Asuka, "The Empress of Tomorrow," is one of WWE’s best signings of the 2010s. A dominant force in her native Japan for a number of promotions, she wrestled for nearly a decade before bringing her talents to the United States. Considering her unique presentation and powerful in-ring work, she quickly became a fan favorite among the WWE Universe. In the process, Asuka collected plenty of accolades along the way.

As much as "no one is ready for Asuka," no other wrestler is quite like her either. The woman who formerly wrestled as Kana has led a rather fascinating life outside of the ring working, in a variety of different professions. Amazingly, she’s done all of this while also maintaining a level of privacy that only makes her more intriguing.

Whether you’ve been following her since her wrestling days in Japan or became a fan shortly after she showed up in WWE, here are facts about Asuka only hardcore fans know.

Asuka briefly retired early in her career due to a medical condition

Asuka’s wrestling career was almost over shortly after it started. Then known as Kana, she debuted in the promotion AtoZ Toyko in 2004. As she discussed with ET Canada, Asuka announced in 2006 that she was retiring due to her chronic nephritis medical condition. According to the Mayo Clinic, the condition causes inflammation of the kidneys and impacts how the organs filter fluid and waste in your body. Nephritis tends to run in families and has a variety of symptoms including fatigue, high blood pressure, nausea/vomiting and muscle cramps.

While there is no cure for chronic nephritis, Asuka was able to treat and manage the condition to the point where she returned to wrestling in 2007. She told ET Canada that her mother is partially responsible for her return. ""I had a problem, but I want to entertain people. It’s my goal. My mother told me I have to fight again," she said.

During her brief absence from wrestling, Asuka was able to spend the time supporting herself with her degree in graphic design, which is one of her many non-wrestling career paths.

Asuka was a graphic designer

Many people have dreams of becoming a wrestler, but it never hurts to have a career backup plan. Before she even set foot in a ring, Asuka attended and graduated from Osaka University of Arts Junior College where she studied graphic design. In an interview with Gordmans Game Treasure, Asuka shared she ran her own graphic design office, which she founded while she was temporarily retired from wrestling. As a graphic designer, she did character design for some Nintendo DS titles and Xbox 360 games.

Despite obviously having a knack for graphic design, it was clearly a career she chose because she felt like she had to. Asuka said in an interview with ET Canada, "When I was 16, I wanted to be a WWE superstar. One day I asked my mom ‘Can I be a WWE superstar?’ and she said, ‘No, you have to go to college!’ … I had no choice. I gave up on my dream once. I went to college and after graduating from college, I started training. I couldn’t give up on my dream."

Asuka is a mom

Since she’s so private, one of the most surprising things to learn about Asuka is that she’s a mother. It’s not known how many children she has, but Asuka’s mom status has been briefly talked about in the press by one of her fellow WWE Superstars.

When Becky Lynch stepped away from WWE due to her own pregnancy, she gave her Raw Women’s Championship to Asuka on the May 11, 2020, episode of "Monday Night Raw." During the previous night at the Money In The Bank PPV, Asuka won the women’s Money In The Bank ladder match winning a contract for a title opportunity. "Passing that championship onto Asuka meant a lot. She really, really deserves it. And another element that people missed, because it’s not really advertised, is that she’s a working mom, Lynch told Sports Illustrated. "She’s proven that you can do it all. You can be a badass and go off and have a family, you can come in and still kick more ass, have a YouTube show and be entertaining as all hell. The fact that she was the person to take that title from me meant a lot to me."

Asuka’s gaming experience is quite extensive

A number of wrestlers are big gamers, but Asuka might have them all beat, considering her background in the games industry. In addition to her aforementioned experience with creating graphics for Nintendo DS and Xbox 360 games, Asuka was a journalist for XBox360 magazine. According to GameRant, this led to Asuka being sponsored by Xbox 360 and rocking the console’s logo on her wrestling gear.

Then, of course, there’s Asuka the gamer. She told Gordmans Game Treasure she owns around 3,000 video games and well over two dozen consoles. On her YouTube channel, aptly named KanaChanTV, fans can see her play a variety of games in addition to watching her in other wacky videos where she cooks or goes shopping for manga. As if that weren’t enough, gaming website Kotaku dubbed her the "S***posting Queen of Wrestling" for all of her video and anime posts on social media.

Asuka is a crossover character in two non-WWE video games

With her passion for gaming and experience working in the games industry, actually appearing in video games is a logically next step for Asuka. She’s been featured in every single "WWE 2K" video game since 2016. However, she’s also appeared in two different non-WWE video games as a crossover character.

The first non-WWE game to feature Asuka was 2017’s "Brawlhalla," a fighting game from Ubisoft. Asuka was one of eight WWE Superstars featured in the game. The other wrestlers were The Rock, John Cena, Xavier Woods, Becky Lynch, Macho Man, The Undertaker and Roman Reigns. In fact, WWE was one of a number of brands to have crossover characters in "Brawlhalla." Other brands featured include "Street Fighter," "The Walking Dead," and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."

