We are now almost a quarter of the way through 2023, and the women's division in AEW has really started to take shape.
The company finds itself with two dominant champions, an ongoing faction battle that looks set to be a priority for AEW when we get to Blood and Guts, and bubbling under all of this is the long-term story of Jamie Hayter and Dr Britt Baker DMD.
Yes there are still issues within the division. The fact that there is only one women's match on Dynamite every week, and that match is often put in the pre-main event deathslot, is deplorable and the apparent failure to land Mercedes Mone earlier in the year still stings for many fans.
But for now let's focus on the positives shall we? Who is pulverising the competition? Who is picking up the wins and who is being influential elsewhere? Who, in short, is all powerful in the AEW women's division?
Below is my list based partially on win and loss statistics, how each woman is being used in AEW in 2023 and my always correct opinions and analysis.
So please enjoy! And if you don't enjoy please tell me why not....although be nice.
1 . JAMIE HAYTER
The AEW Women's Champion finds herself in a slightly odd situation right now. Whilst she is obviously top of the tree in the division right now, she is currently deeply mired in a long-and-winding non-title story with The Outcasts. Whilst it seems likely this will lead to an historic Blood and Guts match some way down the line, it's less clear what all of this means for the top belt in the meantime. I think we would all love to see Hayter battling some of the other names in this list one-on-one, not least the mouthwatering prospect of a battle with Britt Baker. When we do get there, Hayter's 100% singles record in 2023 will stand her in good stead. But until then we'll have to make do with the hard-hitting champ hopefully teaching Saraya and co a few violent lessons.
2. JADE CARGILL
Skye Blue, Vertvixen, Red Velvet and Nicole Matthews have been added to Jade Cargill's mammoth TBS Championship reign so far in 2023. Coming up on 450 days as champion, and with not a single defeat to her name since her debut, it's hard to argue that Cargill isn't one of the most dominant forces in AEW in any division. What this year has lacked so far for Jade is a credible threat to her title. The arrival of Taya Valkyrie appears to have changed that and that clash is now hotly anticipated. The big question, other than the knotty legal issues around ownership of 'Jaded' is can Jade go the distance against a competitor like Taya? She hasn't gone over 10 minutes in a match since April 2022, so if Valkyrie drags her into deeper waters, is Jade's title at risk? Or will she just march on and on and on?
3. RUBY SOHO
Many will have been very disappointed with Ruby Soho's turn to the 'darkside' when she joined forces with the paint-wielding Outcasts. But the bigger disappointment for Soho herself was not picking up the title win against Saraya and Hayter at Revolution, and it appears she thinks the addition of a mean-streak is the way to get her over that particular line. Based on wins alone Soho is best placed in her group to go after the big-belt. Ruby has won 6 out of 7 matches in 2023, with noteworthy wins over Skye Blue, Marina Shafir and Toni Storm as well as a three-way victory over Storm and Britt Baker. Whether or not Ruby is the next person to go after Jamie Hayter's belt, it's clear that she is currently holding a very prominent position in the division and you shouldn't expect that to change as the Outcasts continue to run riot (get it?)
Saraya may be the de-facto leader of the Outcasts, but with only 2 wins out of 4 matches in 2023 it's hard to say that her influence is being shown in the ring. Nevertheless, she is steering one of the factions in one of the promotions biggest ongoing stories and if this does all lead to a one-on-one title match, you'd expect it to be Saraya who takes on Jamie Hayter. As a Brit who will scratch anyone's eyes out to get a ticket when AEW come to our not-so-fair shores, I really hope they save that one for Blighty. In the meantime Saraya can continue to exert her influence by spray-painting losers and saying 'twat' on national television. It may not be big or clever...but...no I don't really know where I'm going with this.
