What AEW Needs To Do To Build A Better Women’s Division

11/9/2023 4:20 AM

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What AEW Needs To Do To Build A Better Women’s Division

What AEW Needs To Do To Build A Better Women’s Division

November 9, 2023 4:20 AM
What AEW Needs To Do To Build A Better Women’s Division
AEW News

The steps Tony Khan needs to take to build his AEW Women's division.

Before AEW launched in 2019, Tony Khan promised to have the best women’s division in North America. When Riho and Nyla Rose battled for the AEW Women’s Championship on the very first episode of Dynamite, it showcased a promising start into what could be a strong roster that could easily rival WWE’s stacked women’s division. 

Since then, AEW has hired the likes of Saraya, Athena, Taya Valkyrie, Thunder Rosa, Tony Storm, Skye Blue, and Willow; AEW has built a strong women’s division, but the formula for Dynamite and Collision is the same. One women’s match or segment per show. 

There are two AEW champions: Hikaru Shida (AEW Women’s Champion) and TBS Champion (Kris Statlander), yet the AEW Women’s title has been playing hot potato for a while now and Statlander’s title reign feels cold. This has nothing to do with their talent because Tony Khan books the division as an afterthought. With five hours of AEW television, there’s no excuse for why the women’s division isn’t treated better. Tony Khan has the foundation for a strong division, and these ideas would boost it to the next level.

Give The Women More Television Time

This one should be obvious, but apparently, it’s not. Tony Khan made an alarming statement in 2022 comparing Thunder Rosa to CM Punk when it comes to television time: 

I give the TV time based on what I believe is going to draw the most ratings. If you want my honest opinion on an eight-minute Thunder Rosa promo vs. an eight-minute CM Punk promo, then you’re going to get an honest answer. I think the eight-minute CM Punk promo is probably going to do a better ring. 

This statement is completely misguided. Is CM Punk a bigger draw than Thunder Rosa? Yes! But CM Punk had to build his name throughout Ring of Honor and WWE to get to that point. The same thing goes for names like Jon Moxley, Kenny Omega, or Chris Jericho: These guys had to build up their names first with the complete trust and support of their bookers.

Thunder Rosa didn’t get the trust and support from Tony Khan. If not, Tony Khan can’t build characters in AEW. Dr. Britt Baker became massively over because Tony Khan built her character. The same thing is happening with Toni Storm.

Tony Khan needs to invest in his women’s division by giving them multiple segments on Dynamite and Collision. Some will be great. Some will suck. We won’t know until the AEW President invests the time and effort into these women in a way they can flop or succeed. Nobody became a success overnight. Names like Becky Lynch and Ronda Rousey have proven that women can be a draw in sports if they’re given the opportunity to do so. 

Character Development and Feuds

That increase in TV time should go to the undercard that helps bolster the division. There are reports that Thunder Rosa has been cleared, but Tony Khan just doesn’t have any creative reason for her return. Then there’s Riho, Nyla Rose, Penelope Ford, Kiera Hogan, and Taya Valkyrie who aren’t doing anything. 

Strip these characters down and give them feuds that properly showcase their talent. It’s been noticeable that Tony mainly books for the women’s and TBS title feuds. Even then, or in the case of Kris Statlander, it’s just matches, matches, matches! Audiences care more about character and story than matches. Putting a focus on secondary feuds gives these women the opportunity to grow as performers and get over with the audience.

This is piggybacking on investing time and effort into these talents. The women’s division only gets the bare minimum in AEW, and giving them nothing but matches does nothing for their name value long term. I know that AEW mainly puts more focus on wrestling than story, but a great story always grabs the attention of the wrestling community. The mystery friendship built between Adam Cole and MJF heading into All In in one example.

Write compelling stories that bring out layers of said character. There’s a reason why feuds such as Stone Cold/Vince McMahon or even MJF/CM Punk are so highly regarded: The story captivated audiences, with the wrestling being a cherry on top. 

Don’t Focus On The Numbers In The Early Stages

AEW is a business first and foremost, so focusing on the numbers is natural. But Tony should understand that the numbers out of the gate aren’t going to be great. In fact, it wouldn’t be too shocking if fans turned off the television when a women’s segment popped up. That shouldn’t be the determining factor on whether the story should be canned or not. 

You have to give stories some time. Investing in the future and building up your talent is no easy feat. There will be some failures along the way. And that’s OK. But the AEW President took a huge gamble by starting his company in the first place. Thus far, that gamble is paying off. He needs to keep that same mindset when investing in more women’s programming in AEW. If a story is good, fans will gravitate towards it. AEW has an amazing roster of women. There’s simply no excuse for why more isn’t being milked out of the division.