AEW’s Homegrown vs Outcasts feud had much potential but AEW has failed to capitalize fully and has seemingly dropped the ball.
The entire Homegrown vs Outcasts feud pretty much started when Saraya debuted at Dynamite: Grand Slam in September of last year or at least that was the catalyst for it.
When Saraya made her surprise debut in AEW at Arthur Ashe Stadium, everybody was shocked especially considering she had retired from in-ring action in 2017 due to a neck injury while she was a member of the WWE roster.
In the following weeks, Saraya would have in-ring segments with Britt Baker. On the November 9th episode of Dynamite, Saraya announced she was 100 percent cleared to wrestle and challenged Baker to a match at the Full Gear PPV, where Saraya would successfully defeat Baker. When Saraya first joined AEW fans were elated, and she was seen as the face in her feud with Baker however that quickly changed as the fans turned on her. Saraya’s promos ruffled fan’s feathers as it seemed she was downplaying AEW and Baker’s accomplishments in favor of her past career with WWE and if there’s one thing AEW fans don’t like, it’s when someone diminishes AEW for WWE.
AEW has an outsider problem.
Amid the Saraya/Baker feud were Toni Storm and Jamie Hayter. Heading into Full Gear, Toni Storm was the Interim AEW Women’s World Champion and Jamie Hayter had quickly become the most popular woman in the company. Storm would unsuccessfully defend her championship against Hayter at the PPV, and a new Champion was crowned. After it was clear that fans preferred Baker and Hayter, AEW decided to turn Saraya and Storm heel and they then quickly waged war on the “homegrown” women in AEW. Saraya and Storm share a former WWE connection as they are two of the few women on the roster who came from WWE to AEW. Another woman who did is Ruby Soho.
During this feud, Soho was in the middle. Despite her WWE connection with Storm and Saraya, she felt at home in AEW so she never really chose a side, until the Revolution PPV in March. Hayter successfully defended her championship against Soho and Saraya, and while she showed respect to Soho after the match, Soho would attack her and joined Saraya and Storm, now known as The Outcasts. On the following Dynamite, Soho made some valid points stating that The Outcasts were forced to turn heel because the fans turned on them first.
While this feud was losing steam, it seemed to be picking up more heat when Riho, Willow Nightingale, and Skye Blue joined the homegrown team alongside Hayter and Baker. However, all we have gotten each week is a repeat of the same thing. There is a match between a Homegrown and an Outcast, no matter who wins the Outcasts attack which incites the Homegrowns to make the save, which more often than not ends up with the Homegrowns laid out with the Outcasts signature green spray paint sprayed across them. The constant repetition and no progression have caused fans to become disinterested.
What happened on the most recent Dynamite, however, is the most interesting thing to happen in this feud in months. While Chris Jericho and Adam Cole were in the ring, Jericho and his protege Daniel Garcia attacked Cole inciting Baker, Cole’s real-life partner, to come out and confront them. Baker, who along with Hayter, had defeated Storm and Soho in a tag match earlier in the night, was attacked by the Outcasts. What is also interesting is how no one came out to save Baker, unlike in recent weeks. There is no word on if Hayter was injured during the tag match or not, but it is something that should be remembered and mentioned next week as it could add more drama. Fans have been wondering if Baker and Hayter will turn on each other and join the other side, and Hayter not being there for Baker in a moment of need is compelling.
The end goal of this feud is surely a multi-woman match, but when is it going to happen? The Double or Nothing PPV is coming up in May, will Hayter defend her championship, or will the multi-woman match take place then? Fans have been hoping for a women’s Blood & Guts match, which would make the most sense for this feud, however, the biggest problem with that right now is the Outcasts are outnumbered, 5-3. With a possible Hayter or Baker turn, the numbers would be even, or do the Outcasts bring in someone else? The whole idea of the Outcasts is that they don’t fit in in AEW or they weren’t homegrown there and right now there are not many women on the roster who fit into that. Two that come to mind are Athena and Thunder Rosa.
Athena is having a great year as the current Ring of Honor Women’s World Champion. Bringing her onto the Outcasts’ side makes much sense as she, like them, came from WWE. She is also a violent heel, just like them. It just makes sense. On the other hand, there is Thunder Rosa. Rosa came to AEW in 2020 and has been a central part of the women’s division, mainly with her feud with Baker. Their in-ring feud, which has become a real-life feud, is well documented and it seems unlikely that they would ever get along, making Rosa joining the Outcasts a logical choice. Also, the issues between Baker and Rosa would make this feud a lot more personal. Currently, Rosa is inactive due to injury and with no recovery timeline, her joining this feud seems unlikely at the moment.
One other thing that has been lost in this feud is Hikaru Shida. In the beginning, it seemed like she was going to be a central character, especially when she inadvertently cost Storm and Saraya a match against Hayter and Baker back in January, however, she has not been seen or mentioned since. She could still very well join either side but it could be too late.
There is still hope that AEW can salvage this feud as it has the potential to be great. Look at what they are doing with the Blackpool Combat Club and the Elite feud, each Dynamite we get something different and it becomes more compelling as the weeks go on which is the opposite of the women’s feud. The woman involved have what it takes to tell a compelling story, but for whatever reason they are not being given the same opportunity which is leading to fans being disappointed and disinterested.