Women’s wrestling is the best and I don’t care who knows it.
Last week, I started an article series analysing the women’s wrestling scene, which has grow to unprecedented heights in the past decade. With opportunities expanding for women in wrestling, I’m looking at three of the biggest companies where women’s wrestling is prevalent: WWE, AEW and IMPACT, as well as Independent/Other.
Each sector is going to be ranked out of five, based on character development, roster, match quality and opportunities for success. Last week, I analysed WWE’s women and this week, it is the turn of All Elite Wrestling. I wrote an article a few months ago explaining how AEW could utilise its women better, so it will be interesting to see whether their division has improved.
Overall Roster: 4 / 5
I believe AEW has a very strong women’s roster and from my last article, things have improved. Due to the pandemic, we are seeing new women such as Anna Jayy perform on a national scale and they have impressed. Much like WWE, AEW has a wide mix of personalities that have helped create a well rounded division. I especially love the addition of Joshi stars such as Riho, Yuka Sakazaki and current champion, Hikaru Shida as well as Nyla Rose, who makes history as the first trans woman to compete on a televised wrestling show. Those additions make AEW’s women’s roster stand out more than its main competition.
What I love (or more who I love) most though is Aubrey Edwards. I’m an absolute sucker for a strong, non wrestling female character on TV, which explains why I’m so thrilled to see Vickie Guerrero in AEW. To see a female referee officiating the main events of pay-per-views speaks volumes to how brilliant Queen Aubrey is. I would say my one critique is the stop-start nature of the roster. On that note, has anyone see Jamie Hayter?!
Character Development: 3 / 5
Unfortunately, this is where rhings begin to go downhill with AEW. While I think the roster is strong, not many of them have fully realised characters that are showcased on a regular basis. Yes, there are women like Kris Statlander, Big Swole and Bea Priestley who have entwined their gimmicks into everything they do, but how often do the TV audience get to connect with them? With a heavy reliance on Being The Elite, not much. Which is a shame. considering how fantastic the aforementioned three wrestlers are.
However, someone who has been very successful in modifying themselves to fit seamlessly onto the AEW roster is Britt Baker. When she signed as the first female on the women’s roster, she was the bright smiled dentist that had a great finisher. It was only when she turned her real life job into the sort of person you fear when you visit the dentist that she saw success. Her promos with Tony Schiavone and her “role model” persona have made her into a fantastic heel character. I’ll be honest, I’m surprised she has not won the AEW Women’s Championship, but I imagine her time will come soon.
All I ask for in this section is to give women time to develop their characters on TV through promos and storylines. It is good to see more than one storyline going for the women however, much like WWE, there are more ways to develop your character than only wrestling.
Match Quality: 3 / 5
Because of the calibre and experience of the talent, we have had some fantastic women’s matches in the short time AEW has existed. For example, the six women Joshi tag team match from last year’s Double or Nothing goes down as one of my favourite women’s matches of all time – it was lightning quick, technically sound and everyone clicked wonderfully. I also enjoyed seeing Aja Kong in a wrestling ring again and it is a shame we have never got to see the Battle of the Kongs. Also, the most recent AEW Women’s Championship match between Nyla Rose and Hikaru Shida was great because they worked so well together.
Unfortunately, that has not always been the case and we have seen some questionable matches coming out of the AEW Women’s division. It isn’t that the wrestlers are not good wrestlers – I just feel sometimes the chemistry is not there and it results in clunky, disorganised matches. An example of this is Kris Statlander vs Penelope Ford. I rate both of these wrestlers, but the chemistry wasn’t there and as a result, their PPV match did not work.
But to me, that’s OK. It isn’t always going to work with a pair of wrestlers and the great thing about AEW is that they can experiment with such a variety of talent to find the right match ups while they are still young. It isn’t like WWE, who have been around for decades and developed a reputation for not always showcasing the women to their best abilities wrestling wise. There is room for improvement, but that is not to say that AEW does not have the talent to create great matches.
Opportunities for Success: 2 / 5
My score is low on the fact that there is only one championship to fight for. But again, I understand that AEW is still young and developing, so opportunities for success will grow as the company grows.
One of my favourite things about AEW is their ranking system – it gives the wrestlers the determination to win so they can be seen as worthy of a championship match. I do find some elements of it questionable because someone can have more losses yet still be ranked high.
So yes, opportunities for success isn’t going to get the best score yet, but who knows? Maybe when we look back in a year’s time, we can see the change and more championships come into play.
AEW Women’s Division Score: 12/20
Yes, the score is lower than what I gave for WWE last week, but hear me out. I think people forget that AEW have not been around for long compared to WWE – they are basically babies in the wrestling industry – and there has been a very high expectation placed on them due to the amount of investment into the men’s division.
My score is lower because the issues AEW have in their women’s division all link together – because of the lack of character development, we don’t get to see the opportunities for success that we want to see. Unless you watch Dynamite via FITE TV, the women’s matches are short and do not do much for either wrestler. Give it time (and give AEW Heels a chance to properly kick off) and I’m sure we will see a rejuvenated division this time next year.
Who knows? Maybe it needs a diamond to add some shine…
Next week, I will be looking into IMPACT Wrestling’s women’s division.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @HeyImShirleigh. Thanks for reading!