On Wednesday night on AEW Dynamite, All Elite Wrestling announced a huge tournament this summer for the Women’s Tag Team Cup, which will also be known as The Deadly Draw. Knowing AEW (and EVP Cody Rhodes)’s penance for utilizing old concepts from Dusty Rhodes, it would appear to be a variation of another of Dusty’s old WCW concepts, The Lethal Lottery, where tag team partners are drawn randomly for the competition. The Lethal Lottery originally made its WCW debut as part of the Battle Bowl event, a trademark that Cody acquired last spring. The Lethal Lottery/Battle Bowl originally debut in 1991 as part of Starrcade that year. TNA/IMPACT Wrestling would implement a similar idea of random tag partners with the Joker’s Wild concept, starting in 2013.
Coming this Summer | 16 Women | 8 Teams
It's the AEW Women's Tag Team Cup Tournament: The Deadly Draw
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) July 23, 2020
With the current roster for the women’s division, AEW finds itself a little on the short side, particularly with the announcement that the new tournament will feature 16-women forming 8-teams. Under normal conditions, they would have more than enough women to take part in such a tournament, but travel restrictions and injuries have depleted their roster at the present time. Due to travel restrictions, AEW contracted performers Bea Priestley, Emi Sakura, Riho, Sadie Gibbs, Shanna, and Yuka Sakazaki are unable to travel to the US right now, and injuries have sidelined Awesome Kong, Dr. Britt Baker, and Kris Statlander. That leaves only 10 contracted women available for the tournament: Abadon, Allie, Anna Jay, Big Swole, Brandi Rhodes, AEW Women’s Champion Hikaru Shida, Leva Bates, Mel, Nyla Rose, and Penelope Ford available to compete. That leaves six spots open for outside names to compete in AEW’s first Women’s Tag Team Cup.
There’s a fairly good chance we’ll see some of the women utilized by AEW from the US indies throughout the pandemic, both on AEW DARK and Dynamite, as recently appeared Diamante and Ivelisse were already announced by AEW owner Tony Khan as possibly being a part of it. Other names who have appeared on DARK in recent months like KiLynn King, Dani Jordyn, Skyler Moore, Christi Jaynes, Red Velvet, Kenzie Paige, MJ Jenkins, and Rache Chanel could also join in, which would easily give AEW the 16-women needed for the tournament. But with so many great indie stars out of action due to the pandemic, this could also be something that AEW can draw from, much like how WWE did with the Mae Young Classic tournaments. Here’s a look at some names we hope are added to the AEW Women’s Tag Team Cup (we’ve limited the selections to those who can travel within the US, so unfortunately other capable prospects from other countries would currently be ineligible).
Twisted Sisters (Thunder Rosa & Holidead)
With the rules not defined yet by AEW (whether it will indeed be a Lethal Lottery type situation or actual tag teams established), the reigning NWA World Women’s Champion Thunder Rosa has to be in contention, especially with the National Wrestling Alliance now on hiatus until 2021. Thunder Rosa has emerged as one of the top women’s wrestlers in the US the past year, and if she needs a tag team partner, she just happens to have one in Holidead. Together as the Twisted Sisters, they’ve held the Shine Tag Team titles (183-days) and the NWA International Tag Team titles.
Another top competitor is NWA’s Allysin Kay, who is also on sitting out while the NWA regroups for the new year. Allysin Kay is a former NWA World Women’s Champion for 272-days as well as a former 2x Shine Champion. As Sienna, she is a former 2x IMPACT Knockouts Champion and one of the toughest women inside the ring. An appearance in the tag team, either in a random chosen tandem or alongside someone else (perhaps with Thunder Rosa in a Team NWA unit) would be a great way to keep her profile up while NWA is on shutdown.
The Bird & The Bee (Solo Darling & Willow Nightingale)
Another tag team that has had great success in the indies in the past year or so has been The Bird & The Bee, the duo of veteran Solo Darling and her protege, Willow Nightingale. Solo Darling is an 11-year veteran of companies like CHIKARA, SHIMMER, Shine Wrestling, Beyond Wrestling, and more, and together with Nightingale, they were the final CHIKARA Campeonatos de Parejas (Tag Team) titleholders. Only five years into her career, Nightingale is a 3x New York Wrestling Connection (NYWC) Starlet Champion.
One of the fastest rising stars in the women’s scene (and beyond) is Leyla Hirsch, who could easily be paired with another badass or veteran in the tournament. A prospect from Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW)‘s Dojo, she’s gone on to make a mark in the likes of Beyond Wrestling as well as in Europe with Pro Wrestling EVE and Germany’s Westside Xtreme Wrestling (wXw). Earlier this year, she began her first tour of Japan with Stardom.
“The Devil’s Favorite Harlot”, Priscilla Kelly has been an indie mainstay for the past few years, with RISE Wrestling, Shine Wrestling, Bar Wrestling, and Major League Wrestling (MLW), and also competed in the second Mae Young Classic in 2018.
Nicole Savoy has been one of the top women in the US indie scene over the past two years, with an incredible 721-day reign as SHIMMER Champion. She lost her title last November and soon showed up in Ring of Honor, but with ROH abstaining from live events, now could be her time to return to television with AEW. She also had an impressive run in the first Mae Young Classic, advancing to the second round before losing to Candice Lerae.
Team Sea Stars (Ashley Vox & Delmi Exo)
The sister unit of Ashley Vox and Delmi Exo would be another great established tag team to enter the tournament should the Lethal Lottery rules not be in effect. Standouts from CHIKARA, they have done immensely well outside that promotion as well, and currently hold tag team championships in SHIMMER (264-days), Sabotage Wrestling (425-days) and Battle Club Pro (201 days).
Former 2x WWE Women’s Champion Jazz made a monstrous return to the ring in a full-time capacity in 2019, where the 948-days NWA World Women’s Champion began to take on all comers, working with the likes of England’s Pro Wrestling EVE and taking hold of the Texas indie scene with Anarchy Championship Wrestling and Reality of Wrestling amongst others. She also made her AEW debut at last summer’s AEW All Out, where she took part in the Women’s Casino Battle Royal. Jazz would pair well with a young and hungry badass…maybe Leyla Hirsch?
While fans are divided on whether they want Tessa Blanchard in their favorite companies based on how her departure from IMPACT Wrestling transpired, getting her career back on track may start with a one-off with AEW in this tournament for the company to assess her priorities. There’s no denying her star power and ability, but the notion of whether AEW would take such a gamble on someone considering how her 2020 has gone so far is the big question.
Obviously this isn’t a complete list of available women, but let us know who you’d like to see in the comments below!
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 Dynamite Wednesday nights at 8 PM ET on TNT and AEW DARK Tuesday nights at 7 PM ET on YouTube.