I’m in love with professional wrestling. It’s probably the greatest and most enduring love I have ever known or will know. It started at 6 years old and lives on today, stronger then ever. It has seen my highest of highs and lowest of lows and has been both something to celebrate and my shoulder to cry on. When everything else has failed to last or fallen short of a promise, wrestling was there as something I could look forward to and know I could find joy in for a couple of wonderful hours.
Much has changed in the 22 years since my first Monday Nitro on my Grandad’s lap, both with myself and in wrestling. My favorite thing to change in wrestling though, what thrills me still as I excitedly type these very words, is that I can tune in to almost any show in any company worldwide and watch women on my screen. I can watch as people in the LGBT community author magnificent matches, while allowed to be who they truly are. I can smile as I watch as these people - people who I can identify with - take hold of equal opportunity and shine the way they deserve to shine. I can sit back and appreciate the moments they create while given the chance to tell their very own story, not just one they choose but one they live as well.
I love women’s wrestling. I adore and support the women fighting every single second to live a dream I remember having as a little girl. There is no greater feeling than doing what they do – making dreams reality. It’s something everyone should experience in their lives. That epic and unmistakable pride and happiness a dream realized provides.
I am not too young to remember the days when women were not given the same opportunities that exist today. The emotions I felt then – the ones that confused me so – are still fresh in my heart even now. I didn’t understand. It makes me appreciate progress all the more.
When All Elite Wrestling was first announced, I was carefully optimistic. I didn’t know what to expect or how high to hope. I just knew that the people responsible for its creation were good ones and that whatever their vision was, I was behind it. I looked forward to every talent announcement, every promotional ad, and every single building block as it was revealed. As time went on, it felt more and more like this was a company that was not just theirs, but ours. Like Cody so famously claimed, it felt like a revolution. It did! I could literally feel the potential, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit it was the most excited I’d been as a fan for many years.
While I looked forward to many things, what held my hopes highest was the women’s division. I wondered who would fill out a roster started from scratch. I fantasy booked matches I had only ever thought possible in my dreams. I desperately wanted them to succeed. I knew they would, and that’s still a vision I see when I close my eyes two years later.
But I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been a little disappointed in what we’ve been given so far. Not in the women signed or in their effort given, but in the time they’ve been allowed. I know there have been unforeseen circumstances and that it is physically impossible to please everyone at once. I understand Covid has been a nightmare. I realize the world title had to be built around. I support new stars being built and focused on. It’s not my first rodeo in wrestling, but it is my first one supporting a brand-new company, just like it is for everyone there.
So, I’m ever patient. I don’t criticize, just hope. I trust the beautiful and ridiculously talented women of All Elite Wrestling, because they have earned that from me. They deserve the world. All of them. With what we are about to see as an example, they might just be on the brink of having it dropped in their laps. I sure hope that’s finally the case.
This week we all get to bear witness to what is the biggest women’s match in All Elite Wrestling history. There is no title involved. The AEW Women’s Championship won’t be ringside, nor will champion, Hikaru Shida. No crazy stipulations. Just two badass women settling a blood feud with weeks and weeks of slow build.
We’ve seen Dr. Britt Baker fully embrace the dark side so incredibly beautifully. There has been no one in wrestling to have adapted to their role in the past year quite like she has. When she first came in, I was fully consumed by her story. A shoot dentist AND a professional wrestler. That is not supposed to be feasible for anyone to handle. But she did. She had two dreams and she chose both. Inspiration for so many young girls and boys alike, she is leading by example and proving that all it takes is a little bit of passion and a lot of hard work.
When she walks through the curtain, she may play a bad girl, but one look into her eyes and the appreciation for what she’s accomplishing and what it means to her are not lost. We can hide a lot as human beings – our fears, our goals, pieces of ourselves we don’t want others to know – but within our eyes, we are who we are. We cannot fake pride. I envy Britt so intensely, for all she’s done and what she will continue to do. Not just that though. I envy her most for the humble and kind person she is. Just don’t tell her character that!
