All Elite Wrestling’s latest PPV ALL OUT is this weekend and despite the fantastic job they have done building up most of the matches we will be previewing today, there is one part of the card AEW fans should find disappointing.
It is hardly a hot take to claim that AEW is failing the women’s division however for the longest time, while others have jumped right in, I’ve tried to give the company the benefit of the doubt. Back in January, I wrote a column, ‘The AEW Women’s Division Isn’t The Failure You Think It Is’ and have long advocated for the women giving it their all, particularly the current AEW Women’s Champion Hikaru Shida, who I count amongst my favourite active wrestlers at the moment.
I argued then and still maintain that while the division hadn’t been perfect in its first few months, it was heading in the right direction. Since March there have been reasons the division has struggled that any objective critic would concede were far beyond the company’s control. Firstly with Coronavirus halting nearly all international travel, a number of the Japanese wrestlers AEW had put in prominent positions were indefinitely sidelined overnight. Without them at hand, the company forged onwards, building the division around a core of available talent, primarily, Shida, Britt Baker, Nyla Rose, Kris Stadtlander and Penelope Ford and their success was evident with two featured women’s bouts making it onto the Double or Nothing PPV Card. However, within a few weeks, the division was hit again by long term injuries to Stadtlander and Baker, just as the pair were being built into title contenders. At that point, through very little fault of their own, the company had lost three-quarters of its women’s division.
That was in May though and with the release of the ALL OUT card, it is now impossible to ignore the myriad of ways the company has failed its women and allowed the division to regress.
What this ultimately all comes down to is that time after time, over the last three months AEW has shown that they put the women’s division last. They have done some good things that should not go without credit, there have been new wrestlers signed and of course, they held the Women’s Tag Team Tournament, however when push comes to shove when TV time is tight and when PPV cards are planned out, the women of AEW are always relegated below the men.
This all came to a head for me last week with the company falling over with the finish line in sight for the Big Swole and Britt Baker feud. This was a story that has been going on for over two months now and is one AEW fans have been excited to see through. However, when push came to shove on live TV last week, it was this segment that got cut down, while others were able to run over. The result was an embarrassing two-minute match that due to the rush saw multiple botches and awkward moments between the different wrestlers. This was not the women’s fault but they are the ones that were made to look like amateurs by a production that chose to make their only live women’s segment their lowest priority.
What happened in this segment is emblematic of what is wrong with AEW’s priorities at the moment. The Swole v Baker match should have been on the PPV card this weekend as the secondary women’s match but it has been consigned to the preshow in favour of thrown together male matches like The Young Bucks and Jurrasic Express and The Casino Battle Royale or feuds that have already received a spotlight like Mat Hardy v Sammy Geuvara. If it can’t be given a prominent place because Baker is still too injured, then four weeks ago they should have pivoted and built a new secondary women’s program. That is the beauty of pro wrestling, it isn’t real so you can make up whatever you want.
This was not the first time this kind of decision has been made either, despite AEW signing new talent and running a tag team tournament for women, there have been numerous Dynamite’s shows over the last few months that have had less than ten minutes featuring women’s wrestlers and some with none. The shining light in the division, the women’s champion Hikaru Shida, has hardly been on TV since she beat Penelope Ford two months ago, let alone built up as a champion or given a proper story to engage in. She does have an exciting matchup for ALL OUT against NWA Women’s Champion Thunder Rosa but even that has come together at the last minute. One or two weeks of good TV does not make up for months of mistreatment, and now what should be the crowning glory of the rebuilt division, is instead a bandage hastily slapped over a hole in the roof that has been leaking in water for months.
To put all this simply, excuses, good intentions and empty platitudes are no longer good enough. AEW has had time to overcome the challenges it has faced earlier this year but is still failing its women’s division. For a company in 2020 who claims to be forward socially and who applies such great attention to detail to its other divisions, it is just not good enough.
