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Asuka is a fan favorite, an incredible wrestler

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If you took a poll of WWE fans, you could probably find at least one person to argue that every single member of the main roster is being “misused,” or not getting the title shots or storylines worthy of their talent.

It’s rarer that you see someone affiliated with WWE state that they think that the company has “grossly underutilized” a wrestler, but that’s a phrase Jim Ross used on his podcast to describe how WWE has handled Asuka, the current SmackDown Women’s Champion.

According to the veteran commentator, “the ball was dropped” with Asuka after WrestleMania 34 and she could be “a major star,” especially considering how many people are invested in the “female elements of creative storytelling” on Raw and SmackDown right now — but she isn’t.

Ross is far from alone in this view. Fans have been debating the state of Asuka on the main roster since last year’s WrestleMania.

Sasha bank and Bayley celebration win over Asuka

Some become even more critical as WrestleMania 35 approaches and the Raw Women’s Championship feud receives airtime on both the red and blue brands while the match to determine Asuka’s April 7 opponent was announced on social media.

Asuka is a fan favorite, an incredible wrestler and holds the top championship of her division, but still feels incredibly unimportant due to her frequent absence on TV and lack of compelling feuds.

And her booking isn’t happening in a bubble — it’s happening in the WWE Universe, a world where stars are born and die out and flicker and are sometimes relit for reasons that can be hard to understand.

What does the perceived fading of such a bright star say about the company in charge of making them?

First, let’s review Asuka’s WWE journey. When she signed with WWE in 2015, she was by far the most previously successful female performer the company had hired since Bull Nakano and Aja Kong were recruited to battle Alundra Blayze.

In NXT, Asuka was a compelling character who had high-profile, high-quality matches against wrestlers like Bayley, Nikki Cross and Ember Moon.

When she was drafted to the Raw brand in 2017, she brought the story of what would become the longest winning streak in WWE history with her.

Women lined up to beat this unstoppable force, from Dana Brooke suffering the fastest submission loss since the company was founded to more competitive matches with Sasha Banks and Nia Jax.

The most symbolic moment in Asuka’s rise was — intentionally — the way she won the first Women’s Royal Rumble.

When she eliminated Nikki Bella, whose character had already been used to symbolize the status quo when the “Divas Revolution” generation of NXT came up to the main roster in 2015, the nickname “The Empress of Tomorrow” had never felt more accurate.

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