On Tuesday night’s edition of SmackDown Live, the new pairing of Asuka and former NXT Women’s Champion Kairi Sane were officially given a tag team name, when their advocate Paige called them the Kabuki Warriors. It set off a chain reaction of comments from fans around the world who immediately felt it was a cultural stereotype in branding them something so clearly Japanese, but also a tad bit ignorant, considering that kabuki theater in Japan is solely performed by male actors, and has for centuries.
But as the backlash continued throughout the night, Paige took to her Twitter to clarify that the seemingly racist name that everyone was blaming WWE for assigning to the two Japanese wrestlers was actually a name chosen by Asuka and Kairi themselves. Apparently, the duo had originally wanted to be called Kabuki Girls (perhaps a nod to the legendary All Japan Women’s tag team Crush Gals), but that it was slightly altered to change “girls” to “warriors” to give them more strength.
You know it was the girls who chose their name right? Well technically they wanted “kabuki girls” but it was changed to kabuki warriors. Chill https://t.co/2p5TAspX9h
— PAIGE (@RealPaigeWWE) May 15, 2019
But Paige wasn’t the only one. Asuka herself took to her own Twitter to explain that the reference was not based around the kabuki theater name, but the root itself, kabukimono, which translates to “strange things”. Asuka explained that people who were considered kabukimono were “eccentric who attracted public attention with their eye-catching clothes, peculiar hairstyle, and weird behavior.” Another meaning of kabukimono were that of rogue samurai (or ronin) who would work together in gangs.
Sengoku or Edo-period eccentric who attracted public attention with their eye-catching clothes, peculiar hairstyle, and weird behavior pic.twitter.com/HcdruoYQti
— ASUKA / 明日華 (@WWEAsuka) May 15, 2019
Much like how many Westerners have shown some disgust over the use of the term Ringkampf for WALTER’s stable in Germany’s Westside Xtreme Wrestling (wXw) (many associate kampf with Adolph Hitler’s autobiographical Mein Kampf, but kampf is a normal German word meaning struggle), it would appear that many people are simply jumping onto the most common Western association of the word and ignoring the actual culture that the performers are representing.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world.