5. TONI STORM
The third member of the Outcasts, Toni Storm probably has the best reason for being a bit miffed. As she pointed out herself, her title reign in the wake of Thunder Rosa being injured/stropping off (delete as appropriate) was greatly overlooked by the fans. Plus she's right that those same fans were delighted when Hayter cheated to take the AEW belt out of Toni's clutches. So it is perhaps with reasonable justification that Storm is taking every opportunity to hip-attach the absolute bejezus out of anyone she comes across. Unfortunately for Toni, she does have 4 defeats in 10 matches in 2023 which rules her out of being higher up this list. And yet if we do get a Blood and Guts match, Toni Storm is the one I'll be looking forward most to seeing embrace the carnage.
6. DR BRITT BAKER DMD
There hasn't really been a time since AEW's inception that Britt Baker hasn't been one of the more powerful faces in the division. She currently finds herself exceptionally playing a supporting role to friend and AEW Champion Jamie Hayter, with the hope that this will eventually pay itself off with a blood-feud between the two. In truth it would just be nice to see the Doctor back in the ring as she has only had 3 matches in 2023. In spite of this she is a key component of the AEW Originals v The Outcasts story and will hopefully channel some of Adam Cole's energy if and when the feud heads inside a steel cage. Until then, Britt still has the most marketable catchprhase in the division and whatever does happen once the faction-war is done, Baker is likely to be at the forefront.
Is Athena even an AEW wrestler at this stage? She sits in the group of wrestlers straddling both AEW and Ring of Honor, and for what it's worth I'd like to see Tony Khan make that distinction a bit more clear, particularly in the case of the ROH Champions such as Athena. Either way the Fallen Goddess' figure continues to cast a menacing cloud over AEW, even whilst she looks incredibly dominant in her other promotion. 9 wins out of 10 in AEW this year speaks for itself, and the elevation to ROH Champion does seem to have given Athena an increasingly impressive aura. Whether it's on Honor Club alone, coming back to AEW television or awkwardly straddling both promotions, Athena is likely to remain a force to be reckoned with.
Riho in her denims holding a comically large bat/pole may be one of the images of the year in AEW for me so far. But that glorious vignette aside, Riho has also been edged into the over-arching Outcasts v Originals story, and the feud is all the better for it. In the ring Riho continues to be hugely impressive both in terms of athleticism and speed, but also in terms of results. The former AEW Champion has picked up 5 wins in 5 in 2023, including wins over Nyla Rose, Emi Sakura and Toni Storm. Based on this she should arguably be higher up this list, and with a title match against Jamie Hayter coming up next week maybe she will make me look like a fool. Sadly I predict defeat on that title front for Riho...but Riho against Jade Cargill? Tell me you wouldn't want to see that!
9. TAYA VALKYRIE
It is perhaps telling for the division that Taya Valkyrie sits in this list after only 3 weeks and 2 matches in AEW. But unless you are one of those deliberately goldfish headed Ariel Hawani types, you will know that Taya comes with impressive pedigree. Before her ill-fated run in the multi-coloured NXT, Taya was Impact Knockouts Champion and is also currently almost a year into her 4th reign as AAA Reina de Reinas Champion. Her arrival in AEW then brings a genuine chance of seeing Jade Cargill toppled for the TBS Championship and also brings a much needed breath of fresh air to the division. For my money Wera Loca isn't going to be the one to end Jade's run, but I think she'll constitute the biggest test so far for the unbeaten champ.
10. WILLOW NIGHTINGALE
Everyone loves Willow Nightingale. If you don't it's likely that you are some sort of sociopath. She is such an effortless babyface that even when she enters a bruising performance such as at the street fight with Anna Jay and Tay Melo, you naturally assume that her violence is more than justified. Together with Skye Blue, Nightingale is the essence of the homegrown AEW womens team (and yes I know she isn't actually homegrown you dinguses) and I'm massively looking forward to seeing what she can do when this feud reaches its climax. Willow is juggling this feud with keeping an eye on Athena and her ROH Championship, again highlighting how much of a big deal she is these days. I'll say it now....one day Willow Nightingale will win the AEW Womens Championship...and we will all rejoice.