KELLER & POWELL FLAGSHIP (11/14)
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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
OCTOBER 23, 2017
GREEN BAY, WISC.
Announcers: Michael Cole, Booker T, Corey Graves
-A montage aired on the TLC match the night before focused on Kurt Angle primarily.
-Kurt Angle came out to his music. Cole said he’s all beat up on the inside but smiling on the outside. Graves said The Shield overcoming insurmountable odds is incredible. Angle said it’s been a whirlwind of a week. A “You still got it!” chant rant out. He said every story had a start, middle, and end. He said last night he wrote another chapter. He said that was last night, and tonight is a new night. He said it’s time to look ahead to Survivor Series. He said Survivor Series holds a special place in his heart because he debuted 18 years ago on that event. He said it will once again be Raw vs. Smackdown, their best against our best; our champions against their champions. That got no pop.
Music started and a slideshow began. He announced Alexa Bliss vs. Natalya, The Miz vs. Baron Corbin, Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose vs. The Usos, and Jinder Mahal vs. Brock Lesnar.
(Keller’s Analysis: Kurt Angle has never watched Smackdown. Or much of Raw over the years, either. I say that because he just called Jinder Mahal “Jinder May-haul.” It’s like he had never said the name out loud or heard it said before. That’s not okay. It’s worse than when he called Finn Balor “Finn Bay-lor.” Fans pick up on that stuff and think he’s just faking it. You know there was a lot of cringing going backstage.)
Angle said Lesnar and Paul Heyman would be out later tonight. He said there would also be an elimination match – five-on-five. He said in fact, there will be two elimination matches – a men’s match and women’s match. He said he wants Raw to prove it’s the most dominant show. He was interrupted by The Miz’s music. Miz, Curtis Axel, Cesaro, and Sheamus walked out.
Cole said what Angle just announced is awesome indeed. Miz said he is so sick of hearing Angle’s voice. “So you think this is our show?” Miz said. “This is my show!” Miz complained that Angle abused his power so he could have his time in the spotlight at TLC. He said he doesn’t deserve to be in the ring as a Superstar as a G.M. and he should resign immediately. Angle tried to no-sell Miz’s comments and said he was going to return to his office. Miz said he isn’t going anywhere. Miz and Co. surrounded the ring. The Shield music then played. Out came Dean and Seth. Cole said two-thirds of The Shield has arrived.
Miz at ringside said The Shield, sucking up to management, has clearly sold out. He said the odds, though, are not in their favor again. Angle said he’s not so sure about that. He said he was scheduling a match right now – Miz & Cesaro & Sheamus vs. Dean & Seth “and a Superstar that attended TLC last night and decided to stay an extra night.” Out came A.J. Styles to a nice pop. Cole said Styles came to TLC after Bray Wyatt was hit with the viral infection.
(Keller’s Analysis: With Roman Reigns not Tweeting at all since last Tuesday, and now Styles appearing on Raw, and hardly any mentions of Roman’s name or any timelines or details on the viral infection, I’d feel better if WWE gave some verbal optimism about the timeline for Roman’s return and what he’s battling. Surely Roman can give WWE permission if it’s not a serious issue, right? I know it’s “next man up” and all that, and they want fans to focus on who’s able to “go” and not dwell on who’s on the sidelines, but it’s practically like Roman never existed the way they’re not really addressing his welfare. It just feels disconcerting the way they’re playing this, with everything being played “so close to the vest.”)
