On August 5, AEW launched a membership platform for AEW Heels, which was quickly criticized by many fans. AEW Heels, a community for female wrestling fans to learn and engage, had previously been a free service, so fans were upset at AEW charging a $49 annual fee to use the service, though perks were included.
Speaking to Entrepreneur, Brandi Rhodes discussed the decision to charge for the platform.
"One thing we're seeing, and this has been growing across the board, is that more women are watching AEW. So learning information like that only helps when you want to form a community for women. The other thing is, from a marketing standpoint, this is not something we looked at and said, "Hey, we're gonna make a ton of money off of this." It's not unlike a lot of small business. This is not something we expect to be profitable for a long time, if ever. The only reason we ask for money for membership is because there's a cost to run it. There's this big website that's multifaceted and allows these women to communicate all the time and to do live in-persons and parties and meetings via Zoom. We update with different news and photo galleries and posts. They're getting access to a lot of people who are putting in a lot of work. We can't start a website out of the clear blue sky. If we did, the product would not be good, and they would not enjoy it and stick around," she said.
Brandi went on to say that Heels has been a successful venture thus far and that the product sells itself.
Due to the backlash regarding AEW charging for Heels, Brandi deactivated her Twitter account for a short time, deciding to focus her energy on other things and not negative comments from fans.