Note: this is an ongoing project that will be updated throughout the year as more or better information comes in, or any corrections need to be made. All the data on matches and match times were taken from http://www.profightdb.com and http://www.cagematch.net.
Results are for matches that were completed through November 25, 2022.
For anyone new to what I’m doing here, I logged all of the televised women’s matches for WWE, AEW, and Impact through all of 2021. I did this because I got some bad vibes from the way it looked like women’s matches were being treated on television and I wanted to find out if I was reading things right or not, because complaining about something that isn’t actually happening doesn’t really help anyone, does it? Now like I said last year matches alone are not the end all be all of judging how well the shows treat their women’s divisions. Promo segments, backstage scenes, are equally and sometimes more important as the mere existence of matches, even great ones. But in every company the men’s side seems to get in all the matches they need, and some more that they don’t need, so yeah we do need to count just how many matches the women are getting and how much match time they get. And promo segments should not be taken as a suitable replacement for having matches at all or limiting those matches to two minutes.
As it was last year and every year before, the biggest problem in women’s wrestling right now on TV is rationing. Too often the women’s side of the ledger is treated like a quota system – every week they get X number of matches (usually 1 or 2), X number of segments, etc while on the men’s side it really feels like no one is keeping count at all. With the number of women working for each company there’s no reason to stick to that every week. This also applies to promo segments as even the big names like the Horsewomen and Bianca Belair in WWE, Britt Baker and Jade Cargill in AEW and Mickie James in Impact are often ushered in and out in five minutes or less for promos (ten if they’re interrupted and some incident happens) while several men get to monologue for ten, fifteen minutes at a time even if it’s not hitting with the crowd. And then there’s the other issue….
Non title feuds continue to be in short supply across American women’s wrestling. In WWE so far in 2022 there were three that had a coherent start and reached some kind of conclusion on main roster WWE television: Naomi vs Sonya Deville, Rhea Ripley and Nikki ASH and Natalya vs Aliyah; while there were some new feuds with Rhea Ripley vs Liv Morgan and Becky vs Asuka those ultimately ended or hit their high note on one pay per view. (Note: whatever was to have originally become of Becky vs. Asuka turned into a title feud with Bianca Belair for a month due to the situation with Naomi and Sasha Banks, before reverting back to it’s original form). As of this most recent update Morgan is feuding with Deville on Smackdown as well. So far this year there have been two women’s matches (gimmick matches notwithstanding) on a WWE Pay Per View that were not for a title, and both of those were tag matches involving the women’s champions. One feeds the other of course; the fewer women’s matches you have the less space exists for non title feuds. Men’s wrestling could use more non title feuds too, but that side still gets a lot more of them than the women do.
But back to the matter at hand. How are things for the women’s divisions on TV? As with 2021 I am looking at the following data points, for the entire year:
- Total number of matches
- Number of matches every week
- Time for each match, more specifically were the matches less than four minutes or not
- How many women wrestled on each show
- How many main events have the women had all year. And by main events I mean matches that ended the show, not just the last match on the show as some episodes end with promo segments, contract signings etc.
I gave each show a grade based on how they handled all those things in total. RAW being three hours puts it in a different place in that they should have more of everything just because, so as a result my grades are a mashup of individual performance and relative performance to everyone else. So for example in last year’s report it was noted that NXT had almost the same amount of matches as RAW for the year despite having an hour less every week of TV time to work with, which was great for them while reflecting badly on all the other two hour shows that fell far short of what they were doing. And should RAW fall short of shows that have less running time then they will be penalized accordingly.
Two things before we move on: I changed the time threshold for what I’m calling a short match now. What I’ve found from watching so many matches is that five minutes wasn’t the point where matches go from feeling rushed to feeling like they were able to get everything in. There are lots of good, or at least good enough, matches that run between four and five minutes and adding 15 seconds to a match that went for 4:45 doesn’t magically make it better. I chose four because that lines up a lot better with that kind of transition from bad to good. The other change is how I count mixed tag team matches. I included mixed tags and intergender matches last year because there were only a handful and they didn’t skew the results. Early on this year they did affect the results on RAW and AEW Dynamite, so I made the decision to exclude them in the overall match count but still credit the women who were in them and still record the match time.
