With few realistic challengers for Asuka's NXT Women's Championship, WWE is instead looking outside the company for an opponent for the Empress of Tomorrow.
WWE announced Thursday that Mickie James will take on Asuka at NXT TakeOver: Toronto on Nov. 19:
On one hand, it's not ideal for a wrestler who has never competed under the NXT banner to get a shot at Asuka. It's a bit like a part-time performer parachuting in to the main event at WrestleMania.
On the other hand, NXT doesn't have any women's wrestlers in position to pose a legitimate threat to the champion. The women's division was gutted following the WWE draft, in addition to Bayley's Raw call-up.
Liv Morgan, Billie Kay, Peyton Royce and Aliyah are all showing promise, but they still have a lot of growing to do in the ring before they can lead the division.
An Ember Moon-Asuka match would be interesting, but WWE is smart to hold that off until it will mean something. Moon just made her proper debut at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II in August, so there's no need to thrust her into the title picture just yet.
James is a great transitional opponent for Asuka until she moves into a proper feud. The 37-year-old is a five-time women's and one-time Divas champion. For years, she was one of the marquee stars in WWE's Divas division.
Assuming she's victorious, Asuka's profile will grow more in NXT by facing James. Not only will she have beaten the star most synonymous with NXT—Bayley—but she will have also taken out one of the biggest names in women's wrestling history.