-A commercial aired for Smackdown hyping Shane McMahon’s return to address what happened at Hell in a Cell. [c]
(1) A.J. STYLES & DEAN AMBROSE & SETH ROLLINS vs. THE MIZ & SHEAMUS & CESARO (w/Curtis Axel)
The announcers talked about how everyone in the match must be hurting from the TLC match. Booker, as is his apparent role, doused that with a completely unnecessary appendage, saying wrestlers are always working hurt and never at 100 percent. I mean, why? Booker said “The Shield is back, guys,” after complimenting how Styles is working with Dean and Seth. Cole and Graves were just quiet for a few seconds after that. The fans chanted “A.J. Styles!” Styles then tagged in. When Booker said Styles has the advantage of international experience, Graves instantly said he’s not the only one in the match with international experience, and cited Cesaro specifically. Sheamus, Cesaro, and Miz triple-teamed Styles as the ref was distracted by Dean trying to make the save. Booker laughed and said, “One of my favorite tactics back in the day.” Booker is so counter-productive right now, it’s getting ridiculous. Styles, Dean, and Seth leaped onto all three heels at ringside, then they cut to a break. [c]
Back to the match, Cesaro had Dean grounded. Eventually Dean made a comeback against Sheamus. Miz also tagged in just as Seth got the tag. Seth cleaned house with a sling blade and a boot, a blockbuster, and a Falcon Arrow. Sheamus broke up Seth’s pin attempt, then chaos broke out. Miz DDT’d Seth and scored a near fall. They cut to another break. [c]
Miz threw Seth out of the ring after the break. Sheamus and Cesaro went after him as Miz occupied the ref. Ambrose charged over to come to Seth’s aid. Dean then leaped onto Sheamus in the crowd. Styles finally got the hot-tag and he went to work on Cesaro with a flurry of signature offense. He was fired up. Cole said Styles had a Match of the Year candidate with Balor last night. Styles scored a near fall. Sheamus distracted Styles with a yank of his boot, and then Cesaro surprised him with a lift-and-drop uppercut for a near fall, with Seth breaking up the pin. Seth ducked a Brogue Kick and then Sheamus flew shoulder-first into the ringpost. Seth and Dean dove through the ropes onto Miz and Sheamus. Styles then surprised Cesaro with a Phenomenal Forearm for the win.
WINNERS: Styles & Rollins & Ambrose in 21:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: As good of a match as you’d expect with these six being given twenty-plus minutes. Nice feature match. It didn’t really forward any storyline, though.)
-As Styles, Seth, and Dean celebrated, out came Kane to his music. The babyfaces stood ready to fight. Kane entered the ring. Seth charged at Kane and he took him down. He manhandled Dean and Styles next. Cesaro and Sheamus joined in a beatdown of Seth and Dean. Kane tossed Dean to the floor next. Graves said he’s nervous being out there at the announce table.
(Keller’s Analysis: Curious to see how this plays out at Survivor Series, with perhaps Kane on Team Raw and Styles on Team Smackdown.)
-Cole plugged Asuka arriving later. Graves plugged Lesnar and Heyman speaking later. [c]
-A video package aired on the TLC match with attention being given to Braun Strowman and Kane.
-Kane remained in the ring and his music trailed off. Kane said he heard the stories about how Braun wanted competition and how he rampaged and walked away from ambulance crash and how he tossed Big Show through a cage and how he broke Roman Reigns time and time again. “They call him a Monster Among Men,” he said. “I liked what I heard, but I had to see it for myself. And when I did, what I saw, was a pile of trash.” Oh no he didn’t. “325 pounds of stinking nasty human refuge, so I put Braun Strowman where he belonged, in the back of a garbage truck. As the gears grinded and the hydraulics cracked, devouring Braun Strowman in one mechanical gulp, I was able to look into his eyes and in his eyes I saw fear that no man had ever been able to instill in him before. And when Braun Strowman looked at me, he saw the truth. I am and will always be Raw’s only monster!” Then he asked for everyone’s vote. No, not really. He said with Braun gone, he wants competition “or else.” He paused and nothing happened for several seconds. Then Finn Balor’s music played. “Wow,” said Cole. “Just wow!” Balor walked onto the stage. C0le said the match was next. [c]
(2) KANE vs. FINN BALOR
Cole said after what happened to Braun last night, “from what we understand, Braun Strowman could be out of action several weeks or months.” So he is alive! Graves said a human being is not supposed to withstand a trash compactor. Balor used kicks and Kane’s own momentum to try to slow him down, but Kane kicked Balor in the head in response and Balor went down hard. He stomped way at him, then head butted him and tossed him to the floor. Balor ran right back into the ring. When Kane dropped to the floor, Balor slidekicked him and then delivered a running front kick on the ring apron. Finally he charged at him at ringside, but Kane caught him and drove him spine-first into the barricade and then the edge of the ring apron. Kane hard-whipped Balor into the turnbuckles back inside the ring. Balor bumped hard. Kane continued to dominate.
