Kanako UraiD.O.B: 26 September, 1981
Birthplace: Osaka, Osaka
Kanako Urai (浦井 佳奈子) is a professional wrestler, currently signed with WWE, and working in their developmental territory NXT under the ring name Asuka.
She is the reigning NXT Women’s Champion.
She has a reputation as working a stiff style, due to her use of kicks and submission holds.
She began wrestling in 2004, and retired in 2006. Although, she would return to the ring a year and a half later, as a freelance wrestler.
Urai signed a developmental contract with WWE in December 2015.
Outside of wrestling, Urai has worked as a graphic designer and video game journalist.
Urai graduated from Osaka University of Arts Junior College. She has written for Xbox Magazine and designed graphics for the Nintendo DS, as well as various other mobile platforms.
She owns a hair salon in Yokohama, named Another Heaven.
She is a big fan of American Culture and media, and is a fan of bands Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses and Bon Jovi, movies like Gran Torino, The Godfather, Dances with Wolves and Platoon, and video games such as Call of Duty and the Rockstar Games series.
Before her wrestling career, Urai had a sporting background in figure skating and badminton.
Professional Wrestling Career
Early Career (2004-2010)
Kanako Urai was working as a graphic designer when she decided to make the jump into the world of professional wrestling. She became involved with the all female promotion AtoZ and made her debut on June 16th, 2004, using the ring-name Kana. She would remain with the company until March 19th 2006, when she suddenly announced her retirement from the sport, due to chronic nephritis.
During her time away from action, she opened up a graphic design agency.
After a year and a half away from the ring, Kana made her return on September 22, 2007, when she began working freelance for promotions such as NEO Japan Ladies Pro Wrestling, Ice Ribbon, JWP Joshi Puroresu, Pro Wrestling Zero1 and Pro Wrestling Wave.
On October 10th, 2009, Kana teamed with Takahashi to defeat Hiroyo Matsumoto and Kyoko Inoue to become the NEO Tag Team Champions, Kana’s first career championship. They went on to hold the titles until December 31st, 2009, when they lost them to Ayumi Kurihara and Yoshiko Tamura.
On January 24th, 2010, Kana quit Passion Red.
Pro Wrestling Wave (2008, 2010-2015)
Kana had originally worked sporadic appearances for Pro Wave Wrestling in 2008, but she began to work regularly for them at the end of 2010, when NEO went out of business.
On July 24th, 2011, Kana won the 2011 Catch the Wave tournament, beating Ayumi Kurihara in the final.
Whilst holding the Wave Tag Team Championships with Kurihara, Kana also teamed with Mio Shirai, who were known as the Triple Tails. On February 1st, 2012, Kurihara, Shuu Shibutani and Mika Iida became official members of Triple Tails. Four days later, Kana and Kuriharas lost the Wave Tag Team Championships to Ran Yu-Yu and Toshie Uematsu.
On March 6th, the new Triple Tails, became the White Tails, in direct reference to the company’s biggest heel faction, Black Dahlia.
On November 27th, Kana defeated Yumi Ohka and then declared herself the new ‘Ace’ of Wave. As the winner of the 2011 Catch the Wave tournament, Kana earned her place in the Wave Single Championship Tournament. She reached the final of the tournament after defeating Mio Shirai in the semi-final, she would ultimately lose the final to Yumi Ohka.
On April 21, Kana and Mio Shirai defeated Tsukasa Fujimoto and Misaki Ohata to become the Wave Tag Team Championship. They successfully defended their titles on July 7th against Fujimoto and Kyusei Sakura Hirota.
The White Tails then split the stable, Kana and Shiai lost the Wave Tag Team Championships to Shidarezakura on the 15th July.
In July 2015, Kana was defeated in the semi-finals of the 2015 Catch the Wave tournament by Yumi Ohka, who went on to win the tournament.
On June 25th, 2010, Kana made her debut for Yoshihiro Tajiri’s new promotion, Smash, She lost to Syuri in the main event of Smash 4. The pair would have a rematch at Smash 5, which Kana, now a heel, won via submission in a little under three minutes.
Kana then entered a feud with Tajiri, which led to an inter-gender match between the two at Happening Eve, which Tajiri won. Following her defeat to Tajiri, Kana re-introduced herself as the leader of the Triple Tails, with the Shirai sistesrs, Kana called herself ‘Sekai no Kana’ which translates as ‘World Famous Kana’
Kana would then continue to work with the male members of the roster, picking up wins against the likes of Tajiri, whilst suffering a defeat to Funaki.
In April, Kana began a feud with former WWE wrestler Serena. Serena played down Kana’s ability and Kana vowed to make Serena respect her. Their first encounter came at Smash 16, when Serena, Makoto and Syuri defeated Triple Tails, when Serena pinned Kana. The pair would face each other in a singles match at Smash 17, which was won by Serena.
