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What if, instead of instituting AEW Women’s Tag Team titles, Tony Khan jumped straight to AEW Women’s Trios titles?
“But Travis,” you’re now saying, incensed ”You’re the guy who’s been saying for months that AEW must eventually make Women’s Tag Team belts?!” Calm down. But yes, I did say that. A while back I wrote A Path to Women’s Tag Team Belts, an article I often reference when I see signs of some of the check points being established. But for various reasons, I’ve had this niggling thought about Women’s Trios wrestling that keeps persisting. So I decided to really think and write about it.
So treat this purely as a thought exercise. Between the two alternatives, of Women’s Tag belts vs Women’s Trios belts, I don’t have a dog in this fight and neither should you. Just hear me out, keep an open mind, and see if your preference towards Women’s Tag belts isn’t at least conflicted.
Now, a lot of my reasoning comes from a place of mitigating both AEW’s shortcomings in promoting and booking their women’s division as well as the state of women’s wrestling in general while also playing to this particular women’s division’s strengths. As much as I’d rather see AEW push women’s wrestling to new heights and into new areas, that’s something I have no control over so I need to consider where AEW’s women’s division and women’s wrestling is currently at, not where it could be.
Alright, let’s get into it…
Banger Cheat Code
It’s no mystery why AEW fans have been asking for Men’s Trios belts since before the introduction of the TNT Title. They rule! And as such, we all wanted these 6-man humpers to mean something. Actually it’s amazing that Tony Khan waited this long to institute them! In Trios matches, wild action is baked into the DNA of the division. Contrast this with tag team matches. They can be fast paced but more often than not, they must reach a plodding part where the heat builds up to a hot tag. When you’ve got teams like the Young Bucks or FTR in a match, they can sell the audience on this formula. But with less established teams, it can feel like a trope we’re forced to endure. And the thing about women’s wrestling in general is that there are extremely few long established tag teams. If Tony Khan is up for the challenge of creating a great women’s tag team division, I’d love for them to take that on! But even with careful planning, it’s an uphill climb.
Meanwhile, AEW’s had instant success both in terms of ratings and match quality in booking multi-woman matches with the likes of Britt Baker, Jamie Hayter, Toni Storm, Athena, and Hikaru Shida. This strategy has seemed to amp up in the wake of Saraya’s arrival in AEW. And despite some of them being tag matches, I feel like the in-ring action more resembled a typical Trios match with lots of high spots and less heat building. And if/when AEW gets a tag team division, you’re not always going to have women with the talent level of these women in these high octane matches. I look to a recent match on Rampage of TayJay vs Madison Rayne & Skye Blue. While I appreciate Tony giving these women reps on a big platform, the crowd was pretty flat for these babyfaces, and TayJay aren’t as over as an act as Baker & Hayter are. If, however, you add a third member to each side, you open up a lot of possibilities for high spots and pin breakups that really get the crowd to bite.
Whoever would agent a proposed AEW women’s tag division, I suppose, could just book the matches to be more action heavy than psychology based. But with Trios, like I said, that would already be baked in. I think tag teams and tag team matches are better vehicles for telling stories of relationships between partners that can be woven into matches. But failing to do that—and I get it, TV time is limited, and executing fresh and intriguing creative can miss the mark—but failing to do that can result in tag matches being at the mercy of fan’s energy for how they come across. Women’s Trios matches, on the other hand, I feel have a greater potential to turn into attractions and really grab even a disengaged audience by the shirt collar and pull them in. You take six women and have each of them Get Their Shit In™ and that’s a lot of concentrated action packed into a match.
One of the recommendations I make in regards to Women’s Tag Team belts is to start putting together some stables, in the same way the Men’s division has. This has two main benefits: 1) Makes any tag team drawn out of a stable feel less like two random singles performers thrown together, and 2) It takes you further away from the contrivance of having babyfaces automatically siding with other babyfaces in multi-woman matches or backstage disputes. We don’t criticize this detail enough.
Also, stables are just more logical. They make the booking more interesting and make sense. In this world of pro wrestling where having backup so often comes in handy, why wouldn’t everyone have friends and alliances? And the second you put a Trios Team together and give them a name and a t-shirt, they’re basically a stable, especially if that Trios Team has a fourth woman as their ”leader”. And for some reason (and this may be my own subjective take), seeing 3 people on the same page with matching t-shirts or whatever feels more credible. Like with 2 people, you can imagine Tony Khan just being like “Ok, you and… you! You’re a tag team now!” whereas when a trio comes together, somehow you feel like there must be something behind it. Like these 3 are actually tight behind the scenes and pitched this to Tony.
Moar Women, Moar opportunity
A Trios division also has the ability to manage more talent. I don’t want to say “it gives people something to do” but while that’s technically what I’m saying, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Let’s look at the women’s division as it currently stands: at any time, there seems to be about 35-ish women who are active in AEW who compete for one of two singles titles. You can only have so many women in a singles title program. Recently we’ve seen Toni Storm defend the World Title in 4-ways while Jade defends in singles. Those two included, that’s 6 women. Even if AEW had a good women’s singles grudge match going, that leaves a good 27 women with not much to do.
Should AEW run a Women’s Trios division, especially if Tony adheres closer to the Rankings, having teams competing to climb up them, that’s an additional 3 women per team. In any given week, you could have 6 women competing for the title and an additional 6 women competing in a Trios match to see who gets next. But it’s not just about “keeping people busy”, the more women who get TV time and get to nearly exclusively show their best stuff in a Trios match, the more likely we are to have someone break out as a singles star. And down the line, for storyline purposes, Trios teams provide more connections to call back on in the future.
And sure, this sort of sets up the Women’s Trios division to ultimately be in service of the singles division but at the risk of coming off a bit nihilistic towards the idea of growing women’s tag team wrestling… Whether you’re AEW, WWE or whoever, we’re still currently in an arms race to build the best and most over women’s division and right now, that’s going to be with singles stars. For now, anyway.
Lastly, if AEW is truly to be “the alternative” why not go in more two-footed on that? WWE has Women’s Tag Team belts for their main Raw and Smackdown rosters as well as for NXT. Both divisions have mostly struggled. I think an AEW Women’s Trios division has a higher probability of being a hot property, whereas a Tag Team division kind of scans as their version of the thing WWE already has. And I think if AEW could have something “unique to AEW” like this, it’s less susceptible to drawing direct comparisons and can grow and develop more organically at its own pace without fans judging it against WWE’s Women’s Tag Team belts or Impact Wrestling’s for that matter. I mean, why not do something brand new?! (In North America)
I think there’s plenty of good reasons for AEW to opt for Women’s Trios Championships over Women’s Tag Team Champions, not least of which is just the pure economy of it:
- More women being utilized means more women getting on TV, increasing the likeliness of someone catching fire with the crowd and becoming a big singles star
- Trios matches take far less thought and effort to be exciting action-packed bangers
- Improves the booking by creating stables and expanding the interconnectedness of each woman, rather than just having two huge nebulous babyface and heel factions
- Actively different from what WWE is doing and able to mature on its own merits without people drawing endless comparisons
Well, looks like there’s been enough talk. What do you think? Should Women’s Trios belts get priority over tag straps? Have I just galaxy-brained this? You can let me know in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter at <at>aew_one. Also don’t forget to checkout my YouTube Channel. Thanks for reading and, as always, make sure the women in your life know how much you appreciate them!