The list of things that AEW is doing right is long and impressive. Chris Jericho is one of the best heels in the business, so giving him a strong faction and a title is a smart move. Their tag team division is definitively the best in the business, no matter how many tournaments WWE has to declare the best in the world. Speaking of WWE, AEW is now feuding with them for who can pick up the most indie talent and give them their big break.
The one area they are lacking in is their Women’s division, and that is a huge problem these days.
First and foremost, it’s important to point out that they don’t lack talent. Allie, Bea Priestly and Britt Baker D.M.D. are all fantastic wrestlers and key players in a division that has Riho as its first champion. Now that Awesome Kong is rolling under the guidance of Brandi Rhodes, it can only get more interesting.
The issue with AEW’s Women’s division is less a matter of talent and more a matter of focus. To be more precise, it’s a matter of focused time.
Generally speaking, the women get one match per episode of Dynamite, which isn’t really that much when you consider that NXT usually has two or three. That’s in addition to other segments furthering their Women’s Division storylines.
Beyond that, AEW isn’t putting enough time into the women’s matches on pay-per-views. Britt Baker versus Bea Priestly took place on the Buy-In, their version of the pre-show. It was an outstanding match that deserved a spot on the pay-per-view. Riho did defend her belt at Full Gear in a solid match against Emi Sakura, but that was it for the main show.
In the current era of wrestling, the women have taken on a greater role that is consistently increasing in prominence. Say what you will about WWE, but they have been putting a reasonable effort into pushing their Women’s division forward. That’s not because they’re trying to empower women or make history, which is the usual company line, it’s just good for business.
There are an increasing number of women’s only wrestling promotions around the world, particularly in Japan and in the US. The indie scene has impressive female talent who work incredible intergender matches. Fans, for the most part, want to see a strong Women’s division.
When you watch NXT, you hear the fans in Full Sail get behind their female wrestlers. Rhea Ripley is easily one of the most over performers in the company, regardless of the brand she appears on. The key is that she is talented and gets the TV time to prove it.
AEW is, in many regards, dropping the ball on their Women’s division by not putting them in a more prominent place on Dynamite. A recent edition of AEW Dark, their YouTube show, featured a match between Big Swole and Hikaru Shida. It was an outstanding match that deserved time on the main show.
From its inception, AEW has put diversity at the forefront of its mission statement, which is both admirable and important. In an industry that has issues with race, gender and sexuality, tackling said issues head on is key for keeping wrestling viable. But AEW’s attempt at a Women’s division is coming across as half-hearted, which goes against the company’s own stated goals.
Sadly, there’s a hint of hypocrisy lurking at the heart of all of this. That being said, it’s not the end of the line for their Women’s division.
Giving AEW the benefit of the doubt, there is still plenty of time to right the ship in this regard. It’s still early in the company’s development. They’re only a few episodes into Dynamite and they’ve proven more than capable of putting on incredible matches. Now, they just need to apply those same skills to their Women’s division, allowing them the time to shine. Giving them more matches on each episode and a greater chance to build storylines is a key step.
The women’s roster is currently made up of 14 official members. Having a successful Women’s division will involve utilizing the talent they already have more effectively but also recruiting names that fans are more familiar with. A lot of fans didn’t really know who Riho was before AEW. She’s obviously talented but more names like Mercedes Martinez on the women’s roster would do wonders for it.
AEW has found success in a variety of areas, which is certainly showing in the ratings. If they want to grow or at the very least maintain that success, they need all facets at their best. That includes their Women’s division.
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