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AEW’s women’s division has been built in different phases. At the start, the company didn’t have any established names that they could build around the way they had performers like Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega on the men’s side. Instead, they had to rely on a combination of inexperienced wrestlers from the indies and veteran talent from Japan that had no name recognition in the United States.

Despite injuries to key talent and the pandemic restricting international travel, the division did grow and improve in a number of ways. Some of the indie talent, most notably Britt Baker, turned into genuine stars for the division, and some of the Japanese talent got over in the United States to the degree they could anchor certain matches.

What is the next step of the division? The introduction of the TBS Championship shows what should be next for the division. AEW has given suitable time to the women’s world championship, but what the company could stand to improve is giving time to feuds that don’t involve just the world title. By adding a second title, the company will have artificially created another featured program that should be regularly shown on television. Instead of having one women’s feud happening, the company will have two with the two separate titles.

I was originally against the TBS Championship because I felt like you could give more time and focus to the women’s division without having another title belt to be used as a creative crutch. However, the tournament for the TBS Championship has provided a lot more focus onto the women’s division in AEW, and the tournament alone has already really helped the division in a positive manner.

AEW has really taken their time with the tournament and haven’t rushed through matches to get it over in a week. Instead the tournament has featured basically one match a week, with a lot of care going into most of the matches. The women cut promos, vignettes have been made, and they even have occasionally had tag matches to build up to the main tournament matches. By the end of the tournament, the winner will have survived a grueling tournament that lasted months to come out on top.

That kind of booking is good for the TBS Championship, since it immediately establishes its value as something the wrestlers want very much, but it also has had a positive impact across the division. Wrestlers have benefited from the spotlight and getting a chance to cut promos and be involved in a feud that lasts a couple of weeks; and we’ve already seen some rivalries like Hikaru Shida vs Serena Deeb splinter off from the tournament. The tournament hasn’t just been about establishing the title, it has brought more attention to various women across the division.

Needless to say, the first title holder will be playing an important role. Who should win it? Let’s look at the four remaining names.

Jade Cargill

Cargill has perhaps the greatest look I’ve ever seen for a female wrestler, and is the kind of person that immediately turns heads wherever they go. She’s also an accomplished athlete and has at times looked very good as a worker given her level of experience. She also has expressed a lot of poise and confidence as a personality and speaker. She has the look, charisma, and is a good athlete that should turn into a competent worker in time.

The negative for Cargill is that she is still very inexperienced in pro wrestling, and at times in her matches you can see that inexperience come into play. AEW has been very protective of her, basically keeping all of her matches short and infrequent. Going from that to somebody who is expected to have at least decent matches on a regular basis is a big jump, and I wonder if Jade is ready for that.

It’s very possible AEW could still book around Cargill’s limitations if she were to win the title. Maybe she isn’t having 10-15 minute matches every other week on TV, but they could have her be a dominant, monster champion. The angle of a physically superior, cocky champion could work, and it would often be a different dynamic than what Britt Baker has done with the world title, which is a more traditional cheating-heel act.

Nyla Rose

Rose is a former women’s world champion and is one of the indie names AEW signed from the start of the company and has turned into at the very least, a competent figure in the division. She plays the role of powerful heel well, and since live crowds have returned her act with Vickie Guerrero has improved since Vickie gets such good heat from the audience.

Rose has a limited ceiling though; her best role is probably as a heel gatekeeper, the kind of person outside of the title picture who rising babyfaces can beat on their way up the ladder. This is sometimes called the “Kane role” since it was basically what Kane did for his career in WWE. I don’t really see Rose as a real contender to hold the TBS Championship.

Ruby Soho

Soho was a needed signing by AEW, shaking loose from WWE and immediately becoming an important figure in the division. Soho isn’t the very best worker in AEW’s women’s division, nor is she the most charismatic, but she is above average in both categories and that has made her a valuable tool for AEW. She also has a very positive attitude and a cool entrance theme, that has helped her get over with the live audience.

I’m not sure if she would be the perfect first candidate to win the TBS Championship, but she is the kind of person you could throw the title on to and expect a professional performance. Soho has already done well to get over with the crowd since her debut, and it’s possible that if she were to win the title and then get into a hot feud, she could go up another level and become a legitimate top babyface for the company.

Soho also provides veteran experience as a worker, a critical competent in AEW, which still has a decent amount of inexperienced workers they would like to put in more prominent spots. One negative for Soho is that she needs a different finisher; her falling sidekick doesn’t look brutal enough to come across as a finisher and I think she should find something else.

Thunder Rosa

Thunder Rosa is probably the most complete performer in the entire division. She checks all the boxes as she is a good worker, has tons of charisma, good promo (in two languages), has a marketable look and is over with the fans. Obviously she would be a perfect candidate to win the TBS Championship.

The reason I think she might not win the title is because clearly AEW wants to build towards Thunder Rosa vs Britt Baker as a major match for the women’s world title. In fact, I would wager that Rosa is the favorite to defeat Baker for the world title; as their feud has been the definitive moment of AEW’s women’s division so far. Since that appears to be a plan for sometime in 2022, I don’t think Rosa is going to be the inaugural TBS Champion.

Ultimately, looking at the remaining candidates; the idea of doing something with Jade Cargill is the most appealing. It would create a different dynamic in the women’s division, and the company has been protecting Cargill for nearly a year; at some point they have to pull the trigger on her. If she is too green, or not progressing enough as an in-ring worker to really make it work long-term; you can always just have her squash some people and then put someone over.

Cargill has the most upside as champion, and I don’t think the worst case scenario is enough to scare AEW away from throwing her into the deep end.

In the latest edition of the Gentlemen’s Wrestling Podcast, Jesse Collings (@JesseCollings) and Jason Ounpraseuth (@JasonOun95) discuss the various world champions in pro wrestling. They start by talking about Hangman Adam Page’s potential as a long-term babyface champion, then get into the differences between Big E and Roman Reigns and wrap up with the zaniness going on in NJPW with Shingo Takagi, Kazuchika Okada and Will Ospreay all alleging to be the world champion.  

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