Balor came back eventually with a sling blade and then a running dropkick to set up Kane for a Coup de Grace. Kane stood up and yanked Balor off the top rope by his throat, then chokeslammed him. The crowd fell silent. He delivered two more choke slams. Booker said this is a different Kane than they’ve seen before. 1-2-3. They replayed the chok slams in slow-mo.
WINNER: Kane in 7:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Wow. That is a setback for Balor stature. He beats Styles, and now gets decisively beat by a semi-retired comedic legend, all to build that legend up for an eventual match against Braun? I don’t like the math there. Seems like more has been lost than they stand to gain.)
-The announcers recapped Angle’s big announcement.
-They cut backstage to Angle on a cell phone who was chatting with someone about Survivor Series. Then there was a knock on the door just in time. In walked Shane McMahon. They hugged. Angle said he’s a crazy son of a bitch. Shane said he looked amazing after 11 years. Shane said he’s still hurting. Angle thanked him for Styles last night and tonight. He said he’d love to have him as a permanent roster member. Styles laughed and said that’s not happening. Angle said he doesn’t think Smackdown would stand a chance without Styles. Shane took offense. Angle touted Lesnar, Strowman, Kane. He said after Styles, it’s Shinsuke Nakamura, Bobby Roode, Dolph Ziggler, a few members of New Day. He said he hopes he’s not embarrassed when Raw beats Smackdown. Shane said he thinks Kurt is a little out of line. He said he came here to let him know that Smackdown will annihilate his precious Raw. Angle laughed and said, “Oh, that’s the way it’s going to be.” They shook hands and shared a laugh.
(Keller’s Analysis: I actually like the idea of Raw vs. Smackdown being about a friendly rivalry between Shane and Angle more than pretending something real is at stake when everyone knows it’s not. It feels more honest.)
-An Asuka video aired. “Asuka: Up Next.” [c]
-They showed the exterior of the arena. Then they showed some Green Bay Packers in the front row. Graves said he hopes Aaron Rogers is better soon.
(3) ASUKA vs. EMMA
Asuka made her full ring entrance. Graves said, “You’re not going to find a smile on the Planet Earth as terrifying as that one.” Graves said Asuka learned from wrestling Emma last night and she won’t make any of the same mistakes again. Graves knows as well as anyone they’ve wrestled before, but that’s not convenient for the current narrative. Asuka knocked Emma off the ring apron with a flying butt-butt. Emma yanked Asuka into the ringpost seconds later and scored a two count. Emma dominated for a while. The announcers said Emma could be so much more if she weren’t so focused on social media. Boy, isn’t there a whole slice of a generation of America that applies to? Asuka went for an Asuka lock. More back and forth action. Asuka scored a two count after a hip attack. Emma rolled up Asuka, but Asuka countered with the Asuka lock for the tapout win. Cole said Emma was “very game.”
WINNER: Asuka in 5:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: I wish they had built up Emma as more than a joke headed into these two even-steven hard-fought battles with Asuka. I think it defines Asuka down as something ordinary who just merges with traffic rather than seeming like something new and spectacular.)
-They showed Alexa Bliss walking backstage with her Raw Women’s Championship title belt. [c]
-Bliss made her ring entrance. She said last night she defeated future Hall of Fame and leader of the old folks home, Mickie James. She said he’s ready to move on and she can finally put Mickie where she belongs – in the past. She said at Survivor Series, she’ll show Natalya there might be two brands, but only one goddess. She complained that week after week she gets zero respect. A.J. Styles and Finn Balor “gazed into each other’s eyes for, I don’t know, ten minutes and the entire arena chanted ‘This is Awesome!’ It’s like you people just hand out chants like Halloween candy. Where is my chant? Where is my appreciation?” she asked. She asked if it’s because she doesn’t have a three year old boy at home or because she’s not old. She said it must be that the people are jealous of her. She said she’s going to chant “You deserve it!” and then they’ll repeat it. She tried. The crowd didn’t cooperate. She asked if she didn’t go slow enough for the fans. She said she’s the Goddess of WWE and she insisted they give her the chant she deserves. Instead, Mickie James interrupted. As Mickie walked out, Bliss hot her a “Can I help you?” look. Mickie, in the highest high heels (cartoonishly so), gave Alexa a sudden DDT. She then leaned over and said, “Alexa, you do deserve it!”
