During last week’s episode of AEW Dynamite, the company announced that The Deadly Draw, a women’s tag team tournament, is debuting later this summer.
We don’t currently know a lot about the tournament, but we do know the first two official competitors. Brandi Rhodes tweeted during the show that she and her frenemy, Allie, are participating.
Other than that, it’s unclear who else will join The Nightmare Sisters in the eight-team bracket or what the winners will receive. However, it doesn’t seem far-fetched to believe that AEW Women’s Tag Team Championships are in the cards.
More details will certainly emerge in the coming weeks, but is The Deadly Draw a good or a bad idea in the current wrestling landscape?
At first glance, it does seem like a good idea; the AEW women’s division is not at its strongest and needed something to showcase more of its talent. The potential addition of women’s tag titles is a plus as well, especially if they want to stay on par with WWE. However, it could not have been announced at a worse time.
The roster is very thin due to injuries and COVID-19. Top stars like Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D., Kris Statlander, and Awesome Kong are on the shelf for the foreseeable future due to various injuries. Travel restrictions from the pandemic have rendered the likes of Riho, Yuka Sakazaki, Emi Sakura, Sadie Gibbs, Bea Priestley, and Shanna incapable of coming to the US right now.
Under these circumstances, only ten contracted talent are available to compete currently:
- AEW Women’s Champion Hikaru Shida
- Nyla Rose
- Big Swole
- Penelope Ford
- Brandi Rhodes
- Leva Bates
- Anna Jay
Talent featured recently on Dynamite and AEW Dark could join the fray as well. This includes:
- MJ Jenkins
- Rache Chanel
- KiLynn King
- Dani Jordan
- Christi Jaynes
- Kenzie Page
- Skyler Moore
- Red Velvet
While it seems like there is plenty of talent to fill up the bracket, a good portion of them haven’t been showcased enough for fans to gain any interest. To combat this, AEW could try to bring in more well-known talent from the indies, like Allysin Kay, Nicole Savoy, Priscilla Kelly, and Tessa Blanchard (as controversial as that might be), much like WWE did for the Mae Young Classic.
Another possible setback is what this will do to the AEW Women’s Championship. If the focus shifts to the tournament and Shida is a part of it, the title is automatically put on the back-burner for a while.
But on the flip side, the tournament might also be a way to bide more time for things to return to some sense of normalcy. After Shida defeated Rose for the title, the pandemic and injuries took away almost every viable challenger for her to take on. Once she retained against Ford at Fyter Fest, there were simply no other believable challengers that she hadn’t previously fought.
So, while she may not get to defend the title, at least she still gets to compete and remain relevant.
As mentioned earlier, a plus to holding the tournament is getting more than the usual suspects on AEW television. While some of them have wrestled on Dynamite, mainly as enhancement talent, many have only wrestled on AEW Dark. Getting them on both programmes will help them gain more exposure and help fans become more familiar with them.
But one of the biggest risks of holding this tournament is the fact that it’s in a tag team format. Once wrestling moved into the empty arena era, the issues within the AEW women’s division became even more apparent. It felt like every week we were seeing some form of a multi-women match, typically including a combination of Shida, Rose, Statlander, Baker, and Ford.
After watching so many women’s tag matches over the last several months, do fans really want to see more? Granted, it’ll have some fresh faces this time around, but at its core it’s still a bunch of talent thrown together out of necessity. Perhaps tag titles or an enticing reward for the winners will make things feel more legitimate, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Personally, I don’t think The Deadly Draw is a horrible idea; it gives more of the division the opportunity to get television time. However, it would have been better if we were able to see more of the roster participate. Adding women like Baker, Statlander, Priestley, Gibbs, and Riho into the mix would have certainly helped elevate the tournament.
Since that can’t happen, don’t be surprised if several indie talents are thrown into the mix. The division as it currently stands just doesn’t have enough star power, so they’ll need to bring in some more well-known competitors to spice things up a little.
Regardless, it’s going to be nice to see something new for the AEW women’s division. Who knows, this may be the shot in the arm it needs after months of stagnation.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @shalenehixon21. Thanks for reading!