We Want Better: the AEW Women’s Division

Disclaimer: I am a fan of AEW and I think they have incredible women on their roster, but I do want them to get a better pay off. I want them to be moved to a different time slot on their weekly shows, more main event opportunities, screen time, consistent storylines and more than one women’s match and segment on their weekly shows. 

I tend to think about the press conference in 2019, introducing us to All Elite Wrestling as an alternative,it sparked me to watch because I knew most of the talent they had announced or shown as part of the roster. 

At the 25 minute mark, Britt stated, “I’m here not only as the first woman signee for the wrestling company, but also I am one of the first overall athletes they are signing which goes to show, they mean what they say, they value women’s wrestling, they are absolutely prioritizing it.” 

“It’s defeating at most, disappointing at least. When AEW first started, I felt patience was key when it came to their women’s division. Now, four years later, there’s no excuses for the lack of focus on their star studded women’s roster. For a company that has always prided themselves on being an “alternative” I foolishly had hope that this would mean strong, well thought out, and carefully planned women’s storylines would be a feature of Dynamite, and now Rampage and Collision. However, this is so far from the case. Paying more attention to, and giving more time to the women’s division could really set AEW apart from all of the other wrestling promotions in the world, but the women are often an afterthought, something to fill T.V time. AEW could have the best women’s division in the world if the talent, all of the talent, was given a chance to shine. Instead, we get the same women in the same matches and storylines. Of course the featured women are amazing, but adding in different competitors and storylines with multiple layers would give AEW an edge above everyone else.” Liz (@cantbeIievethis)

AEW started with Britt Baker DMD as the first female signee and since then,  they’ve added many incredible women such as Toni Storm to Saraya, Ruby Soho to Willow Nightingale, Kris Statlander to Jage Cargill and Jamie Hayter to Thunder Rosa. I began to realize a pattern, multiple men would get signed while maybe a woman or two would be signed, showing there isn’t a balance there. Currently, they do have a few women sidelined which causes a halt to certain storylines and even for the women to not have a Blood & Guts match. 

With the storyline between The Outcasts (Toni, Ruby & Saraya) v Britt, Jamie and the occasional Willow, Skye Blue and Hikaru Shida, there was an opportunity there for the first women’s Blood & Guts. During this match, whereas the men usually have an hour for a five-on-five match, this bout would have been a great conclusion to the storyline. However, it seems Jamie’s injury was one of the reasons why it didn’t occur. I’m not blaming Jamie for this, but perhaps a replacement would have been the right call to give the women this opportunity. 

Women’s televised matches tend to occur between 9-9:30 PM est. It would be nice to see the women main eventing more often especially if the storylines call for this such as it was for Willow v Athena that happened recently on Ring Of Honor’s Death Before Dishonor PPV or even main eventing Dynamite sometimes. Aside from the time frame, we usually get one women’s match that tends to be less than 10 minutes followed by either a promo or interview then the presence of the women’s division is done for the show. The women would benefit from opening and main eventing shows, highlighting them in a variety of matches too. AEW has three weekly shows: Dynamite, Rampage and Collision in which they could feature more women and just give them more time. Just as for PPVs, we usually get one women’s match on the main card and one during the Buy In (pre show) when most fans would like to see the two championships on the main card and one or two non title feuds between the main card and Buy In. 

On the July 26th episode of Dynamite, a fan’s sign was on screen following Taya Valkyrie and Britt Baker’s match that read “Book the Women’s Division Better.” The camera lingered them for a moment, right after the match was over. Most people think this is coming from a “hater” standpoint but it isn’t. The fans that have been outspoken about this are fans that respect the women and hope they get better opportunities; they aren’t speaking to be considered “haters” but to see the women make history, to have them breaking ground, have matches they haven’t had before like Blood & Guts or even Anarchy in the Arena. 

“I think that they need to showcase a broader range of their female talent instead of the usual Britt, Saraya, etc. Give Billie Starkz the same treatment that Nick Wayne has been receiving. even though Athena is ROH women’s champion, have her wrestle on Dynamite or Rampage or even Collision on occasion. They need to use more of their under-appreciated talent, let them have their moment and give the fans a chance to know them.” – Samantha Rose (Sammiro2001) 

I have enjoyed how they have added and given spotlight to women from the indie scene quite often such as Billie Starkz, Zoey Sager, Gigi Rey, Ava Lawless, Lady Frost, TFA (Taryn from Accounting), Nicole Matthews, and Brooke Havok. These women are examples of potential signees for AEW that fans have enjoyed. These talents would also benefit from having video packages, vignettes for us to know, so we can not only learn and get introduced to their characters on their weekly showing but also through social media exclusive videos too. We have Hikaru Shida who is and has been a fan favorite from the start, she gets cheered whenever she’s on screen but we don’t know much about her character.

The storylines don’t have to be about their looks, relationship status, or level of promiscuity -,make it about something else. Make it about their talents, about wanting opportunities or a championship or fighting to validate or overcome their personal experiences. It would also be fun to witness mixed tag matches as well especially when it involves real life couples too, it doesn’t happen often when women are included in storylines with the men too. 

“The AEW women’s division has some incredible talent; the ingredients are there. What’s frustrating as a fan, is their lack of time in the ring and priority on the card. The promotion’s stall on expanding the division is confusing, too. I will admit, the increase in women’s main events is hopeful. This year 9 main events on Rampage featured women, 2 on Dynamite. Dynamite is their flagship program, though. It feels like they just don’t trust their women.

The problems AEW has with women’s wrestling is systematic, it’s at every promotion, big and small, and it’s discouraging as a fan. When you see stacked cards with just one or two women’s matches, it makes it clear which fans they’re catering to, and it’s not me.” – Kristen Ashly (@KristenAshly)

Overall, I write this piece because I wanted to show that the fans especially female fans that speak their minds on the women’s division aren’t coming from a hateful standpoint but from encouragement and passion as we would love for them to be showcased, show their hard work paying off, to make history as part of the women’s revolution, to make women’s wrestling popular among the AEW community.