She’s acknowledged as one of the best professional wrestlers - male or female - in the world today. After winning the WWE Smackdown Women’s championship last December, Asuka now has her eye on capturing the tag team belts soon.
The 37-year-old is making waves in the tag team division with her new partner, fellow Japanese star Kairi Sane.
Both were in Singapore recently for a WWE live event at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on June 27.
They racked up victories over the reigning tag team champions, the Australian duo of The IIconics, in Singapore and subsequently in Tokyo, to earn the opportunity to face them in the future for the titles.
Asuka, a former NXT Women’s champion whose undefeated streak lasted a staggering 914 days, recalled the heavy weight of expectation on her. After all, she was the first Japanese female wrestler signed by WWE since Bull Nakano in 1994.
“It was my job to assist in the Women's revolution in WWE. It is important to note that in NXT, there are 100 people waiting to take the title. At NXT Takeover in Dallas in 2016 where I beat Bayley for the Women's title, it was truly very tough and I would like to leave it to your imagination, how much we actually went through," she said, with the help of an interpreter.
Sane, who's also a former NXT Women’s champion and winner of the inaugural Mae Young Classic, added, "We have made the best of our chances in WWE so that the company will continue to focus and have opportunities for us. None of these have been easy and as far as we are concerned. We possess the Samurai spirit since we are Japanese, and we have to make sure we don't lose to the American wrestlers."
The pair also recalled the difficulties they initially faced when they moved to the United States. Getting used to the food, for instance, was something Sane had to get accustomed to.
For Asuka, it was the left-hand drive of American cars. "I have a driving license in Japan but have not driven in the US. I soon realised that you needed a car to get anywhere in the US. I remember one of the first times I was performing in the US, I had to drive from the hotel to the performance venue and I had difficulties going back to the hotel. There was no food, no supermarket in sight and I ended up sleeping hungry," she recalled.
"In America, there is no or very little Japanese food. When I came to Singapore two years ago, there's lots of Asian food here and it's really delicious!"
Catch The Kabuki Warriors on WWE Smackdown Live on Wednesdays, at 8am on StarHub Hub Sports 2 ch 203.
5 things about the Kabuki Warriors
1. Sane's pirate-inspired ring gear stems from her background in yachting. She was a national youth sailor in Japan and was part of the under-22 Olympics team.
2. Asuka is an avid gamer and once designed graphics for Nintendo DS and other mobile applications. She was a motion capture actress for Virtua Fighter 5, a critically-acclaimed arcade game released in 2006.
3. Sane's entry into pro-wrestling came by chance when she played a wrestling villain in a theatre production and was scouted by the general manager of the World Wonder Ring Stardom promotion, a female wrestling promotion in Japan.
4. In 2009, Asuka designed the High Speed championship belt, a title meant for fast and high-flying female wrestlers, during her time in NEO Japan Ladies Pro-Wrestling. The title is still in use today by Stardom.
5. Asuka often donned macabre face paint during her matches in Japan. When asked if she would return to using it one day, she replied cryptically, "The future is full of surprises. We'll have to see!"