Smash, then began a tournament to crown the inaugural Smash Diva Champion. Kana defeated Lin ‘Bitch’ Byron in the first round and then defeated Syuri to advance to the final, where she would face Serena. At Smash 20, Kana defeated Serena to become the first ever Smash Diva Champion. She would however, drop the championship in her first defense against Tomoka Nakagawa.
At We Are Smash, Kana faced Nakagawa and defeated her to regain the Smash Diva Championship. Once again though, Kana failed to defend the championship, losing her first defense, this time against Syuri at Smash 25. After the match the two hugged and made their peace with each other after being long-time rivals.
United States (2011-2014)
In October, 2011, Kana made her debut on American soil, working for Shimmer Women Athletes and Chikara.
She made her Shimmer debut at Volume 41, where she was shown blatantly ignoring Cheerleader Melissa and Sara Del Rey as they welcomed her, thus making her a heel. In her fist match for the promotion, she defeated Mia Yim, she then defeated Del Rey at Volume 42. At Volume 43, Cheerleader Melissa defeated Kana to become the number one contender for the Shimmer Championship. At Volume 44, Kana defeated LuFisto.
The following weekend, Kana made her Chikara debut, defeating Jessie McKay in her debut match. The next day, she was defeated by Sara Del Rey.
Kana would return to Shimmer at Volume 45, where the now babyface Kana, teamed with LuFisto to defeat Kalamity and Hailey Hatred. At Volume 46, she was defeated by Mercedes Martinez. At Volume 47, she teamed once more with LuFisto to defeat Christina Von Eerie and MsChif. She then defeated Kellie Skater at Volume 48.
On October 27th, 2012, at Volume 49, Kana and LuFisto unsuccessfully challenged The Canadian Ninjas for the Shimmer Tag Team Championships. At Volume 50, she was defeated by Ayako Hamada and at Volume 51, she defeated Athena, Later that night, Kana and LuFisto defeated Made in Sin.
Kana and LuFisto again challenged for the Shimmer Tag Team Championships, but once again were defeated by The Canadian Ninjas in a 4-way match that also included The Global Green Gangsters and Made in Sin at Volume 53. At Volume 54, she defeated Jessie McKay and was then defeated by Madison Eagles at Volume 55. The following day, at Volume 56, Kana won a 4-way match against Ayako Hamada, Yuu Yamagata and Mercedes Martinez. At Volume 57, she defeated Kalamity.
At Volume 58, Kana and LuFisto failed to defeat The Global Green Gangsters for the Shimmer Tag Team Championships.
Kana would return to Shimmer for Volume 67, when she was defeated by Cheerleader Melissa for the Shimmer Championship.
Wrestling New Classic (2012)
On April 5th, 2012, Tajiri announced his new promotion, a follow-up to Smash, called Wrestling New Classic. The promotion’s first event was on April 26th, and Kana was named as a part of the main roster. This was the first time since she signed a contract with AtoZ in 2008, that Kana had signed a deal to make a promotion her home promotion. This ended her days as a freelance wrestler, but, her deal did still allow her to work independent dates.
At the first event, Before the Dawn, Kana teamed with Mio Shirai to defeat Makoto and Syuri. After the match, Kana verbally assaulted Makoto, which led to Shirai turning on her ans siding with Makoto. This led to a match between Kana and Syuria and Makoto and Riho at Starting Over, Kana won the match via submission. Two days later at Go! Go! West: Osaka, Kana once again defeated Makoto via submission, this time in a singles match.
Kana continued her rivalry with Makoto continued, with Makoto finally getting the better of Kana on June 22nd, when Makoto and Shirai defeated Kana and Syuri. On July 15th, Kane defeated Shirai in a singles match and once again verbally assaulted her after the match. Later in the show, Syuri turned on Kana after she lost to Ayako Hamada. By doing this, Syuri joined Akira and StarBuck and ended her alliance with Kana.
On August 30th, Kana, Tajiri and Mickey Whipwreck were defeated by Syuri, Akira and StarBuck in a Barbed Wire Board Deathmatch.
After several various feuds, Kana entered the WNC Women’s Championship tournament. She defeated Makoto in the first round, but was eliminated two days later in the semi-finals by Nagisa Nozaki, following interference by Jiro Kuroshio.
Kana then announced that she was quitting the company and going back to freelancing. She cited the fact that she hadn’t been paid for months and was unable to get in contact with the promotion’s president, Tsutomu Takashima. She was officially released from her contract on December 4th.
Reina Joshi Puroresu (2014-2015)
On August 30th, 2015, Kana began working for Reina Joshi Puroresu. She played the role of a consultant and used her power to strip Ariya and Makoto of the Reina World Tag Team Championships. Kana and Arisa Nakajima defeated Lin Byron and Syuri in the final of the tournament to crown new champions. Syuri turned her back on Lin Byron during the match after being paid off by Kana.
On December 26th, Kana defeated Syuri to become the Reina World Women’s Champion. Following her victory, Kana said that she would reform Reina in her role as the promotion’s new General Producer.
