It was a night for the division.
With rumours and speculation swirling of future returns and free agent debuts, there’s a palpable feeling of anticipation in the air when it comes to AEW’s women’s division. But putting those prospects aside to the moment, last night’s Dynamite showed a tight and orderly booked couple of segments and match that exhibited the increased attention to detail we’ve seen in tail end of 2023. This was reassuring. In the wake of what feels like a division heating up, fans and critics alike—in good faith—invariably wondered allowed whether this momentum could all be squandered. But Wednesday night assured me that even if the bottom somehow fell out of the Mercedes Monè free agent sweepstakes, this division would be fine.
Tony Khan, if you happen to be reading this please ignore that previous sentence. Your company is doomed if you don’t sign Mercedes Monè. Pay that woman!
Toni Storm Doesn’t Watch The Show
In a 75 second interview with Renee Paquette, the question of whether Timeless Toni Storm will be watching Mariah May’s debut match that night came up to which Toni replied, “Darling, I don’t watch wrestling” and followed that up with saying Mariah needs to pay her dues. Toni saying she doesn’t watch the show wasn’t a throwaway line. This isn’t the WWE Universe where you can scheme openly in front of an invisible camera because the other characters don’t realize they’re on a TV show. So look for this storyline to continue evolving outside of Toni’s direct involvement. Secondly, the “paying her dues line” reiterates that if it wasn’t assumed already, Toni sees Mariah May as no kind of threat whatsoever. In all, this one interview justifies why if this story goes the way of “All About Eve”, Toni won’t have seen it coming.
Mariah May Is A Star
Anytime a non-ex-WWE wrestler debuts in AEW, there’s two camps: There’s those fans who are unfamiliar with this person but have maybe heard the hype and are excited to see what they can do and what they’re about. Then there’s the fans who’ve watched this person come up and dreamt of this moment where they get to watch them in an AEW ring. For maybe the first time, I was in the second camp and, I gotta say, it’s actually a little nerve wracking because you feel so invested in their success and you want to see them immediately blow that first camp away.
In the end though, I think Mariah actually blew me away. Not by having a blow away match but by the economy of it. Watching her in Stardom, she’s clearly more than up to the task of carrying herself in the ring. But you wonder what type of learning curve there might be from the pace, and more importantly, the time constraint of American TV wrestling. This felt like an extremely economical use of Mariah May. In around 6-minutes May got herself over as a stiff striker and credible threat without really even utilizing the bulk of her signature spots. For fans unfamiliar with her work, she left so much on the table for them to discover soon enough.
After the match, Mariah has her in-ring interview with Renee and the effectiveness of this really speaks to her ability to get anything over on the mic. Lines like “I can’t believe it! I won my AEW debut!” could have just as easily fallen flat in lesser hands but with Mariah’s authentic charm it couldn’t fail. And when she tells Deonna, “I’m not the messenger so, um, tell her yourself bitch” again, in an industry guilty of hackneyedly tacking on the word “bitch” to the end of any sentence for dramatic effect, Mariah’s delivery was so funny and cutting. She elevated every line.
Mariah May was born for this.
At the same time, Queen Aminata who got the unceremonious “already in the ring” introduction showed herself as easily belonging in this company. I’ve been on the Queen’s bandwagon so long I didn’t even realize that this was her Dynamite debut. I was also surprised how many AEW fans were unfamiliar with her work! She looked so strong, fast, and powerful in this match, if this was your first impression of Queen Aminata, you walked away wondering why she didn’t get her own entrance. She’s so good.
And just as the thought, “How much of that was Queen and how much was Mariah?” entered my mind, Amanita showed out again the next night on Ring Of Honor, coming out with her full entrance facing Maya World. It was Maya in the Queen’s spot as the enhancement talent and again, this was another undeniable performance. Her strikes look so hard. And her look is so cool and unique. I’m seeing a sudden movement of fans online say “Tony’s signed her right? Right?!” She rocks.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t throw some sunshine Maya World’s way as well who recently came out of nowhere and is something of a revelation. Maya’s just 21, been wrestling for 1(!) year with 21 matches to her name according to CageMatch and in this match and in her match with Athena, she looked like she’s been grinding it out on the Indys for years! Watch for her!
And Then There’s Deonna
Here’s a freezing cold take for you:
I couldn’t have been more wrong. In fairness to me, this was Deonna Purrazzo’s home state of New Jersey but even then, I did not expect a crowd pop like that. Deonna looked like a star. I thought she sounded a little nervous as her voice was a little shaky but so many of our favourite pro wrestling moments are a little 4th wall-breaking and this to me felt like Deonna was swept up in the reality of this moment. I love these moments as a fan, and women’s wrestling provides them so often, where you get to feel both excited for the character and happy for the person at the same time. Women’s wrestling fucking rules man.
All in all, I thought this was a very strong start to 2024 for the division. At every level of both AEW and ROH, there’s exciting things going on. I’m getting AEW 2021 vibes from it. Thanks for reading and, as always, don’t forget to let the women in your life know how much you appreciate them! 🙂