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It sounds like Tony Khan booked a ‘token’ women’s match to ‘pacify criticism’ at AEW Blood & Guts

AEW Dynamite

Coming into yesterday’s (July 19) Blood & Guts episode of AEW Dynamite, three matches were advertised for the show: The Golden Elite vs. Blackpool Combat Club in a Blood & Guts cage match, Adam Cole & MJF vs. Daniel Garcia & Sammy Guevara in the Blind Eliminator Tournament final, and FTW Champion HOOK vs. Jungle Boy Jack Perry.

I assumed the Blood & Guts cage match would take up the entire second hour of the TV broadcast, which meant the other two matches had to go in hour one. On paper there appeared to be room for one more match in the first hour, as AEW regularly features three to four matches on its weekly one hour Rampage broadcast.

Early in the show, AEW commentators announced that Britt Baker was going to be “in action,” and that’s when it dawned on me that AEW President Tony Khan was simply filling his quota of having one women’s match on each episode of Dynamite. Furthermore, there was a good chance the match would be a quick squash, because that’s what most of the “in action” advertised matches end up being.

That’s exactly what happened. By my timing, Baker defeated Kayla Sparks in about 66 seconds. If you count the pre-match entrance and post-match celebration, AEW allocated 2 minutes and 34 seconds for the women’s segment on the Blood & Guts episode of Dynamite.

As you might expect, a lot of wrestling fans are frustrated with this latest example of AEW neglecting the women’s division in favor of most everything else on the show.

Wrestling Observer Radio’s Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez discussed this situation on the latest episode of their show. Here is part of their conversation, where Alvarez emphasizes the disparity in women’s wrestling between WWE and AEW:

Meltzer: “[Tony Khan] tries to book a women’s match on every show. And in this case it was a squash match that went a minute.”

Alvarez: “But I think that the fans of women’s wrestling, the reason they’re mad is they don’t want a token women’s match...three weeks ago [on WWE Raw] it was Rhea [Ripley] and Nattie was the highest rated thing on the show. Last week it was Becky [Lynch] and Zoey [Stark] was the highest rated thing on the was three straight weeks now that women have been the highest rated thing on the show...The point is, it’s clear that fans do want to see some women’s wrestling, and they’re gonna be very angry tomorrow that they got one minute squash on this show.”

Meltzer goes on to say that critics would be even angrier if there were no women’s matches on the Blood & Guts episode of Dynamite, and suggests that Khan’s primary motivation for booking Baker vs. Sparks was to keep some of that criticism at bay. Alvarez explains why that decision-making logic is ineffective:

Meltzer: “They did it to pacify criticism...that’s why they were on the show.”

Alvarez: “If you want to do something with women, you have to actually do something with women. Not just we’re gonna have a match, we’re gonna do a squash, we’re gonna put just something on the’re not gonna make anybody happy doing that.”

Meltzer: “...Did people want to see Britt Baker and Kayla Sparks do a nine minute match? No.”

Alvarez: “Well, no. But you could have put Britt Baker with someone that they wanted to see do a nine minute match. That’s the point.”

Yes, that’s the point. Khan apparently just shrugged his shoulders and threw a pointless women’s squash match on the show because he has neglected to build stories or feuds in the women’s division that are as interesting as the odd couple relationship between MJF and Adam Cole, or HOOK finally getting his hands on Perry (in a title match, too) after chasing him down for weeks following a shocking betrayal.

Even looking ahead, AEW has two major pay-per-view events coming up in just over one month from now. If time was really so limited on the Blood & Guts show due to the three men’s matches that all Khan really had time for was just a few minutes for the women, then shoot a compelling angle or interesting promo that teases something big planned for the women at the upcoming All In and All Out PPVs. But that didn’t happen either, probably because Khan doesn’t have anything big planned for them on those shows at this moment and is still figuring it out.

Tony Khan didn’t make things any better for fans of women’s wrestling by throwing out a one minute squash match on Dynamite, compared to the other scenario where there would be no women’s match on the show. The message he sends to wrestling fans is the same either way: women’s wrestling is a low priority in AEW, just as it has been so many times in the past, and there’s little reason to expect that will change going forward.

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