Toni Storm versus Hikaru Shida presents interesting challenge


Hikaru Shida and Toni Storm are two women who can carry the AEW women’s division at a time when it needs long-term direction and build. 

As AEW Full Gear continues to take shape, another match was announced during the October 23 episode of Dynamite. Hikaru Shida will defend the AEW Women’s World Championship against Toni Storm. This pits two popular women against each other in what should be a fantastic match bell-to-bell. It also presents an interesting situation for AEW as the company can either crown Storm for her excellent work getting a new character over with the fans or find itself treating Shida as a transitional championship.

This is a difficult booking situation at the top of the AEW women’s division.

On one hand, Toni Storm has continued to kill it in her new character. The minute her second run as champion came to an end at the hands of Shida back in August, she started to change into this character that is a mix of Anna Nicole Smith, Marilyn Monroe, and the wacky Vaudeville characters from the silent era of films. And she’s done so in amazing fashion. Her character work shows why that development is always important and how wrestlers can best maximize every few seconds they have on television. It is a joy to watch and fans have responded in kind.

Then there’s Shida. She’s the woman AEW counts on when the women’s division needs a big match or to quickly get the fans invested in a new name. As of this piece, she is 16 days into her third title run. This comes off her second run earlier this year which lasted only 25 days. Her third title reign will be near that mark once the PPV gets on November 18. That’s where the challenge for AEW comes into play.

Does the company take the title off Shida again, putting her in a position as a transitional champion meant to get over other names? Or does she retain, pushing Storm’s character back down the roster a bit? Fans of AEW continue to call for the company to feature more of the women on the roster, to shine the light on as many talented names as possible, but Tony Khan tends to stick to keeping a few individuals on television.

Shida’s first championship run was 372 days long, carrying a lot of the load for the company during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the minute she dropped the belt to Britt Baker, she was off television for nearly six months. While it’s understandable that some individuals can rotate on and off the television, doing that again to Shida – this time for Storm’s third title reign – would continue to raise questions about how Khan is booking this women’s division. This is especially questionable when the TBS Championship is also available and Storm could be used to help elevate that belt.

Booking a professional wrestling promotion is a challenging job. Figuring out who to position at the top of the division takes a mix of several factors. Toni Storm and Hikaru Shida are two excellent performers who can carry the women’s division. Pitting them against each other at this point on Full Gear causes more issues for the direction of the division.

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