Kenny Omega Addressed Criticism Of AEW’s Women’s Division

It’s been almost two months since All Elite Wrestling started airing weekly TV, and things seem to be going relatively well. They’re telling stories, putting on good matches every week, and getting decent ratings. They’re even getting better about featuring promos and story-advancing segments on the show itself, instead of just on YouTube. But one thing they’ve been consistently criticized for is the treatment of the women’s division. They’ve never had more than one women’s match on an episode, and the women rarely get promos or video segments.

In his recent appearance on Wrestling Observer Radio, Kenny Omega, who helps run the women’s division, was receptive to fans’ frustration with the lack of time for the women, and promised better things to come (transcript via Fightful):

“I want the women to have the largest stage possible on Dynamite and Dark. I’m fighting for it every week for them to have more time. Cut mine, I don’t care. When you have such a focus on the (tag team title) tournament, which took up so much time on each episode, it was two to one titles. I have to put blame on myself because I had the angle with [Jon] Moxley as well. At the end of the day, there’s only so much time in an episode. It’s almost amazing how fast it gets eaten up. We haven’t been able to focus on women as much as I’d like. Some of it has been availability. We have girls signed and hopping on board. I hate to say “Wait till 2020,” but I can safely say in 2020 there are going to be interesting and exciting signings that will shake up the division. As soon as we have a women’s tag division, that will balance (things) more and give the women more of a stage. Once there’s that ‘thing’ for them to fight for, you’re going to see more time devoted per episode for the women.”

The idea of having a women’s tag division is cool, but it’s not going to magically put more time into that two-hour show. Hopefully any expansion of the women’s division comes with a willingness to give the men at least one less match per week, at least some of the time.

Omega also talked about recruiting female wrestlers from Japan, and how excited he is about showing their talent to the world.

We have talent from all corners of the globe. One of my main focuses from the beginning is, I wanted to show some of the Joshi talents from Japan that haven’t had the opportunity to be seen on a global scale. There hasn’t been much exposure of Stardom on a worldwide scale, but people know who they are, mainly due to Kairi Sane and Io Shirai. Since their NXT debuts, people have dug a little deeper and gone back to the roots and seen what Stardom is all about. I’m sure they’ve gained fans through that, but there are other styles of Joshi wrestling and other talent that people haven’t seen, that don’t wrestle for Stardom. These are the people I want to introduce to the world.

That’s what I’m trying to shoulder and the responsibility I want to take. Not only show the kind of style that someone like Io has shown the NXT Universe, which is fantastic wrestling and great high-flying and everything that makes exciting wrestling. But it’s not the be-all, end-all because there are all sorts of flavors of wrestling. I want to be the one, as best as I can, to show the variety in that. 2020 is going to be a very exciting year because we have a lot more names jumping on board, and I hope once we increase our talent pool, people will be excited, and we’ll set the stage for hopefully a number of great performances that people can see.

Kenny Omega does seem like a guy who really respects and appreciates women’s wrestling (especially Joshi), but all his talk about who things will pick up when more women join the company seems disrespectful to the women who are already there and just aren’t getting any TV time. In any case, time will tell if his promises for the future bear out.