#GiveDivasAChance; the hashtag heard around the world in 2015 as women’s wresting fans voiced their displeasure at WWE’s then pitiful booking of their women’s talent. Fast forward to 2019, and women headlined WrestleMania in a triple threat match between Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, and Ronda Rousey.
Since then, women have been highlighted generally more on major cards than in years past. But is it enough, and have WWE, and AEW, both dropped the ball when it comes to equally representing their women’s talent?
I have the receipts. Let’s dig in.
First, however, some housekeeping:
For the sake of this study (and time), I have not included NXT 2.0, Rampage, or Impact Wrestling. I wanted to keep this to major companies and their flagship shows. While I would cite Bushiroad’s Stardom and simply close this article by saying “GO WATCH STARDOM”, this isn’t about Joshi. Women’s wrestling in Japan has been long fairly represented in multiple fairly high profile all-women promotions. While I know NXT 2.0 features a great amount of women on their shows, they are still considered developmental, so I much treat them as such.
We are comparing Raw, Smackdown, and Dynamite. With that, some background…
If you’ve been reading my articles as of late you’ve come to two conclusions:
- I love women’s wrestling
- Women’s wrestling is generally booked very poorly.
It again must be pointed out that I am actually quite the AEW mark. I’m not writing this in an attempt to bash Tony Khan’s baby. In fact, I tend to favor New Japan, Stardom, and even Impact Wrestling over WWE.
But I need to be fair when assessing this problem, and this time, as mentioned, I have the receipts.
How These Analytics Are Measured
When I pointed out that gender inequality potentially exists within the AEW roster, it was met with very affirmative comments. However, it was asked how AEW’s clear disparity in how they book their women compares to WWE.
Well, I did that. The results were surprising to say the least. To do this, I tallied all match times from the three major shows in 2022 so far: Raw, Smackdown, and Dynamite.
(This doesn’t include the week of 4/11 – 4/15 as I am writing this before Smackdown)
In regards to major events, WWE runs more than AEW, so I simply compared match times over the last three major shows. For AEW this would be Revolution, Full Gear, and All Out.
All-in-all, had to break down how women are being booked along four factors:
- Flagship show match times compared to their men’s counterparts and their competition
- PPV/PLE match times compared to both.
- Intricacy of storylines
- In-ring promos given
This is one of the most important parts of this whole equation. While I don’t expect a 50/50 split among men and women due to more men on the roster — the time given to the women should equal the percentage of the overall roster they make up. Keep this in mind moving forward.
Sound good? Great. Let’s fucking gooooooo!
Men’s Roster: 40
Women’s Roster: 13
Percentage of Roster: Approx. 25%
Overall average match times (2022): 25% –> MEETS
Average overall amount of (men’s and women’s) wrestling per show: 50 minutes.
In 2022, Monday Night Raw has had approximately 11 hours of professional wrestling (bell-to-bell). The women have marked at about 3 hours even, locking them in at around 25-26% of the show’s makeup. This actually meets expectations compared to how much of the roster women make up.
This is surprisingly good. Well done. However, averaging only 50 minutes of actual wrestling on a three-hour broadcast is kind of pathetic.
Men’s Roster: 32
Women’s Roster: 11
Percentage of roster: Approx. 34%
Overall match times (2022): 23% –> BELOW
Average overall amount of (men’s and women’s) wrestling per show: 30 minutes.
As for Smackdown, not so good. For a show touted as being generally entertaining, it’s not the wrestling that must be doing the trick. Women make up 34% of the Smackdown roster, but are used in matches only 24% of the time, which is below the ratio. Furthermore, only 30 minutes of wrestling on average per show? Ya’ll Smackdown fans like wrestling, right?
Men’s Roster: 75
Women’s Roster: 25
Percentage of roster: Approx. 25%
Overall match times: 16% –> BELOW
Average overall amount of (men’s and women’s) wrestling per show: 58 minutes.
There is a noticeable disparity between the time given to the women on Raw and Smackdown than AEW. For women to only equal up to 16% of Dynamite’s matches is simply inexcusable. While averaging nearly an hour of pure wrestling per show, (MORE than Raw gives with an extra hour, which is laughable), it’s not the women that are being featured at a healthy and fair percentage.
