Under pressure: Bayley’s quest to successfully defend against Asuka
When Asuka made her NXT debut this past fall, her appearance was met by both praise and curiosity. The wrestling community at home and abroad seemed to be frothing at the mouth over the dream-match possibilities featuring NXT’s newest addition to the women’s division.
But perhaps no one took closer notice than the current NXT Women’s Champion, Bayley.
“There is such an unpredictability about her style,” Bayley said of Asuka.
I respect Asuka for all she's done ... but this is my home.
Having kept close tabs on Asuka’s meteoric rise up the ranks of NXT, Bayley admitted she knew it would only be a matter of time before the inevitable match would occur. That inevitability finally happens Friday night at NXT Takeover: Dallas. With the title showdown almost here, Bayley revealed she has done all she can to prepare for The Empress of Tomorrow.
“Unlike opponents in the past, I've never been in the ring with Asuka, so I can only study tapes of her matches,” Bayley said. “Seeing how she moves in the ring, I know this match is going to be fast-paced, so a lot of it will come down to timing. I know that I need to act quickly and take advantage of any little mistake she may make. I've got a few things up my sleeve.”
So just what can Bayley expect as she defends her championship against Asuka for the first time? NXT competitor Deonna Purrazzo provided some insight based on her own experience.
“Asuka is trained to attack in so many different ways that it makes it near impossible to scout and train to compete against her,” Deonna confessed. “To be in the ring with Asuka truly means to be in the ring with someone who is unlike anyone else.”
Despite the daunting assessment by Deonna, NXT’s Carmella believes Bayley’s work ethic gives her an edge.
“Bayley has been working harder than I’ve ever seen,” Carmella said. “If she’s not training in the ring, she’s studying film or she’s in the gym getting ready for this match. There’s a side to Bayley that a lot of people might be surprised to see, and I think she will remind everyone why she’s the champion in Dallas.”
To say this is the toughest test of Bayley’s Women’s Championship reign may indeed be painfully accurate. Despite fending off past challenges from Sasha Banks, Nia Jax and Eva Marie, it seems the threat that Asuka presents falls into a whole different category. It is that difference that may explain not only Bayley’s desire to win this match, but also her sense of obligation to come out on top.
“I need this win because it means everything to me. I have something to prove,” an emotional Bayley stated.
“I respect Asuka for all she's done in her career all over the globe and for what she's done here in NXT in such a short amount of time, but this is my home,” Bayley added. “The pride she has in Japanese wrestling, I have in NXT. I was here when Paige was crowned the first-ever NXT Women’s Champion. I was here when Charlotte won, in the match when Sasha won, and a part of me wants to protect what we've built. I've beaten some the wisest, most opportunistic and powerful women, and I will prove to Asuka that she is not unstoppable.”