Tuesday, December 22, 2015

NXT Advent Calendar Day 22: Asuka plays with sexuality in SMASH

I first learned of Kana during her time working for the SMASH promotion in 2010 through 2012. Her high impact style quickly drew my interest. Already a fan of the deep American independent women's wrestlers regularly competing in Shimmer, she sparked my interest in modern Japanese joshi. Her character was pure evil, but it also introduced some undertones that were not very traditional in wrestling, especially when she came into contact with Lin Bairon.

Bairon was a longtime independent female star as Ray, but she unmasked for SMASH as a supposed international traveler returning to Japan to wrestle for the company. She even spoke English to hide her background as Ray. She worked for awhile as one of SMASH's core stars alongside Tajiri, Akira, Syuri and Kushida. But she would soon turn on that unit after jealousy for Syuri got the best of her and joined the Finnish star Michael Kovac. She actually used the nickname "Bitch" at the time as she tried to get over her international bad girl image.

Unfortunately for her, she ran into an even badder girl in the form of Kana. Kana had named herself the one true great female wrestler in the world with only her Triple Tails partners as even close to her equals. Calling herself the World Famous Kana, she beat several men on the SMASH roster before she entered their Divas title tournament. This brought her into battle with Lin Bairon in a match that would emphasize the more sexual side of Kana's gimmick.

Image credit: JoshiFans.com

Throughout the match, Kana clearly shows interest in Lin, even if she wasn't going to let Bairon leave with the victory. It was after the match though that things got really strange. Kana wanted to embarrass Bairon and she decided the best way to do so was to take the jumpsuit off her opponent. It's a weird scene and if you're interested in it, you can watch the video of it on Youtube.

The lesbian overtones of Kana's style aren't completely gone from Asuka's gimmick, but they've certainly been downplayed. But with WWE hiring their first openly lesbian talent in Daria Beranato, it remains to be seen if that might change as Asuka becomes more and more of a fixture in NXT.

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