PPV/PLE Average Match Times
WWE Royal Rumble: Approximately 72 minutes (45%)
WWE Elimination Chamber: 38:19 (55%)
WWE WrestleMania: 27:29 (Night 1) | 10:51 (Night 2) 38:18 (36%)
I’ll never understand how in 8 hours spread out over two nights, WWE fans were treated to just 2 hours and 17 minutes worth of wrestling — and enjoyed the show. But that’s beyond me. Still, by percentage women were given a solid part of the show compared to their makeup of the roster.
Over their last 3 shows, women are featured in matches 45% of the duration. That’s pretty damn good.
AEW All Out: 33:31 (23%)
AEW Full Gear: 15:16 (9%)
AEW Revolution: 24:33 (15%)
Fun fact: All three AEW shows EACH had more bell-to-bell wrestling on them than BOTH nights of WrestleMania 38 COMBINED. Impressive if you’re a wrestling fan like myself, but women were overall, on average, featured only roughly 15% of the time.
Intricacy of Storylines
The one area that doesn’t need a statistical breakdown is the intricacy of storylines. While I will never prefer the hokeyness of what was the tragic Alexa Bliss/Fiend debacle, most fans need a little more than what amounts to lazy booking.
While their Wrestlemania match was largely forgettable, at least Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair was given weeks worth of build, in-ring promos, elaborate backstage segments, and matches to help build the program. The same can be said for Becky Lynch and Bianca Belair, where Bianca finally looked like the star she truly is.
In comparison, Thunder Rosa shoved a cake in Nyla Rose’s face and called it a day.
We’ve never really had a GOOD women’s story in AEW in their 3 year history, and that’s a problem. While Thunder Rosa and Britt Baker had a banger of a match at Revolution and St. Patrick’s Day Slam — the story was still minimal at best. At least WWE will try to shake things up a bit with their stories — even if at times incredibly stupid.
There are many women within the AEW division that have a past history with each other outside of AEW — and while history is utilized greatly in storytelling with the men, it seems as if the women are largely forgotten about. If you go down the literal rabbit hole (Just check The Bunny’s history with the current roster), you’ll find tons of links.
A good chunk of the roster have already worked with each other outside of AEW, yet you’d never know it. Until we get out of the boring “I hate your face, it’s stupid, let’s fight” style of lazy storytelling, WWE will continue to dominate here.
This is a complete no brainer. We rarely, if ever, see a women cut an in-ring promo in AEW. With the exception of Britt Baker and Jade Cargill, the most we’ve gotten is Thunder Rosa in a short segment on and off stage.
Meanwhile, Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, Bianca Belair, Alexa Bliss, and (pre-injury) Bayley are given ample time to cut in-ring promos. This doesn’t include NXT 2.0 regarding Mandy Rose and her stablemates.
In-ring promos are the most effective way to connect with a fanbase, both in-person and on-screen. AEW is failing to do this on all accounts. And it’s not as if I want AEW to mimic WWE. I’d rather not have the young promotion become too “sports entertainment” — but in-ring promos are a part of the sport, and you see no shortage of such with the men.
The AEW women, not so much.
Jamie Hayter, Jade Cargil, Britt Baker, The Bunny, Thunder Rosa, and Serena Deeb all have decent to good promos. Just let them TALK. When the audience is rarely exposed to a wrestler, they’re going to receive about the same “crickets” response as Marina Shafir did on last week’s Dynamite.
Look, this isn’t going to drive me to start watching the WWE product. I rarely, if ever watch, and I fully appreciate what Tony Khan is doing over in Jacksonville.
But the AEW women’s roster is suffering.
They aren’t given ample time to even get themselves over, and that’s not their fault. This is a major problem that needs to be addressed soon. TK simply doesn’t book the women’s division like he CARES. They are booked like an afterthought — something to check a box and move on.
It’s not a good look, and eventually, powers-that-be with more reach than I have will start to notice. The course needs to be corrected, and done so as soon as possible.
More in-ring promos, the creation of a few factions, and more matches and more match times are all very easy remedies to simply put the spotlight on the AEW women. They deserve it; and the division has a lot of talent.
But all the talent in the world doesn’t matter when the head booker simply doesn’t care about them.