HEYDORN’S TAKE: AEW has a Britt Baker problem

BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH ASSISTANT EDITOR (@zheydorntorch)

Britt Baker analysis
PHOTO CREDIT: Britt Baker Twitter

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Well, get out your pitchforks and torches because I’m going to spit some hard truth to the wrestling world. AEW has a Britt Baker problem.

Come at me!

Look, I’m sorry if it’s tough to admit. Britt Baker is one of the top stars in the AEW women’s division and she also has a number of truly classic AEW moments under her belt. Furthermore, the AEW fan base has seen her develop in front of their very eyes and in the strangest of times starring a global pandemic that kept audiences away from her for over a year.

It was an impressive feat and I can admit that, but I expect reciprocity, folks. AEW has a Britt Baker problem. Not like a “good god almighty, my basements flooded with three feet of water type problem,” but like a “crap, I locked the keys in the car” style issue. Not serious, but annoying and something that could potentially throw the day off course.

Baker has to harness a better understanding of what needs to happen in a wrestling ring for storylines to progress, characters to get over, and ultimately, money to get made. That’s the end game, right? It should be, but at times it appears as if Baker doesn’t care.

Why? Well, Britt Baker is a heel. Her job is to get heat, be disliked by the AEW fan base, and then make the babyface across from her look like a million bucks and get cheered loudly. Are we sure she gets that?

Heat isn’t buzz from a one-line zinger like a comedian would unload on an unruly drunk at a comedy show, but Baker loves playing dress up in that role. She regularly mistakes her wit and cleverness for heat, but it rarely results in something her babyface opponent can do anything with.

Now, maybe Baker is the honest Abe of professional wrestling and she can’t help herself, but she’s entirely too truthful in what she says while building up wrestling storylines. Take the promo with Saraya from last week’s AEW Dynamite as an example. Baker launched an assault of words on Saraya that positioned her as the flag bearer for AEW. She discussed being the face of the women’s division, the biggest female draw the company had, and a vast array of other truths that had the audience around her nodding along. It was an abomination of a wrestling segment that shouldn’t have seen the light of day on a small indie show let alone on national television.

As the heel, Baker ended up as the likable figure. After all, it was an AEW show and the AEW fan base rightfully wanted to cheer the company they’re there to see and by positioning herself on the AEW side of Saraya as the invading force, Baker got the cheers.

What happened after was even more damning, though. Saraya was left without any direction to travel in to get momentum back. Her only option was to talk down to Baker with “star power” as a main dig, which not only buried AEW a bit, but negatively impacted Baker’s perception among fans too. Saraya’s job as the babyface is to be likable, look strong opposite the heel, but put over the heel at the same time. Without a road to use thanks to Baker’s confusing approach, Saraya was left holding the bag and none of those boxes were checked.

So, what gives? Well, it’s stubbornness on the part of Britt Baker and what we have here is a classic case of a talent wanting to have the cake, but eat it too. Baker wants to stay a heel, so that she can dish out the snarky comments and arrogant attitude, but doesn’t want to take it on the chin like real heels need to in order to do business. She wants the benefits that come with working heel, but not any of the business responsibility that comes along with being in that role.

This is not the first time that a talent has wanted said cake as a performer. Its common because all talent want to constantly be framed in the best light possible. In fact, Baker deserves some credit for finding that competitive mindset, wanting to be the best, and working to that selfish end for her and her alone. When talents tap into that approach, they can unlock high levels of star power. That star power needs to be managed, though, and that’s where Tony Khan comes in.

Khan needs to sit Baker down and have a heart to heart with her. He needs to explain to her what he needs, why it’s important, and how what he needs will make her look better in the long run.

Baker’s lack of recognizing what the Saraya story needed and lack of willingness to give it that if it meant her showing her ass crippled a dream match. Britt Baker vs. Saraya IS a dream match for the AEW women’s division that doesn’t feel like one thanks to the story being neutered by the talent involved. As the AEW staple and “face of the division” like Britt Baker calls herself, it was on her to set it up for success and she missed.

So, Britt Baker, let’s get this figured out. You’re surrounded by premiere talent in the AEW locker room, you’re the biggest women’s star the company has seen to-date, and continue to have an incredibly high ceiling due to the high-level talent you’ve turned yourself into.

Let’s get this problem figured out, eh? The Dr. will see you now.


CATCH-UP: HEYDORN’S WWE RAW RECEIPT 11/14: Austin Theory capitalizes on failed cash-in, shows serious demeanor

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