Anyway, how are we doing this year? Let’s see:
Monday Night RAW
- Total matches: 79 (on pace for 87 this year, down from 109 in 2021)
- Matches per week: 1.68 (down from 2.09)
- Matches under four minutes: 32
- Women with over 10 matches: 11
- Women wrestling per week: 5 (down from 5.81)
- Main event matches: 13
High points: High volume of quality work from Asuka, Becky Lynch, Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, and Liv Morgan. The number of main events so far. The addition of Bayley, Io Skye, and Dakota Kai.
Low points: Week to week consistency, overall volume compared to last year, early matchup burnout
RAW was really strong for most of 2021 but has since fallen way back. At this time last year they were averaging 2.1 matches and 5.9 women wrestling per week, now they are down to 1.7 and 5.1, respectively. They have nineteen episodes with only one match so far, up from nine at the same time last year. And last year they had thirteen episodes with three matches or more by late November vs. three this year so far. Eight women were getting regular, almost weekly ring action (nine if you count Lacey Evans prior to going out on maternity leave) vs. four or five at a time this year. Last year six women logged in over 20 matches on RAW, two of which got over 30, while to date in 2022 only two have crossed the 20 match mark, four more are within range, and no one is getting to 30. And this year a quarter of the division was effectively benched for the last four weeks going into WrestleMania despite being able to go, a practice that was reprised from September through November.
What’s been good about RAW this year? Well, Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, and Liv Morgan did very well as the workhorses of the show through the doldrums of January through April. All three logged in over 10 matches by the end of April, and Liv got to 20 before she moved to Smackdown. The gauntlet match the week of Elimination Chamber was a great showcase for the roster as a whole, and the run up to WrestleMania in March did feature some fun matchups with women from Smackdown coming over to set up the tag team title match. Bianca’s short April feud with Sonya Deville, and Asuka and Alexa getting regular weekly action since returning in April were post-Mania highlights, and the first week of May had an excellent six woman tag team match that main evented and went 15 minutes. They’re had more main events than last year, marking a two year upswing in that department. The return of Bayley coupled with the call ups of Iyo Skye (formerly Io Shirai) and Dakota Kai have breathed some new life into a roster that had become stagnant and needed some new matchups and conflicts for the rest of the year. And while my study is not one of match quality it needs to be noted that despite it’s volume issues the match quality has remained as high as it was last year.
Present grade: B-. The week before Backlash was looking like a ‘wake up’ point for the year. From then through Hell in a Cell they booked two matches a week and had seven main events. The post-Cell period, however saw a regression from 2.5 matches for 6.67 women to 1.6 and 4.6, respectively. HHH’s run as head of creative has been a mixed bag on this front. The top feud between Bayley’s faction Damage Control and the trio of Belair, Asuka, and Bliss has been given a lot of time and importance but the overall match numbers through the first 17 weeks, 1.5 and 4.2, are behind the averages for the entire year and are downright atrocious. HHH removing the 24/7 title segments has resulted in Tamina and Dana Brooke being all but gone from TV except for job duty. RAW’s best work has been at an A level but there have been too many low points to give them an A for the year, especially when you compare it last year’s “A” performance. Right now they are trending downward, with November being their worst month for the year, and minus a December turnaround they may end up with a C.
How to improve: Book more matches! This really is a case where the simplest solution is the easiest, and they did it just last year! Those five weeks in May were on par with what NXT has done this year, but then they slipped back. They need to keep it up all year and to have as many short matches as they have this year with a three hour show and over 10 capable women who have been in big pay per view matches on big shows is inexcusable. Book a feud of some kind that is not a title feud, or a title adjacent feud like Becky vs. Asuka became. There is enough time and there are enough women to have a few just get into some kind of beef with each other.
- Total matches: 63 (on pace for 70, up from 69 last year)
- Matches per week: 1.34, up from 1.31 last year
- Matches under four minutes: 29
- Women with over 10 matches: 9
- Women wrestling per week: 3.89, up from last year’s 3.48
- Main event matches: 3
High points: Emphasis on women’s title, inclusion of tag team titles, Naomi!
