This countdown isn’t in any order or declaring the definitive best, we’re just selecting ten that we Vultures loved. Find out more here.
What do you do when you have to follow Sami Zayn and Shinsuke Nakamura? If you’re Asuka and Bayley, you don’t even flinch. You put on a technical masterclass that artfully accentuates your in ring strengths and tells a compelling story to boot. Taking place during Wrestlemania weekend, this match, for the NXT Women’s Championship, finally put a bow on something many fans had known for a while: NXT had saved women’s wrestling.
Not so long Ago
Would you like to know what Women’s Division match took place at Wrestlemania three years ago? Well tough, because there wasn’t one. Apparently scrapped mid-show, an inter-gender tag match involving the Bella twins and Naomi was cut to give more time to the not-so-once-in-a-lifetime rematch between John Cena and The Rock.
And here we are three years later watching two women carrying a full wrestling match, with wrestling moves in a wrestling ring. Who knew?
Everybody knew. Except Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn, presumably.
Bayley and Asuka really did tell an excellent story here. Asuka used those innovative strikes and submissions that no one (even now) has been able to stop. But this was also the next step in Bayley’s journey, and she showed the ring smarts of a champion who’d learnt volumes in her near eight month title reign. She used the ropes to her advantage multiple times, and pulled out submission moves that had helped her retain against the likes of Sasha Banks and Nia Jax.
So at this point we should probably address the elephant in the room. It’s no secret here at Cultured Vultures that there is no bigger Bayley mark than yours truly. You can find the evidence right here. And while Bayley is not as natural an athlete as Charlotte or as skilled a technician as Sasha, she is a born sports entertainer. Her match against Asuka is absolutely deserving of a place on this list.
One night in Dallas
Anyway, what about the nitty gritty? What made the Dallas crowd so hot for this one? If we’re being honest it’s not that complicated. It’s classic wrestling booking at work. Bayley is a beloved babyface who’s grown as a wrestler even as a lot of her young fans have grown with her. Like Cena before her she overcomes the odds every time and comes out smarter, stronger and more resilient for it. It shows in the sinew of this match; the Bayley of a year before would have crumbled under Asuka’s stiff strikes and dominant submissions. This Bayley though? She just rubbed her jaw and took the fight back to her opponent.
As for Asuka? She had an answer to everything that Bayley threw at her. Guillotine choke? Bayley Carana? Diving back elbow? Asuka took everything and found a way to use strikes and submissions to slow them down. She was the immovable object, built up as a monster babyface since her debut. Cameron, Dana Brooke and Emma had all been steamrolled by Asuka in the months since her NXT debut. It’s old fashioned wrasslin’ booking, which hasn’t been fashionable in WWE for decades, but it worked here. Fans weren’t chanting ‘Asuka’s gonna kill you’ for giggles, you guys. She genuinely looks terrifying sometimes.
Ultimately, Bayley versus Asuka is on this list because it’s the perfect example of how women’s wrestling can and should be done at the highest level. The psychology was great, the story going in helped make it special and both performers were selling like they’d been doing it for decades. In a match that ran less than twenty minutes it felt like they’d been to war.