On Wednesday, AEW introduced the paid subscription element of their Heels program, a fan club for female fans. There was considerable backlash to the announcement. Much of it focused on the price tag, but there were (and are) questions about how Heels doesn’t address fan concerns about the lack of television time given to the company’s women’s division, and if trans & non-binary fans would be welcome in the “female-focused community.”
Chief Brand Officer Brandi Rhodes is the public face of that initiative, and AEW women’s wrestling as a whole. As such, a lot of the criticism this week was directed at her - and was followed by criticism of how she (and her husband & fellow company executive Cody) responded to the initial criticisms.
Thrown into this mess was the fact Brandi also plays a character on AEW shows, and is in the process of becoming a villainous one. Her social media is sometimes in character, and sometimes not... and vainly taking kayfabe credit for the success of things which were getting panned in the real world was a very weird look.
It’s likely this is a temporary move - Twitter allows you to deactivate your account for up to 30 days before it purges your data. We’ve seen it before from other personalities under fire like Seth Rollins and Corey Graves.
Hopefully, Brandi’s okay. Much of the critique of AEW’s presentation of women’s wrestling and outreach to non-male fans is fair, and most of what I’ve seen has been expressed with frustration but not vitriol. I certainly haven’t seen all of it, however, and we know social media can get ugly, fast - especially for Black women.
This would be a good time for her and AEW management to rethink how the present and defend their women’s initiatives. Especially given that social media branding expertise from the CBO is one of the perks being used to sell $49 Heels memberships.