(Keller’s Analysis: It started to feel too long, but overall Bliss was effective there setting up Mickie for a satisfying comeback line after the DDT.)
-They showed Angle watching on a monitor backstage. In walked Bayley and Sasha Banks. Bayley said he hopes Angle is feeling okay. Angle said ti’s time to talk Survivor Series, and the Raw team needs a captain. She said since Alexa is facing Natalya, they would be the best pick. Alicia Fox screeched, “Captain?” She said she should be the captain because she has been there the longest and she’s the smartest. Banks said something under her breath that set off Fox. Angle said it’s time to settle it. Fox suggested paper, rock, scissors. Angle said they’d have a triple threat match, winner gets to be Team Captain. Angle told Fox he saw her match last night and told her pinfalls only count inside the ring. Fox, with exaggerated overacting, said he’s so silly.
-They showed Elias backstage with his guitar. [c]
-Elias sat mid-ring with his guitar. He took a dig at Aaron Rogers, saying the crowd response felt strong, but anything is strong compared to Aaron Rogers’ collar bone. A “Go Pack Go!” chant broke out. Elias said they should all just “go home.” Oh, a real zinger there. He said at TLC he kept getting interrupted by Jason Jordan throwing a grocery list of disrespect and immaturity at him. He said he’s going to give the fans something special tonight – an uninterrupted musical performance. He strummed a few times and sang, “Green Bay, walk with me, I’ll show you the way.” He was interrupted by a interference noise. He asked if they were still on. He seemed a little irked by the technical issues. He assured the fans he’s get things back on track. They kept happening and he threw down his pick. A very loud “Go Pack Go!” chant broke out. Elias grabbed the mic from the ring announcer and complained about the issues. He said he’s going to grab the tech from in the back and drag him to the ring and beat the holy hell out of him. Instead, out came Jason Jordan. Cole said a rematch was next between them. [c]
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(4) ELIAS vs. JASON JORDAN
Graves said Jordan is such a standup guy, he asked his father to give Elias a rematch. Booker said if the match at TLC was scored, Elias would have won on points. Jordan at ringside picked up Elias and drove him hard into the ringside barrier right near the Packers players in the front row. Elias fired back with a swing of his guitar at Elias, taking him down and out. They zoomed in and showed a bad welt on sJordan’s left arm. He was wincing in pain believably. Two refs and a medic tended to him. He was helped to the back.
WINNER: Jordan via DQ in 3:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: The cutesy self-indulgent bizarro world banter with the announcers isn’t serving anyone involved in this match.)
-Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman walked to the ring. They aired a clip of Jinder’s challenge on Smackdown last week. They came back live and Lesnar and Heyman were sharing a laugh. Heyman was mistakenly wearing Andre the Giant’s suit jacket. He said someone has a misunderstanding over what “undisputed” means. He said this someone over at Smackdown Live barely survived the challenges of Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura, and now is trying to figure out how to barely survive the challenge of A.J. Styles. He said over here on the flagship show, Monday Night Raw, Heyman has eaten through the most stacked heavyweight division in the history of WWE. He said that fact is undisputed.
Heyman said they live in an era of trash talking and insults. He said the King of the Trash Talk is the Advocate with the Mic in his hand right now. He said he chooses not to trash talk Brock’s opponents, though, because anyone who earns a shot against Lesnar must have a lot of merit behind him. He said he rightfully praised Goldberg, Samoa Joe, and Braun Strowman. He said he praised Strowman, “and, oh my god, rightfully so.” He smirked as he got high-pitched and said Jinder is “the make-believe Majahara with the Singh Singh-a-long brothers standing behind you doing my schtick of introducing you, are you kidding me?” He said he’s not Brock Lesnar’s equal or contemporary or counterpart. He said he’s not even a worthy pretender to the throne of being WWE Champion. He said he’s no Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Ric Flair, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, John Cena, and Brock Lesnar. He called Jinder “a consolation prize champion offered to Smackdown Live when Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan realized they got the shaft in the Superstar Shake-up.” Heyman said there is no battle for brand supremacy because any brand that brags Brock Lesnar is the number one brand. The brand that brags Brock Lesnar is the supreme brand and the flagship brand and the place to be in “World Wrestling Entertainment.” (Nobody ever, ever says what WWE originally stood for on TV anymore, in the spirit of avoiding the word “Wrestling” at almost all costs.)
