WWE

Asuka def. Emma

MINNEAPOLIS — Asuka’s much-heralded Raw debut has come and gone in very impressive fashion, as The Empress of Tomorrow snuffed out Emma’s spotlight moment in what turned out to be a near-flawless performance by the undefeated former NXT Women’s Champion.

Credit where credit is due, however: Emma’s placement in the bout was definitely earned. The veteran Superstar both demanded respect for months and outwitted her entire division to get to WWE TLC, and a match with Asuka is about as prestigious a measuring stick as there is in WWE. After a rough opening, Emma managed to soften Asuka up on the outside and found success by bending the rules, using a handful of Asuka’s hair to slam her into the mat and bow her over the ropes in the Tree of Woe.

Like the video game boss you could never beat, though, Asuka seemed to regain energy the more punishment she absorbed, and the former 523-day NXT Women’s Champion turned the match into a mugging in short order. The Empress of Tomorrow administered a gruesome hybrid of an ankle lock and a German suplex that was so effective it forced Emma to again play dirty, tossing Asuka off the apron with a fistful of hair. But when Emma tried to seal the bout, she was met with a kick to the face that bounced her off the ropes, straight into a merciless Asuka Lock that earned the tapout victory for The Princess of Tomorrow.

Emma may, indeed, have helped start the Women’s Evolution. But now its perfect specimen is here with the top of the food chain in sight.