I say this as a fan, hoping it gets better, hoping that in three months time I will look back on the last few months and see them as an aberration. AEW has made some moves in the right direction but if they don’t fix their underlying priorities then the women’s division will continue to be a black mark on the company’s record.
Now let’s get onto something a little more fun, the ALL OUT preview and predictions.
Preview & Predictions
Jon Moxley v MJF – AEW World Championship
The big championship match! The up and coming, arrogant challenger against the badass champion and my goodness has this build been fun. With both of these men, you knew the promos were going to be great and they have not disappointed, the back and forth has been exactly what I wanted from them, with MJF trying to stay a step ahead of the champ but Moxley always having a comeback ready. I must say I really do like the stipulation to this match that the Paradigm Shift is banned, it has an old school feel to it and levels the playing field between the pair.
To me the result is pretty simple, there are some out there who are excited by the prospect of a young, AEW made talent, to take the company’s top title, however, I feel like there is plenty of time for MJF in the future and his rebuild is a more interesting story than an immediate coronation. Moxley’s reign is only getting better and better as it goes on and there are still has plenty of great matchups left for him before he loses the title.
A lot of the buildup has been Moxley saying that he thinks MJF will quit when he drags him out to the deep waters, so my hope for the match is a bloody brawl that tests the lengths MJF is willing to go to.
PREDICTION: Jon Moxley
Kenny Omega & Hangman Adam Page v F.T.R. – AEW Tag Team Championship
What an incredible build this one has been! There is not space enough here to analyse every minutia of the story that has built to this championship match but I feel safe in saying this has been the most compelling wrestling story I’ve watched week to week since the Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose reunion in 2017, which from me is high praise indeed. Essentially, F.T.R. has done all they can to divide and conqueror, not just the champions but all those around them and as a result have alienated Hangman Page from the other Elite members and also put a schism between Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks.
There are so many ways this story could play out and the match promises to absolutely blow the roof off the open-air Daily’s Place. Page and Omega have formed a killer combination and F.T.R. have so much to prove in their first PPV outing since leaving WWE. I almost hope they lead off with this match I’m so excited to see it.
My feeling about the result though is that Omega and Page’s time as a duo has come to an end and that the division will go forward with the ruthless champions at the top.
Hikaru Shida v Thunder Rosa – AEW Women’s World Championship
I’ve said my piece about the way AEW has handled the women’s division since its last PPV. However, despite everything, I am still excited for this match. Shida is one of the best women’s wrestlers in America and has carried the AEW women’s division since January. She has an explosive moveset and innate charisma that means you can’t help but get behind her. I caught a lot of the early episodes of NWA Powerrr and from that can say that Thunder Rosa is a great challenge for her, she can wrestle mean and will be able to help get the best out of Shida.
If anything my criticism of AEW’s handling of the women’s division is because I want to see more from the likes of Shida. All that said, while I think Shida’s title reign may be up soon, it doesn’t make sense for her to lose to someone who has been in the AEW ecosphere for only two weeks.
PREDICTION: Hikaru Shida
Chris Jericho v Orange Cassidy – Mimosa Mayhem Match
The rubber match between one of wrestling’s all-time greatest acts and Chris Jericho, in what can only be deemed a complete health hazard of a match: the Mimosa Mayhem Match.
This match has been built up quite well and for all the craziness that has surrounded the program, there is no doubt that Jericho has helped make believers out of many Orange Cassidy doubters. I’m still not sure what Cassidy’s ceiling is but it has no doubt been bold to give him a win over arguably the company’s biggest name.
I’m very torn on the result of this match, Jericho is still the far bigger name and has only been beaten in singles matches in AEW by Jon Moxley, so you would think he should win. However, if Jericho goes 2-1 up it robs a lot of the meaning out of Cassidy’s one win.