Low points: Too many short matches, not enough matches
Smackdown was not very good for most of last year and has kept that up, albeit at a slightly better pace, in 2022. At this point last year they were averaging 1.33 matches and 3.5 women wrestling every week, not far off from the yearly average for 2021 or for this year so far. There have been some egregious offenses this year like the 3 second match between Natalya and Aliyah, which was the only match that week, three weeks with zero matches (if you’re reading this September 2 there’s no women’s match on that episode), a ‘match’ on May 6 between Charlotte and Aliyah that ended with Charlotte beating Aliyah down before the bell rang and being intercepted by Ronda Rousey, and two more ‘matches’ in back to back weeks in July where Aliyah went to the ring and no match happened. And like RAW they disappeared a third of their roster for the month leading into WrestleMania. The six pack challenge that took place on June 3 was as good a microcosm as one could get for the division at that time; minus Charlotte, Sasha, and Naomi the ladies who were there got less than five minutes for all six to do something and finish the match. A similar thing happened in September where a Fatal Five elimination match went less than five minutes as well. Yikes.
Smackdown has been a tale of three periods: January 1 through May 13, May 20 through HHH taking over, and after HHH took over. The first had some pretty bleak spots. Despite Charlotte working the fewest matches on TV so far in her career and Sasha missing almost all of January and since May 13, no one new got much experience in their places until August. As great as Naomi was this year she has been TV regular for much of her career. Aliyah had four weeks of matches with Natalya in January but that came to an abrupt end in February with nothing replacing it until a beat the clock challenge in April and then she went another five weeks without a match. Xia Li, who could use the reps, has only had eight matches on Smackdown all year. Shotzi only had two until the last week of April (the same beat the clock challenge as Aliyah). Shayna Baszler, after being the busiest woman on TV last year with over 40 televised matches, didn’t get in the ring on TV until March 11. Yikes. Before HHH took over the overall roster usage was terrible, as Vince only started to regularly go beyond Charlotte/Sasha/Naomi/Natalya when the first three were gone.
Were there some positives during those six-plus months? First and foremost, Naomi. From her singles program with Charlotte that landed a Match of the Year candidate in February to teaming with Rousey through Elimination Chamber to hooking up with Sasha Banks to revive the tag division, she has to be in the running for an MVP award this year. She’s done it all this year through May and should be commended. Beyond that there’s Sasha’s ring work from March through early April and the three main events they’ve run already, as many as the entire year last year. There have been two completed feuds so far this year that did not revolve a title, Naomi vs. Sonya Deville and Natalya vs. Aliyah; a third between Aliyah and Shotzi was brewing but was shelved and replaced with one between Aliyah and Lacey Evans which also ended abruptly without warning. And in the last week of April they had four women’s matches, the most in any episode since at least 2020. But the deployment problems remained through July as they did for most of 2021.
Then an unexpected obstacle emerged in the form of Naomi and Sasha’s suspensions. Smackdown lost the two women who worked the most on TV this year until their departure, and was without Charlotte after WrestleMania Backlash in May. Nothing reflected that more than Nattie winning the six pack challenge on June 3 to face Rousey at Money in the Bank, and then Morgan cashing in Rousey to win the title after that match was over. Morgan’s title win was a big moment but it was also a necessary move because quite frankly they needed another woman that they use on TV. Since HHH took over Shotzi, Raquel Rodriguez, Aliyah, and Xia Li have seen more regular action, and the average number of women wrestling every week has gone up to 4.7, but there’s still a void in what should be the top half of the roster, leaving Rousey without a believable challenger during either of her two reigns.
Current grade: C. They’re about on pace to slightly exceed last year’s numbers, which were not good but are par for the Smackdown course since 2020. They continue to try and make us accept having only one match most weeks, but I’m going to keep banging the drum for two matches to be a regular and not sporadic thing. Well at least they didn’t have the women’s champion waste two months chasing the tag team titles like last year, which is a plus. HHH has been a Godsend on this front; in his first eleven weeks they’ve had more matches and more women wrestling per week than any stretch this year, with more women wrestling than RAW over that run. By mid-August they were climbing.
