Since its inception, AEW’s women’s division has left something to be desired. There has always been a roster with talented women working to realize their potential but the booking of the division hasn’t allowed these women to truly shine through. Given the current trend, I dare say that now is the time we see their hard work pay off and their potential reached.
There was some budding momentum at the beginning of 2020 even with that dreadful Nightmare Collective story (thankfully that’s over). But then March happened. The pandemic hit and it was both a blessing and a curse. The Curse being that talent was locked overseas. Overnight the division lost Riho, Yuka Sakazaki, Bea Priestly, Sadie Gibbs, and Shanna thanks to travel restrictions (though there is speculation of other reasons at least for Bea). Then injuries hit Britt Baker and Kris Statlander not too long after. That left a tremendous void that AEW has since put in a lot of work to fill.
Since the start of the pandemic we have seen many talents join the company that came AEW’s way in large part due to the pandemic. Anna Jay, Tay Conti, Red Velvet, Jade Cargill, and some woman named Thunder Rosa, just to name a few. We’ve seen them featured weekly on AEW Dark, we’ve heard about the work they’re all putting in, but nothing ever really changed.
The division was relegated to the same 9:25pm or so slot, getting entrances, two minutes of their match, three minutes of "Restaurant Quality Picture-in-Picture" during a commercial, and then maybe three more minutes of a match. This created a lot of frustration, a lot of talk about how the division didn’t matter, a lot of skepticism that it could even be saved. For me, knowing this formula took me completely out of the first two thirds of the match every time.
But then something changed. I thought it would be the AEW Women’s Eliminator tournament that signaled the beginning of change, but I was wrong. It was the critically acclaimed and universally loved Thunder Rosa vs Britt Baker Lights Out and Unsanctioned match. That’s the watershed moment for the AEW women’s division.
Is this a knee jerk reaction? Maybe, but no. When else have there been four stories within the women’s division? Hell, none of them even have the AEW Women’s Championship involved...yet.
On the 3/31 edition of AEW Dynamite we saw the continuing growth of the Jade Cargill and Red Velvet Feud, we watched as Britt Baker continued to steal the show as the face of the division as she cut her promo on Thunder Rosa, we also saw more build to the Hardy Family Office vs Dark Order feud by way of Allie and Tay Conti starting a feud, and the main event saw the return of the galaxy’s greatest alien Kris Statlander as she reprised her feud with Penelope Ford.
That’s a lot of plates spinning! And a lot of tremendous talent being involved.
It was really only a matter of time until we got here. The division is deceptively deep with so much potential. AEW could easily create the most exciting and dynamic women’s division in wrestling if they play their cards right from here.
Look at the roster. Many of the women signed to AEW were as green as anything when they started. Through the Mae Young Classics and boasting four women’s divisions WWE snapped up most of the talent on the independent scene. They certainly got all of the “ready for TV” level of talent at least. AEW instead found women on the indies that had tremendous potential and a few key veterans to help them grow.
It was always going to take time. Many fickle fans expected AEW to fulfill every promise they made on or before day one. As the cliché goes Rome wasn’t built in a day. The fact that the division is where it is in the amount of time they’ve had speaks to the massive amount of work everyone involved has put in.
AEW now has a roster that features Britt Baker, Riho, Nyla Rose, Hikaru Shida, Serena Deeb, and Ryo Mizunami all more than capable of holding down the title scene. You can add Thunder Rosa to that mix as well, but I am not sure how her work with NWA will interfere with AEW at the moment.
You then have a tremendously solid next tier of talent that are starting to reach their sky high potential. Kris Statlander, Penelope Ford, Tay Conti, Big Swole, Allie, Jade Cargill, Red Velvet, Leyla Hirsch, and more show off how much potential this division has. I look at Kris, Jade, and Tay and see the future of women’s wrestling, not just AEW. The three of them mixed with Britt Baker and an eventual Anna Jay return, that’s a license to print money with this division. Any of them could be the top women in the whole damn sport.
Let’s not forget either the budding stars that are getting reps all of the time on AEW Dark. Dani Jordyn, Kilynn King, Alex Gracia, Abadon, Madi Wrenkowski, Ashley Vox, Diamante, and more represent a lot of talent that could easily become big players in their division. This really is an exciting time to be watching AEW's women!
They’ve got the talent, they’re getting more time, but where will they go from here?
In a perfect world I want to see Britt Baker emerge as the next challenger for Shida’s title. It’s been Britt’s time for a while and she’s proven that she’s a draw, a tremendous worker, and a great promo. She’s the champion this division needs to show the world that things are different.
I would even welcome a shock presence from AEW brought to Impact. Imagine getting to see Deonna Purrazzo face Tay, or Shida, or Nyla, or getting Jordynne Grace over to face someone on Dynamite. The working relationship is already there, let’s open more forbidden doors, dammit! I think it’s too farfetched to see an AEW woman win the Impact Knockouts championship as Kenny is likely taking their World Championship soon, but the matchups would be exciting to see!
Beyond that, the obvious answer is keep letting the talent grow. Find a way for there to be two women’s matches on each Dynamite. Give them more featured spots on Elevation. More rising star profiles, more backstage segments. Hardcore fans will appreciate anyone that does good work, but the casual audience needs to have something more to grab onto with their characters. Give more people a reason to be invested in these women. It’s working BIG time for Britt!
I do not want to even begin to think about the division beyond Double or Nothing with regard to fantasy booking. There are thousands of ways to take and feature this division. There are so many excellent matchups and feuds that could be built, I want the talent to be given that chance to succeed and have them force TK’s hand and feature them more throughout all of their products. If I were to make one suggestion it would be to have the belt move around a little bit. Establish that there are multiple top women who can hold it. Shida is likely going to have held the belt for close to a year, so I do not want another lengthy reign, yet.
I’ve often argued that the talent is there, it’s always been there, but the perceived lack of faith and the lack of booking has been the force holding these women back. If the last few weeks are anything to go by we are in for a treat as AEW is finally giving us something to be really excited about as they build their women’s division!
Do you agree? Do you disagree? Are you still reading this? If you made it this far let me know on twitter @KeepUpWithKFabe!