Athena exited the AEW Women’s title scene after Grand Slam, and found herself a but adrift. It led to her decision to add a vicious streak to her matches, and eventually a heel turn. The move’s gotten a lot of attention, with quite a bit of it coming in the form of concern for Athena’s opponents, and questions about if she was working too stiff.
That debate started from the first match in which Athena employed her new style. Her assault on hometown girl Jody Threat in Toronto was a topic of conversation even before it aired on Dark Elevation. A report came out saying AEW management spoke to both wrestlers after the match, apparently concerned the former Ember Moon was too aggressive with her opponent. Threat was said to have been fine with the bout, but the #discourse had begun.
For Athena, the strategy was working. Wrestling fans were paying attention to and talking about her, more than they were when she was a generic babyface. It presumably helped earn her a shot at Ring of Honor Women’s champ Mercedes Martinez this weekend.
But with those benefits, the criticism persisted — even though no one’s been hurt in any of their matches with the 34 year old Texan. In an appearance on Busted Open yesterday (Dec. 6) to her match at Final Battle on Saturday afternoon, Athena pushed back on talk she’s too hard-hitting. She also argued that the fact we’re talking about this at all is because of gender stereotypes, something others have pointed out, as well.
“People forget that the girls can hit just as hard as the guys. I have to sit there and see Jon Moxley and [Chris] Jericho and [Wheeler] Yuta and all these guys hit the tar out of each other. I guarantee you if I was a man, I feel like there wouldn’t be as much backlash or anything like that.
“It’s all these old, bloated farts that wanna sit there and tell us, ‘Oh no, we need to go out there and look pretty’ and then they complain when it’s a dance. They complain when we hit hard. Get over it. We’re out here to be just as good as the guys and we give it our all. We put in all of this time and effort to hone our craft and I feel like sometimes, we are underappreciated when we do things like that.”
Athena’s probably working a bit there with the “old, bloated farts” jab, but otherwise, she makes a strong case. We’ll see how it fares in the court of public opinion.