Fixing AEW's Women's Division, Belair vs. Deville, LA Knight, More Quick Takes

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistApril 17, 2022

Fixing AEW's Women's Division, Belair vs. Deville, LA Knight, More Quick Takes

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    Despite a hot title win, Thunder Rosa's momentum seems to have stalled as AEW women's world champion.
    Despite a hot title win, Thunder Rosa's momentum seems to have stalled as AEW women's world champion.Credit:

    There's a lot to like about All Elite Wrestling, especially as the roster continues to expand and more star power is brought in. Unfortunately, the promotion's women's division is easily its Achilles heel.

    While AEW has come a long way in terms of how the women area being booked, there's still a disconnect with how they're portrayed on Dynamite and Rampage compared to the men. The talent is there, and the depth has improved, with there being more storylines. But the real work for AEW as far as prioritizing women's wrestling has only just begun.

    To be fair, WWE is also far from perfect in that department, but at least fans have an intriguing Raw Women's Championship feud to look forward to between Bianca Belair and Sonya Deville. It kicked off on Monday's Raw when Deville attacked Belair, and now the stage is set for what should be a great title clash at WrestleMania Backlash on May 8.

    Both Raw and SmackDown have been graced with new blood since 'Mania, and NXT alumnus LA Knight looks to be among them. However, he would be much more useful in the role of a wrestler as opposed to a manager despite him working as the latter in a dark match prior to Friday's SmackDown.

    This installment of Quick Takes will discuss the miscasting of Knight, how WWE can do better with Veer Mahaan than making him the latest foreign monster heel, how AEW can avoid underwhelming debuts like Satnam Singh's in the future and more.

Women's Owen Hart Cup Should Revitalize AEW's Stagnant Women's Division

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    Despite boasting a wealth of talent, AEW's women's division has a stunning lack of buzz.

    Thunder Rosa finally winning the AEW Women's World Championship in March was a major moment, but the aftermath has left a lot to be desired. Her feud with Nyla Rose has been mediocre at best, while the Hikaru Shida vs. Serena Deeb and Kris Statlander vs. Leyla Hirsch storylines have lost steam as well.

    That's not to mention how Ruby Soho, Anna Jay and others have disappeared from television as of late. Jade Cargill has been killing it in her role as AEW TBS champion, but her recent rivalry with Marina Shafir hasn't exactly lit the world on fire.

    The women's division needs a serious shot in the arm, and the upcoming Women's Owen Hart Cup may be able to help with that.

    The division was arguably at its best when so many different wrestlers were being featured in the tournament to crown the inaugural AEW TBS champion late last year. So far, Toni Storm, Soho, Jamie Hayter, Red Velvet and Shida have all qualified, so the match quality is guaranteed to be great.

    Once AEW puts a renewed focus on its women's scene through the tourney, the key is continuing to prioritize the performers from that point forward to maintain that momentum.

Veer Mahaan Has the Potential to Be More Than the Latest Foreign Heel Monster

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    For as many times his debut was delayed, Veer Mahaan actually benefited from the various video packages that aired ahead of his arrival. WWE's weekly promises that he was on his way to Raw turned him into a meme online and led to him receiving a surprisingly nice reaction when he finally resurfaced on the Raw after WrestleMania 38.

    We're only two weeks into his Raw run, but he's already been booked like a force to be reckoned with by taking out The Mysterios in dominant fashion. The potential is there for his for him to work his way up the ranks, but there's no guarantee his push will end any better than those of every other indomitable foreign heel who preceded him.

    Rather, it would have been more refreshing for WWE to go the babyface route with him, especially since he became such a fan favorite on social media in the months leading up to his debut.

    Veer's Twitter game is strong, and he has an amazing sense of style to boot. Sadly, none of his personality is being showcased on TV beyond his destruction of The Mysterios, and while that has worked well so far, he will inevitably become just another guy on the roster once he's conquered by the played-out American hero (whoever that might be) in predictable fashion.

