As a professional wrestling promotion, All Elite Wrestling was founded only two short years ago in January of 2019. In that time, four different women have held their championship belt and it’s quite surprising how diverse that cast has been. Representation matters and seeing a major North American promotion not only highlighting non-white female talent, but strapping the division on their backs this early in the company’s history is something worth giving them credit for.
This past Memorial Day weekend hosted one of AEW’s major annual PPV events, Double or Nothing, during which they crowned their first ever non-Hispanic white women’s champion. It feels weird to even point that out, as if that’s not the norm everywhere else. All Elite Wrestling has an impressively diverse women’s roster with wrestlers from all walks of life, so I look forward to seeing this trend continue. Let’s take a look at the four champions and also who may be poised to hold the belt in the near future.
At only 24 years old, Riho hasn’t been in the game that long, but she’s held championships at multiple different Japanese promotions and still has her whole career ahead of her. She began her wrestling training at the age of nine, which was probably about the same age where I had just learned how to tie my shoes. Riho made her AEW debut in May of 2019 and just three months later she won a qualifier against Hikaru Shida to earn her spot in the match to crown the inaugural All Elite Wrestling Women’s Champion.
She would face Nyla Rose and despite being the much smaller contender, she overcame the odds and became both the inaugural and the first Japanese women’s champion in AEW. This was inspired booking by the promotion and went to show how much respect the company has for her considering Riho speaks very little English. Her reign lasted 133 days.
“The Native Beast”, Nyla Rose is a member of the Oneida Tribe of the Iroquois Nation and has arguably been victim to some of the worst bigotries in her quest for acceptance in the professional wrestling world. As well as also being half African American, Nyla was the first openly transgender wrestler to sign with a major American promotion when she signed with AEW in 2019. One of the pillars of the women’s division since its inception, Nyla Rose left her mark at the first Fyter Fest event in a triple threat match against Yuka Sakazaki and the soon-to-be inaugural AEW women’s champion, Riho.
Her dominance shined from the opening bell as she threw her smaller opponents around the ring in feats of impressive strength. It’s common to see big women wrestlers have very simplified move sets mostly consisting of strikes and leg drops, but Nyla sets herself apart with complex slams and even top rope spots. Her first AEW women’s title win on February 12, 2020 was controversial among the wrestling community as she became the first transgender woman to win a world championship in a major United States wrestling promotion. Her reign lasted 101 days.
With Nyla Rose dominating the women’s division as the heel champion in the first half of 2020, fans were looking around for anyone who could stand up to her power. That came in the form of Japanese sensation, Hikaru Shida. Before signing with AEW in 2019, Shida had already been a decorated talent in Japan, winning multiple championships with different promotions. A veteran of the Japanese “strong style,” Shida was just the tough and hardened competitor needed to give Nyla Rose a proper challenge.
Within one year of her debut, Shida fought Rose in a brutal no disqualification match at the 2020 Double or Nothing PPV, winning her first All Elite Wrestling women’s title. Shida would go on to have the longest title reign yet at 372 days, during which she took on all comers not only from AEW, but from the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) as well as from various Japanese promotions.
(Dr.) Britt Baker (D.M.D.)
At the Double or Nothing PPV in May of 2021, Britt Baker battled Hikaru Shida in a women’s title match, ending her year-long reign at the top and winning the championship belt for the first time. This made Baker not only the first white woman but, more impressively, the first doctor to hold the belt in the company’s history. That’s not just part of her gimmick, she is a practicing dentist in Winter Park, FL. In interviews, Baker has stated that she has an agreement with her employing office to be closed on Wednesdays so she can wrestle for AEW’s weekly show, Dynamite.
Baker may be the first ever practicing doctor to hold a championship belt in a major wrestling promotion, although online research failed to corroborate that. As of this writing, Britt Baker has only been women’s champion for seven days, but it’s clear that she’s destined to be a mainstream star and All Elite Wrestling will continue to build their women’s division around her.
Future Potential All Elite Wrestling Women’s Champions
Former NWA women’s champion, Thunder Rosa, already has history with Britt Baker in All Elite Wrestling. They’ve had multiple matches including an unsanctioned Lights Out match on an episode of Dynamite that was highly praised. Rosa is the obvious babyface foil to Baker’s heel champion. After a lengthy reign, we can assume Rosa will be the chosen one to take the women’s title off of Baker.
Tay Conti has only been wrestling for five years, but she’s got all the tools to be a star. The Brazilian native is a black belt in judo and participated in the trials for their Olympic team at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Conti was contracted under WWE for a short time where she got to compete in a battle royal at Wrestlemania 34, which made her the first Brazilian female to ever compete at Wrestlemania. Accolades aside, AEW has made significant strides to book her as a big deal in 2021. Her time isn’t here yet, but it will be.
Red has been a consistent presence on AEW TV since making her debut with the company in June of 2020. She doesn’t have a lot of experience, but she gets noticeably better every time you see her. She was picked by Cody Rhodes to be his partner in the intergender tag match against Shaquille O’Neal and Jade Cargill. She’s competed at the top of the card a few times and always impresses. Be on the lookout for her in the coming years.
A physically impressive and intimidating personality, Jade is a newcomer with only a handful of matches under her belt, but she’s already talked about as the biggest prospect in the company. We can possibly expect her to go on a long undefeated streak in the company. Once she really gets going, she’ll outshine nearly everyone else in AEW and beyond.