Projecting How Long Asuka Will Be SmackDown Women's Champion in 2019

Anthony Mango@@ToeKneeManGoFeatured ColumnistDecember 26, 2018

Credit: WWE.com

Asuka's Royal Rumble victory seemed to guarantee she would win the SmackDown Women's Championship at WrestleMania 34, but that didn't come to pass.

Instead, her undefeated streak came to an end and she went down a disappointing path for several months that finally turned around when she won the title at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs.

Now is the time to celebrate The Empress of Tomorrow claiming the championship and starting what should be a lengthy title reign.

Sooner or later, though, every champion has to lose their belt, and Asuka is not going to be exempt from that, particularly now that it's been proved she can be beaten.

It isn't a question of if it will happen but rather when the bell will toll and a new champion will be crowned.

At the very least, Asuka should be safe for another month or so, as the next pay-per-view is Royal Rumble on January 27.

Becky Lynch may be the hottest thing in WWE today, but the McMahon family recently revoked the automatic-rematch clause, and the assumed match between the two that was advertised on Main Event has yet to be confirmed in any capacity.

This match was wrongfully advertised and plans seem to have changed.
This match was wrongfully advertised and plans seem to have changed.Credit: WWE.com

Last year, the two women's champions weren't forced to defend their titles and Asuka may have the night off, which makes January easy for her.

Realistically, if Lynch and Charlotte Flair are the two most likely candidates to win the Royal Rumble and challenge Ronda Rousey in a Triple Threat, based on their feud's trajectory, that leaves SmackDown in need of a No. 1 contender.

That will be determined in the Elimination Chamber on February 17, giving Asuka another out where she won't have to defend the belt.

WWE Fastlane on March 10 is a throwaway event that only has major title changes when absolutely necessary, but Asuka isn't in that situation where she's injured or anything, so WrestleMania 35 will be the first true test of her title reign.

Since we don't know who will challenge her, it's tough to say whether she'll come out on top. Given the roster on SmackDown, though, there isn't much competition for The Empress.

To put it another way, nobody is ready for Asuka.

It's unlikely some big hoopla will be made to set up someone such as Billie Kay or Lana to beat her at WrestleMania on April 7. Naomi is the next highest on the totem pole, but she already lost to her on SmackDown.

The only possibilities would be the recent additions of Nikki Cross and Lacey Evans, but they may end up on Raw, so they aren't safe bets, either, and WWE may have no plans other than to do a generic Fatal 4-Way on the pre-show or similar.

Everything changes after WrestleMania, though, as the Superstar Shake-up typically follows the Show of Shows. At that point, the women from Raw and NXT become potential challengers and Asuka's title is no longer as safe.

Without knowing who goes where and what pay-per-views are on the schedule, it's tricky to map out her feuds, but one thing's for sure: By then, it won't be "too soon" for her to drop the belt. That puts her title reign in danger going forward.

One person to look out for is Shayna Baszler. She's the NXT women's champion, but if she loses that title at TakeOver: Phoenix or TakeOver: New York, she will be eligible to move to the main roster to try her hand at winning those titles.

The Queen of Spades has been booked well in NXT and is a member of the Four Horsewomen, which means she'll be a major player on the main roster, too. If she ends up on SmackDown, she'll easily become the best choice for the next in line after Asuka.

Could Baszler be holding up the SmackDown Women's Championship at some point in 2019 after taking down Asuka?
Could Baszler be holding up the SmackDown Women's Championship at some point in 2019 after taking down Asuka?Credit: WWE.com

An even bigger threat, though, is Rousey.

Assuming she loses the Raw Women's Championship at WrestleMania, she could be moved over to the blue brand to avoid no longer being the top focal point of the women's division.

Plus, SmackDown will move to Fox in October and Rousey's athletic background is a perfect fit for that network, particularly as champion.

Already, we're going deeper into the year with something like Backlash in May or Money in the Bank in June, if not SummerSlam in August being the target range for her to lose the championship to Rousey or Baszler in preparation for the October switch.

Rousey vs. Asuka could easily be the main event of SummerSlam, judging by the reaction for teasing The Empress as Lynch's replacement for Survivor Series and how their feud technically starts with the former UFC star stealing the Japanese Superstar's thunder after the Royal Rumble win.

Right after winning the first-ever Women's Royal Rumble, Asuka was already old news as Rousey made her debut and stole the moment.
Right after winning the first-ever Women's Royal Rumble, Asuka was already old news as Rousey made her debut and stole the moment.Credit: WWE.com

August would be a great time to pull the trigger on a new champion that will carry Fox's SmackDown into the 2020 WrestleMania season.

This is particularly likely if Asuka turns heel at some point in 2019 and the story leading up to their fight is that Rousey is positioned as the savior to take the belt away from the evil Empress.

It may seem a stretch, but history is on the side of that angle. When Asuka was champion in NXT and her undefeated streak was intact, she progressively became cockier as time went on.

The longer she held gold, the more she acted like a heel and was definitely not the sympathetic one in her feud against Ember Moon—another person who might eventually be positioned as the one to take the title away from her the 2019 Shake-up.

Dethroning Asuka is either going to be the responsibility of a heel like Baszler or either Rousey or Moon putting an end to her reign of terror, with SummerSlam being the safest bet for when that will go down.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances like injuries or major creative changes mucking up the logical flow of plans, that is the most likely path for her title reign.

Until then, let's rejoice that Asuka finally has the title and see what tomorrow brings for the new SmackDown women's champion.

      

Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.

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