My first article for NoDQ was about The State of Women’s Wrestling in North America. There have been substantial changes to women’s wrestling in North America in the five months since that writing. The changes are not just on televised wrestling, but also on the independent level. This article will focus on what has changed, the perception of women’s wrestling, and what needs improvement.
In the previous article, I mentioned the lack of time and stories presented in the women’s division in multiple companies. Both women’s titles in WWE have become more special, the TBS Title in AEW has many potential competitors, and Trinity remains an attraction in TNA. Women wrestlers are becoming more captivating characters in stories, even beyond the title pictures. Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics created a fantastic graph (link here) breaking down the percentage of women’s matches on WWE, NXT, AEW, and Impact(TNA). The graph is broken down by television programs and shows the progress women’s wrestling has made recently.
There has also been an interesting development with Joshi wrestling in North America. Sukeban, a Joshi wrestling promotion based out of New York, has hit the scene and has great reviews about it. Just recently, Sukeban announced the signing of Sareee for their promotion and have been streaming their shows via TikTok. Could this be a sign of connecting to a younger crowd? There have been numerous positive things said about Sukeban, and if you get the chance, definitely check it out.
Perception of Women’s Wrestling
Fans are praising the success of women’s wrestling, whether it’s based on star ratings, match quality, or storylines. Over the past few WWE and NXT premium live events, a consensus has been that the women’s matches have been the fan-favorite matches of the night. Even the Halloween Havoc special NXT ran, Becky Lynch and Lyra Valkyria put on one of the best matches of the year.
Outside of matches and storylines, one of the biggest talking points recently has been the different signings for the promotions. Jade Cargill officially signed with WWE on September 26, 2023, and though she has not had a match on television, she has still been making an impact through social media with just her presence. Kairi Sane recently returned to the WWE at the Crown Jewel PLE in Saudia Arabia. Another big signing recently revealed was that of Mariah May to AEW. Mariah May has been a standout in Stardom over the past few years and it will be great to see what she can do in an AEW ring. These signings have increased the interest of fans and we are all anxiously waiting to see what happens next.
Though there have been many fantastic changes since my previous article, there are still some things that need to change. There is no need to bang the “AEW needs more than one women’s match per show” because it has been a constant since the start of the company. WWE has also fallen into that category of “one women’s match per show” but the difference is there are fewer matches on the show. Also, WWE has been focusing more on character development and storytelling than they have been focusing on in-ring competition. But this has been a common complaint with numerous talking heads online and hopefully, we will see a change some time soon.
Another change that needs to take place is the importance of women on the shows. Rhea has become a big deal on Raw but she is the only one to appear on that level that is equal to a Roman Reigns or a Seth Rollins-type main eventer. For fans to become more invested, WWE needs to focus on making the women’s division feel more like “Main Event”. Even on AEW, they have featured all the ROH champions on AEW television except for Athena. Athena is the greatest thing in the AEW umbrella, but fans wouldn’t know that if they were not watching ROH. Perhaps the addition of a second women’s match on AEW television would open some doors for Athena to showcase the exceptional work she has been doing in ROH for the AEW audience.
In the five months since my original article, there have been some amazing things happening in the North American women’s wrestling scene. Personally, I’m absolutely over the moon that so many people have spoken up about the want and need for women’s wrestling to be more prevalent on television. I am not asking for another Evolution pay-per-view (though it would be fun) and I am not asking for there to be a separate show just for women. What I am asking for is for wrestling companies to see the value in their women’s talent and to treat them on the same level they treat their men.