Over a six-week period, I timed women’s matches in WWE, AEW, and Impact Wrestling to get a better picture of the state of women’s wrestling.
Back in October, I wrote yet another article about AEW’s women’s division. AEW rightfully gets a lot of backlash regarding their women’s division. However, around the same time, fellow Daily DDT writer Raphael Garcia lamented about the issues with WWE’s women’s division. I decided to take a closer look at women’s wrestling matches.
Initially, I was just going to time women’s matches for a week across AEW, WWE, and Impact Wrestling. This includes Monday Night RAW, NXT, SmackDown, AEW Dark and Dynamite, and Impact Wrestling. NXT UK wasn’t included because I haven’t watched it since it came back from hiatus. I screenshot all of the times and kept a thread of the results on Twitter using #WomensWrestling.
After a week, I decided that it wasn’t enough of a sample size and would time all women’s matches until the last week of November/first week of December. I began timing matches on October 27. The last match for this article was timed on December 5.
This only includes official matches from bell to bell. It does not include backstage segments, promos, or Lana going through a table weekly.
While timing matches is something I decided to do in response to the above articles, I must point out the incredible work that Kristen Ashly and Kate Foray have done in regards to tracking women’s matches. Ashly has two excellent articles, Evolution Check-up: Women’s Wrestling Stats for October Weekly Shows and Women’s Wrestling Stats in the First Year of “Wednesday Night Wars”. Foray had the RAW Breakdown Project and some of the fantastic graphics. Both women’s work shows that this has been an ongoing issue within wrestling for a long time.
Following a six-week snapshot, here is what I discovered about the state of women’s wrestling across three major companies.
Women’s wrestling isn’t showcased enough
Coming off of Slammiversary, which featured women in three matches (including two title matches, the Knockouts Championship and X Division Championship), it seemed like Impact seemed to feature their women’s division the most. Except, the first three weeks that I’ve timed their matches, there was just one women’s match.
Both RAW and SmackDown regularly feature just one match. Keep in mind that RAW is the only three-hour show in all three companies. NXT tends to have two women’s matches every week.
For months, Dark featured just two women’s matches out of 13 and 14 weekly matches. Dynamite regularly has just one women’s match that generally begins 9:20 PM. Since Full Gear, Dark has had four consecutive weeks with five women’s matches.
Match time length is a big problem
Besides how the women are booked in storylines, the most glaring issue is the length of women’s matches. Other than NXT, every other show has very short matches.
RAW had 12 matches, including multiple short matches. Seven of the 12 matches were under four minutes. Again, it’s the longest of all shows that are being timed. The shortest match was just 61 seconds between Lana and Asuka. These two are also in the longest match. They faced Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax in a match that lasted 9:17.
SmackDown has a similar problem with multiple short matches. The shortest match was 1:44 between Natalya vs. Tamina. The blue brand’s longest match was Sasha vs. Bayley II, which clocked in at a whopping 18:23. SmackDown had just six matches during this period and four of them were less than five minutes.
NXT has regularly had matches in the double digits. They have also had two women’s matches main event the black and yellow brand. Of all the shows across three companies, NXT is the only show to have women main event.
There were ten matches on NXT. The longest match was Io Shirai vs. Rhea Ripley at 22:03. Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell vs. Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter lasted 4:31 on the same night. This is the only match under ten minutes.
Over in AEW, things weren’t much better in the beginning. While Dark features many women from the independent scene, they only showcased two women’s matches among double-digit matches every week.
The longest match featured on Dark was Red Velvet vs. Tay Conti. It lasted 8:09. On a special Friday night episode of the show, Big Swole and Tesha Price opened the show with a 2:52 match. Dark ended up with 23 (!) women’s matches in that six week period once they began adding more matches every week. Of those, only five matches were longer than five minutes.
Dynamite has drawn the ire of fans for having just one women’s match. This is still an issue. Out of six matches, only one was over ten minutes. The longest match was for the NWA Women’s World Championship between Thunder Rosa vs. Serena Deeb was 13:12. Nyla Rose squashed Red Velvet in 1:54 for the show’s shortest match.
During the first few weeks of timing Impact Wrestling, they had segments involving women, but just one women’s match. Again, this was surprising coming off of Slammiversary where women were featured in three different matches. There were seven matches total, with a few weeks having two in one night.
