Asuka vs. Mickie James: Winner and Reaction from NXT TakeOver: Toronto

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistNovember 20, 2016

Photo credit: WWE.com

In one of her toughest title defenses to date, Asuka defeated five-time WWE women's champion Mickie James in an NXT women's title match at NXT TakeOver: Toronto Saturday.

James gave Asuka a run for her money, but she was forced to tap out and fell short in her bid to capture the NXT Women's title for the first time.

As seen in this GIF courtesy of WWE, Asuka displayed a cocky demeanor after the match by refusing a handshake:

Since making her NXT debut in 2015, Asuka has run roughshod over the entire NXT women's division. She beat everyone who stood in her path, including Bayley in a pair of NXT TakeOver bouts that saw The Empress of Tomorrow both win and retain the NXT Women's Championship.

With many of NXT's top women getting called up to the main roster as part of the brand split, it seemed as though there was nobody left to step up and challenge Asuka.

That changed when NXT general manager William Regal shockingly announced that one of the most decorated women in WWE history was returning to go after Asuka and the title.

The 37-year-old James hadn't been seen in a WWE ring since 2010, as she went on to enjoy a great deal of success in TNA after her release from the company.

James faced many of the greatest female competitors in WWE history, including Trish Stratus in a feud that is still heralded as one of the top women's programs to ever take place in WWE.

With so much experience and success on her resume, James entered NXT TakeOver: Toronto with the belief that she would be the first person to hand Asuka a loss in WWE, according to WWE.com's Bobby Melok:

[I think I can win] because I'm one of the best in the world. I didn't sign up to come back to lose. I'm going in with the mentality that I'm going to win. If you don't go in there thinking that, you've already beat yourself.

I'm not saying 100 percent for sure that I'm going to win, but I can guarantee it will be the hardest fight she's ever had in her life. It will probably be one of the toughest battles I've ever had, too. We'll see how it goes.

Asuka generally lets her in-ring brutality do the talking for her, but she made it clear during the build toward TakeOver that the result would be decisive regardless of who managed to come out on top:

The Japanese Superstar is arguably the most dominant female competitor to ever set foot in a WWE ring, which is something that has been alluded to often on NXT programming during her tenure.

Following Asuka's second victory over Bayley, the former NXT women's champ made the leap to the main roster, which left a big-time void in terms of potential opponents.

She steamrolled enhancement talent as well as an overmatched Liv Morgan before Regal decided he needed to go outside NXT to find a worthy adversary.

Although James put up a great fight, Asuka was once again victorious, which creates some questions for both women moving forward.

Saturday's match may have been a one-off deal for James, but she is such a top-flight talent that she would be a major asset to NXT, Raw or SmackDown should she decide to come back on a full-time basis.

As for Asuka, there is little left for her to prove in NXT, but someone must emerge to take the title before she can move up to the main roster.

Ember Moon currently looks like the best option, and one can only assume that they will engage in a feud in the near future.

                     

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Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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