All Elite Wrestling first announced their women’s division would have its own World Championship belt on June 18, 2019. They gave fans their first look at the AEW Women’s World Championship belt a little over two months later on August 31, 2019 at All Out, the last pay-per-view event before the premiere of AEW’s live weekly television show, Dynamite.
The belt was shown off from the inside of a glass case atop a red felt cloth at the top of the entrance ramp.
It was understandably a bit difficult to see the all the little details that went into the belt’s design. It was tough to even really understand of how big it was. So a few days after All Out, Brandi Rhodes, AEW’s Chief Brand Officer and in-ring performer, shared an up close and personal video of the belt with fans via her Twitter account.
— Brandi Rhodes (@TheBrandiRhodes) September 3, 2019
Parsing through the replies to Brandi’s post, I think it’s more than fair to say that there were quite a few fans who weren’t pleased with the design. While I didn’t comment on the tweet, I agree with a lot of the criticism I saw directed the Chief Brand Officer’s way.
The center plate of the belt is the first place your eyes go when you look at it, so naturally you want the center plate to look good. Yet in almost every single photograph I’ve seen of the the title, you can’t even read “AEW,” let alone the current champion’s name plate, nor the bottom half of the permanent text, “World Women’s Wrestling Champion.”
When it comes to the actual design of the center plate, it looks like one of those pennies you got as a child from the machine where you put one in, turned the crank, and watched the penny get pressed into an oval. This gives the belt a very tacky overall look and feel.
I also can’t understand why they left so much of the leather uncovered. When you think of a wrestling championship belt, especially the belt for the top of the division, you think of gold, diamonds, and luxury. Sure that’s all present here, but why is there so much wasted space? Make all of these plates 2-3 times bigger and you’ve got a belt that feels much more luxurious and significant.
Though, perhaps an even bigger issue with the belt is its size: this belt is way too small.
Riho is the current AEW Women’s World Champion. She won the championship by defeating Nyla Rose on the premiere episode of AEW Dynamite at October 2. Riho happens to be a 93 pound featherweight and barely stands over five feet at an official measurement of 5’1″.
Now don’t get me wrong, that isn’t a criticism of Riho. Part of what makes Riho so impressive is her ability to compete on a top level while being significantly smaller than nearly every opponent she faces. The reason I make note of Riho’s size is so you can understand just how small this title is. If it doesn’t look big on a 93lb 5’1″ woman, who’s almost definitely the smallest performer by far in the division, then it’s too small. Plain and simple.
But you don’t take my word for it, here’s a picture of her holding the belt:
If Riho is AEW’s smallest performer and the belt is noticeably small on her, what is it going to look like on someone like Nyla Rose, Awesome Kong, Britt Baker, or Brandi Rhodes?
Now let’s to take a look at the AEW World Championship title, which currently resides in the arms of the Le Champion, Chris Jericho.
Right off the bat, a few things stand out here. First and foremost, this isn’t a high resolution photograph and yet you can still perfectly see AEW on the center plate. The other plates also more or less cover the entire surface area of the belt.
Perhaps most important to note, besides Le Champion enjoying some bubbly, is the size of the belt. It’s freaking huge. Jericho is 6 feet tall and over 220 pounds, so suffice to say, he isn’t a small man. Part of what makes this belt feel so significant is how big it is. The champ and only the champ gets the privilege of lugging around a small pile of gold on their waist.
So what’s the problem here? Why make the comparison? The problem is whether AEW intends it or not, when you compare the Women’s Championship next to the men’s, one of them clearly looks much better. So for me and possibly a lot of other fans out there, that sends the message that AEW values one division over the other. Which frankly, really blows.
Heck, look at WWE’s men’s and women’s Championships.
Brock Lesnar and “The Man” Becky Lynch are two of the biggest badasses in wrestling and each sits at the head of their respective divisions on WWE’s Raw brand. As such, they’re also both World Champions. Whether you spare a glance or sit down and really take your time, the fact is when you look at each of their championship belts you don’t get the feeling that WWE valued the design, size, look, and feel of one of the belts over the other. So regardless of whether you love or hate the design of these belts, there’s one thing you can’t argue, and that’s that they’re equal. Unfortunately for AEW, they can’t make the same argument.
To be clear, I’m not using my WWE comparison to imply that AEW should make the Women’s Championship look exactly like the men’s. Not at all. The fact is there are plenty of improvements that can happen here while still retaining a unique look and feel.
Personally, I like to believe that Cody and Brandi Rhodes, Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, and Tony Khan value their women’s division and the people in it quite a bit. But that’s not what the Women’s Championship says to me when I look at it.