Has AEW Under Delivered With Its Women’s Division This Year?
Hello! Today, I’ll be talking about the AEW Women’s Division and the reasons behind the promotion under delivering on its potential. There have been three champions since the World Women’s Championship was introduced in October 2019; including Riho, Nyla Rose and Hikaru Shida. Kenny Omega is in charge of booking and scouting talent for the division. After latest free agent Deonna Purrazzo signed with Impact Wrestling earlier this year, some fans questioned why AEW had not signed her. Omega responded with the following:
Truly happy for Deonna but I’m incredibly proud of our division and its athletes. You should try watching some of our matches. Start with the recent title match from a few days ago and then honestly tell me we need help.
— Kenny Omega (@KennyOmegamanX) May 27, 2020
Now, there is no denying that AEW has produced some great women’s wrestling since its inception. The quality at its peak is not what’s at dispute here. The problem I find is in its lack of consistency. Not only that, but there isn’t much to say about character progression. The only woman in AEW who has seen considerable character development this year, is Britt Baker after she turned heel.
She has since involved Tony Schiavone and Rebel in her antics, even during a time when she suffered a knee injury in May. And then we have the ‘Nightmare Collective’, which was a disaster because we all know it was about getting Brandi Rhodes over and no one bought it. Also, the stable was too similar to the Dark Order. Awesome Kong was probably the only good thing about it, but the hair cutting thing was lame and didn’t make sense.
**I do not see Dark, so my opinions below are from watching Dynamite & PPVs. I’m already watching a lot each week**
Let’s breakdown a list of all the AEW Women’s Wrestlers who are not called Britt Baker, Jade Cargill, or is a former champion:
With comparisons to Impact’s Rosemary, there is plenty of room for a dark character like Abadon. The issue though, lies with throwing her out on to TV with absolutely zero back story. Why is she this way? Does she talk? What’s her motivation? She looks freaky and can work a match, but why should we care? Give us something to take away. Last month, she was injured in a match with Tay Conti, which didn’t make it to air and was replaced by something else.
AEW’s handling of her frustrates me because I saw what she’s capable of in Impact. She’s great at playing a character, yet she’s never allowed to talk. Allie started out as “The Bunny”, then with a brief explanation she left her husband (The Blade) to go off with QT Marshall and form a team with Brandi Rhodes. I can’t remember why.
She has since left the Nightmare Family to return to The Butcher & The Blade as “The Bunny” with no explanation. I kinda wish she was back in Impact with Rosemary, who gave her the nickname to begin with. Anyone who hasn’t seen Allie before AEW, they will have no idea what she can do… despite being with the company since the beginning.
Anna ’99’ Jay & Tay Conti
There’s a lot of potential in Anna Jay, but since joining the Dark Order she hasn’t been seen much. She officially joined the stable in August, but has only worked two matches on Dynamite. I get that she’s 22 and the company doesn’t want to overexpose her just yet, but the division needs variety.
This week, Anna was given time to cut a backstage promo with John Silver; which I think was the first time that’s happened since she signed a contract in April? And why the number 99? Wouldn’t 98 make more sense as it’s her birth year? At this point, all we can say about Anna Jay is that she’s pretty. As for Tay Conti, I was a big fan of hers on NXT, but she hasn’t been around long enough in AEW to form an opinion. The fact her match with Abadon didn’t make it to air because of an injury, is undoubtedly going to hurt her progress.
One of the few wrestlers who has enjoyed some success this year. Since beating Britt Baker in “Tooth & Nail” at All Out, she had a win on Dynamite against Serena Deeb, and a loss to Hikaru Shida in a title match. She’s bursting with life and personality, but again, is another who isn’t given the time to get over as a character.
Much of this stems from the fact that AEW’s roster is over-bloated (which I hoped wouldn’t happen when they started up), so finding the consistency and time to mold characters across the board is not AEW’s strong point. In fact, I would say Impact & NXT do a better job of this. And as far as I’m aware, Dark is just a bunch of matches? And it rarely has any story elements to it? Correct me if I’m wrong.
Where do I begin? She’s probably one of the worst wrestlers on the roster in terms of athleticism and psychology. Yet, I believe she gets too much unfounded hate. It could be the way she comes across sometimes, but the fact she’s in a position of power makes it tougher to have her as a draw in the women’s division. It’s not the same for Cody Rhodes, The Young Bucks or Kenny Omega, because they were already over elsewhere long before AEW.
So unless Brandi goes to another company and proves she can do it completely on her own? Then it’s always going to be difficult for the fans to believe she has earned her spot, and not just because of her position and who she’s married too. She has admitted to a lack of experience, which she’s working on in her spare time. But there’s a lot of talented women out there who have been doing it longer and are more deserving of the airtime.
Brandi has her uses though, she’s pretty good at advertising, announcing, and playing ancillary roles. I’d like to see her focus on her strengths, and if she really wants to be a wrestler? Ring up Billy Corgan and ask him if he can take her on for his women’s division; with zero preferential treatment. At least that way, she can gain experience doing this on her own. But something tells me she’s too busy to do something like this.
Diamante & Ivelisse
These two have what it takes to be mainstays in AEW, but what the hell happened with that tag team cup? It was so under the radar that they only showed the tournament matches on YouTube? We were lucky enough to get the final on Dynamite, but what have the winners done since then? Why have a tag team tournament if they aren’t going to introduce Women’s Tag Team Championships down the road? Looking at the participants, they got Ariane Andrew (Cameron) to team with Nyla Rose, and the other teams were just thrown together. It was poor and they should feel bad.