How to improve: Keep up the pace that’s started under HHH, and don’t let things fall back.
Quality notes: Smackdown has been without their three best women – Flair, Banks, and Naomi – since May and the show has been scrambling to make up for it since. Rousey isn’t a good enough in ring worker to carry that part of the load and too many of the other women are either new to the show or new in general to do it, either. Damage Control coming over for a few weeks helped anchor things a bit but outside of that it’s been hit and miss at best when the bell rings. Of the three WWE brands, and quite frankly every show I’m tracking here, Smackdown has been the worst from a quality standpoint.
Before we go any further, let me sum up RAW and Smackdown this way: they do a mostly good job at showcasing the top third of the division. On RAW Becky, Bianca, and Rhea Ripley are treated as important all the time, Asuka always gets on TV and is always talked up as if she’s a big deal. Room gets made for Alexa Bliss, and so far so good for Bayley, Io, and Dakota. On Smackdown Ronda Rousey, Charlotte Flair, and (until she left) Sasha Banks were always showcased and highlighted. Naomi was finally getting the time she always should have gotten and Liv Morgan graduated to being a TV regular on RAW before moving to Smackdown. Sonya Deville has turned into a pretty good plug and play heel this year.
There has been a lot to be desired in both places, though. Rhea Ripley was in virtual limbo before May and lost the only attempt to give her a meaningful singles match when she had to miss Money in the Bank due to injury. Doudrop and Nikki ASH have been jobbed out all year and Bliss spent months doing nothing meaningful. Lacey Evans was inexplicably featured in five weeks of vignettes on Smackdown, then sent to RAW where she cut one promo, then sent back to Smackdown. The newer women on Smackdown (Shotzi, Raquel, Aliyah) were very inconsistently booked from week to week before HHH took over. And come mid-October RAW had seven women who’d been booked well to have interesting matches on TV but six of them were in one feud, which quickly turned them into a one match show half the time starting in September.
On both shows anyone not in a title program is not safe from the now you see them now you don’t treatment. There was no excuse this year to put a quarter of the roster across both shows in mothballs for a whole month going into WrestleMania, nor to keep up the on and off routine that happened on Smackdown for much of the year. It was better on Raw in May but not enough to relieve any of the pressure we should be putting on them. Going into Summerslam everyone outside the title picture on RAW was relegated to short tag team matches while on Smackdown we got two weeks of matches involving Aliyah and Lacey Evans that were announced but ended before the bell even rang. Things are looking up on Smackdown since HHH took over in terms in raw numbers, but there’s been a lot of smoke and mirrors like Damage Control working both shows.
- Total matches: 111 (on pace for 122 this year, up from 98 last year)
- Matches per week: 2.36, up from 1.92
- Matches under four minutes: 44
- Women with over 10 matches: 16
- Women wrestling per week: 6.53, up from 5.14
- Main event matches: 10
High points: Time management, match distribution, roster usage
Low points: None really
NXT has been the gold standard in 2022 for putting women’s matches on TV. They punctuated the last week of April by getting three women’s matches and a mixed tag team match on TV in two hours, the seventh time they’ve gotten three matches in on an episode. They even ran the Women’s Dusty Cup tournament on television without displacing the regular slate of women’s matches. They’ve juggled over 20 women on their active roster without anyone being off so long that you think they’re in witness protection, something you can’t say for RAW or Smackdown. In the last week of April they featured ten women in the ring and another 14 in vignettes, promos, etc which has got to be some kind of record. And even when they’ve cooked up some gimmick like the Dusty Cup or the Breakout Tournament, they don’t put those matches in place of the regularly scheduled women’s matches, they use them to augment them. For the year they’ve gotten 3 or more matches on TV in eighteen different episodes, a ridiculous amount given that they only have two hours to work with. And they’ve had women main event 10 different times by my count so far, which puts them right there with RAW and ahead of everyone else.
There’s really nothing to complain about here at all in terms of how much the women get to wrestle. Hell, they’ve even figured out how to lay out the shorter matches so that they make sense and don’t end abruptly the way that they do so often on RAW and Smackdown. I didn’t expect them to keep up the pace they ran at when they were doing the Dusty Cup and Breakout tournament, but they’ve managed to get two matches in almost every week since and a third some other weeks. Keeping that up without the gimmick tournaments going on to give you extra matches to slot in is a huge deal. Every two hour wrestling show should be taking notes and doing the same. And the one three hour show should figure out how to do this kind of thing. themselves.