Heyman said he has even worse news for Jinder Mahal, because that’s where his night only begins. He said the last time a Smackdown Superstar stepped into the ring to face The Beast, they had to stop the match. He said everyone was in shock and the locker room was in an uproar because on that night, his client violated every single rule, regulation, moral, ethic, parameters, and boundary of the PG era. “So Jinder Mahal, your challenge is hereby accepted.” He then said it two other ways so he could have the triple construction he so loves. Lesnar jumped out of the ring. The belt got knocked off his shoulder, but he managed to catch is gracefully and didn’t skip a step as he trotted toward the stage. Smooth! Cole said Lesnar is in a mood and looking to annihilate Mahal.
(Keller’s Analysis: Lots to hew on there. That felt like a burial of Jinder, which makes me think the story of this match is that Jinder isn’t going to be the pushover that Heyman and Lesnar thinks he is. So set the bar so low that if Jinder lasts long and puts up more of a fight than Randy Orton did, it’s a victory. Also, think of who Heyman left off his list of WWE Champions – The Rock, Steve Austin, Bret Hart, to name three. I don’t believe in accidents – especially when it comes to Heyman – so it’s fun to parse the politics behind his choice of seven former champs plus Lesnar in his list of eight.)
-They went to the announcers on camera who reacted, and then shifted to talking about the Cruiserweight Title match last night at TLC.
-Charly Caruso interviewed Kalisto backstage who was all dressed up for Halloween. She asked how he handled his loss. Kalisto said physically he is fine, but it was his dream to be World Champion. He said it’d be one thing to lose to someone he respected, but he didn’t, so he invoking his rematch for tomorrow night on 205 Live. He said tonight is about family. In walked several babyface Cruiserweights who are joining him for a match later. They chanted “Lucha! Lucha!” together.
-Graves plugged the ten-man tag match, saying it’s basically the entire Cruiserweight Division. Cole said Angle will announce the Raw Survivor Series men’s team later. Then they plugged the women’s triple threat match. [c]
Send your questions about tonight’s episode of Raw for the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast taping to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(5) SASHA BANKS vs. BAYLEY vs. ALICIA FOX – Winner Becomes Team Captain at Survivor Series
Booker picked Sasha to be the captain because Bayley is too nice and Fox is too crazy. They cut to an early break. [c]
Bayley rallied with rapid-fire offense and near falls, but Fox came back to take over again. Coel called her style “frenzied.” Graves said he was going to say “insane.” She screeched and then went to ringside and grabbed the bell. She rang it a few times. The announcers wondered what she was doing. Booker said it means the match is over. Cole laughed and said Fox can’t just decide to end the match. Graves suggested someone call Nurse Ratchet. Bailey surprised a distracted Fox with a schoolgirl and then a Belly-to-Bayley, but Sasha broke up the pin attempt. When Bayley set up her finisher on Banks, Fox caught her from behind with her own finisher. Banks broke up her pin attempt and applied the Bank Statement. Fox countered and tossed Bank into Bayley. They collided heads, and then Fox scored the pin. Fox celebrated with the Packers at ringside.
WINNER: Fox in 12:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Fox is my new guilty pleasure. Her crazy act is hard to take your eyes off of.) [c]
(6) KALISTO & RICH SWANN & MUSTAFA ALI & GRAN METALIK & CEDRIC ALEXANDER vs. ENZO AMORE & DREW GULAK & TONY NESE & NOAM DAR & ARIYA DAIVARI
After the heels arrived in the ring, Drew Gulak said he can’t stand to see a visionary like Enzo being held down y The Man. He said due to a vocal cord injury, he had a prepared statement on Enzo’s behalf. “His name is Enzo Amore! And he is indeed a Certified G and a bona fide stud and you cannot teach that.” He said it hilariously dryly, which seemed to rattle Enzo a bit and test his patience. Enzo then gyrated as he usually does and he held up his belt. Drew said Enzo lost his voice, but not his championship. He said Kalisto is a bigger letdown than the Green Bay Packers. That stung a little too much, based on the reaction of the players at ringside. A “Go Pack Go!” chant broke out again. He said Enzo was Anthony Barr and Kalisto was Aaron Rogers. It’s just too soon, I think.
