Bold statement: AEW women’s division is actually BETTER than WWE’s.
“Stupid mark.” I can just hear the Facebook comments now. However, if you take a quick look at current circumstances, I can easily argue that this is true. While I couldn’t have made this statement even a year ago, it’s quite clear who has the dominant division between the two.
But this isn’t as simple as namedropping alleged superior talents. This goes beyond that into the booking, direction, and general attitude towards both women’s divisions at the moment. But without further adieu…
Time is Money, and Sexism is Profitable
The WWE is a wrestling show for kids, and this usually gives way to short match times. This is likely in part to the need to smash in as much quantity of product as possible. But when we dive into the Queen of the Ring tournament, it becomes quite clear where the priorities lie.
In total, including the finals, (by my calculations) the entire Queen of the Ring tournament went 16 minutes and 53 seconds. This puts the average match between between 2 and 3 minutes.
When we compare this to the men’s King of the Ring tournament, we get four times that amount with the final match (Woods vs. Balor) that went nearly twice as long. So why am I telling you this?
By comparison, the first round match for the new TBS Championship between Ruby Soho and Penelope Ford went 8 minutes and 30 seconds. This is nearly as long as the men’s King of the Ring FINALS.
A first round match of AEW’s TBS Championship tournament went nearly half the time allotted for the entire Queen of the Ring Tournament. Go ahead and defend that…I’ll wait…
And sure you can make a sad case for why longer wrestling matches don’t necessarily mean better matches, but if your bar for a wrestling match is only a few minutes, are you really a wrestling fan to begin with?
The Myth of the Four Horsewomen
“But what about Becky, Charlotte, Bayley and Sasha?”
Yes, you can throw out the “big 4” and claim that WWE has better women’s talent based on that alone. In comparison, AEW’s “big 4” of their women’s division would likely be Britt Baker, Kris Statlander, Thunder Rosa, and Hikaru Shida.
Before you immediately give a point to WWE here, ask yourself why Tessa Blanchard hasn’t been signed to any major promotion yet.
Attitude and booking smarts mean something in the industry.
For nearly 5 years now, Becky, Sasha, Charlotte and Bayley have been booked as the safe end all be all of the division, without any real challengers. Anytime another women holds the belt, it’s only a short matter of time before they are dethroned by one of the four horsewomen: (See: Asuka, Rhea Ripley, Bianca Belair).
When you notice this booking pattern, it’s clear that no real competitors exist to take a spot on the top of the WWE women’s ladder. With Charlotte allegedly becoming harder and harder to work with as she protects her spot, Bayley out due to injury, Sasha’s sporadic appearances, and Becky’s underwhelming return, it’s a bit hard to sell me on the Four Horsewomen these days.
It’s clear by the booking of the QOTR tournament that Zelina Vega’s momentum is temporary, and gals like Ripley, Belair, Asuka, and Shayna are really just fodder for the top players in the division. They’ve never been booked to be a believable and sustainable threat to any of them. And that’s a real problem.
Tier by Tier
If we break this down to tiers of talent, you can see that the divisions are a bit more equal that you think. Of course, if you’re a corporate goon, you’ll waive off a chunk of AEW women because “i Don’T kNoW wHo ThEy aRe!”
…your lack of wrestling knowledge isn’t an excuse here. You watch a kids product…
Tiers do not include NXT, because Io Shirai (quite frankly) is probably one of the best wrestlers in the world and they have her (still) in developmental. That says a whole lot doesn’t it? Also, the roster is simply BIGGER with NXT thrown in, so it doesn’t make for an equal comparison when NXT is allegedly developmental.
WWE: Becky Lynch | Bayley | Charlotte Flair | Sasha Banks
AEW: Britt Baker | Thunder Rosa | Kris Statlander | Hikaru Shida
WWE: Asuka | Rhea Ripley | Bianca Belair | Toni Storm | Shotzi Blackheart
AEW: Serena Deeb | Riho | Ruby Soho | Tay Conti | Emi Sakura | Nyla Rose
WWE: Naomi | Natalya | Doudrop | Nikki A.S.H. | Tegan Nox | Alexa Bliss (she was never great in the ring. You know this is true.)
AEW: Jade Cargill | Big Swole | The Bunny | Yuka Sakazaki | Kiera Hogan
WWE: Nia Jax | Shayna Baszler | Mia Yim | Xia Li
AEW: Red Velvet | Jamie Hayter | Diamante | Abadon | Leyla Hirsch
WWE: B-Fab | Aliyah | Dana Brooke | Liv Morgan | Carmella
AEW: Penelope Ford | Leyla Hirsch | Leva Bates | Brandi Rhodes | Anna Jay
WWE: Eva Marie
AEW: Rebel (not Reba)
…if you realistically look at it tier-by-tier, they aren’t that different talent-wise, are they?
The difference is that AEW is actually giving time to their women. Between the horrible title swap between Lynch and Charlotte (WWE titles are nothing but props, let’s face it), Zelina’s QOTR win in a tournament they clearly didn’t care about, and whatever weirdness is going on with Carmella and Liv Morgan, the booking has been lackluster to say the least.
However, with AEW, not only do you have an ongoing tournament for a championship that won’t be treated like a prop, it will be given time to fully develop. While Britt Baker will take on Tay Conti for the AEW Women’s Championship at Full Gear, so many other stories are going to develop via the tournament.
-A likely second round matchup between Hayter vs. Rosa will bring back Rosa’s beef with Britt via proxy.
-Another likely second round matchup between Cargill and Red Velvet will continue their story.
–Deeb already turned heel a few weeks ago in her match against Shida and a storyline is already in place for their first round match.
A Statlander/Cargill finals (which I’m predicting right here), will only highlight two future bright spots in the AEW women’s division.
Tony Khan and Kenny Omega are acting like they actually care how the AEW women are booked, and that’s worth more than meaningless props and past prestige.
If you only care about marketing, name recognition, and money, you’ll dismiss this entire piece. You don’t “know” enough AEW women to compare because you either don’t watch AEW, or aren’t paying attention.
For those who do know pro wrestling, you’ll likely agree that AEW women have come a long way, and right now they are firing on more cylinders than WWE’s current women’s product. The division is given more match time, more respect, and better booking as of late.
The Four Horsewomen simply aren’t what they used to be, and McMahon has dropped the ball on creating any new stars to truly challenge them. Meanwhile, AEW is slowly creating a solid foundation for a great women’s division.
Suffice it to say, but the women’s revolution isn’t in Stamford, it’s in Jacksonville.