Wrestling promotions that keep their ears to the ground know that women’s wrestling is strong in momentum and talent. Fans ask for it, and wrestling promotions make a show to deliver. Everywhere from WWE’s Evolution, to AEW’s promise to focus on their women’s division, and beyond.
On top of the shift in preference, it’s an exciting time to be a wrestling fan, simply because of the availability of wrestling shows. Just about every day of the week, a fan can turn on their television, streaming service, YouTube, or other digital platforms, and catch a show.
We can see behind the veil, though, and when one starts to really pay attention, the women’s revolution doesn’t look so supported. With more weekly wrestling shows comes more transparency on how the women are being treated. Week-after-week, it seems the women are getting less matches, shorter matches, or not seen at all.
Without solid numbers and statistics, though, it’s hard to make a claim that any one promotion isn’t holding up their end of the bargain, or that one promotion is doing better than the others. That’s where the work comes in. That’s when we can measure the evolution.
October was our first full month of a heavy weekly schedule, so I started with the shows that aired during last month. I did not include taped episodes that were not aired before Nov. 1.
I was curious to see just how much match time was dedicated to women’s wrestling during weekly shows, so I did the math. For the following data, I collected stats from wrestling promotions that have both men and women on their roster and have weekly shows.
Match times were measured from bell to bell, and were collected for the women’s matches, along with the total match time, for each episode. To give a more well-rounded picture, number of matches was added, as well as roster counts.
Shows included are AEW Dynamite, AEW Dark, Raw, SmackDown Live, WWE Main Event, Beyond Uncharted Territory, NXT, NXT UK, and NWA Powerrr. Impact did not have any regular television shows in October that were obvious.
Match times and match counts were collected from profightdb.com, cagematch.net, and prowrestling.fandom.com. Match times and counts that were not found on any site were measured manually. The match times for the latest Beyond show was not readily accessible.
First, percentage of total match time that was dedicated to women’s wrestling was measured. This was done by adding up the times for women’s matches, and dividing by the total match time. The numbers for each promotion are for the whole month of October.
- Raw: Women’s time – 77m:34s Total time – 249m:26s = 31.1 percent
- SmackDown: Women’s time – 34m:15s Total time – 147m:50s = 23.2 percent
- Main Event: Women’s time – 11m:29s Total time – 41m:24s = 27.7 percent
- NXT: Women’s time – 92m:47s Total time – 281m:50s = 32.9 percent
- NXT UK: Women’s time – 48m:52s Total time – 132m:02s = 37.0 percent
- AEW Dynamite: Women’s time – 50m:10s Total time – 294m:37s = 17.0 percent
- AEW Dark: Women’s time – 26m:44s Total time – 140m:20s = 19.1 percent
- NWA Powerrr: Women’s time – 9m:46s Total time – 64m:23s = 15.2 percent
- Beyond Uncharted Territory: Women’s time – 94m:28s Total time = 301m:57s = 31.3 percent
If you ranked the shows, it would look like this:
- NXT UK – 37.0 percent
- NXT – 32.9 percent
- Beyond Uncharted Territory – 31.3 percent
- Raw – 31.1 percent
- Main Event – 27.7 percent
- SmackDown – 23.2 percent
- AEW Dark – 19.1 percent
- AEW Dynamite – 17.0 percent
- NWA Powerrr – 15.2 percent
The argument has been made that the shows are not equal in length, and that can be a factor, up to a point. The percentages are based of the show’s total time. So the percentages are essentially a ratio of time given to women during the amount of time wrestlers spend in-ring. Though one could assume it might be better for promotions if they were given longer shows, we can only base our progress on the current report.
Match time is not the end all, and it certainly doesn’t contain the whole picture. Match counts were also detailed, to see how many times the women were given chances to step in the ring.
Here’s the shows ranked by percentage of matches in October shows that had women. The match count will start with women’s matches, then total matches, followed by the percentage.
- NXT: 10-32 = 31.3 percent
- NXT UK: 5-18 = 27.8 percent
- Beyond Uncharted Territory: 8-32 = 25.0 percent
- Main Event: 2-8 = 25.0 percent
- AEW Dark: 3-13 = 23.1 percent
- Raw: 6-27 = 22.2 percent
- SmackDown: 4-21 = 19.1 percent
- NWA Powerrr: 3-16 = 18.8 percent
- AEW Dynamite: 5-27 = 18.5 percent
Lastly, rosters were tallied to see the difference in hiring. It’s easy to say that the percentage of time matches the percentage of women on the roster, so it “makes sense”. But, that’s willfully ignoring the fact that promotions decide who to hire.
These are the roster counts for each promotion. The roster for Beyond Wrestling was not available. Counts include women wrestlers, total wrestlers and then the percentage. The list is ranked. Injured or inactive wrestlers were not counted.
- NXT: 15-50 = 30.0 percent
- SmackDown: 11-43 = 25.6 percent
- Raw: 12-49 = 24.5 percent
- AEW: 14-58 = 24.1 percent
- NXT UK: 9-40 = 22.5 percent
- NWA: 5-26 = 19.2 percent
Normally, I feel it’s best to let the reader analyze the facts and draw their own conclusions, but several facts and figures seem to stand out.
For the month of October, NXT UK was the only division able to break one-third of total match time dedicated to women’s wrestling. Even at 37 percent, however, the outlook is bleak. NXT UK has the second smallest women’s roster of those measured, and yet they were still able to dedicate more time to the women’s division comparatively to the other divisions.
Not one roster is able to give at least one-third of room to women wrestlers. AEW has 44 men signed, and only 14 women. Raw has 37 men signed, and 12 women. Sure, call-ups are not happening the same way anymore, and the landscape has changed, but most of those male wrestlers are not even being used. Serious roster overhaul is seriously needed for every promotion.
AEW promised fans a different brand, with a different feel and different wrestling. They boasted change was coming, particularly to women’s wrestling. A real evolution. Their women’s roster was only given eight matches out of 40, in October. The women account for 24.1 percent of the roster, but we barely see the women they have signed. Not one of their cards, Dynamite or Dark, had more than one women’s match. With an average of 18 percent of match time dedicated to women, their strategy needs to be revised.
Here’s some startling individual facts:
The card with the highest number of women’s matches was Beyond’s Oct. 3 episode (3-8). The card with the lowest was Raw’s Oct. 21 episode (0-6). No other card was able to reach three or more women’s matches. There were 20 cards out of 39 with only one women’s match.
The shortest women’s match time was 40 seconds, on the Oct. 25 episode of SmackDown. The longest was 29 minutes 51 seconds on the Oct. 17 episode of Beyond Uncharted Territory.
Out of 39 cards, six had zero women’s matches.
There are other ways for promotions to support women wrestlers, like how they treat them, how they’re paid, and if they’re allowed to pursue other interests, for example. But, if women’s wrestling isn’t seen on the big stages they paid dearly to book, then women’s wrestling will never get the support and attention it deserves.
It’s only one month, and some promotions are just getting their feet wet. Even promotions like MLW are on their way with a women’s division of their own. Seeing depressing stats like the ones above, however, must make an impact. If the fans want women’s wrestling, they have to ask for it. For promotions to be held responsible, fans have to keep a close eye.
Bell to Belles promises to keep pushing forward the evolution of women’s wrestling, and to keep a reign on updating progress. Without those who are willing to voice their criticism, progress will never be made.