Becky Lynch (c) vs. Asuka
Raw women’s championship match
WWE loves rematches. But they rarely ever do them right.
Usually, the formula is run the match on a PPV. Then run it again on the next PPV. And then again in the next. Then move on. It’s rapid fire succession and then on to the next. When that happens, the feud doesn’t have a chance to breathe. There’s no anticipation. No matter how good the matches are, there’s nothing gained in spamming the rematches compared to actually taking their time.
That’s why this Becky Lynch vs. Asuka match is so damn good.
It’s a year in the making. Becky Lynch, on her rise to superstardom had one hiccup. She tapped out to Asuka at the Royal Rumble last year, failing to win back her SmackDown women’s championship.
The Man went on to win the Royal Rumble, win both the SmackDown and Raw Women’s titles in WrestleMania in the main event, and has been the Raw Women’s champion ever since. (She lost the SmackDown one soon after on a night she had to defend both titles.)
But the loss to Asuka has eaten at Becky ever since. Winning feuds against Lacey Evans and Sasha Banks, which were formulated in the lazy rapid fire rematches we mentioned earlier, weren’t going to cut it. Lynch needed to to rectify the one blemish on her otherwise stellar record last year.
That’s why she demanded the match and eventually was granted it, leveraging contract talk to convince WWE to allow it. Because the story became that Becky wasn’t being held down by not allowing to face someone the caliber of Asuka. They were trying to protect their stop star. Think Rocky III when Mickey tried to prevent Rocky from fighting his real threat Clubber Lang.
When she was finally granted the match was when the doubt started to set in. It was easy to posture when WWE was protecting her from the Empress. Now that the match was official, Becky started to wonder if she really had what it took to beat the one woman she just couldn’t seem to overcome.
As she doubted herself, Asuka remained very confident. One could even say over confident. She’d cockily strut to the ring and mock the champ, trying to permanently reside in that space inside the Man’s head. But that may have backfired when she misted Lynch during their contract signing. Because now anger have overcome that doubt.
That brings us to the Royal Rumble tonight. The same event where Lynch tapped out to Asuka. For the first time since last year. They’ve come full circle, but now it’s Becky who’s the champ who needs to prove something to herself and everyone else. That’s how a rematch should be done.
Now, let’s not give WWE too much credit here. This clearly wasn’t the plan when the match happened last year. If it were, they wouldn’t have booked Asuka so poorly afterwards.
They had her unceremoniously lose the title to Charlotte Flair just weeks prior to WrestleMania to prop up that main event. Then they randomly paired her with Kairi Sane and Paige in a tag team that was often forgotten about. It was only more recently that a heel turn for both women brought Asuka back into prominence after the Kabuki Warriors (sans Paige) won the tag team titles.
None-the-less, you can even look at the Empress’ bad year as part of this story. Because while Becky was riding high, with that loss at the Rumble being her sole bad moment, Asuka was struggling along with that Rumble win clearly being her best. Despite winning, Becky failed up and Asuka could just sit on the sidelines and watch.
Now she gets to try to do something about it. While Becky is trying to right her big wrong.
This is gonna be good.
Becky Lynch and Asuka will finally rematch a year after their superb title match last year tonight at the Royal Rumble, which starts at 7 PM ET on the WWE Network. And keep it here to CagesideSeats.com for all of your Royal Rumble coverage.