On the May 6th edition of AEW Dynamite, Nyla Rose made her return to the company with the Women’s Championship in tow. Now that she’s back in the house, it might be time for AEW to either fully commit to Rose as their Women’s Champion or move on. That’s especially important considering the emphasis placed on Britt Baker in the last few weeks.
Since AEW launched, their weakest point has been their Women’s Division. No one is suggesting that they don’t have the talent to make something great. Big Swole. Bea Priestley. Hikaru Shida. Penelope Ford. That’s just the tip of the iceberg for a Women’s Division with the potential to be one of the best in the business. Unfortunately, there has been little to no execution on the part of the company.
Their inaugural champion was Riho, who some have speculated was only pushed due to her association with Kenny Omega. She defeated Nyla Rose to win the title on the first broadcast of Dynamite, but fans never really got behind Riho, which was in no small part because she was barely around during her 133-day title run. Shortly after starting with AEW, Riho also joined the Japanese promotion Wonder Ring Stardom. Since she was doing double duty between two companies on opposite sides of the ocean, her presence in AEW was minimal.
Since winning the Women’s Championship from Riho on February 12th, Rose has been largely absent from AEW programming. That’s not her fault since much of her title reign has taken place during the lockdown. With things are starting to open up, Rose is back on television. It’s great to see her as she is a dominant Women’s Champion with a much different character than the rest of the division. Plus, the belt needs to be on TV for people to be invested in it. But it seems like AEW is unsure who their champion is.
During her lockdown absence, Rose was barely mentioned on AEW programming, if at all. Even when MJF was away from TV, he still cut promos about his devastating hangnail injury. There was no on-air word from Rose for weeks, making people wonder what was going on. Little effort was put in by AEW to keep their champion in fan’s minds. Instead, that time was put to use building the mythos of Britt Baker, DDS.
For many fans, it was a surprise to not see Britt Baker at the forefront of the AEW Women’s Division since day one. She was easily their most high profile signing in the division, as well as one of the top signings in the entire company. There is a strong argument to be made that not putting the belt on her from day one was a mistake. Given her prominent heel turn and the huge push she’s currently receiving, fans should expect a title run real soon.
Baker’s heel push has been so huge that she’s slowly become a factor in matches she’s not technically involved in. She frequently pops up as part of the “audience”, often attacking wrestlers with one of her shoes. Baker has also been part of an increasing number of excellent pre-produced promos. Then during Nyla Rose’s return squash match, the commentary team seemed to spend almost as much time talking about Baker has they did Rose.
All of this is well deserved. Britt Baker probably should have been the inaugural AEW Women’s Champion. Instead, she’s been all but absent from the championship scene. The lockdown forced AEW into a position where they had to do some real creative development with Baker. It’s about time AEW recognized what they have in Baker, which is someone who should be leading their division. The hopefully unintended impact is that they seem to be burying the current champion.
Over the last few weeks, more effort has been put into growing Britt Baker’s character than Riho and Nyla Rose combined. But it does beg the question of why this kind of effort isn’t being put into other talents. According to their official rankings as of May 6th, Hikaru Shida has the best 2020 record in the Women’s Division at seven wins and one loss. On the other hand, Britt Baker is three and three. Despite that, Baker is being treated on TV like she’s the Champion-elect.
Again, Baker deserves this push as she’s one of the best female wrestlers in the world. But at some point, AEW will need to start putting similar effort into3 the rest of their Women’s Division, maybe beginning with Nyla Rose.
The concept of Rose’s character is that she’s a dominant force in the ring. The lockdown has prevented that from being demonstrated via the traditional squash matches. That doesn’t explain the lack of promos being cut each week, showing that her fire is still there. There were multiple opportunities for videos of her working out or fight training in crazy ways at home. There was no reason for Nyla Rose’s nearly 100% absence from TV during this time, and the result is any heat Rose had has dissipated.
By putting the focus so firmly on Britt Baker during the lockdown, AEW has pushed their own champion out of the spotlight. The only way this makes sense is if they’re planning on putting a new champion out in front of the division. That could be what’s best for the AEW Women’s Division, but it’s unfortunate that Nyla Rose’s title run might be sacrificed to make that happen.
Nyla Rose has finally returned to AEW programming but the company still seems more focused on Britt Baker than their own champion.