She has been a workhorse, growing all the while, becoming one of AEW’s biggest stars, one no one believes shouldn’t be there. Memorable moments like her “Mick Foley esque” bloody smile, her GREAT feud with Big Swole (most of which took place while injured), and her hilarious bits with BFF Tony Schiavone have set the tone for this version of her always-developing super heel character. Alongside loyal friend Reba, she’s taken The Waiting Room from Dark to Dynamite, making it must see comedy, something that isn’t easy to do. Not to be forgotten, her social media trolling, of which Cody Rhodes has been a recent amazing focus, is next level.
She makes these moments, some lighter than others, but when she steps through the ropes, her demeanor is anything but light. She’s there to do one thing – win. By whatever means necessary, she’s tapping someone out. With rage in her eyes and a perfectly arrogant grin on her face, the Doctor is always in.
Once hailed as AEW’s chosen one in the women’s division, the road isn’t perhaps what it seemed to have been before those first wonderful shows, but that doesn’t mean Britt isn’t chosen. AEW might not have chosen her, but she sure as hell has chosen herself. Her time is here.
This week’s match will challenge her like no one yet has. Standing in her way of what might be a forgone conclusion – a women’s title opportunity - is the former NWA women’s champion, Thunder Rosa.
A formidable opponent for any competitor, she carries with her a determination not unlike our good doctor. Her eyes are filled with focus and fancy. Grit and gravity. Respect and rage. She presents as a legitimate badass, something that compliments her opponent’s undeniable narcissism perfectly. Rosa doesn’t blend into the background. She’s not a character that fades. She’s not that because her character is herself. Layered beautifully, she fights for the greater good, against forces that seek to destroy what she loves. It’s the most classic of wrestling stories, told by two women settling into their roles as masters of their craft perfectly.
Thunder Rosa has no “quit.” She’s a pit bull. I say that in the most loving and complimentary of ways. Often misunderstood, pit bulls are feared and labeled. Placed into the wrong environment, they can be vicious. But in the right one, they are revealed to be quite possibly the biggest sweethearts of the canine world. Notably loyal and protective of those they love, pit bulls place family above all and do not hesitate to lay it all on the line when confronted.
Rosa IS a sweetheart. The examples are endless and glaring. From her interactions with fans, to her willingness to give back, and to her dedication to creating places for women in a business that is still finding its way in that regard. She has a soft and beautiful heart, full of love for those who earn it. Beyond that, she walks like she owns her journey. Never doubting she belongs, not only does she fight for those she loves – she fights for the business she loves, and its future.
Don’t take her kindness for weakness. Dr. Britt Baker, while bullying Thunder Rosa, exploiting the numbers game and taking advantage of opportunities presented, some she even created herself, walks into a strange yard this week, one that is not her own. One where the odds aren’t shifted to her favor. One that is home to AEW’s most vicious lady protector.
Once the bell rings and La Mera Mera is face to face with AEW’s resident dastardly dentist, I won’t predict what outcome may await. But I can promise these two top level characters and even better human beings will take care of us. They will advance the women’s division another few steps ahead and add another notch to their growing belts.
No matter the outcome, we win. Those are the best matches of all. Because the reach of this match isn’t confined by the dedicated time limit. The magic is in what happens after. Weeks from now. Months. Years. The excitement surrounding this feud, the slow build of bad blood, and the perfect timing in the careers of two of the most exciting woman wrestlers in the world make this feud what could be a pillar of this division that lasts forever.
So, I’ll be watching Wednesday as I always do. I will watch as two women I respect with my whole being go to war with one another. But for all the reasons I outlined throughout this feature, and for plenty I didn’t, this isn’t just war. This is more. So much more.
Like all of us, I’m in love with professional wrestling. But this week, when Britt and Rosa grace my screen, I’ll love it a little more. For the incredible characters, the even better human beings, and the stunningly strong women. These two beautiful and inspirational souls just out there living their dream – showing us it’s all possible, no matter who we are.
Get it, girls. For all of us. This is your time.