In the event any further reminder is needed, SummerSlam represents another opportunity for Asuka to prove why she is one of the most talented wrestlers in all of the world.
Asuka has two matches on the SummerSlam card, first challenging Bayley for the SmackDown Women’s Championship, then wrestling Sasha Banks for the Raw title. This is a showcase for three of the best in the world to ply their trade at WWE’s second biggest show of the year, which has the added allure of a new setting in the ThunderDome.
Talent always finds a way to succeed, and that is an integral part of Asuka’s journey. Quite possibly the most decorated women’s wrestler of all-time, Asuka has continued to thrive in WWE long after her undefeated streak storyline ended at WrestleMania 34. Her work in the ring is unparalleled by the vast majority of wrestlers in and out of WWE, and she has never relied on her promos to carry her work. Asuka is one of the most easily identifiable characters in WWE, an ass-kicking, submission-based wrestler always eager to fight.
Asuka started her career in Japan, leaving a job in graphic design in 2004 to embark on an entirely new path in wrestling. Although she had made appearances throughout U.S. indies since 2011, her decision to leave home in 2015 was complicated. Despite fanfare and constant interest in her NXT run, Asuka was homesick, missing family, friends and her everyday life back in Japan.
“I know it’s been the right decision to come to WWE, but it was hard,” said Asuka, who is 38-year-old Kanako Urai, through a translator. “Coming to the United States, it’s a different way of life. A different language, a different wrestling style. Yes, there were many doubts and struggles.
“Kairi Sane, her friendship was such a big help. Kairi is my first-ever tag team partner, and I’ve been so sad since she left. I miss her so much.”
Despite the struggles, Asuka‘s joy and vigor for wrestling have carried her amidst her most difficult stretches, including during Sane’s departure from WWE. Asuka shared that she always feels at home inside the ring.
“I wrestled in Japan a long time, and I’d done it for so long, I thought I was done wrestling,” said Asuka. “WWE had been scouting me, and that’s when I decided to come to the United States. I came right as the ‘Women’s Revolution’ was starting, and I think my technique helped contribute to it. In wrestling, WWE is my greatest challenge and opportunity.”
Asuka has never had an opportunity or challenge quite like the one currently in front of her at SummerSlam. She will first wrestle Bayley, a match with high expectations, then will be expected to deliver an even more compelling bout against the incredibly talented Sasha Banks.
“This SummerSlam is like WrestleMania to me,” said Asuka. “There is so much history in WWE. Big shows like SummerSlam have great history, so I’m very nervous, but I am excited to get in the ring with Sasha and Bayley.
“Sasha and Bayley are two amazing wrestlers. Our styles, the way we think, it is so very different. In the ring, I think a lot more similarly to Shayna Baszler. Sasha and Bayley are different from me, but they both have an incredible fighting spirit. I respect them very much, and I want our matches to start right now if they could.”
A journey that has covered ground from Tokyo to Orlando continues at SummerSlam. Asuka seeks to place her stamp on the event, bringing excitement, joy, and nonstop action to wrestling fans around the globe.
“This is a new challenge for me to entertain the WWE universe,” said Asuka. “I will give every piece of myself in my matches, and I hope it will be unforgettable night.”