Becky Lynch vs. Asuka for the Raw Women's Championship at the 2020 Royal Rumble is one of the most anticipated matches on the show's stacked card—and for good reason.
Their rivalry has been in the works for well over a year now, and to the company's credit, it has done an excellent job of building to the bout via video packages, heated confrontations and a contract signing on Monday night. Asuka was the last woman standing by the end of it after blinding The Man with her signature green mist.
In the nine months Lynch has been Raw women's champion, no one has posed the same kind of threat Asuka has. Although everyone is already looking ahead to WrestleMania 36 with Lynch still in possession of the prestigious prize, there is a decent chance The Empress of Tomorrow spoils her reign and takes the title in their long-awaited rematch at the Royal Rumble on January 26.
The main focus of their feud has been how Lynch has yet to defeat Asuka in any form or fashion. Not only has The Empress beaten her in their last two matches for the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship, but she also owns a victory over The Irish Lass Kicker from last year's Royal Rumble pay-per-view.
They opened the evening in an incredible match that concluded with Asuka tapping out Lynch to retain her title. The outcome was surprising if only because The Man was at the peak of her popularity at that point and was rarely made to look weak.
She wound up winning the women's Rumble later in the night and her loss to Asuka was never acknowledged again. In fact, the Japanese Superstar lost her SmackDown Women's Championship two months later and never bothered to challenge Lynch for her Raw title until recently.
First and foremost, Asuka is still one-half of the WWE women's tag team champions with Kairi Sane. They have held the gold since early October and have done more to make those titles mean something than anyone else who came before them.
With that being said, she is better off in the tag team ranks for the moment. It isn't out of the question for her to possess two belts simultaneously (similar to Lynch following WrestleMania 35), but it would do the divisions a disservice and cause Sane to feel irrelevant.
However, Asuka has felt more like a killer in the lead-up to the Rumble than she has at any other point since her undefeated streak was snapped by Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania 34. WWE could capitalize on that by rewarding her with a run with the Raw women's belt and extending their feud another month, if not longer.
If Asuka was to pull off the upset, then a Rumble win for Sane shouldn't be counted out. It's unclear if she'll be cleared to compete by then after suffering a concussion at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs in December, but it would make for an interesting dynamic on the Road to WrestleMania.
Of course, with The Kabuki Warriors still the reigning WWE women's tag team champions, the chances of that happening are slim.
Asuka getting a real run with the Raw Women's Championship and dominating the division would be nothing short of spectacular, but it will likely have to wait until after WrestleMania on April 5. The timing isn't right for a title change to be booked, as Lynch should remain unstoppable heading into The Show of Shows.
It's fantastic for WWE to be revisiting this match one year removed from their original encounter, but Lynch avenging the loss and advancing to WrestleMania as champ makes the most sense. From there, she can enter a program with either Shayna Baszler (who is expected to be called up to the main roster sooner rather than later) or a returning Ronda Rousey.
As for Asuka, she and Sane should remain tag team champs for the foreseeable future. They'll probably have to defend their titles in some sort of a multi-team match, but at least that would be considered a step up from the WrestleMania Women's Battle Royal both ladies found themselves in last year.
As exciting of a moment as Asuka conquering Lynch for the second straight year at the Rumble would be, it's not the story that needs to be told at the moment. She will come closer than anyone else has yet but will ultimately fall short.
If nothing else, the match itself should be a barn-burner and give both women a chance to show the world what they're capable of. Of everything slated to take place at the Royal Rumble, Lynch vs. Asuka has the highest potential of stealing the show.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.