Has WWE handled Asuka's debut poorly?
Asuka's main roster debut was one of the most anticipated in recent memory. After taking NXT by such storm, fans were been clamouring to see her on their television sets every week. Even so, many were wary, as WWE has a long history of screwing up top NXT talent.
Unlike some of her fellow NXT graduates, however, Asuka was promoted by WWE for six weeks prior to her debut. Where most only appear randomly, Asuka got very well-packaged vignettes and commentary building her up.
Perhaps this was only due to the injury that delayed her debut, but it worked out far better. It made Asuka into a real presence before she even walked out to the ring, introducing her to a larger audience.
On the other hand, her debut match against Emma at TLC and her rematch with Emma on Raw have received mixed reactions. Both were far more competitive than many people thought they would or should be.
Debate has brewed as to whether this has damaged her aura right out of the gate. I'll try to answer that question by looking at the ups and downs of her debut matches.
Down: Expectations were set too high for what happened
When Emma came to the ring on the TLC go-home show, Corey Graves joked that she wouldn't be able to tweet after Sunday because a few kicks from Asuka would make her dyslexic and unable to move her fingers.
That's not exactly what happened at TLC or on the following Raw.
Instead, both matches were mostly back and forth affairs with Emma on the attack for long stretches. The pace of the matches had many people saying something along these lines:
Most people were expecting something more like Asuka's NXT debut against Dana Brooke.
It's unquestionable that, given all the hype, Emma should have had less offence in the match. If Asuka were facing someone like Sasha Banks, the story would have been different, but Emma only recently stopped being a total jobber, so the whole thing felt somewhat incongruent.