Saraya as AEW champion poses the same challenge for Tony Khan


Saraya is a big name in women’s wrestling and one who should challenge Tony Khan to improve his booking of the AEW women’s division. 

AEW All In 2023 was a showcase that captured the attention of the wrestling world. The promotion’s top stars performed in front of 81,053 spectators at Wembley Stadium, and millions watched around the world. One of the moments featured at the PPV was Saraya capturing the AEW Women’s World Championship, defeating Hikaru Shida, Britt Baker, and Toni Storm along the way. Fans were elated with the “hometown” performer getting a big victory, but the question remains as to whether Saraya is the right performer to light a flame under this women’s division.

Saraya’s victory gave her a championship for the first time in nearly a decade. After years on the sideline due to injury, her career has been revitalized as a part of the AEW roster. She’s back to wrestling and featured in the top (READ: Only) storyline going on within the women’s division. Her signing long signaled the probability that she’d become women’s champion sooner, rather than later. But is this the right move for a division that is in drastic need of a spark?

Saraya’s win does create some intrigue in what will happen with The Outcasts angle. Fans have watched Toni Storm fall down a path of madness since losing her championship. Ruby Soho is still waiting for her first championship win since joining AEW in 2020. Both of those women should have an interesting POV to their friend carrying gold.

Then there are others in the division including the former champion Shida, Baker, and others. Thunder Rosa is reportedly close to an in-ring return. And Jamie Hayter is going to get a massive pop when she power walks down to the ring after returning from injury. Don’t forget about Willow Nightingale either.

In many ways, this iteration of Saraya could be what Chris Jericho was for the men’s division when AEW first launched. While many thought that Adam Page would be the first champion, as an individual the company could build around for the future, the belt went to Jericho – an established name that helped set the foundation for names like Jon Moxley, Kenny Omega, all the way to the reign of MJF. Saraya should be the same force for this women’s division, but the question remains if she will.

Tony Khan’s lack of interest in booking the women’s division well continues to shine through. He puts even less effort into answering questions about how the women’s division is booked. Lyric Wrestling of Women’s Wrestling Talk asked an excellent question during the All In post-event press conference and received an answer that blamed “pacing” as the reason why the women’s division only saw one match on yet another PPV. Pacing. At a time when the promotion books long pre-shows, finds time for contract signings, and of course the standard Jeff Jarrett spot. With All Out scheduled for the next week, expect to see only one match on that card as well. Four years into the company’s existence, and five hours of television each week, Khan refuses to find a way to give the women ample time to become draws yet points to the numbers as evidence that they aren’t draws. It’s a disturbing trend.

So here we are with Saraya as champion. It’s astounding to realize that she’s only 31 years old, after all the iconic moments she’s had across her 17-year career. She’s someone whose inclusion and television time should drive headlines and attention. But can Tony Khan be trusted to book her as such when he’s failed to do the same with so many others? It will be interesting to see if Saraya’s run as champion is more akin to Jericho’s run, given the time and care to set up for the future of the division. Or does the women’s division need a champion more like Darby Allin and Orange Cassidy – two individuals who raised the mid-card when they held the TNT and International Championships respectively? There are a lot of questions that must be answered. Khan has a big-name champion with cross-promotion appeal as his champion. What will he do now?

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