Jamie Hayter has done it. At AEW Full Gear she became the AEW Women’s Champion. Even better, her championship is recognized as a lineal victory, removing the interim tag. Full Gear could be seen as a “restarting” point for the women’s division as there are multiple routes the promotion can go with the group. With that in mind, here are three names that would serve as initial challengers for Hayter while fans wait for the big build that leads to a feud with Britt Baker.
It once seemed like AEW was preparing to put Tay Melo on to a big push. She was featured well and picked up consistent wins. Things changed when she was slotted in the JAS storyline. Even though she still gets time on television, it’s more of a second string to anything going on with that group. Her time in AEW has helped her develop into a better performer at a quicker rate, and it would be good timing to slot her into an early feud with Hayter as she builds her championship run.
AEW does an excellent job of shifting wrestlers from face to heel, and Melo could play off Hayter’s babyface reactions even though she, Baker, and Reba still act as heels each week. Melo has also shown that she can work in the ring and would be a good match for Hayter’s hard-hitting style.
Hikaru Shida is one of the consummate babyfaces in the women’s division. The longest-reigning women’s champion to date, she deserves all the respect that comes with that position. She will be champion again at some point in time, but until then, she can serve as someone who helps new champions establish their reigns. Shida and Hayter have interacted in matches in the past, but they’ve yet to have a one-on-one showcase against each other. Now is the perfect time to do so as these ladies would deliver when the opportunity arises.
All Elite Wrestling likes to present its product as legit sports, but there’s more than enough comedy happening in the ring as well. If Orange Cassidy can have title matches and finally reach his spot as All-Atlantic Champion, then booking Maki Itoh as a challenger to the AEW Women’s Championship should not be far off. The story is there, playing off the idea that she and Baker were “friends” early in the pandemic and now that Itoh is back, she wants her spot back on the team, leading to issues with Hayter. Of course, Hayter would go over resoundingly, but it would still be a fun moment to see on television.