Last month, Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. promised to usher in a new era of the AEW women’s division. At Double or Nothing, she made good on her word.
That night, she dethroned Hikaru Shida to win the AEW Women’s World Championship. This ended Shida’s reign at 372 days, which is the longest reign by anyone in the company’s history. But all the claims Baker made leading up to the match were not just talk. Her win signalled a change over a year in the making, but she had to give the devil its due.
Shida was champion during one of the toughest times in the world. The COVID-19 pandemic turned the wrestling industry on its head; there were no fans and promotions had to get creative with how they put their shows together. However, Shida did not let any of that phase her.
She continued to put the work in and welcomed all challengers. She could have easily crumbled under the pressure, but she instead thrived and put together an incredible reign as champion. Baker said herself that 2020 was Shida’s year and she kept the division alive during that time.
But that was then, and this is now.
Baker’s coronation at Double or Nothing was much more symbolic underneath the surface. Leading up to the pay-per-view, it felt like a change was coming in the AEW women’s division. Since the beginning, it was always a sore spot amongst critics and fans alike. But in the last year, it started to pick up steam with each passing week.
Coincidentally, this just happened to take place as the world started opening back up. AEW is hitting the road soon and fans will finally fill arenas across the country once again. When they do, they will have a new and improved division to cheer on and a new champion at the helm.
However, you cannot give Baker and Shida all the credit for the AEW women’s division’s resurgence. For starters, we might not be talking about this right now if it wasn’t for Thunder Rosa. Her feud with Baker was one of the highlights of the pandemic era. They were at each other’s throats for four months, with tensions rising after each confrontation between the two.
Things culminated during their history-making main event match on the March 17 episode of Dynamite. The unsanctioned lights out brawl brought out the best in both women and is still considered a match of the year candidate. It helped signify that the AEW women’s division would be an afterthought no more.
You must also give props to everyone in the AEW Women’s World Championship Eliminator Tournament. From start to finish, it was well put together and featured great matches on both the US and Japanese sides of the bracket. It then led to an excellent match between Shida and tournament winner, Ryo Mizunami, at Revolution. The tournament was a major turning point for the division as a whole.
Plain and simple, each woman stepped up and helped reignite the division into what it is now. This also means that with Baker as champion, we will get to see plenty of fresh matchups and challenges in the coming months.
As it currently stands, it looks like Nyla Rose is the first to step up to the plate. Baker will have her hands full with the former champion, who is certainly looking to reestablish herself as a force in the division.
There is also Big Swole, who has plenty of history with everyone’s favorite role model. Who could forget their feud from last summer? Baker would love nothing more than to avenge her loss to Swole in the Tooth and Nail match from All Out last September.
Kris Statlander is another good choice, especially since she made quite the first impression at the champ’s expense. In her first match after signing with AEW, Statlander defeated Baker to earn a shot at the AEW Women’s World Championship. I’m sure Baker has not forgotten the loss and would have a bone to pick with the Galaxy’s Greatest Alien.
But we cannot forget Rosa, who will certainly be gunning for Baker sooner rather than later. The Good Doctor would take great pride in rubbing her title victory in Rosa’s face at every opportunity. Without a doubt, their feud is far from over.
There are plenty of other women that Baker can mix it up with for the title. Names like Jade Cargill, Tay Conti, Red Velvet, and Serena Deeb instantly come to mind. Over time, we could add the likes of Leyla Hirsch and Abadon to that list as well.
The possibilities for the AEW women’s division right now are endless. A new era is upon us, and we should all look forward to what we could see in the months ahead.