AEW’s The Deadly Draw: Was There a Point?
Let’s Discuss the Deadly Draw Tournament
Throughout the month of August, AEW held an event called the AEW Women’s Tag Team Cup Tournament: The Deadly Draw. Held primarily on YouTube, the absurdly named event featured eight tag teams comprised solely of women. Supposedly, the goal was to decide the best female tag team in AEW.
The bracket started with four tag team matches, slowly whittling away the competition until only one team was left standing. In this case, it was the outstanding team of Diamante and Ivelisse. They reputedly had never teamed together before this tournament but looked amazing.
Finally, the last match of The Deadly Draw was held on the August 22nd edition of AEW Dynamite. Ultimately, The winners receiving some shiny medals. What fans were left with were questions. Specifically, what was the point of The Deadly Draw and why did it happen at all?
Tag Team Heaven
Out of the many ways that AEW differentiates itself from WWE, the biggest one is their tag team division. It’s not really hard, though. WWE barely seems to remember that they have a tag team division at all. Keep in mind they have a total of five different tag team championships floating around.
AEW, on the other hand, has put tag team wrestling at the forefront of the company. That decision has paid off in a big way. The best matches of their pay-per-views and weekly programming are inevitably their tag team matches. The first five-star match from Dave Meltzer on Dynamite was a street fight between Best Friends and Santana and Ortiz.
One look at the AEW roster and you start seeing a litany of solid gold tag teams. Most are legitimate contenders for the titles. Their tag team division is so stacked at this point that AEW might actually have to consider making a mid-card tag team championship.
As such, it made sense to bring the women’s division in on most successful part of the brand. One would have to imagine that was, in part, the logic behind The Deadly Draw. Where the whole premise fell down was the absolute nothing that came from it.
The Deadly Draw
AEW does not currently have a women’s tag team championship or division. Any women’s tag team matches have been few and far between since the end of The Deadly Draw. It leaves one wondering what the point was in having a tournament for a division that doesn’t exist.
It all started with the Lethal Lottery. Competitors randomly selected colored balls to find out who their partner would be. Nyla Rose drew Ariane Andrew, who many fans know better as Cameron from her WWE days alongside Naomi. But their loss Anna Jay and Tay Conti turned out to be Andrew’s only AEW appearance so far, and she wasn’t the only one.
To make this whole thing work, AEW brought back Mel and paired her up with Penelope Ford. Mel more or less disappeared again after their loss to The Nightmare Sisters. Lil’ Swole, Big Swole’s tag team partner from the indies, also came and left pretty quickly.
One of their interviewers, Dasha, was even randomly partnered with Rachael Ellering for an opening match with Diamante and Ivelisse. Again, it was a loss that saw Dasha return to interviewing. Rachael hasn’t had much screen time since.
Even more strange was the fact that the whole tournament seemed to have been concocted to get The Nightmare Sisters over. Allie and Brandi had been building their team for weeks. They lost to the more impromptu team of Diamante and Ivelisse. The Nightmare Sisters disintegrated virtually immediately.
What was the point?
Anyone who watched The Deadly Draw must have been confused as to why it happened. A few of the wrestlers involved only appeared in the tournament, then were gone. The only tag team still together is Diamante and Ivelisse. That’s awesome since they make a great team but they have no opposition.
In WWE, the Cruiserweight Classic was built up to 205 Live. It might not have been the success WWE was looking for, but it went somewhere. The awkwardly named AEW Women’s Tag Team Cup Tournament: The Deadly Draw has led nowhere and accomplished nothing of substance.
If AEW was looking to launch a Women’s Tag Team Championship, that ship has sailed. Any momentum built off the tournament is long gone. In particular, the creative direction behind The Nightmare Sisters is confounding. A lot of time was put into building the team, just to have them implode after one big loss.
This added to Allie’s perplexing booking history with AEW. Her program with The Butcher and The Blade came to an unceremonious and sudden end. She no longer seems to be accompanying QT Marshall to the ring. And her tag team with Brandi is done. WWE’s booking of Asuka is more consistent.
Realistically, the only thing that makes sense is that The Deadly Draw was solely a promotional event for AEW Heels. It’s a subscription-based community for female fans of professional wrestling. AEW caught a lot of heat for Heels being a subscription service, and a pricey one at that.
The first member’s event happened for Heels happened on August 7th. This was only four days after the start of The Deadly Draw on YouTube. Obviously, that’s not a coincidence, though the effectiveness of the tactic is questionable at best.
If the goal of The Deadly Draw was to bring attention to Heels, it didn’t do its job. Naturally, there has been no formal discussion of Heels as a success or failure at this point. It’s still early in its growth period. The Deadly Draw, on the other hand, appears to have been a dud.
Unfortunately, The Deadly Draw did little to raise the stature of the female wrestlers in AEW. Giving their women’s division more screen time on Dark and Dynamite seems like a better place to start in that regard.
On the other hand, relegating a strangely booked tournament focused on their female talent to YouTube was certainly not as effective. A less convoluted name for the event couldn’t have hurt, either. The AEW Women’s Tag Team Cup Tournament: The Deadly Draw is a bit of a mouthful.