AEW must hire Maria Kanellis-Bennett to help women’s division

TV personality Maria Kanellis attends Fashion-On-The-Go hair styling services celebration at Duane Reade on May 6, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Stewart/WireImage)
TV personality Maria Kanellis attends Fashion-On-The-Go hair styling services celebration at Duane Reade on May 6, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Stewart/WireImage) /

AEW desperately needs creative help with its women’s division. This has been increasingly obvious since Thunder Rosa announced she wouldn’t be able to compete at ALL OUT. There was a Fatal 4-Way that included three women who had been feuding for months and a fan favorite. Since then, the interim AEW Women’s champion, Toni Storm, has been booked in tag matches and more 4-ways. Besides coming off as lazy booking, it also feels like the women are an afterthought.

During Thunder Rosa’s title reign, I began calling for AEW to hire someone to help them creatively with the women’s division. Bringing in a veteran like Madison Rayne is a step in the right direction. However they need more than just coaching. There is a lack of women’s segments and character development. This is how you get fans to invest in wrestlers. Why isn’t it happening with the women?

This is where Maria Kanellis-Bennett comes in. She has decades of experience in and out of the ring. She has wrestled in WWE, ROH, and IMPACT, among others. Last year, she revitalized Women of Honor, ROH’s women’s division. She put together a women’s tournament that showcased wrestlers like Roxanne Perez (formerly Rok-C), Willow Nightingale, and Trish Adora.

Maria Kanellis-Bennett’s background

After ROH shut down and before it was sold to Tony Khan, Kanellis-Bennett went to IMPACT as part of Honor No More, a stable of wrestlers from ROH. In addition to that, she started her own promotion, Women’s Wrestle Army, with ROH ring announcer, Bobby Cruise. It’s an all women’s promotion that brings in wrestlers from all over the indie scene along with IMPACT and AEW.

Why did she do this? Because women still need opportunities. In an interview with Grapsody, Kanellis-Bennett said they wanted to “give them another place to work. Not only work in the ring, but to work backstage. Get their message across, whether that be through interviews, from just like, behind-the-scenes moments showing them as individuals is what can take them to the next level hopefully. (…) We give the opportunities of backstage interviewers, of having professional commentary, having the set backstage, sitting them down and saying ‘okay, we’re going to discuss your life now. What do you want of your life to be out there?’ Because right now, we can control that environment. You can make a very clear version of who you want to be and then we can scrape it all away and scrape it down so it makes sense.”

Kanellis-Bennett said that when she was in Ohio Valley Wrestling, she’d go in early to learn from Paul Heyman and understand what goes into shows from behind-the-scenes. That helped her in ROH when she was managing The Kingdom.

When asked what she would bring to AEW or the new ROH, Kanellis-Bennett replied, “I’m like Mama Bear. I want to see your soul. So, I’m not the greatest wrestler in the world. I will give you an idea of where your match should go. I will you an idea of specific things I think you should incorporate in the ring. But I wanna see why. What are you fighting for? (…) Why are you fighting? Why did you get into this crazy business? And I never want you to forget it. So, character development. Producer because I want people to have their very best promo. I want them to be able to get their message out there. I like to work with people on their promos and really create the vibe that they want.”

AEW needs to show that women’s wrestling is a priority

This is the exact person that AEW needs to take their women’s division to the next level. What she’s doing with Women’s Wrestle Army is exactly what needs to be happening in AEW. They need to build women as characters, to help them tell stories, and give them opportunities. Before ROH gets on TV or streaming, AEW must get their women’s division on the right track. Khan can’t run the ROH women’s division without improving the AEW division first.

Kanellis-Bennett has said that she has talked with Tony Khan, Triple H, Scott D’Amore, and Women of Wrestling. If Khan is serious about his women’s division, then hiring Kanellis-Bennett has to be a priority.

Next. Build to women's title match at Grand Slam leave a lot to be desired. dark

As I’ve pointed out before, women’s wrestling is picking up in other places. NJPW is adding in a title with STARDOM. WOW is currently in syndication on CBS owned-and-operated stations. IMPACT has long had a strong women’s division. WWE has been improving their women’s divisions. It’s time for AEW to step up.

Fans have been questioning the importance of women in AEW. Hiring Kanellis-Bennett will send a message that not only do they care about women’s wrestling, but it is a priority. With AEW heading into Year Four, it’s well past time to get the women’s division on the right track.