Thunder Rosa feels like an afterthought in the AEW women’s division. This isn’t saying she is, just saying what it looks like. And that’s a shame because. well, she's the champion. My girl Stella is right about AEW’s shortcomings when it comes to babyface women champions. Booking Britt Baker is easier not just because of her mic skills—which Rosa has as well just not on that level—and because hating her is easy. With the heel, you let them talk a lot of trash, paint a target on their back, and watch everything unfold. It’s like putting your music playlist of choice on shuffle.
Face champs are different. Besides giving them the right opponents and the right feuds, they need righteous causes. Rosa’s mission statement is being the champion she believes the division deserves. General enough but we can work with that because she’s not the first champion in history with that goal. Proving she’s the best to do it is also on her list of goals, which, again, is doable based on history. But the problem here, and this is without me being a rabid Serena Deeb fan, is Serena has the much more interesting story.
Deeb believes she’s looked over. Taken for granted. Forgotten even. While the idea of her getting in the face of anyone who dare pick Thunder Rosa over her sounds pedestrian, they turned it into something worth watching. It’s deeper than jealousy; Serena wants her props for all the years of crap. She wants validation for the breast implants, for shaving her head, for coaching from the sidelines while others reaped the benefits. More importantly, Serena Deeb needs all of that past trauma to mean something in the present. That’s a hell of a story and when you squint, it gives her the babyface angle. Does that mean she walks into Sin City with people throwing palms at her feet like she’s Jesus? Not really, but it speaks to the “heel” in this feud getting the juicer material.
Rosa counters Deeb with her own struggles to the top. Her road to the AEW Women’s championship wasn’t exactly evenly paved with beds of flowers on each side. But saying Serena isn’t a champion because she “complains” about very real things that women in this business dealt with and still deal with? My spider sense turns its volume up at moments like that. It’s a very babyface thing to tell the heel it’s their own fault and no one else’s. But that works better outside of this particular context.
The fact Rosa said those words to someone who she definitely identifies with and looks up to, while knowing full well how real that struggle is, speaks to the earlier point: AEW isn’t great at positioning babyface women champs. Is Serena handling her issues the right way? Of course not. Beating up and berating anyone in her path is a bad gal move. And sneak attacks are never a good look. However, that doesn’t change the core of her argument or make it any less valid.
These two will put on a very dope match. Everything in my body tells me that. But going forward, the company needs a magnifying glass on its booking and characterization as it relates to their women. At least their women aligned with good. Even before Serena said what she said, she was my pick. She will always be my pick.
That said, I think Rosa gains a lot from picking up a victory here. Serena’s time will come and her story is one of a triumphant babyface, not a conniving heel. Hopefully we get to that day.
Who will win?
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