Kanako Urai is a 39-year-old professional wrestler from Osaka, Japan. She is currently signed to WWE and performs on RAW under the ring name, Asuka.
A huge fan of Japanese wrestling, Urai worked as a graphic designer before she changed careers to pursue professional wrestling. She started her wrestling career in June 2004 for AtoZ promotion and wrestled under the ring name, Kana. She retired suddenly in 2006 after suffering from nephritis. She returned to the ring in 2008. Urai worked for various promotions including JWP Joshi Puroresu, NEO Japan Ladies Pro-Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Wave, Reina Joshi Puroresu, Smash and Wrestling New Classic (WNC).
Urai’s career took off and she successfully competed for and won the JWP Openweight Championship, NEO Tag Team Championship, Reina World Women’s Championship, Smash Diva Championship and Wave Tag Team Championship.
Asuka’s WWE Debut
In 2015, Urai signed a developmental contract with the WWE making her the first Japanese female wrestler to sign with the company in over 20 years. She joined WWE’s developmental territory, NXT, and took on the ring name, Asuka.
Asuka defeated Bayley in April 2016 to become the NXT Women’s Champion. She remained undefeated and successfully defended her NXT Women’s Championship against competitors like Nikki Cross, Ruby Riott and Ember Moon. Asuka’s title reign broke records including Goldberg’s winning streak and Rockin Robin’s record of 502 days as the WWF Women’s Champion. Her reign ended at 510 days when she was forced to vacate the title due to a broken right collarbone.
Asuka’s Main Roster Debut
Asuka was moved to the main roster in September 2017 and was assigned to RAW. In January 2018, Asuka won the first Women’s Royal Rumble match earning herself a title shot at Wrestlemania 34. At the event, Asuka lost to Charlotte Flair via submission which ended her undefeated WWE streak at 914 days.
At the April 2018 Superstar Shakeup, Asuka was drafted to SmackDown. She then won the Women’s SmackDown Championship in December 2018 at the first ever Women’s TLC match. She dropped the title to Charlotte Flair in March of 2019 ending her reign at 100 days.
In 2019, Asuka teamed with NXT’s Kairi Sane to become the tag team known as The Kabuki Warriors. In September 2019, the Kabuki Warriors captured the Women’s Tag Team Championship from Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross. The Kabuki Warriors defended their titles successfully until Wrestlemania 36 when they lost to Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross. Their reign lasted 181 days.
Asuka: Money in the Bank Winner
At the Women’s Money in the Bank match in 2020, Asuka won the Money in the Bank contract. On the RAW episode immediately following the pay-per-view event, Becky Lynch announced that she was vacating the title due to pregnancy thus making Asuka the new RAW Women’s Champion.
Asuka lost the title the week of Extreme Rules 2020 to Sasha Banks but at SummerSlam, she defeated Banks to win back the RAW Women’s Championship.
Asuka & Flair’s Tag Team Championship
On December 20, 2020, Asuka teamed with Charlotte Flair and defeated Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler at the pay-per-view event, TLC (Tables, Ladders, Chairs) to become the new WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions.
Asuka was originally meant to partner with Lana but she was pulled from the match days before the event for a ‘kayfabe’ injury. Asuka’s tag team title win at TLC with Charlotte is historic as she is the first female WWE Superstar to hold tag team gold with two different partners in WWE since Velvet McIntyre did it in 1984.
At the 2021 Royal Rumble, Asuka and Charlotte Flair lost the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships back to Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler.
On April 11, 2021, Asuka lost the WWE RAW Women’s Championship to Rhea Ripley at WrestleMania 37. Asuka’s reign lasted 231 days.
Career Championships and Accomplishments
- DDT Pro-Wrestling:
- Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship (5 times)
- JWP Joshi Puroresu:
- JWP Openweight Championship (1 time)
- Kuzu Pro:
- Kuzu Pro Diva Championship (1 time)
- NEO Japan Ladies Pro Wrestling:
- NEO Tag Team Championship (1 time)
- Pro Wrestling Wave:
- Wave Tag Team Championship (2 times)
- Reina Joshi Puroresu:
- Reina World Tag Team Championship (1 time)
- Reina World Women’s Championship (1 time)
- Smash Diva Championship (2 times)
- World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)
- NXT Women’s Championship (1 time)
- RAW Women’s Championship (2 times)
- SmackDown Women’s Championship (1 time)
- WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship (2 times)