#OneYearDON is a look back at All Elite Wrestling’s debut event with match by match retrospectives on how talent has fared in the year since the event as well as other profiles looking at how some performers have progressed from one DON to the next. This piece looks at the debut of AEW’s women’s division as Kylie Rae battled Nyla Rose, Britt Baker, and Awesome Kong in a 4-way match.
With the announcement of AEW came hope of an alternative, especially for the world of women’s wrestling. WWE’s Women’s Revolution had become something many fans disliked, partially for the fact it was seen to be mostly lip service but also because the company was over pushing a minority and underusing the majority. Things started brightly as AEW not only announced a Joshi offer match but also a triple threat match featuring Britt Baker, Kylie Rae, and Nyla Rose. All previously unsigned indie talents that would be exposed to fresh eyes.
In hindsight the worry should’ve come before the bell ever rang. While other matches on Double Or Nothing received a lot of time and storytelling this women’s match got little to none. Going in the fans were given little to no reason to invest in any of these new names. And in the end, they were upstaged from the start.
In the moment this was a shocking debut that excited fans THE Awesome Kong made her surprise debut to change the match to a fatal four-way. In hindsight, alarm bells should have rang from the unnecessary addition of Brandi Rhodes to proceedings, something that would weigh the division down going forward. All four women worked hard and proceeded to have a good match which would be won by Britt Baker.
With a year’s worth of hindsight this match would be a precursor for what was to come from the women’s division for the majority of the year. Talented women worked hard and occasionally managed to get the crowd onside, but the lack of storytelling and booking attention capped their ability to have great matches. Also the unnecessary addition of Brandi would hang over the division for many months with her Nightmare Collective stable being panned by the entire fanbase yet it received more television time than the women’s champion Riho who was often left off shows or relegated to Dark.
The women’s division in AEW could have been their calling card similar to the TNA Knockouts, it truly had all the potential in the world between respected veterans like Kong, Joshi talents like Riho and Emi Sakura as well as indie talents that got over like Shanna and Kris Statlander. Instead we got a middling division with no real care or effort put into it, for the most part, nothing highlights this more than some of the fans turning on Riho who was one of their most popular performers on early Dynamite episodes. With that out of the way let’s look at how each competitor has fared this year.
Britt Baker has been the Centrepoint of the division since day 1. Whether as a babyface that was a dentist or in her new heel persona she has always been given screen time in some fashion. While her initial push didn’t work out her recent heel turn has seen her embrace her mean side and become an entertaining part of the show and easily the best women’s performer on the roster.
The current women’s champion has also been heavily featured since Dynamite began. Her and Riho were involved in the match to crown the first-ever women’s champion and despite losing that match Rose was heavily protected coming out of the feud and currently has a 10-4 record, one of the best in the division. With her being so protected it allowed her to face Riho in a rematch and capture the women’s championship.
As everyone probably knows by now Kylie Rae mysteriously vanished and became the subject of much speculation. When she did wrestle again it was for Freelance Wrestling and it was revealed that AEW had released her from her contract. She now wrestles for IMPACT Wrestling.
On-screen Kong was incredibly underused for someone with her name value. She would wrestle four more matches, one being a battle royal, and spent much of the year as a silent accomplice to Brandi Rhodes. There is word that she was working as a producer behind the scenes which is a great use of someone with her level of experience but one has to feel like she had more to offer on-screen. She was written off TV months ago to film GLOW and hasn’t been seen since.
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Stay tuned to Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can catch AEW Wednesday nights at 8 PM ET on TNT and Dark weekly on YouTube.