I want to challenge you to do something, reader. Keep the word “ratings” out of your thoughts for the entirety of this article. Because the kneejerk reaction to any proposal involving more women’s wrestling is always the time-tested beta-response: “Women can’t draw”.
This isn’t about TV ratings, and to rebut this, I will point you in the direction of Stardom Wrestling, a Joshi women’s wrestling promotion based out of Japan.
Aside from featuring the likes of Mercedes Moné, and some of the best talent you may have never heard of (Giulia, Mayu Iwatani, Tam Nakano, etc.), Stardom has continued to break attendance records for their 13-year-old promotion. In addition, at the end of the last fiscal year, Stardom was actually more profitable than New Japan Pro Wrestling. Parent company Bushiroad is no doubt happy in all of the dough they are currently raking in from both promotions.
In fact, in less than two months, I’ll be in Tokyo for a Stardom live event. And I want to point something out: Stardom is doing this with considerably less attendance, exposure, and TV time than their American counterparts in AEW and WWE.
Can we imagine if both AEW and WWE put their energy into creating an all-women’s weekly television show? It’s actually not hard to imagine; and it solves almost every problem the current women’s wrestling landscape faces in the mainstream products.
Here’s why this needs to happen.
Women’s Wrestling Growth
Building weekly TV shows improves upon three major elements:
- Character development
- Storyline progression
- Added Exposure
Now I wouldn’t take out the women’s segments in current AEW or WWE programming in favor of this, but use those segments to sometimes build hype for these all-women weekly shows, and vice verse. But even if we look at this rationally, we can come to the following conclusion:
-More TV time = Added reps
-Added reps = More storylines
-More storylines = More character development
-More character development = Better rounded wrestlers
All-around, we get talent that has more opportunities to grow in an environment they would never have available to them otherwise. In AEW, women who should be featured in storylines on TV like The Bunny, Penelope Ford, Diamante, Anna Jay, Athena, Emi Sakura, Abadon, Willow Nightingale and Taya Valkyrie now have that chance. Especially when paired with top names like Britt Baker, Toni Storm, Kris Statlander, Jamie Hayter, and Thunder Rosa.
As for WWE, I can make a case for much needed TV time/feuds for talents like Isla Dawn, Alba Frye, Xia Li, Roxanne Perez, Indi Hartwell, Gigi Dolan, Blair Davenport, and Piper Niven. Pair that with Asuka, Lynch, Flair or Bayley, and you got recipes for success. The WWE women’s talent pool is much larger than AEW’s, so they would have more opportunities to create some great women’s feuds in this scenario.
Both Promotions Are Not Booking Their Women At Their Best
And this isn’t too hard to argue…
It’s apparent WWE is having trouble booking Io Sky correctly (why does she keep losing?), Becky Lynch just won the NXT Women’s Championship (for TV ratings), and Nia Jax is back to instill fear in the hearts of everyone she works with. It seems like creative has nothing else for Rhea Ripley than to book her against a cliché monster heel. Though if reports are to be believed, we might see Jade Cargill in WWE sooner than later.
AEW has one decent storyline with Saraya and a gem in a Norma Desmond-inspired Toni Storm. Along with that, we have possible friction between Shida and Baker, and really not much else…
In both cases, women’s wrestling is slightly flat right now across the board, and it’s not the fault of the talent; but the booking team behind them. Weekly TV shows can help solve this problem with focused weekly storylines available for said talent.
Those Damn Tag Team Championships
They might actually get focused TV time and an actual feud! How wild, right? Finally, a show where these titles can be featured on a weekly basis.
In addition, AEW can finally introduce women’s tag team championships, and everyone that have been obsessed with this concept for seemingly years now can finally shut up.
This is a short section, but worth noting that this issue gets addressed. But what some of you might now be asking is: When do any of these promotions have time to actually film a separate women’s show?
I’m glad you asked…
Let’s Talk Filming Logistics
You wouldn’t necessarily need create a separate touring brand for either of these shows. With AEW, it’s actually pretty easy.
Dynamite and Rampage are usually filmed together. As far as Collision goes, Ring of Honor is *sometimes* filmed after Collision, but sometimes not. These new weekly women’s show could easily be filmed before Collision, consisting of 3-4 matches.
As far as WWE goes, there is opportunity to do this before Smackdown goes live on air. You wouldn’t necessarily burn the crowd out since Smackdown is only a 2 hour show. Yes, both shows would likely be pre-taped, unless Fox or USA | Warner Bros./Discovery is willing to give the women a live broadcast.
So logistically, taking an hour to film a weekly women’s broadcast is not difficult. However, this leads into the next question: Where does it air?
For WWE, this is a fairly easy solution. Assuming that Fox or USA won’t want to open their wallets to find TV time for a new weekly show, a new all-women’s WWE show could simply air weekly on Peacock; perhaps on Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Sundays.
As far as AEW, this becomes trickier.
Would WBD want to add this show to a weekly line-up that already consists of AEW programming on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights? That’s a hard sell for me, though I would see opportunity for Sunday nights.
Keep in mind, women’s wrestling fans are a niche part of the (already niche) fan base. No matter what night it airs, we’ll find it. However, I would see this show also being moved to Max.
For Zaslav, this is relatively cheap programming to air on Max, that could have pretty solid returns. If Max starts to air more AEW material, or even if AEW started their own streaming service as alluded to in prior reports, a weekly women’s TV show will have a home in this format.
In short, both companies have the ability to air a weekly women’s television show in one format or another. So the question is why?
There Will be Profit
Beyond a new ring skirt and some cool graphics for a new intro, you won’t need much to pull this off. Sure, you need to assign an agent or two to help put together matches and feuds, and figure out an announce team configuration.
In doing this, what you do more than anything is make a statement. A statement that women’s wrestling deserves its own weekly program.
Even from a strictly PR sense, it makes both WWE and AEW look good. And yes, it will make money. Extra merchandise, new streaming subscriptions, new ad revenue, crossovers, etc. — for how little that needs to be put into this for it to happen, the return could potentially be huge. Again, remember what little Stardom has to work with compared to AEW and WWE, and look how far they have come.
It truly doesn’t matter if women’s wrestling may not “draw” or single-handedly sell out arenas. That isn’t the point here. Pro wrestling is simply a male-dominated sport, and the bigger names are usually men. It’s a longtime result of a patriarchal society and there’s no time to dive into all of that in this piece.
But it’s 2023. Women in both AEW and WWE deserve their own weekly TV show. It’s something that’s never been tried by either company, and it’s extremely low risk to do so.
You not only make that important statement, but make many women’s wrestling fans very happy.