Carmella will put the SmackDown Live Women’s Championship on the line against Asuka at Money in the Bank on June 17.
SmackDown Live general manager Paige made the announcement Tuesday night, spoiling Carmella’s “Royal ‘Mellabration,” per WWE’s official Twitter account:
The #RoyalMellabration just got a dose of EMPRESS, because @WWEAsuka will challenge @CarmellaWWE for the #SDLive #WomensChampionship at #MITB! https://t.co/78xChrYTwa
It will be Carmella’s second title defense after she defeated Charlotte Flair at Backlash earlier this month. It’s also the second women’s title match on the Money in the Bank card after WWE confirmed Raw women’s champion Nia Jax will wrestle Ronda Rousey.
Paige couldn’t have picked a more imposing challenger for Carmella. Asuka held the NXT Women’s Championship for 523 days and didn’t suffer her first defeat in NXT or WWE until losing to Flair at WrestleMania 34 in April.
Granted, beating Asuka would add even more credibility to Carmella as the champion. Not only would she have toppled the biggest star in the women’s division—Flair—but she’d follow up by earning a victory over the most dominant wrestler in the division.
When she used the MITB briefcase to take the title from Flair, an aura of legitimacy was the only thing holding her back as a champion. She’s excellent on the mic, and her work inside the ring has improved since she debuted in NXT in 2014.
However, Carmella alluded to the fact during her “Royal ‘Mellabration” that some fans don’t see her as a believable champ over the likes of Flair, Asuka and Becky Lynch. She can dispel that notion with a win at Money in the Bank.