AEW has had two big criticisms in their young promotion: diversity and the women’s division. Let’s take a look at how they should improve the latter.
AEW needs to take their women’s division more seriously. Full stop.
It has been months of excuses, starts and stops and no follow through. Sure, they’re a new company. How long is that a valid excuse when their men’s and tag teams (also all men) divisions are thriving? The men have three titles, technically four if you count Brian Cage’s FTW championship.
Two hours is both a lot of time and not. AEW so badly wants to cram it’s men into two hours that they’ve kicked off the last two Dynamites with multi-men matches. Nearly all of the competitors are in tag teams too.
On 8/6, there was one women’s segment and it was less than five minutes. AEW is booking Reba/Rebel as Britt’s makeup artist/assistant and not a wrestler. So yeah, Big Swole should beat her in a squash. If they knew that they were booking it as a squash, why wouldn’t they book another women’s segment?
They didn’t even mention the Women’s Tag Team Cup Tournament on air. The results flashed up with Dark highlights. They sometimes air clips from Dark. Why in the world wouldn’t you show clips from the tournament? They brought in Madusa for crying out loud. For a company that loves nostalgia (see: Bischoff, Eric), they should’ve promoted Madusa’s involvement at the very least.
That’s very on brand though, isn’t it? For as much as AEW promotes how they’re different, they can’t even promote the women’s division correctly.
When my article about the tournament airing on YouTube went live last Thursday, there was not one tweet promoting The Deadly Draw from AEW. The segment from the previous Dynamite wasn’t even on YouTube. My article went live at 6:30. At 7:02, AEW tweeted this.
This wonderful, sad thread does an excellent job summing up AEW’s history of mismanagement of the women’s division.
Here’s what AEW must do to improve
Now that AEW know what the problems are, how do they fix it? First of all, book them like the men. By that I mean, give them ample TV time and promos.
Hikaru Shida is their women’s champion and has no storyline. Unacceptable. There is no good reason to have your champion as part of the crowd most weeks. Some have complained about her recent match on Dark against Raché Chanel, although it was non-title. Viewers of Dark deserve to see champions too. As long as it isn’t a regular occurrence, it’s not really an issue.
It’s a bigger issue that she has no direction. They seem to put her on shows as an afterthought, like they realize “Oh, we should put Shida on the card. Just have her face wrestler X.” If she’s going to fight various women like Chanel and Diamanté, then they should be meaningful. Even if the matches are non-title, build her as a dominant, undefeated champion. They should really play up the face that she has one loss in 2020.
Another issue with Shida is the lack of promo time. She had an English promo at Fight for the Fallen that was very good. Shida later tweeted that she was nervous. Since the crowd is mostly made up of her peers, this is the perfect time to give her more opportunities. Putting her in front of a mic more often will help her confidence, make her a more well-rounded champion, and help build meaningful stories.
AEW has done an excellent job with Britt Baker. Instead of letting her fade away like Kris Statlander, they’ve kept her on TV weekly. Remember how bad her promos were in the beginning? They worked with her and allowed her to practice weekly on shows. Look at her now. They can do the same for Shida.
Baker and Big Swole have been not only the most compelling women, but they have told one of the most compelling storylines every week. They are fan favorites and something fans look forward to seeing. This shows that AEW can put effort into the women if they try and that fans will likely enjoy it.
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Does Nyla really need a manager? Probably not. Would Vickie have been better off paired with someone who doesn’t get much TV/promo time? Yes. However, Nyla explained why she has a manager and it makes sense.
This is obviously building towards a rematch between Shida and Nyla for the AEW Women’s championship. You can’t build a feud when one is sitting in the crowd every week as a fan.
Another way to help the division is to follow through. As the thread pointed out, Penelope had her best match yet at Revolution. And then…more the same.
As enjoyable Ford and Sabian are, AEW has spent a lot of time building her as Sabian’s fiancée who will help him win when necessary. Sabian has proved he will return the favor. This is fun, but shouldn’t be the focus.
When do we get to see Ford flourish as her own woman? We can see how much Ford has improved, and she has the chance to develop as one of the company’s top women.
As much as the division has been hurt by injury and travel restrictions, they haven’t taken advantage to build up the women they do have. Anna Jay is such a fascinating story. She’s been wrestling less than a year and is already signed with a major company. Many of us completely forgot she joined Dark Order until two weeks ago. Are they going to treat her like Colt Cabana where they hide their evil deeds from her? Or will they let her in on the action where she helps her cult brothers win matches?
It’s understandable that it was best to pull Allie away from being “The Bunny” and letting her compete. The division needed help after said injuries and travel bans. I get that this means Brandi too. The Nightmare Sisters are growing into a solid team. They’re the only official women’s tag team. Will they let other women develop as tag teams or is this just a way for the Nightmare Sisters to win the tournament?
There’s also Mel, Abadon, and Leva. Mel has been mostly MIA since the Nightmare Collective finally came to an end. Leva has been mostly relegated to managing Peter Avalon and sometimes Brandon Cutler. Abadon is a fun, creative character. Vignettes would be right up her alley and a great way to build her up.
It all boils down to effort. AEW has to put more effort into their women’s division. Give them more air time, develop their characters, and let them cut promos. It really is that simple. They can’t be the great company they want to be and have an inadequate women’s division. These women and the fans deserve better.
AEW is a year and a half old. It’s time to stop making excuses and just do it.