triple threat at Hell in a Cell in June. But before they got there, Belair and Asuka had their first singles matches together. The pace was quick with a matching level of intensity. In the end, Asuka thought she had dodged Belair’s moonsault, but Belair was one step ahead with a pinfall reversal. A week later at Hell in a Cell, Belair pinned Asuka again by capitalizing on Lynch’s Manhandle Slam.

Rather than continuing as rivals, Belair and Asuka found themselves on the same side while feuding with Damage CTRL. The months-long feud culminated in Belair and Asuka’s team emerging victorious inside WarGames in November. Despite winning the war, Asuka’s confidence was shaken after suffering consecutive losses to Rhea Ripley and Bayley.

It wasn’t long before Asuka returned in the Royal Rumble match with new face paint and new theme music to compliment a new attitude. She lasted over a half hour in the match to be one of the last three women in the bout. While that night wasn’t meant to be, Asuka did punch her ticket to WrestleMania by winning a six-woman Elimination Chamber match just weeks later to make Belair vs. Asuka official.

Since then, Asuka has played mind games with Belair week after week. This is a woman who has been in Belair’s shoes before — the dominant champion with no one to stop her. She might as well be considered the “fifth Horsewoman” considering she’s made just as much history alongside the four. The only issue is, Asuka doesn’t have much to show for it as far as her WrestleMania history is concerned.

Asuka has witnessed Belair’s ascent to the top while her own journey back to WrestleMania hasn’t gone as smoothly. Similar paths, but different destinations. It all comes down to whether or not Belair will be ready for this version of Asuka. Belair had plenty of time and resources to prepare for Banks and Lynch in her previous WrestleMania matches. She’s also pinned Asuka twice before, but Asuka’s mind games might just be enough to get in the way this time.

A win for Belair certainly adds to her legacy, but a loss for Asuka would hinder hers. It’s in the Empress of Tomorrow’s best interest to prove that she is still an enigmatic threat today.

Do you think it’s time Asuka dethrones Belair? Or do you think Belair should continue her WrestleMania streak? Sound off with your thoughts in the comments below!

Celebrate Women’s History Month! Ring Post Journal’s 2022 Women’s Wrestling Year in Review is now available on Amazon in digital, paperback, and hardcover formats internationally. Relive the entire year in one book with a news timeline, detailed results, and win-loss records for WWE, AEW, IMPACT, NWA, and more!

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