Overall grade: A
How to improve: Well there is the matter that Athena (formerly Ember Moon) brought up, that the stylistic/wardrobe changes that recently took place were strongly suggested and not just chosen by the women themselves. That’s got nothing to do with how many matches they book every week but it’s worth noting. Outside of that, this is about as good as you can expect anyone to book women’s matches on television. They do have more matches that are under four minutes than anyone, but given that this is developmental and there’s a lot of very green talent that’s to be expected. But overall it’s been so well done that I fully expect some type of regression next year because there’s no way they can keep this up.
Quality notes: NXT has a lot of short matches, more than any other show, which is to be expected given how inexperienced most of the roster is. There aren’t many notable women’s matches on TV as a result but there have been some good ones here and there. The brevity has protected the mostly green talent from looking bad out there, but yes it does mean that we’re watching a lot of matches that are just fine and ultimately skipppable unless you have a personal interest in one of the women wrestling. But they do meet any reasonable expectations one might have.
- Total matches: 48 (on pace for 53, down from last year’s 56)
- Matches per week: 1.02, down from 1.08 for 2021
- Matches under four minutes: 6
- Women with over 10 matches: 2
- Women wrestling per week: 2.63, up from 2.4 last year
- Main event matches: 2
High points: average match time
Low points: everything else
Same sh-, different year. One match, two women, rinse and repeat. I can type ‘one match, two women’ every Monday and rarely have to change it (12 times this year, and only once for number of matches), that’s how predictable they are. It’s no better on a substantive level, either. After treating Britt Baker like an actual champion last year things have regressed as Thunderrosa’s television time as champion was so relatively small that you’d have thought Baker had the belt! It was nowhere near as bad as having Hikaru Shida sit in the stands like a customer, but it still wasn’t good at all. Toni Storm gradually was treated better after winning the belt but still had a lot of weeks where she was an afterthought to Baker, Jade Cargill, and new arrival Saraya. Then there’s the matter of how frequently each woman gets to wrestle, a holdover from 2021. Of the 29 women I counted as having wrestled on Dynamite this year, over a third (11) have only worked one match. That’s the worst ratio for any of the five shows I’m tracking here. It took until August 24 for any one woman to get up to 10 matches worked for the year on the show, and by November that number was up to 2, with another 2 or 3 close to reaching it. As with last year the only saving grace is that the one match they do have usually gets somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes, sparing you from the barrage of rushed 2 to 3 minute matches that happen on RAW and Smackdown. But beyond that, forget it. Even when they come up with something like the TBS Title tournament or the Women’s Owen Hart tournament those matches simply take the place of the regular women’s match that week. But unlike RAW and Smackdown during even their worst periods they haven’t thrown us any bones like the gauntlet match or the six pack challenges. No, if you want to see more than two women wrestle you have to hope for the occasional tag team match.
Overall grade: F. The big differences between Smackdown and Dynamite is that Smackdown does use multiple women in spots every week even if they’re not getting in the ring, and that Smackdown books short matches for the men, too, thus lessening the gender disparity a bit. They also put their Women’s champion on TV frequently enough that you don’t forget who she is, sometimes even for 10 minutes in one episode and not 10 minutes combined over several weeks. If Smackdown is disappointing then Dynamite is an outright failure. And since HHH took over they’ve pulled far enough ahead that Dynamite is in the mud all by itself.
How to improve: Same as last year; add a second match week more than once or twice a year. Give your women’s champion more TV time than the woman she beat, and at least as much time as your secondary women’s champion. If you’re going to do a tournament, don’t use it to replace your regular women’s matches on TV.
