Early Monday morning, belt maker RED Leather’s Facebook page posted a picture featuring a potential new belt. RED Leather created the AEW TNT Championship. The post immediately went viral, and fans began pondering what the new Championship title could be. RED Leather took the post down later in the day, claiming that it was just “a sample I sent to to the board for approval on future belts in error.” However, no one is ever seemingly on the level in professional wrestling, and RED Leather’s response has been met with a cynical eye. Whether or not AEW is gearing up to introduce another title or set of titles, it’s a subject that owner Tony Khan has danced around recently. Should AEW decide to create another championship, there are many options on the table.
An AEW World Trios Title seems more like a formality at this point. Though six-man (woman) belts are not unique, outside of Texas in the mid-80s, rivalries between three-man groups have been a rarity. The NWA World Six-Man Championship was introduced in Fred Kohler’s Chicago territory in 1955 with Roy McClarity, Pat O’Connor, and Yukon Eric. The titles were quickly abandoned before George Gulas reactivated them in Memphis in the mid-70s. The titles followed Gulas when he split off from Jerry Jarrett and died with his territory. Under Dusty Rhodes, the belts were revitalized with Jim Crockett Productions in 1984. Initially used as a vehicle for the Russians (Ivan & Nikita Koloff and Crusher Kruschev), the belts eventually went to Rhodes and the Road Warriors.
Though Ring of Honor successfully launched a Six-Man division in 2016, championships have primarily been a Lucha product. However, with AEW’s focus on faction wars, a Trios title could be an easy addition to the promotion.
On the flip side, adding an additional tag title could be seen as superfluous and unnecessary. In time, it could actually water down AEW’s prized tag division.
Women’s Tag Titles
TNA/Impact established a Knockouts tag team division in 2009 and reintroduced the championship after an eight-year hiatus this past January. WWE introduced a set of women’s tag titles in 2019 and added an NXT tag division in March.
Though it might seem far off considering the depth (or lack of depth) of the AEW women’s division, women’s tag belts might not be a bad idea. Early in the promotion’s history, AEW trumpeted itself as an inclusive company looking to build a strong women’s division. Throughout the first year of the company, AEW struggled with its women’s division. Between the lack of depth and experience level of the performers, the company seemed hesitant to push the division. An influx of talent and a new TV program in Rampage has caused many fans to clamor for more time being devoted to the division. The addition of a women’s tag division immediately thrusts a minimum of four women into a focused program. A tag division can also help less experienced talent be mentored by veterans. With AEW’s struggles in drawing female viewers in their target 18-49 demo, expanding the division makes sense.
However, these titles could be seen as a crutch instead of a boon. Should the company just use titles without thoughtful booking, it could be seen as a token movement and have an inverse effect.
Even with AEW claiming dominion over Soundstage 19 at Universal Studios in Orlando which is also the former Impact Zone, the idea to establish a title exclusive to their YouTube programming seems far-fetched. However, when looking at the line-up and talent participating in this round of taping, it seems that Dark will continue to be a training/recruiting ground for independent talent. With a host of indy players and a plethora of AEW mid-card talent, it could make sense to create a championship to be defended on those tapings, similar to the New Japan Strong title, currently held by Filthy Tom Lawlor.
Creating a brand-exclusive title could help give Dark its own focus as a show. A Dark Championship could provide an interesting home for different programs featuring indie players or those who aren’t being used on Dynamite and Rampage. While names like Ethan Page, Joey Janela, or Lee Johnson may have difficulty finding their way onto Dynamite, becoming Dark Champion may provide them an opportunity to lead a brand.
At the same time, a title that isn’t featured on television or pay-per-view could be viewed as more of an anchor than a blessing. It’s possible that if not booked well, a Dark belt could actually stunt a talent’s perception in the company. Who wants to be viewed as a talent “not good enough to be featured on television?”
All three of these ideas have positives and negatives. Like any championship, if the belts are used as props instead of as vehicles for proper storytelling, they would be dead on arrival. Though, suppose the belts are introduced and treated like a valuable commodity, the same way the TNT Championship was introduced. In that case, it could inject more interest into the narrative. Like all wrestling, everything comes down to booking.