Who's Ready To Tag With Asuka?
By Ryan Satin
The upcoming Women’s Tag Team title match at TLC will now feature Asuka challenging for the belts with a mystery partner.
So who could it be? Let’s examine the top five possibilities.
I’m sure you all remember, but for those who don’t, here's the video of Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler obliterating Lana on Monday to explain how we got to this point.
With "The Ravishing Russian" now out of the tag title match, I asked the fine people of Twitter this week who they think her replacement will be and received a wide range of responses.
Some suggestions were good. Some were bad.
A few Superstars stood out above the rest, though, so this seemed like a good opportunity to analyze the best options.
The NXT Women’s champion has done all she can do there. Moving to the main roster is the next logical step.
Shirai has been great for NXT the past few years, but there’s a deep roster of talent beneath her looking for their opportunity to make a mark at the top of the division now.
Shotzi Blackheart, Ember Moon, Toni Storm, Candice LeRae (once she’s cleared), Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez all have the potential/ability to carry the division.
Let one of them take the ball and run with it.
The Women’s Tag Team titles can also be defended across brands too, therefore Shirai could wrestle a few more matches in NXT before making a permanent move to Raw.
Plus, it’s not like this would be the first time an NXT champion has moved to Raw or SmackDown while still holding the belt.
Kevin Owens, Paige, Sasha Banks, Street Profits and others all came up while holding a title in NXT, so the possibility of Io being Asuka’s tag team partner isn’t out of the question.
Naomi last wrestled in August when she defeated Bayley in a Beat the Clock Challenge Match on SmackDown.
After that, she underwent surgery and has kept a low profile while recovering.
I may not have any official word on whether she’s been cleared to return, but what I do know is that fans are eager to see it happen.
There’s also some precedent here too.
Naomi and Asuka have teamed together in the past on SmackDown and actually made a fun unit together. Re-teaming for a brief period to reintroduce her on Raw could work.
There is still tons of untapped potential in Naomi and I would love for this to be the start of a renewed push for her on TV.
Rose seems to be the safest possible option since she’s been involved in this angle peripherally.
I’m unsure if her kendo stick attack on Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler during Raw this week was an obvious sign that she’ll be in the match though or just a red herring.
If it’s the latter, the way she was used on Raw was a smart play.
Much like Io Shirai, Ripley has hit her ceiling in NXT.
Another Women’s title run there would almost feel like going in reverse for the 24-year-old.
Instead, Rhea would best be served with a move to Raw or SmackDown where she can continue to grow while getting more experience with top talent.
She also has history with Shayna Baszler, so putting her in this spot would make sense logically.
If the match at TLC is used as a way of bringing Ripley up, holding the Women’s Tag Team titles with someone like Asuka would be a solid starting point for her main roster run.
Not to mention, there's an obvious program that could stem from this if Ripley turns on “The Empress of Tomorrow” at any point.
When I asked my followers on Twitter who they think Asuka will team with at TLC, one answer dominated the replies: Charlotte Flair.
And if you think about it, this answer makes the most sense.
Not just because she's one of the biggest stars on the sidelines right now, but because the storyline reason is right there.
The last time we saw Flair was back in June when she was defeated by Asuka on Raw, then taken out of commission by Nia Jax during a backstage assault.
This was done to write Flair off TV and give her time to undergo a surgical procedure.
Similar to Naomi, it’s unclear if Charlotte has been cleared for in-ring action yet – as sources told me when this occurred that she’d be out for a considerable amount of time – but it's hard not to speculate on this being the setup for her return.
Personally, I’d save Flair's comeback for the Royal Rumble.
Big returns are part of what makes that match special and who bigger for the Women’s Rumble than one of the most successful female wrestlers of this generation?
Fantasy booking aside, however, Charlotte Flair seems like a strong possible option for Asuka's mystery partner at TLC on Sunday.
Do you want to see one of these Superstars in the match? Do you have another idea in mind?
Hit me up on Twitter @RyanSatin and let know.