    It's arguably too late to shift Mahaan's character in a different direction, but it would be nice at some point to learn more about his background and for WWE to delve into his amazing story, as seen in Disney's Million Dollar Arm.

Sonya Deville Is the Perfect 1st Foe for Raw Women's Champion Bianca Belair

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    Looking at the landscape of Raw's women's division coming out of WrestleMania 38, there weren't a ton of viable options when it came to determining who would be next in line to challenge newly crowned Raw Women's champion Bianca Belair.

    Becky Lynch will be absent from Raw for the foreseeable future, Alexa Bliss is a babyface and Rhea Ripley hasn't turned heel. Asuka would have worked in that role, but there's been no update on when WWE intends to bring her back from injury.

    Sonya Deville likely wasn't the first name fans thought of because of how infrequently she's wrestled in recent years and still being an on-air authority figure, but she's the perfect person to be paired with Belair at this point in time.

    Deville proved during her long-running rivalry with Mandy Rose in 2020, as well as earlier this year when she faced Naomi, that she is more than competent in the ring. She has an outstanding presence about her as a heel, making her an ideal foil for someone such as Belair, who will become an even bigger babyface as a result of the rivalry.

    This storyline should be what gets Deville back in the squared circle permanently now that her run as a WWE official has run its course. Belair will need high-profile opponents heading into the summer to ensure she remains a focal point on Raw, and Deville fits the bill to a tee.

AEW Must Save 'Lights Out' Gimmick Exclusively for Meaningful Moments

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    AEW has hosted countless exciting debuts over the past year, with some being executed better than others. Unfortunately, the arrival of former NBA draft pick Satnam Singh on Wednesday's edition of Dynamite ended the evening on a sour note because of how poorly it was handled.

    Instead of closing out the episode with the feel-good moment of Samoa Joe winning the ROH World Television Championship, AEW instead decided to turn off the lights as a way to introduce Singh in what it wanted to be shocking fashion.

    However, Singh isn't a familiar face to most fans, and thus the moment didn't come off well at all. The company's lights-out gimmick should be reserved for moments that are intended to be meaningful and are guaranteed to elicit a loud reaction, not for just anyone debuting on the program.

    Fans have come to expect big surprises whenever the lights go out to the point it's become a tired trope. WWE and other companies are guilty of it as well, but AEW has seemingly utilized the tactic more than anyone else in its short history, starting with the debut of The Dark Order at Double or Nothing 2019.

    The lights would be turned off prior to Cody Rhodes' entrance when he was with AEW, and it still happens for Shawn Spears on occasion. It makes sense to do it in the case of House of Black, but it needs to be toned down to avoid ruining whatever mystique it has left.

LA Knight Is Needed More in a Wrestling Role Than as a Manager

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    Gunther, Ludwig Kaiser, Butch, Tommaso Ciampa and Raquel Rodriguez have all made their way up from NXT to the main roster in recent months with more maybe to follow. LA Knight's name was also among those floated for a potential move to either Raw or SmackDown, and although it looks like he is indeed headed to Friday nights, it's for something a little different than what fans were expecting.

    A video that surfaced on social media during SmackDown revealed that Knight was used as a manger for Mace, the former Dio Maddin, prior to the taping. His gift of gab is second to none, and it makes sense why WWE would want to utilize him in such a role, but the timing couldn't worse.

    Never before has WWE needed new stars as desperately as it does right now, especially with only one world championship to fight for. Roman Reigns could use a few fresh faces to defend against, and if built up the right way, Knight could be a viable challenger for him.

    Instead, he will be putting his effort into getting Mace over as a singles star, and that isn't to say the pairing will fail. Knight is talented enough that he should be able to make the most of it, and Maddin is a prospect in his own right, but Knight is ready for prime time at this very moment.

    Why waste him doing anything else as he nears 40?

    It's possible he will branch back out as a wrestler eventually, but it doesn't change the fact that WWE could use someone of his skill and star power at the top card coming out of WrestleMania 38 instead of slotting him into a non-wrestling role prematurely.


    Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.