Since its inception, a common point of contention for fans with All Elite Wrestling has been its women’s division.
At a press conference back in January 2018, Brandi Rhodes emphasized how important the women would be to the promotion; they wanted it to be a strong division with the best female wrestlers in the entire world.
However, it’s always pinpointed as one of the weaker facets of AEW. While many bring up questionable booking as the main culprit, what’s not to blame is the talent. They have plenty of high-quality women capable of creating a strong division that could rival other companies. But sadly, things just haven’t clicked yet.
With that being said, we wanted to look at the division as it currently stands and highlight each woman individually in a two-part series. Our focus will be on those who are signed with AEW and have actively competed within the last several months. That means those stuck overseas and enhancement talent on AEW Dark won’t be mentioned here.
Starting things off is the reigning AEW Women’s Champion.
Shida made her wrestling debut back in 2008 for Ice Ribbon. She went on to spend almost six years with the promotion and won numerous titles, most notably the ICEx60 Championship. She also won the International Ribbon Tag Team Championships, three times with Tsukasa Fujimoto and once with Maki Narumiya.
After leaving, she freelanced for Shimmer, Pro Wrestling Wave, Revolution Championship Wrestling, Reina Joshi Puroresu, and Sendai Girls’ Pro Wrestling. In 2017, she signed with Makai, a company that puts on shows which combine wrestling, theatre, and music.
She signed with AEW on April 9, 2019, and made her debut the following month at Double or Nothing. In August, she lost to Riho and just missed out on competing for the inaugural AEW Women’s Championship that October.
After that, Shida went on an absolute tear for the first part of 2020. She was the number one contender for 12 weeks before she finally earned a shot at the title. Then, on May 23 at Double or Nothing, she defeated Nyla Rose in a no count-out and no disqualification match to win the AEW Women’s Championship.
Her first (and successful) title defence came at Fyter Fest, where she defeated Penelope Ford. She most recently faced NWA World Women’s Champion Thunder Rosa at All Out, where she again successfully defended her title.
From the very beginning, Shida established herself as someone to watch on AEW. It was only a matter of time before she had gold around her waist, even if it took a lot longer than it should have. The pandemic has certainly changed the landscape of wrestling, but she still gives it her all every time she steps foot in the ring.
Facing Rosa confirmed what she has always said: she welcomes any and all challengers to face her. When things start to go back to normal and more of the roster returns, she’ll have plenty of competition to take on.
Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D.
Up next is everyone’s favorite dentist and role model.
Baker debuted in August 2015 as part of the International Wrestling Cartel. Less than a year later, on the July 25, 2016, episode of RAW, she made her WWE debut in a losing effort to Nia Jax.
For the next several years, she competed for Shimmer, RISE Wrestling, and Ring of Honor. She also made several more appearances in WWE. In September 2018 at All In, she took part in a four-corner survival match against Tessa Blanchard, Chelsea Green, and Madison Rayne.
Baker joined AEW on January 2, 2019, becoming the first woman to sign with the promotion. She debuted at Double or Nothing, defeating Awesome Kong, Kylie Rae, and Nyla Rose in a fatal four-way match.
She and Bea Priestley entered a feud after the latter gave the former a concussion during a tag match at Fight for the Fallen. The two came to blows in November on the Full Gear pre-show, where Baker was victorious.
During Dynamite on January 22, 2020, she chastised Tony Schiavone after defeating Priscilla Kelley, turning heel in the process. Unfortunately, Baker hasn’t had the best of luck ever since. She sustained a broken nose in April during a match with Hikaru Shida. Then, in May, she suffered a leg injury during a tag match, where she and Rose defeated Shida and Kris Statlander.
In July, she had surgery to repair a deviated septum caused by the broken nose months prior. While recovering, she remained on TV and entered a feud with Big Swole. Baker returned to the ring at All Out, losing to Swole in a Tooth and Nail match that took place at her dental office.
