Kanako Urai is a 41-year-old professional wrestler from Osaka, Japan. Urai is currently signed to WWE and performs on SmackDown 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 but 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 to win the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship. Together, they defeated Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler at the pay-per-view event, TLC (Tables, Ladders, Chairs).
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. On the RAW episode after WrestleMania, Asuka faced Ripley for the title in a rematch the result was a no-contest because Charlotte Flair attacked both Asuka and Ripley.
On the May 3rd episode of RAW, another rematch between Ripley and Asuka for the RAW Women’s Championship was scheduled for WrestleMania Backlash. Later that night, WWE official Sonya Deville added Flair to the championship match to make it a triple threat match. At the event, Asuka was unsuccessful to win the title and was pinned by Ripley.
In June, Asuka and Naomi qualified for the women’s Money in the Bank ladder match by defeating Eva Marie and Doudrop. But at the event, Asuka was not successful. That ended up being her last match in 2021 as she was injured.
Return from Injury
During the 2021 WWE Draft, Asuka was not drafted and was declared a free agent. But, after nine months of inactivity due to her recovery, she made her return on the April 25, 2022, episode of RAW confronting Becky Lynch. On the May 9 episode of RAW, WWE official Adam Pearce gave her a championship contender’s match against RAW Women’s Champion Bianca Belair. Lynch became upset and later attacked both of them during their match.
The following week, Asuka defeated Becky Lynch using green mist and earned a title match for the Raw Women’s Championship at Hell in a Cell. Lynch defeated Asuka in a rematch on the next episode of RAW and she was added to the title match. At the event, Belair retained her title.[
On the June 20th episode of RAW, Asuka defeated Lynch to qualify for the Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match. At Money in the Bank, she was unsuccessful in winning the match.
Asuka and Alexa Bliss Win Tag Team Titles
On the October 31st episode of RAW, Asuka and Alexa Bliss defeated women’s tag team champions Dakota Kai and IYO SKY in a title match and won the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship titles. Five days later at WWE’s Crown Jewel 2022, Asuka and Alexa Bliss lost the titles to Damage CTRL. At Survivor Series WarGames, the team of Asuka, Belair, Bliss, Lynch, and Mia Yim defeated the team of Damage CTRL, Cross, and Ripley in a WarGames match.
In January 2023, after a brief hiatus, Asuka returned and participated in the 2023 Women’s Royal Rumble match with a new look, more reminiscent of her Kana character. She finished in third place, being eliminated by eventual winner Rhea Ripley. At Elimination Chamber the following month, she defeated Carmella, Liv Morgan, Natalya, Nikki Cross, and Raquel Rodriguez in an Elimination Chamber match to earn a RAW Women’s Championship match against Bianca Belair at WrestleMania 39. This also made her the first and only woman to win the Royal Rumble, Money in the Bank, and Elimination Chamber matches.SHOW LESS
Photos of Asuka
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:
- 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 (3 times)