Asuka's rapid ascent in NXT continued Friday at NXT TakeOver: Dallas, as she defeated Bayley to become the new NXT Women's champion.
Bayley was kept in the Asuka Lock for a long stretch of time in the middle of the ring, but she never tapped. After multiple attempts at going for the ropes, Bayley passed out, and the referee called for the bell, giving Asuka her first championship.
WWE provided this shot of Asuka celebrating after the match concluded:
Submissions were the underlying theme of this match. Both women displayed excellent uses of technical and submission wrestling. Asuka nearly tapped out to a leg lock after Bayley countered a potential kick to the face. Asuka followed that up moments later by turning a Bayley clothesline into an armbar submission.
In the end, despite Bayley's unorthodox offense throughout that gave her the edge for the first half of the match, Asuka's submission ability was the difference-maker on this night.
Despite the tough task of following Shinsuke Nakamura's win over Sami Zayn, WrestleZone.com thought they did an outstanding job:
Bayley reached the top of the mountain in NXT when she defeated Sasha Banks for the title at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn in what many considered to be among the best matches in all of wrestling in 2015.
She followed up that performance at NXT TakeOver: Respect with another victory over Banks in a 30-minute Iron Man match that main-evented the show. The Boss made the leap to the main roster on a full-time basis after that, which left an opening for the role of Bayley's top challenger.
Asuka made her in-ring NXT debut in October, and the Japanese star quickly rose up the ranks by mowing down every opponent in her path.
After defeating Emma at NXT TakeOver: London, the Empress of Tomorrow appeared to be on a collision course with Bayley, who successfully defended her title against Nia Jax at that same event.
Asuka went on to aid Bayley and Carmella in their feud with Jax and Eva Marie, and she was ultimately awarded a title match at one of the biggest events in NXT history.
Although Bayley had undoubtedly proved herself on the road to NXT TakeOver: Dallas, Asuka established herself as perhaps the most dominant and imposing figure women's wrestling has ever seen under the WWE umbrella.
She also attempted to use that intimidation factor to her advantage by staring down Bayley and making her presence known on social media:
While Bayley faced and defeated several top competitors prior to Friday night's match, it can be argued that Asuka was her toughest opponent yet since she had been portrayed as unstoppable leading up to TakeOver: Dallas.
Because of the dynamic between Asuka's dominance and Bayley's resilience, there was a ton of anticipation among wrestling fans for the bout and an expectation that they would put on one of the best women's wrestling matches in recent memory.
They didn't disappoint as they engaged in a clash that was great both technically and emotionally and told a story that the live crowd seemed to enjoy.
With the match now in the books, however, the focus shifts toward what is next for both wrestlers and the NXT Women's Championship.
When recently asked about getting called up to the main roster, Bayley was torn about getting elevated or remaining in NXT, per Joey Hayden of GuideLive.com:
I go back and forth about it a lot because NXT is just home for me. I really have the best coworkers and coaching staff at the performance center. There's people from all over the world that I've met, and become like best friends with. So, I really love being there, but at the same time, it's your childhood dream to be on WrestleMania one day. As much as I love NXT, I would love to make the next step and really challenge myself sometime soon.
Her loss at TakeOver: Dallas suggests that a call-up could be in the cards, although it is likely that she will get at least one opportunity to regain the title.
As for Asuka, she now stands to be the undisputed face of the women's division in NXT, which is a role she figures to handle well due to the manner in which the NXT Universe has gravitated toward her in such a short period of time.
While it is unlikely anyone will be able to replicate the type of connection Bayley had with the fans, Asuka's title win completely changes the outlook of NXT's women's division, and she could ultimately have just as much success.
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