Just two matches were under five minutes. The longest match came during the Knockouts Tag Team Tournament. Jordynne Grace and Jazz faced Killer Kelly and Renee Michelle in a match that lasted 12:14. The shortest match also featured Killer Kelly. She wrestled Kimber Lee in a match that went 3:09.
Women’s matches on pay-per-view
Pay-per-views showcased longer women’s matches. Survivor Series featured two women’s matches. Sasha vs. Asuka clocked in at 13:07. The women’s 5-on-5 match came in at a whopping 23 and a half minutes.
AEW’s Full Gear had just one women’s match. Hikaru Shida defended her title against Nyla Rose in a bout that lasted 14:12.
At Turning Point, Su Yung put the Impact Knockouts Championship on the line against Deonna Purrazzo. Their match lasted 14:16. The show also featured a tag match between Rosemary & Taya Valkyrie and Jordynne Grace and Tenille Dashwood. This match came in at 8:13.
Women’s champions MIA
Across all companies, the women’s champions were mostly MIA. Nia Jax had seven matches on RAW, while her tag team partner, Baszler had six. Asuka also wrestled six times. After Sasha Banks won the SmackDown Women’s Championship, she defended the title just once.
WWE’s booking of the women’s divisions on both RAW and SmackDown has been awful for months as well. Although Sasha and Bayley ruled the summer, the rest of their divisions fell by the wayside. The IIconics were broken up for no reason. Lana has been bullied to mirror how she has been treated online (and also as punishment for Miro signing with AEW). Asuka has been an afterthought, even though she’s the RAW Women’s Champion.
In AEW, Shida wrestled three times with a match on Dark, a title match on Dynamite, and a title match at Full Gear.
Even before timing matches, AEW did an extremely poor job of booking Shida. Oftentimes, she was sitting in the crowd. They literally had nothing for her to do.
Yung won the Knockouts Champion three days before I began timing matches. As champion, she wrestled just two times before dropping the title back to Purrazzo. Yung ended up being a filler champion to make up for the situation with Kylie Rae.
Positivities in women’s wrestling
Overall, women’s wrestling in all three companies has been pretty abysmal. But, there are some positives.
AEW has had five women’s matches on Dark for the last month. Although the matches only last under five minutes, it’s still a step in the right direction. They’ve also added a segment called “The Waiting Room”, which is hosted by Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. and features Rebel/Reba as her sidekick. AEW also added a couple of backstage and interview segments in recent weeks.
There has also been the introduction of Jade Cargill, which has led to storyline developments for Brandi Rhodes, Velvet Sky, Big Swole, Nyla Rose, Diamanté, and Ivelisse. Shida finally has something to do in a feud with Abadon. Thunder Rosa is now involved with Baker.
Impact Wrestling has been featuring the women more prominently with the Knockout Tag Team Tournament. They brought in Jazz, Sea Stars, Killer Kelly, and Renee Michelle. Alisha is feuding with Tenille Dashwood. Purrazzo has set her sights on Taya Valkerie. Impact frequently has segments with the women as well.
With Impact and AEW working together, there is the possibility of future crossover matches. We’ve seen AEW’s willingness to work with NWA in this capacity. It has been to the delight of fans and helps both companies and their talent.
Charlotte Flair is on her way back to WWE at any moment, perhaps as soon as TLC. The Riott Squad has reformed. Bianca Belair is always a positive. Rhea Ripley is back on her way to the title picture, and Ember Moon has made her return.
Women’s wrestling deserves better. It’s almost 2021 and we shouldn’t constantly have to talk about how awful the divisions are in major companies.
In WWE, women’s wrestling has (mostly) regressed to the point prior to #GiveDivasAChance. NXT is by no means perfect, but if RAW and SmackDown could approach their women’s divisions in a similar fashion, they’d be in a much better place.
AEW and Impact both seem to be pushing their respective women’s divisions into better positions as we head into the new year.
Ring of Honor is picking back up and will hopefully be doing more with their women’s division.
A year from now, I hope that the conversation has completely changed and we aren’t still harping soon the same things. Women’s wrestling must progress and be booked equally with the men’s divisions.