The babyface team came out to Kalisto’s music. Graves compared the heel team to high school girls with their predetermined high fives. After the requisite heels regrouping at ringside, the babyfaces group-inked Gulak off the ring apron into the arms of his partners, and then they cut to a break. [c]
Enzo hit a DDG on Enzo and scored a near fall, broken up by babyfaces dropkicking him. Cedric and Ali did a running dive toward heels at ringside. Ali overshot Dar. Swann and Metalik then flipped onto bodies at ringside. In the ring Kalisto finished Enzo with his finisher “to build momentum for tomorrow night,” said Cole.
WINNER: Team Lucha Lucha in 10:00. [c]
-Angle came to the ring and said they cannot wait until Survivor Series. He robotically repeated that it’s the only time each year Raw faces Smackdown Superstars. As he was about to announce the five best men to represent Raw, Shane interrupted. He walked down the Shield entrance with a bunch of Smackdown wrestlers. Cole’s voice cracked with excitement. Cole talked about the Smackdown roster’s world travels lately. The wrestlers in blue shirts surrounded the ring. Angle looked around as if he was intimidated or upset. After an awkward silence, Shane leaned in and said, “Under siege.” Angle dropped the mic and left the ring, looking like he had seen a ghost. Graves wondered if “we are really under siege on Raw.” Graves is also on Team Smackdown, so what’s this “we” stuff from him. The Smackdown crew then walked up the ramp and “stormed into the backstage area,” according to Graves. Graves added, “Our guys aren’t ready for a fight now.” They went backstage where the guys in blue shirts walked up to Titus and Apollo Crews. They gang attacked Titus and Crews, babyfaces and heels together.
(Keller’s Analysis: This is so awful.)
Corbin attacked a backstage worker in a headset. Roode knocked over a TV monitor that had the Raw logo on it.
(Keller’s Analysis: This is so dreadful.)
They charged after others backstage, knocking stuff over as they marched. They attacked Goldust, Curtis Axel, and Kurt Hawkins. Now that’s going too far. Booker said this was “gang mentality.” I don’t think “gang” is a word Vince McMahon allows on air. They went into the locker room and attacked Matt Hardy and Finn Balor and others. They came upon four Raw women. Four Smackdown women stepped up and they brawled as the guys cheered them on loudly.
(Keller’s Analysis: Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb.)
They attacked Dean and Seth next. Corbin and Rusev dragged Angle to the scene to show him what they had done to Seth and Dean. Angle looked like they just woke him up after a night of heavy partying. Cole called it a premeditated assault. Then they forced Angle onto the stage and toward the ring. Shane stood there with a smug look of self-satisfaction. “Raw did not stand a chance,” said Cole. “Never in a million years did the Superstars of Monday Night Raw and Kurt Angle see this coming.” Graves said he’s on Raw and Smackdown and knows of no bad blood between the two shows. He wanted to know why. Booker said it’s about Survivor Series. Cole said the viciousness and mob mentality is what they don’t understand. Booker said they wanted to hit hard and fast. Cole said what’s so shocking is it hit out of nowhere. Angle walked up to Shane. Graves said Angle has to be angry and embarrassed as the same time. Shane said, “At Survivor Series, I want you to bring your Gold Medal, what’s left of your Raw roster, and we’re all going to finish what we started. Oh, it’s true. It’s damn true. Booker said he’s never seen anything like that in his 26 years.
(Keller’s Analysis: November should be WWE’s “off season” if this is what we’re going to get each year. I think they left Kevin Owens out of this, which is the only good judgment they showed.)
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT 10/16: Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns, Seth & Dean defend against Sheamus & Cesaro, Emma readies for Asuka