FTR’s Dax Harwood has high praise for two members of the WWE roster, calling one of them a “one-of-a-kind talent.”
Speaking on his FTR with Dax Harwood podcast, the former ROH World Tag Team Champion opened up about Bayley‘s influence on the landscape of women’s wresting in WWE, praising her and Mercedes Mone (formerly known as Sasha Banks) for getting eyes on the brand with their stellar NXT Women’s Championship match at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn in August of 2015.
“I think that she and Mercedes were the two to change the perception of NXT. Not just the women. I think when that put that match on [at NXT TakeOver Brooklyn], and the people saw that, they were like, ‘Okay, that’s what I wanna see out of my NXT, those kind of matches. That drama, that emotion, that athleticism. That’s what I wanna see.’ So they completely changed the whole mindset of what NXT should and could be.”
The next year, NXT returned to Brooklyn and Bayley was tasked with facing Asuka for the NXT Women’s Championship after the Empress of Tomorrow defeated Bayley for the title. Continuing, Harwood praised the efforts of both women, saying that they rose to the pressure of having another incredible match.
“She has the unfortunate task of trying to one-up her match from last year, and they did an incredible job. They knocked it out of the park. I think this was a rematch for Dallas because I think Bayley dropped the belt to Asuka earlier that year, so this was their rematch. It was a farewell to Bayley, but I watched the match back today, and it was so good.
“It showed me, she’ll probably never get the recognition she deserves for how good she is and how instrumental she is in women’s wrestling because other girls will get the shine and will get the accolades because of the moves that they perform. Guys too, not just girls. I’m just speaking specifically about the women’s roster, and the girls she was associated with because they sometimes put the move above the story.
“I watched this match today, and it reminded me that [Bayley] always put the story first. She always put the psychology first. It was such a great-paced match. Even at a point in the match where things might have got a little rocky, she was able to bring it back, which is not easy to do whenever you’re working with someone where English is not their first language.
“But she brought it back, and she’s such a great captain. She’s such a great base for professional wrestling, and she’s such a great ring general. That match reminded me how good she really is.”
Dax Harwood Believes Asuka Is A “One-Of-A-Kind” Talent
When speaking about Asuka specifically, Harwood is of the belief that she’s the Japanese star that’s best managed to transcend the language barrier to connect to American audiences.
“I don’t know if there’s, since maybe Muta, I could be wrong, but I don’t think that there has been another foreign talent, another Japanese star, who has made a splash over here as well as she has. She connects with the fans in America just as well as she connected with the fans in Japan. Shinsuke as well, but man, Asuka. She’s a one of a kind talent for sure.”
Asuka was absent from WWE television for a number of weeks following a backstage attack by Damage CTRL, but she made her return at the Royal Rumble, sporting new face paint and calling back to her pre-WWE character of a killer clown named Kana. Though she made it to the final three in the women’s Rumble match, she was eliminated by eventual winner Rhea Ripley.