Fellow TWM writer Dan Sinasac recently penned an article that delved into the oversaturation of championships in the WWE. Across Raw, Smackdown, NXT and NXT UK, the WWE is home to 20 titles. That is an astonishing amount of gold and, as Dan pointed out, results in championship reigns often feeling far less prestigious than they could have done years ago. Can the same be said for the AEW Championship Picture?
All Elite Wrestling, who have a total of four championships – five times less than the competition. Of course, AEW has just one flagship programme, Dynamite, as opposed to the four brands that WWE produces which makes things easier. It does, however, mean that some members of the ever-increasing AEW roster may find themselves being left out of the title picture indefinitely. So, is the answer to create another championship?
What Could Work?
One thing that many AEW fans love about the company is the treatment, look and booking of their championships. The first title we were introduced to was the AEW World Championship, the company’s premier title and one of wrestling’s most gorgeous belts. This was swiftly followed by the introduction of the AEW Women’s World Championship and the World Tag Team Championship respectively. Each title had its own distinctive look and feel which again was a welcomed trait by fans tired of WWE’s titles looking nearly identical.
For a few months, this formula was working, however, there was a distinct feeling that a mid-card or secondary championship was needed to help elevate those not in a tag team or ready for the main event. In late March 2020, the TNT Championship was announced – AEW’s title with a similar role to WWE’s Intercontinental and WCW’s old Television title.
So, to recap. We have four championships, a men’s and women’s world title, plus a tag team and mid-card belt. Do we have room for any more and, if so, what could they be?
AEW Trios Tag Championships: This idea has been bandied around from the early days of AEW, with Tony Khan himself speaking about the subject at a media conference in December. He said: “Yes there is [talk of introducing the titles] but it won’t be in 2020. If it happens, it will most likely be in 2021. I’ve been seriously thinking about it. I think there’s a lot of momentum for it, we have a lot of great trios teams.” AEW already boasts some great three-man combinations in their ranks, for example, Best Friends, Jurassic Express, Death Triangle and others who would be more than capable of introducing such niche titles to mainstream audiences. However, creating this championship could result in the devaluation of the current World Tag Team Championships. By adding another tag title into the fold, AEW could be faced with WWE’s problem of oversaturating a single division.
AEW Women’s World Tag Team Championship: If AEW introduces any new title that isn’t this one, I’ll be having some serious words with Khan and co. The women’s division has often been seen by fans as the obvious Achilles heel that plagues AEW. Modern fans have grown accustomed to women being just as important as their male counterparts, with engaging storylines, stellar matches and main event spots. AEW has been a little slow in that department, with women only recently given the main event match on Dynamite – which, by the way, was out of this world. Hats off to Thunder Rosa and Dr Britt Baker on that stellar performance. AEW did give us a Women’s Tag Team Cup tournament, however, the majority of matches didn’t take place on Dynamite and the eventual winners, Ivelisse and Diamante, have barely been seen since. Speaking in October about the tournament and possible titles, Brandi Rhodes said: “The tournament was a step in the right direction because, across the board, there was this thought that we didn’t have enough women to do tag team wrestling in AEW. So, I think that this showed everyone that we have women available. My hope is we continue to grow and go in that direction, but I can’t promise anything because it’s the week to week these days.” Sounds a lot less definitive than Tony Khan on the Trios titles, doesn’t it?
Out of the four championships in AEW, the women can challenge for just one. That’s not good enough. So, unless Tony Khan changes his views on intergender wrestling, Women’s Tag Team Championships are a very necessary move.
AEW Hardcore Championship: Vince McMahon used the term “blood and guts” when describing a “new potential competitor” back in 2019. Why not totally live up to that by creating a championship with blood and guts as the very essence? Hardcore wrestling had its heyday back in the late 90s with ECW perfecting the art and WWE joining in with their own Hardcore Championship. Both had great successes but ultimately fell foul to changing times and tastes. Fast-forward 20+ years and it could be suggested that our fans’ weird blood lust is back, with AEW often fulfilling it with matches such as the aforementioned Rosa/Baker match as well as Cody vs Dustin Rhodes at Double or Nothing 2019. By introducing this sort of championship, AEW could allow some peripheral stars to shine, have women eligible to challenge and give fans the type of matches we’ve been lacking on mainstream television for a long time. On the other hand, this sort of title could in turn devalue the impact of matches such as the Unsanctioned Lights Out and Deathmatch bouts we’ve come to enjoy. The sparsity of those matches makes them memorable, which I suppose a Hardcore title could undermine.
If AEW is to introduce another title to their ranks, it truly must be a carefully taken decision as the wrong title could spell problems. Out of the suggestions I’ve made, the one that SHOULD be taken seriously is the Women’s Tag Team titles. You cannot have a company, with aspirations to compete with WWE, that boasts just one women’s championship with a roster of over 25 women. Yes, AEW is making strides to give women a greater role within the company but until that manifests itself in championship form, I’m not convinced.
AEW must not fall into the rabbit hole of sanctioning too many championships as WWE have done. The titles become meaningless when they each have an equivalent within the same company and if they stay clear of that trap, AEW may just end up with wrestling’s most prestigious championships.