My hunch is that many shenanigans, interference and the match gimmick will be used to protect Jericho. While he will ultimately lose, it will be after being outsmarted by Cassidy and dunked into the vat of Mimosa, not by getting pinned.
PREDICTION: Orange Cassidy
The Dark Order v Matt Cardona, Scorpio Sky, Dustin Rhodes & QT Marshall
My goodness, this feels like filler. After the brilliant squashing of Cody, instead of another championship match Brodie Lee has been stuck in a multi-man tag match. At least there is storyline reason for all four men to want to challenge The Dark Order and I think while Brodie Lee will win, most likely by pinning QT, this is AEW doing New Japan booking and they will be used it to set up the next TNT Championship Challenger. Fingers crossed it is Sky that takes the fight to Lee.
PREDICTION: The Dark Order
The Young Bucks v Jurrasic Express
Another match that came together at the very last minute, but it is AEW so, ‘ya gots ta give the people what they want’ and they want flips on flips. Between Jungle Boy, Marko Stunt and The Young Bucks, I’m setting the over-under on total degrees of rotation in this match at 5000 (that is 13.8 flips for those without a calculator).
The only hope Jurrasic Express have is that The Elite conflict somehow spills over to this match, distracting The Bucks. Should be a fun one none the less.
PREDICTION: The Young Bucks
Matt Hardy v Sammy Guvera – Broken Rules Match
This match is a warped reflection of Sammy’s mentor’s match with Cassidy, a veteran and up and comer in a bitter blood-feud. I must say that on paper I would have no interest in the match whatsoever beyond it promising Matt Hardy’s retirement from AEW but the company has done a really good job building this feud to such an explosive climax that I can’t help but be intrigued at what they come up with.
Sadly the, ‘Matt Hady leaves AEW stipulation’, tells me all I need to know about the result, I will be cheering all the way for Sammy to beat up the vet but fully expect Hardy to get the final say in this match.
PREDICTION: Matt Hardy
Casino Battle Royale
I kind of feel like just posting the old, ‘stop trying to make fetch happen’ meme when it comes to the Casino Battle Royale. Having five people enter at once is kind of a mess and robs the match of the pops each entrant should get.
I will say that this particular iteration of the match has a lot of promise. The build-up has been centred around stables which not only adds immediate layers of story but could potentially see groups enter together to dramatically sway the balance of the match. If they don’t get the gimmick to work this time then I hope they just go to a standard Rumble format in the future.
My prediction is for the guy in charge of the biggest and baddest gang, Eddie Kingston. While he is promising to take The Lucha Brothers and The Butcher and Blade to the top, we know he is as cutthroat as they come and his winks to the camera tell me he has ulterior motives. Plus you just know Moxley would love to bust out the thumbtacks with this guy sometime down the line.
PREDICTION: Eddie Kingston
Big Swole v Britt Baker – Tooth & Nail Match (Preshow)
So once again, this match should not be on the preshow and it is a stain on AEW’s record that it is. However if nothing else, it means both women will go into this match with something to prove and should absolutely wrestle the house down.
Since turning heel Baker has been an absolute treat and even while injured she has been a constant highlight on Dynamite. This match should be used to set her up for a title match with Hikaru Shida, a match I think she may well win. Swole also stands to improve her standing even in a loss as it gives her someone to chase long term. She oozes charisma and the crowd will only love her more if she fights hard but gets beaten cheaply.
PREDICTION: Britt Baker
So there are my predictions for ALL OUT, despite my misgivings about the treatment of the women’s division I am still very much looking forward to the show. AEW has never delivered a PPV that wasn’t an absolute blast from start to finish and I don’t expect that to finish this weekend.
That wraps up things for me this week, do you agree that AEW has been failing its women’s division or am I being too harsh? Also, who do you think will win and lose at ALL OUT? Let me know in the comments below. You can also chat to me further on Twitter @Sir_Samuel or in the AEW section on the LOP Forums.
Missed my last AEW column? Check it out here:
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