If I were to tell you that my all-time favorite female wrestler was Japanese, would you be surprised? Shortly after she appeared ringside at TakeOver Brooklyn in 2015, I started trying to learn everything I could about Kana and the Japanese sensation who would quickly take up the moniker Asuka, The Empress of Tomorrow. She holds a special place in my heart for multiple reasons, but mainly she serves as a reminder of all the best parts of who I am. My only hope is that I do her justice!
The Undefeated in NOLA, the Land Where Streaks Go to Die…
“Far and wide
And light years away
The one Force of Nature
They call by name”
“The Future (Asuka Theme)” by CFO$
From the moment she debuted in NXT, I made a promise to myself that if I were to ever meet her, that I would speak to her in Japanese and tell her how proud I am of her for moving halfway around the world like I did in pursuit of a dream. Despite seeing her at countless houseshows and monthly TV tapings, it would be nearly 18 months, before a rare opportunity would present itself. In the promotion lead up for WrestleMania 33 here in Orlando, NXT teamed up with the University of Central Florida Athletics Department to host NXT Night for the Men’s Basketball season opener.
I wasn’t ready to meet her the first time!
By chance, I had won a pair of free tickets, but I almost didn’t go because it was a weekday night. Had I not gone, I would have missed out on probably the one any only opportunity have speak with her and Shinsuke Nakamura in Japanese, as they along with The Revival, had a a free All Champion meet and greet prior to the basketball game’s start.
The anticipation fo speaking to her had my stomach in knots because I was so excited to meet her. No sooner did I walk up to her, did I open my mouth and Japanese just started falling out of my mouth. Between the nerves and relief of being to finally meet her, we started excitedly speaking back and ofrth with one another, and then Shinsuke joined in, too. I was snapped back to reality when Dash Wilder jokingly asked, “Hey, do you speak English, too?” I hadn’t realized how thrilled I had been to speak with them in Japanese, that I was monopolizing their time! Afterward, the basketball game was a complete blur because I was on Cloud Nine.
I did a Casual Cosplay of Asuka for WrestleMania AXXESS in Orlando last year!
Months later, I proudly stomped all over Fan AXXESS in a casual cosplay of Asuka, including her original NXT-release shirt and plastic mask and wearing my favorite purple yukata (because my furisode wouldn’t have survived the day unscathed without lots of dry cleaning). The more I watch her victories continue and her streak continue to grow, the more excited I became for her.
Her tenure in NXT was a lengthy one, and she had the arduous tasks of carrying the mantle of champion in the wake of a series of call-ups of talent to the main roster, but she continued to crank out outstanding match after match with a wide variety of talent in NXT. I made the trek to Brooklyn to watch what would become her final match in NXT before her own graduation to the main roster. She achieved her dream of making it to the WWE, and it reminded me of when I chose to move to Japan for my own dream. Personally, Asuka represents perserverenace, tenacity, and determination, and she is one of the role models in my life.
Mezmerized by what would become her final grand entrance at NXT TakeOver Brooklyn III.
Meeting the Artists?!
The reason I hadn’t bought an Asuka shirt within the last year was because when her history-making winning streak suddenly came into focus, the last thing I wanted to worry about was being the jinx responsible for breaking it. Yes, I believe in superstitions just as much as the next sports fan, and I’ve had several eerie moments, which have made me hesitant! However, when independent artist, [Joel2Sleep] released a limited edition Asuka & TokiDoki-inspired shirt for WrestleMania, I could not resist purchasing it when I saw it. The unique thing about Joel’s works is that they are often limited release without addditional releases.
Special Delivery at AXXESS with the talented Joel2Sleep!
I never thought that I would get the opportunity to meet Joel, but we managed to make our paths cross at AXXESS. Due to time constraints, the shipping didn’t coinside with our New Orleans travel plans, and I was determined to rep my girl at her debut at WrestleMania! Joel’s design reminded so much of several special moments in my life well before wrestling came back into it.
I had just returned from Japan, and had started working at a Japanese boarding school in New York. The creator of TokiDoki, Simone Legno, prepared to launch a new makeup collaboration with Sephora, and they had a release party with a signing at the Times Square store. When I met him, his beautifully designed products helped ease my blues after returning from Japan.
I met TokiDoki creator, Simone Legno, in Times Square in May 2010.
WrestleMania 35 Debut
The only reservation I had about wearing my A-TOKI shirt, was the possibility of succumbing to my own supersitious fears. Luckily (and unbeknownst to me), my gal pal and independent wrestler, Rachael Ellering, bought the A-TOKI shirt to wear to WrestleMania, too! Naturally, we would try to find one another in a crowd of 70,000 plus to take a photo together because we really both just love professional wrestling. Thank you, WrestleMania Block Party for funneling the traffic toward the C Gate, making it a cinch to find The Queen of Strong Smile herself!
Truly putting the WINNING in Twinning with Rachael!
Outfit of the BIG Day
- A-TOKI t-shirt by Joel2Sleep
- Her Universe Studio Ghibli Spirited Away No-Face Kimono1
- black trousers
- Prince Devitt Hoodie2 by SPLX Apparrel (not pictured)
I may have watched her match from one of the seats closest to the ceiling of the Superdome, but I will never forget it for as long as I live. Asuka not only debuted, but had one of the best matches I’ve ever seen her have against the defending SmackDown Women’s Champion, Charlotte. For years, I’ve wanted her and Charlotte to battle one another, and without a doubt, she was truly one of the only women I would have been comfortable finally laying Asuka’s undefeated streak to rest. Charlotte and Asuka teased their Mania match in the week prior with the finals of the Mixed Match Challenge3, but no one was ready for the match so early on the WrestleMania main card.
From Osaka & armories in Orlando to her WrestleMania debut, The Empress arrived!
The moment her entrance music hit, tears were in my eyes because I knew in my gut that win or lose, history was about to be made– either Asuka’s streak would continue and she’d dethrone the first Women’s Grand Slam Champion or Charlotte would devastate the world by terminating Asuka’s undefeated streak. By far, their match was the best women’s match of the night, and it could have easily been a contender for the first women’s match to potentially close out a WrestleMania.
By the end of the match I was emotionally spent, and I did cry. I wasn’t sad. I was relieved. Even with the outcome, I was at peace… once the initial shock wore off. I gave the match a rewatch on the WWE Network because I wanted to feel the depth of their battle before completing this entry. Even in defeat, she was strong, graceful, and I can’t get over seeing her and Charlotte do a top rope Spanish Fly! The Streak may be laid to rest, but its only a single chapter in her epic journey.
- I am glad that I snagged one on sale when I did because no sooner did I get to NOLA, was it discontinued by Hot Topic!!
- Trying to get one’s hands on the limited edition Price Devitt (now Finn Balor) throwback hoodie is like stalking your favorite online auction to snipe it at the last second. There is zero margin for error.
- MMC was streamed live on Tuesday nights on Facebook Watch from January through late March with teams of competitors from Raw & SD Live each representing different charities.