While former Friday Night SmackDown women’s champion Bayley is still out for the time being recovering from a torn ACL, World Wrestling Entertainment has recently seen the return of two of its most popular female Superstars. Asuka and Alexa Bliss are not only welcome additions back to the roster, but returned right on time to wake up the Monday Night Raw women’s roster.
In the wake of WrestleMania 38, the women’s division could have coasted on the rivalry between Becky Lynch and Bianca Belair to drive the action. Asuka’s and Bliss’s presence creates exciting new possibilities between the division’s competitors.
The ‘Empress of Tomorrow’ reigned as Raw women’s champion in 2020, and at that time was a dominant force. She, like Bayley, spent a lengthy recovery time out of WWE following an injury, and returned on April 25, 2020. Asuka’s strength lies in her perennial unpredictability. Whether heel or babyface, her laser-focused in-ring ferocity is juxtaposed by her playful, erratic character. Like a Batman villain, Asuka walks a fine line between whimsical and lethal, and her surprise April return interrupted an in-ring promo by Becky Lynch. This propelled them into a feud. On May 2, Asuka teamed up with Liv Morgan and Bianca Belair in a six-woman tag match against Lynch, Rhea Ripley and Sonya Deville, which Morgan won for the face team with a pin on Deville. On May 9, Lynch interrupted Asuka’s and Belair’s match, attacking both women furiously.
Asuka is known as one of WWE’s best workers, and her presence always adds dynamic athleticism in the ring, with an unpredictable whimsy outside of it. Rather than keeping Lynch tied up in seeking to regain the Raw women’s title from Belair, Asuka’s return has pitched two of the women’s divisions top stars into an unexpected secondary feud.
Alexa Bliss is an accomplished and popular WWE star. She is a former Raw and SmackDown women’s champion, respectively, and the winner of the first women’s Elimination Chamber match. In 2020, WWE audiences saw ‘The Goddess’ transform into the demonic, doll-like host of “Alexa’s Playhouse.” With borrowed elements of Bray Wyatt’s ‘Fiend’ gimmick, Bliss’s supernatural hijinks drew mixed reactions from crowds, fans, and critics.When Bliss returned on May 9, she seemed to be mostly back to her ‘Goddess’ incarnation. She still carried Lilly, her telepathic doll, but had ditched her eerie, zombie-like moves in the ring and utilized her high-flying signature ‘Twisted Bliss’ to get a cover on opponent Sonya Deville and win her homecoming match.
If Bliss has left the Playhouse for good, WWE fans will be more than enthusiastic to see her old persona back in play. Bliss’s supernatural gimmick often seemed too unwieldy, a dark carnival built around her that Bliss was never a convincing ringmaster of. She is far more organic when drawing on her strengths as an athletically solid and exciting performer. Like Asuka, Bliss is one of WWE’s most dynamic competitors, with an iconic high-flying and high energy moveset. Pitting her against Sonya Deville is perfect as both of them are in a point of transition: Bliss, back to herself, and Deville back to being a competitor rather than an authority figure.
In a matter of weeks, two of WWE’s most popular and dynamic female Superstars returned to the ring. With their lauded in-ring skill and popular personas, for the possibilities their presence creates for fresh storylines amongst competitors, Raw’s women’s division benefits greatly from the respective returns of Alexa Bliss and Asuka.
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