On the Feb. 24 episode of All Elite Wrestling (AEW): Dynamite, former AEW Women’s World Champion Nyla Rose turned back the staunch challenge of Britt Baker to advance to the finals of the AEW Women’s World Championship Eliminator Tournament.
The two stars of AEW’s women’s division faced a unique challenge in their semifinal meeting. With both ladies positioned as the top distaff heels, Rose and Baker needed to figure out how to create a compelling story to keep the audience invested.
Fortunately, it took little time for them to work out the format: Baker took on the role of a stalling, contact-averse, cerebral antagonist, while Rose played the powerhouse babyface who overcame all the tricks Baker threw her way.
In the end, this led to an entertaining 13 minutes of action, another sign of the strides both women have made as wrestlers since signing with the company in 2019. It also gave fans a glimpse of how Rose would look as a protagonist, and if this match is any indication, she would fit into the role well.
Nyla Rose could become a great babyface whenever AEW decides to turn her.
Thus far, Nyla Rose has spent the entirety of her brief AEW career as a monster heel, and she has reached incredible heights as an antagonist, becoming the second AEW Women’s World Champ when she dethroned inaugural champion on the February 20, 2020 episode of Dynamite.
Looking through the AEW women’s roster, it’s not hard to see why establishing Rose as a heel has worked so well: her size and strength make her the perfect foil for the many smaller wrestlers in the women’s division and, while Baker gets plenty of deserved credit for her promo skills, Rose isn’t too far behind in that category, either.
But in her match with Baker, fans didn’t see the imposing menace that has haunted the likes of Riho, Hikaru Shida, and, most recently, Tay Conti. Instead, they saw a dominant, confident wrestler who remained patient — for the most part — whenever Baker pulled out some heel trick from the 1980s and shook off an arm injury caused by Baker to pick up the win.
If AEW — and these two women — wanted, they could’ve laid out the match in a way that positioned Baker as the de-facto babyface who survived Rose’s relentless onslaught to either win the match or fall just short.
But that’s not what happened.
Whether you want to chalk it up to AEW attempting to maintain continuity with Baker’s heel character or them using this match as a “babyface Nyla Rose” experiment, all parties involved decided this match would work best if Rose were the one who endured constant outside interference (Rose’s manager, Vickie Guerrero, didn’t accompany her to ringside for this match, unlike Baker’s pal/subordinate Rebel), received the chance to execute a babyface comeback, and survived smashing into an exposed turnbuckle en route to winning, and it worked!
Sure, working opposite a heel as despised as Baker helped tremendously, but even with that caveat, fans could’ve still rejected the premise these women presented to them and the fact that they didn’t speak as much to Rose’s work as a babyface in this match as it does Baker’s brilliant heel work.
We shouldn’t expect to see Nyla Rose as a babyface anytime soon, but the seeds have been planted.
With AEW’s women’s roster opulent with babyface talent, there’s no need to turn Rose babyface right now. But at some point, Rose will get her chance on the técnico side of the spectrum, where she would thrive as a fan favorite who teamed with her smaller contemporaries whenever they needed backup, gives Karma Houdini heels some much-needed comeuppance, and steps up to domineering beast heels who terrorize the rest of the division.
Whenever the day arrives, AEW already has some story threads already knitted for them to continue quilting their way to that moment. We’ve seen Vickie Guerrero berate Rose following a loss at Full Gear 2020, so if AEW chooses to weave those angles back into their dynamic, that could start the build to Rose driving Guerrero through the mat with a powerbomb and ditching her manager. But fans shouldn’t expect to see that for a while.
Odds are that Rose will revert back to her heel persona as soon as her next match, as she will face either her old rival Riho or Thunder Rosa in the finals of the Eliminator Tourney. But it was still fun to see Rose exhibit a few more depths to her character in this match with Baker. Hopefully, fans won’t have to wait too long to see her and AEW explore those depths even further.