Quality Note: While they refuse to run more than one match a week, it should be noted that they’ve stepped their game up on pay per views. In fact they’ve run three women’s matches three different times on pay per view, the same as WWE has, but when you consider that WWE has run over twice as many PPVs as AEW then that changes the equation a bit. They also have been blessed this year with the arrivals of Toni Storm, Athena, and Mercedes Martinez who were better than most of their roster and the rise of Jamie Hayter; between the four of them the AEW roster is much better than it was last year. Throw in Willow Nightengale and you have the makings of a better, deeper working roster. than a year ago. I dare say that AEW’s roster as a whole is better than Smackdown’s or NXT’s right now and is deeper than Impact’s. Now if only they could book them more time on Wednesdays.
- Total matches: 74 (on pace for 82, up from 63 in 2021)
- Matches per week: 1.61, up from 1.26 for last year
- Matches under four minutes: 28
- Women with over 10 matches: 9
- Women wrestling per week: 4.34, up from 3.9 last year
- Main event matches: 7
High points: Consistency, overall talent depth
Low points: Springtime
Impact started out hot, with two or three matches in 8 out of the first 9 weeks and a title match in week 2. On the pay per view front they capitalized on Mickie James getting the invite for the Royal Rumble by booking her in the main event of their first pay per view of the year, Hard to Kill. They were rolling along pretty well through April 7 and then the wheels fell off in the worst way. There were only 4 matches over the next 5 weeks, a spiral that went on until the ship got somewhat righted on May 19 but never got back to where it was in the first quarter. While they remain well ahead of last year’s pace those lost five weeks are a real ‘what if?’; had they not fallen off that cliff so bad they might be ahead of RAW for second place instead of stuck firmly in a close third.
Overall grade: C+. In March I’d have given them a B, maybe even an A-. But they went on a terrible downward spiral in April and have only partially course corrected from it, if they finish strong a B is still in reach.
How to improve: Get back to how things were going through March.
2022 has been a year of schizophrenic stagnation outside of NXT 2.0. On it’s two main brands WWE continues to be hit and miss outside of the title feuds; a few brief flourishes of fuller inclusion do not make up for the stretches where half the roster is getting booked like they’re about to get released. Raw was plodding through May, picked up nicely for a bit, and then regressed. Smackdown started doing better under HHH, but for the year still looks like 2020 and 2021. Impact was neck and neck with NXT until Spring, fell back significantly in April, and then rebounded later to catch back up to RAW. AEW continued to highlight Britt Baker and Jade Cargill, and their faction mates, while the other women have a hard time getting on Dynamite for more than two weeks in a row. Toni Storm finally started to get some traction as champion the year ended but Thunderrosa’s title reign was largely put on the back burner to Baker like Hikaru Shida before her.
That leaves NXT 2.0 as the one place that has consistently managed it’s entire roster well and books enough matches to get everyone on at least once or twice a month. That they are on pace to have more matches in a year than 3 hour RAW is both great for them and an indictment of how the main roster is handled in WWE. Can it turn around quickly? Sure. RAW found much better footing in May before falling back. As of now they would need to book four matches every week for the rest of the year to catch up to last year’s total. Smackdown has been an absolute wasteland outside of the women’s title feud most of the year; March through mid-May was looking up with the Women’s tag team title program but once Naomi and Sasha left and Charlotte took some time off, it was mostly bad with scattershot booking papered over by the occasional six pack challenge or six woman tag match until HHH took over. In short, the WWE main roster has been basically feast or famine.
Now as we all know in July a major curveball was thrown in the form of Vince McMahon’s retirement. With HHH in charge of creative some new optimism has emerged, and was rewarded during his first week fully in control with a whole new storyline on RAW with callups Skye and Kai and a seven woman gauntlet match on Smackdown. As the year continues we will continue to update things based on how he does going forward. The quick and easy version right now is that the roster deployment has gotten better on Smackdown since HHH took over, but RAW is still moving like it was since June with only one match on a three hour show for half of HHH’s first fourteen weeks there. Yes there have been more segments to develop plotines but as I said at the beginning that men get every match they need every week along with storyline promo segments and all. The latter should complement the former, not replace it.
So in short – NXT is up a lot, Impact is up a good bit, Smackdown and Dynamite are close to where they were last year, and RAW has fallen back a good bit. That’s the state of things in 2022 right now as far as women’s wrestling on TV. Let’s see where it goes from here.