Earlier this week, a message from AEW CBO Brandi Rhodes emerged on social media, announcing the creation of AEW HEELS, a “community for women who loves wrestling”. Not a lot of details surfaced, except a worldwide private party held on Friday night through Zoom to present the project. I and AEW Dark reviewer Georgia Madden were among the 250 women from all over the world invited to join the launch party and here is what we can tell you about AEW HEELS.
— The Brandalorian (@TheBrandiRhodes) May 18, 2020
At first, Brandi Rhodes presented HEELS as a “really cool passionate project.” Among the AEW women online were The Librarian Leva Bates, also Peter Avalon’s manager, and CBO coordinator, Allie aka The Bunny, Hikaru Shida, Awesome Kong, Anna Jay, Big Swole, AEW ring announcer Dasha, Nyla Rose, Shanna, and AEW interviewer Jennifer Decker.
Brandi presented herself and her background in figure skating and wrestling. She explained she is “one of the few women in a major executive position in a wrestling company.” As CBO, she is responsible for what the brand looks like, which means inclusivity and diversity in wrestling. She reminded the partnership with Culture City, started a year ago at Double or Nothing, to help make the brand “be as inclusive as possible, a long overdue in the wrestling business.”
A year after launching this partnership, she said, when she started in the wrestling business in 2012, she knew she would be facing some challenges as a woman and as a person of colour. But one of the strangest things in that environment was her “biggest problem wasn’t men, but women.” She added, “it shouldn’t be that way.” The AEW locker room really exemplifies what the company is looking for, women enjoying working together and empowering each other in the process.
Rhodes continued by saying, “HEELS is a community for females who love wrestling. The purpose of this community is for you to meet each other and come together over the common love of wrestling.” Wrestlers and fans could offer each other different perspectives, as the inside working and the inside viewing in order, for the fans, to understand more on the sport they love and, for AEW, to understand why fans love wrestling so much, so to learn from each other and grow in a sisterhood-like, safe and virtual space.
Fans were treated to some details on the exclusive benefits of being a part of AEW HEELS, like access to the staff behind the scenes, exclusive meet-and-greets and events, and discounts on AEW HEELS merchandise (Brandi explained merch is going to be a priority.) HEELS will be a part of the next Jericho Cruise, taking place in early 2021, with events and parties. There will be HEELS special events around PPVs, special access to live-events tickets in order to create a HEELS section, and many more.
A poll was put online to ask the fans who will win the AEW Women’s World Championship match at Double or Nothing and the kind of stipulation matches they want to see (Ladder, Iron Man Match, or Cage Match.) Fans voted for Shida and Ladder Match.
They also got the chance to ask Brandi Rhodes questions regarding the new fan community.
- About the inspiration behind HEELS, Brandi said she could see how women talk about wrestling on social media and are vocal on it, something AEW could invest/harvest (24’40) on, so everybody could benefit from these female positive minds.
- About the importance of creating this group in the current climate, she explained we are at a time when wrestling is king. “There’s more wrestling on TV right now than it has been in many years, which is fantastic and great for everyone,” she added, “so this is the time to strike.”
- She was asked about the barriers she had to overcome to get where she is today in a traditionally male-dominated business. She replied there have been obstacles every day, “you never get to the point as a female in wrestling where you can take a breath and relax, there’s always something to overcome.” She knew when she had that position that she would have been immediately discounted, because of her marriage, and it’s a daily thing, “every day, I feel like I need to work that much harder to prove people wrong and get that respect.”
- About how women can be represented better in the wrestling business, from talents to backstage and media, she said there’s always room for more. She understands a lot of the challenges it poses, ‘it’s not as easy as a snap of the fingers. Patience is a virtue in the whole situation with women’s wrestling in general, to make sure people are comfortable and get to this point when they can carry the various aspects that people are hoping for.” She added women representation in the ring and in the back is a large challenge for the company, “I would like to see more women doing that, but the more women start to hold positions like this, the more different perspectives can come into view.”
- On the advice she would give to a woman to avoid the hurdles of the industry, she said not to give up if you’re really passionate.
- On her biggest influence in and out of the ring, she stated Sensational Sherr, actress Viola Davis, and her Mum.
Though no formal plans or events were announced for the future of AEW HEELS, Brandi expressed her feelings following tonight’s launch party on Twitter.
Thanks for joining the @AEW_Heels launch party tonight ladies!! The energy was incredible and I cannot wait for what lies ahead for us! You all empower and inspire me ❤️👠 #AEWHeels #AEWWomen pic.twitter.com/3ooCv4nSXq
— The Brandalorian (@TheBrandiRhodes) May 23, 2020
All pics courtesy of AEW HEELS