Impact Wrestling shows us how to build proper women’s tag teams, and they have started a tag team tournament to crown new champions. Many of those teams have been together for months with considerable time spent building their characters; or at least have teamed together on the independents. Please… don’t put a women’s tag team cup together if you don’t have any viable teams for it. Or if you do, at least give the winners something to sink their teeth in to afterward.
Emi Sakura & Yuka Sakazaki
There isn’t much AEW could do with them. Because of the pandemic, many Japanese talents have gone home to be with their families; including Riho. Kairi Sane likely left WWE for the same reason, although it was reported she also felt home sick. It’s unfortunate for AEW, because they had done well to secure several Japanese talents, and we all know Kenny Omega has what it takes to keep them motivated, having lived over there for so long.
I have to admit that they had done an impressive job with Kris Statlander. She looked as if she could become the next AEW Women’s Champion, but an ACL injury in June ensured this wouldn’t go ahead. You know, when I say AEW has under delivered with its women’s division, I’m not saying it like it’s entirely their fault. Injuries and the pandemic have played a huge role in this, and you can’t blame anyone for not having the benefit of hindsight. My only gripe is that I wish they had given Statlander more time to speak, because this character has unlimited potential.
Remember Blue Pants? Or when she was voted in by fans to be The Librarian? Whatever happened to her support? And how come she has only wrestled three times this year? It’s unknown why she hasn’t done much lately, but at least Peter Avalon is a regular on Dark. I don’t watch Dark though… so I guess that’s my loss?
She might not be the best wrestler out there, but I do think AEW could do more with Leva Bates’ natural charisma. I think she should drop the librarian thing and go out on her own.
Mel & Red Velvet
Once the Nightmare Collective thing ended, so did Mel’s push. She hasn’t changed much since that time, and it’s strange because the women’s division is lacking heels. So why not use her for a program with Shida? Or are they just going to keep on reusing Britt Baker and Nyla Rose time and time again?
As for Red Velvet, she’s still very new and needs time to develop. There’s potential though, which I hope isn’t squandered. Like so many others, they are stuck on Dark waiting for their chance.
Here’s another woman who I look at and think… wow, she’s gorgeous. She can wrestle. And there are potential storylines with her future husband Kip Sabian. So why is she not being used? It seems to be a common theme that much of the women’s division is stuck on episodes of Dark and/or are in manager roles. They are secondary to the men, who are taking up at least 90% of every Dynamite and PPV. Compare this to WWE or Impact, it’s not anywhere near enough.
Not using Shanna is one of the biggest head scratches for me, because she’s amazing! But she hasn’t wrestled since March, so the only thing I can deduce is that she returned home to Portugal to be with her family during the pandemic. In late September, she made the following tweet:
Thunder Rosa & Serena Deeb
I’m on the fence with bringing them in because on one hand, yes… AEW’s Women’s Division is lacking. On the other, taking airtime away from those under contract is counter productive, surely? They also brought in Allysin Kay, but she has yet to debut on Dynamite. They have reached some agreement with Billy Corgan to allow the NWA Women’s Championship to be defended. Hikaru Shida got a win over Thunder Rosa, who was the NWA Women’s Champion at the time.
So it has helped to show AEW’s title is superior, but it also shows the company is sorely lacking suitable challengers for Shida. And they aren’t taking the time to build them up either, because it’s easier to bring in talent from elsewhere. I like the freedom AEW has in this regard, but I wouldn’t blame anyone for saying that bringing in NWA talent comes at the expense of those working on Dark.
Social Media Feedback
After asking our users how they feel about the AEW Women’s Division, I can summarize some key points here:
- It needs work, but they can’t ignore it. They may need to pick up new talent to replace those they aren’t using, if that’s what it takes.
- There’s a division? AEW had to take the champion and challenger of another company to make it somewhat relevant again.
- The weakest division in AEW, while NXT has one of the strongest (this week saw NXT feature three women’s matches with Io Shirai vs. Rhea Ripley as the main event for the Women’s Championship; while AEW booked a NWA Women’s title match with none of their talent).
- AEW are doing great with the tag teams and men’s divisions, but they are failing the women. Impact and the NWA have done a way better job this year.
- Some users simply labelled it “Trash”, “It Still Sucks”, and “Meh”.
Counting up the absentees who can’t be there through no fault of AEW, I count six (7 if you include Kong) out of a potential 23 under contract. That’s not including independent free agents or NWA crossovers. So it’s not like AEW is severely lacking options… it’s just choosing not to use them. Instead, they have focused on building the tag team division, TNT division, and title contenders for Jon Moxley. It reminds me of how wrestling used to be in the late 90’s. They plug the “AEW Heels” concept for female fans, all the while showing they aren’t focusing on women’s wrestling. I’m sorry, but it’s not enough for me.
I can forgive the fact that they have been a victim of circumstance with the pandemic and unexpected injuries, but there is more that can be done here. It’s hard building new stars, but if they want it to be nearer to Impact or NXT, then they need to reserve more time on Dynamite. That’s where the world is watching, and I’d love to see more equality across the board. Who do you think they should push? And what would you cut back on to give the AEW Women’s Division more of a spotlight to shine? Please let me know in the comments and thank you for taking the time. Have a nice day.