Hopefully, she’ll be able to stay healthy because she certainly has her eyes set on the AEW Women’s Championship. If she can build up some momentum, it won’t be long before the self-proclaimed role model can also call herself a champion.
Then we look at perhaps the most unnerving superstar on the entire AEW roster.
Abadon debuted in 2019 for Rocky Mountain Pro Wrestling, where she is a two-time Rocky Mountain Pro Lockettes Champion. She first appeared in AEW back in March, where she lost to Hikaru Shida during an episode of AEW Dark. She then appeared on Dynamite on June 11, defeating Anna Jay.
Less than a week later, AEW announced that they had officially signed Abadon. Since then, she has appeared on AEW Dark four times, defeating Skyler Moore, KiLynn King, Red Velvet, and most recently, Dani Jordyn.
So far, she has shown that she isn’t someone to mess with. It’ll be interesting to see what happens going forward, especially when she gets more time on Dynamite. Perhaps she’ll join a certain order who’s currently wreaking havoc across the entire promotion? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Speaking of The Dark Order, let’s talk about The Queen Slayer.
Jay made her wrestling debut last September as part of Georgia Pro Wrestling. She then made her AEW debut on April 1, 2020, losing to Hikaru Shida on an episode of Dynamite. Five days later, she signed with the promotion.
After losses to Penelope Ford and Abadon, Jay eventually joined The Dark Order. She was a part of the AEW Women’s Tag Team Cup Tournament: The Deadly Draw, teaming up with Tay Conti. The two defeated Nyla Rose and Ariane Andrew in the quarterfinals but lost in the following round to Diamante and Ivelisse.
While she is relatively new to wrestling, she’s already made quite the impact. Joining The Dark Order has already started to pay off for her, and she can only get better with time and experience. That certainly doesn’t bode well for the rest of the AEW women’s division.
Up next is Superbad herself.
Ford began her career on December 17 2014, with Combat Zone Wrestling. She went on to wrestle for promotions like Women Superstars Uncensored, New York Wrestling Connection, Smash Wrestling, and Queens of Combat.
She joined AEW alongside Joey Janela in January 2019. Her in-ring debut came in August at All Out, where she participated in the Casino Battle Royale that was won by Nyla Rose. She continued to compete on AEW Dark but couldn’t find the win column. Her first victory came on February 29, when she and Dr Britt Baker, D.M.D. defeated Yuka Sakazaki and Riho.
Her first pay-per-view match took place at Double or Nothing in May 2020, in a losing effort to Kris Statlander. A couple of months later, she unsuccessfully challenged Shida for the AEW Women’s Championship at Fyter Fest.
She also teamed with Mel during The Deadly Draw tournament but lost in the quarterfinals to Allie and Brandi Rhodes.
Even though her AEW career got off to a rocky start, Ford turned things around and showed that she can hang with the best of them. Her title match with Shida helped establish her as a legitimate talent within the division. Let’s just hope she doesn’t get lost in the shuffle once the rest of the roster returns from overseas.
Rounding out part one is the rough and tough competitor from Chicago.
Mel debuted back in April 2008 for POWW. Throughout her career, she has wrestled for the likes of Global Force Wrestling, Shimmer, RISE Wrestling, and Impact Wrestling. In 2012, PWI ranked her 25 out of the best 50 female singles wrestlers.
She made her AEW debut on December 4, 2019, joining Brandi Rhodes and The Nightmare Collective stable. Her in-ring debut came the following month at Bash at the Beach, where she and Rhodes lost to Hikaru Shida and Kris Statlander. However, the group never caught on with the fans and disbanded shortly after.
Since then, she has made a few appearances on AEW Dark. She also teamed with Penelope Ford in The Deadly Draw tournament, but the two were ousted in the quarterfinals by Allie and Rhodes.
After The Nightmare Collective disbanded, Mel never really found her footing. Sure, she picked up a couple wins, but she is rarely seen on AEW programming. It seems like she is going to remain in the lower card for the foreseeable future.
Check back next time as we finish up our look into the AEW women’s division!