AEW’s women’s division has a lot of untapped potential and there are several ways to improve the division for it to achieve greatness.
With AEW fans clamouring for the women’s division to be booked better, there are several things AEW could do to improve the division. The complaints from fans are mostly online; however, in July, after what would be a heavily criticized match between Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D and Taya Valkyrie, the camera panned to a shot of a sign that read “Book The Women’s Division Better.”
Screenshots of the sign were shared on social media along with opinions from fans, many of whom agreed with the sign. Baker addressed the sign in an interview with TVInsider, saying:
"I see both sides to that because I completely agree. The absolute best matches that come out of professional wrestling come out of storylines you are so invested in. There are weeks and months that tell this beautiful story. It’s something we haven’t been able to invest as much time in the women’s division lately. Again, there are many factors. Injuries, this and that. I definitely want to get to the point where we can get some solid storytelling with the women."
Although there have been slight improvements in the women’s division since this sign, there is still a long way to go.
Three ways to improve AEW’s Women’s division
Invest in characters.
Characters are important in wrestling. Wrestlers can get over with fans simply because of their wrestling; however, having a character can get fans even more invested. With the women, we have seen this recently with Toni Storm and Julia Hart.
For the past few months, Toni Storm has adopted a disgruntled, old Hollywood-like starlet character which has done wonders for her. Her work through backstage interviews and vignettes, in which she terrorizes the interviewers by having meltdowns and throwing shoes, has made her character beloved by fans.
Storm is a former two-time AEW Women’s World Champion and, although her in-ring work during her reigns was always good, she was never given any time to let fans invest in her. There was no character work or promo time. It was only after she lost the championship the second time that she fully tapped into her new character.
Julia Hart is a future star for AEW. Since joining the House of Black in May of last year, Hart built up an impressive 28-match win streak. While the majority of these wins came on AEW’s former YouTube shows, AEW Dark and Dark: Elevation, Hart also picked up some television wins against Anna Jay, one of them being in a No Holds Barred match, Skye Blue, Willow Nightingale, and various unsigned talent.
Due to her undefeated streak, Hart demanded a title shot against TBS Champion Kris Statlander, which she was granted at the WrestleDream pay-per-view on Oct. 1. Although Hart lost, she won over fans just as she had been doing for several weeks previously. She even received dueling chants and was favored by the crowd against some of the division’s top babyfaces, Nightingale and Statlander.
AEW fans are now invested in Hart and we can only hope that she continues to be featured on television, as her character work and consistently improving in-ring abilities make her future bright.
If AEW continues to invest in more women’s characters, more fans will care about their stories and matches.
More promo time.
Promos go hand in hand with character work. They allow fans to get more invested in a wrestler’s story and characters. The male wrestlers get multiple promo segments a show, in-ring and backstage. Whereas the women receive maybe one backstage segment or vignette each episode. While they can be effective, as we’ve seen recently with Storm and Hart, they rarely receive in-ring mic time.
Britt Baker became one of the division’s faces through her mic time and character work. She even received many in-ring mic segments during her AEW Women’s Championship reign, which is something that other champions have not been given. Women who are not as comfortable on the mic need the reps to get better and they cannot improve if the opportunities are not given to them.
One of the biggest criticisms of AEW’s booking of the women’s division is that the women get one match per show while there are multiple men’s matches and segments. This has been a problem in American pro wrestling for a long time, not just in AEW.
AEW’s last four PPVs (Forbidden Door, All In, All Out, WrestleDream) have only had one women’s match on the main card. AEW has three television shows (Dynamite, Rampage, Collision) which equals five hours of television each week, and yet the women still only have one match per show, and sometimes a backstage interview or vignette.
With two championships, the AEW Women’s World Championship and the TBS Championship, one match a show is not enough to build interesting, in-depth stories for matches and feuds. The women also often have the shortest match time, which is usually under ten minutes, which is another big criticism.
The potential for a great women’s division is there; all AEW needs is to make more effort in booking matches, stories, and characters.