In early 2015, Kana formed her own stable, orignially called Kana-Gun, which meant Kana Army, although, they were later re-named Piero-Gun, which means Clown Army, on account of the other members adopting Kana’s clown style make-up. The stable consisted of; Makoto, Rina Yamashita, Alex Lee, Cat Power, La Comandante, Hercules Senga and Yuko Miyamoto.
On January 12, 2015, Kana and Nakajime retained their Reina World Tag Team Championships against Goya Kong and Muñeca de Plata. They lost the titles however, on February 25th at KanaProMania: Advance, when they were defeated by Hikaru Shida and Syuri.
Kana went on to defend the Reina World Women’s Championship three times, against Gitana, Reyna Isis and Yako Fujigasaki respectively, before announcing her intention to leave the company and relinquishing the title.
On September 4th, she wrestled her final match for the promotion, teaming with Syuri in a winning effort against Konami and Makoto.
Other Promotions (2010-2015)
Kana began holding her own events in April, 2010. The first being Kana Pro, which saw her lose the main event against Meiko Satomura. At this time, she was also working for several different promotions with Triple Tails.
On October 29th, Kana was elected as the eighth president of 666, a small independent promotion, for which she had been wrestling for the past year.
On November 5th, Kana, defeated Aki Shizuku in the final event held by Battlarts.
On March 11th, 2012, Kana made her debut for the Dramatic Dream Team promotion, when she won the Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship. She eventually lost the championship to Ayumi Kurihara at a Pro Wrestling Wave 2012 Catch the Wave tournament.
On May 12, Kana made her Mexican debut, when appeared at Toryumon Mexico’s DragonMania VII, defeating Syuri.
After leaving WNC in 2012, Kana started working more regularly for both JWP and Ice Ribbon, which allowed her to tie in her 2010 manifesto into storylines.
On August, 18th, Kana returned to JWP and became the JWP Openweight champion by defeating Arisa Nakajima. After the match Kana smeared make-up on Nakajima’s face and gloated over her victory. She successfully defended the championship on two separate occasions, against Manami Katsu and Hanako Nakamori. Throughout her defenses, she would badmouth JWP and its wrestlers.
She then began professing her love for Arisa Nakajima, making her the number one contender for her championship and refusing the challenges of Leon and Kayako Haruyama. Kana failed to retain the title in her third defense, this time losing out to Nakajima.
On February 5th, 2014, Kana produced an independent event called KanaProMania. The even, which took place in Korakuen Hall, saw her defeat Meiko Satomura in the main event.
On April 16th, Kana worked an event for Pro Wrestling NOAH, in which she defeated Rabbit Miu.
On October 5th, 2014, Kana appeared for All Japan Pro Wrestling, when she teamed with Mika Iida in a defeat to Shuu Shibutani and Yumi Ohka.
On July 8th, 2015, Kana announced that she would be taking a break from professional wrestling. She said that she wanted to try something new after being in the ring for over ten years. She also denied a rumor that she was pregnant.
Kana wrestled her final match in Japan on September 15th, at KanaProMania: Pulse, when she teamed with Hikari Shida and Syuri in a defeat to Arisa Nakajima, Rina Yamashita and Ryo Mizunami.
On August 22, 2015, Urai was shown in the audience at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn, where she was identified as Kanna. This led to speculation that she had signed with WWE, the speculation was confirmed on August 27th. On September 8th, Urai and WWE held a press conference in Tokyo, in which they announced her signing with WWE and confirmed her assignment to WWE’s developmental territory, NXT.
On September 10th, it was revealed that her new ring-name would be Asuka. The name was chosen as an homage to veteran Japanese wrestler, Lioness Asuka.
Asuka’s NXT debut appearance came on September 23rd, when she was confronted by Dana Brooke and Emma. This led to a match between Asuka and Dana Brooke at NXT TakeOver: Respect, which was won by Asuka. After this win, Asuka went on to defeat several other members of the NXT roster, whilst continuing her feud with Brooke and Emma.
At NXT TakeOver: London, Asuka defeated Emma, despite interference form Dana Brooke.
On the February 10 episode of NXT, Asuka saved Carmella from an attack by Eva Marie and Nia Jax after Carmella had been defeated by NXT Women’s Champion Bayley in a title match. After making the save Asuka and Bayley faced off, with Asuka indicating her desire to challenge Bayley for the title.
On March 16, NXT General Manager, William Regal announced that Asuka would challenge Bayley for the NXT Women’s Championship at NXT Takeover: Dallas. On April 1, at NXT Takeover: Dallas, Bayley lost her NXT Women’s Championship after passing out to the Asuka lock, ending her reign as champion at 223 days. This made Asuka the first ever Japanese holder of the championship.
At NXT TakeOver: The End, Asuka successfully defended the NXT Women’s Championship against Nia Jax.
Urai has released three gravure DVD’s, titled Manifest (マニュフェスト Manyufesuto, 2011), Manifest II (マニュフェストII Manyufesuto II, 2012), and Manifest Final (マニフェスト Final Manifesuto Final, 2015). She has also released a DVD with Mio Shirai, called Sadistic Tales (2012).