The second non-WWE game to feature Asuka was 2020’s "Fall Guys," a battle royal game from Mediatonic. Unlike "Brawlhalla," Asuka wasn’t a playable character in "Fall Guys." Instead, she was an optional skin other characters could wear.

She was briefly a figure skater in her youth

Long before she set foot in the ring, Asuka took to the ice as a figure skater when she was a young child. She confirmed this to Austin Creed (aka Xavier Woods) in a 2018 interview on his UpUpDownDown YouTube channel alongside Shinsuke Nakamura. The premise of the interview had Creed attempting to ask the two Japanese wrestlers various questions in Japanese while they played a video game. When asking the figure skating question, Creed struggled with his pronunciation leading to Nakamura to look at his phone, from which he was reading the questions. After he read the question, Nakamura said, "You were a figure skater? Wow! I didn’t know that!" Asuka said she was a figure skater since she was 10 years old, but then she followed that up with bait and switch saying, with a laugh, "But just for one year."

Shinsuke then helped translate a funny story about how Asuka tried to skate 10 years prior to the interview. She attempted a jumping spin move but then crashed and burned on the ice. After that fall, Asuka said "No more!" attempting another jumping spin again. Of course, taking a bump on the ice has got to hurt even more than taking a bump in the ring, so no one could blame her.

Before WWE, Asuka wrestled in a bunch of Japanese promotions

Asuka has been known to spit green mist in the past, but when she first arrived in WWE, she was anything but green. Asuka got her start in AtoZ Toyko in 2004. Over the next 11 years, she would wrestle in a number of prominent Japanese promotions, including Ice Ribbon, Zero1 and Pro Wrestling Wave, where she was a two-time Wave Tag Team Championship with Ayumi Kurihara.

She would later wrestle in the short-lived promotion Smash and was a two-time Smash Diva Champion. Asuka also regularly appeared in JWP and held the JWP Openweight Championship for 119 days in 2013. Stints in Wrestling New Classic and Reina Joshi Puroresu would end with her final match in Reina Joshi Puroresu taking place about three weeks before she first appeared on NXT in September 2015 and was officially renamed Asuka.

Asuka had an infamous match with Minoru Suzuki

Asuka is as tough as they come, but if you’re one of the few that doubt the Empress’s toughness, you’re going to want to seek out her match against everyone’s favorite "Murder Grandpa," Minoru Suzuki.

According to BodySlam.net, this faceoff with Suzuki was part of a mixed tag team match in a 2014 show that Asuka produced and booked herself. Clips from the match show Suzuki brutally attacking Asuka by slapping and punching her repeatedly in the head. At one point during the beatdown, Suzuki’s tag partner Meiko Satomura stepped into the ring to stop the attack only for Suzuki to throw him out of the ring.

While the match clips are understandably tough to watch for some, Asuka was the one to book the match. She also told Suzuki not to take it easy on her in the ring.

Asuka has some pretty impressive firsts and records in WWE

Since arriving in WWE in 2015, Asuka hasn’t wasted any time making her mark.

Asuka has the longest reign in the history of the NXT Women’s Championship holding the title for 522 days. She’s a two-time WWE Raw Women’s Champion and a one-time WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion. Asuka is also a two-time WWE Women’s Tag Team Champion, first with Kairi Sane and then with Charlotte Flair. Thanks to these title wins, she became the second wrestler recognized as a WWE Women’s Grand Slam champion, with Bayley being the first and Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair doing so the third and fourth wrestler, respectively.

As if that weren’t enough, Asuka was the winner of the inaugural Women’s Royal Rumble match in 2018 and won the Money in the Bank latter match in 2020. The cherry on top? She became the first Japanese wrestler to ever top the Pro Wrestling Illustrated "Female 50" list in 2017.

Asuka had a brief stint as a gravure model

While wrestling in Japan, Asuka briefly took part in gravure modeling, which is Japan’s version of the sexy pinup modeling made famous in the United States by the likes of Bettie Page. Gravure modeling is available in a variety of formats, from magazines to photobooks and even DVDs.

According to JoshiCity.com, Asuka appeared in three gravure DVD releases while wrestling in Japan. Two of those DVDs were on her own, including "Kana Manifesto Final" while the other, entitled "Sadistic Tails" was with her former tag team partner Mio Shirai. Asuka’s gravure work was also featured in a variety of magazines. While it seems as though her gravure modeling days are very much in the rearview, she still does take part in a number of photoshoots with WWE, albeit far less risqué.

Asuka owns a hair salon in Japan

Asuka, like many wrestlers, has interests outside of the ring. Aside from gaming and her YouTube channel, she also owns a hair salon in Yokohama, which is about 47 miles south of Tokyo.

The salon is called Another Heaven, and it specializes in non-traditional hairstyles, like the wild multi-colored hair Asuka has rocked for years. The Empress shared a selfie on Twitter in July 2016 in front of the salon’s logo and noted that she designed the logo. Considering her extensive background in graphic design, of course, she designed the logo for the hair salon she owns.

Another Heaven has attracted some rather high-profile clientele. In December 2016, she tweeted at Kenny Omega thanking him for coming to her salon. The Cleaner responded, "It was a great experience! And of course, I need a champion’s hairstyle like you!"