Why Calling Tay Conti a Slut if Bad Business and Bad For Wrestling

AEW Needs to Hire Professional Writers

Let’s get this out of the way. Yes, I’m a feminist. Yes, I’m a woman. Yes, I’m and writer and yes, I’m a gamer. I can be and am all of those things and still be a wrestling fan. I adore All Elite Wrestling and think they are taking huge strides to improve the business.

Except for one really big thing.

They need to hire some writers. badly. Like last week.

AEW has a ridiculous number of supremely talented wrestlers, both male and female. They are great an providing high energy, show-stopping matches and technical fests when it’s time to slow things down.

And some of their talent is amazingly charismatic, good on the mic and/or funny. Some are really great at being heels.

But they have proven recently that they have no idea how to turn a former babyface (that’s the good guy-type wrestler) into a heel (the bad-guy type). To be fair, they’re not really good at telling stories on the whole.

They have a few wrestlers who obviously know how to work an angle, build up a feud and maybe even resolve it. But a lot of time they failed. For example, their current heavyweight champion is Hangman Adam Page.

In the month after he first won the title, Page issued an open challenge to whomever thought they could take his belt. That’s just dumb story-telling. The guy at the top of the mountain should be looking down and telling people they have to prove they deserve a title shot, not offering to take on whoever steps to the front of the line first.

But that’s what he did. So Lance Archer was the first guy to step forward.

Lance Archer is a big guy with a lot of talent and absolutely no story-telling skills. The story was pretty much”I’m a bad guy and I’m going to hurt you.” Spoiler Alert: He didn’t win.

And no one cared about the match. No one believed that they would let Page, who had been trying to get the belt for two years, would lose it in his first defense. They bill Lance Archer as a monster, but basically keeping using him as a big guy that their stars wrestle a tough match against and then lose.

The same problem happened with Malachi Black. They had him come into the federation as this big bad scary monster who beat Cody Rhodes in a humiliatingly easy match. It looked like they were going to build it up to a story where Rhodes turned heel.

But nope. Rhoes got to mope for a bit, get called out for letting Black get in his head, and then get a clean win over Black. And that’s actually one of the more complete stories they’ve told.

Don’t even get me started on what they have done to Andrade El Idolo. The man is a huge talent, but they keep setting him up with stories that go nowhere and making him lose to their babyfaces. The problem with not having real writers and storytellers on your staff is they don’t understand that you build tension by letting the good guys lose, sometimes multiple times before they power up and win.

Which brings us to their current atrocity: the heel turn for Sammy Guevara and Tay Conti.

The truth of the matter is, most people were never going to love Tay Conti as a babyface. She’s incredibly talented, accomplished and gorgeous. She has legitimate martial arts experience and seemed, prior to the turn, to be a genuinely nice person. It’s the same problem they had when Britt Baker was a babyface.

People were jealous that these well-spoken, intelligent and gorgeous women were also talented and no one liked them. Britt’s heel turn was handled beautifully. She leaned into her other profession (she’s a dentist) and became super violent. No one felt the need to degrade her by calling her a slut.

But that’s where they have gone with Tay. They are trying to lean into having her and Sammy claim they are the beautiful people and everyone else is just jealous, but the stories have focused on their sexuality and other people calling her a slut.

And just like calling Paige Van Zant a bitch is sexist bullshit, relying on a narrative that calls Tay a slut for sleeping with her boyfriend, is bad for the business and bad for wrestling.

AEW owner Tony Khan has tried hard to produce an inclusive and amazing show. He has done a fairly good job of getting people to take his women’s division seriously, moving away from total cheesecake models to women with talent and skill who wear mostly appropriate wrestling attire.

Don’t get me wrong, some of the women lean into their sexuality as a part of their character, but not everyone is required to. The women’s matches are sometimes brutal and bloody. TBS Women’s Champion Jade Cargill leans into her body-builder physique and crushes her opponents.

Baker and Thunder Rosa have had amazing bloody matches. The Bunny wore a crimson mask, as in her entire face was covered in blood, when she and Penelope Ford fought Tay Conti and Anna Jay.

So reducing the heat between Tay and Paige to name-calling, especially name-calling based on terms that are always used to demean women is beneath him. It undermines the company he is trying to build and makes the whole thing seem just as sexist as the demands by certain other companies that their women wrestlers get breast implants.

And ultimately, this goes back to the lack of writers and storytellers working for the show. Khan needs to hire people who understand the business and how to develop a character. Until he does, he will continue to diminish the role of women in wrestling and make more of us likely to turn the channel or turn off the DVR.

Hire writers and develop a story about why Paige and Tay need to beat each other up that doesn’t reduce women to catty stereotypes.

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Lucinda Gunnin is a commercial property manager and author in the suburbs of Philadelphia. She’s a news junky, sushi addict, and geek extraordinaire.

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Lucinda Gunnin

Lucinda Gunnin

Lucinda Gunnin is a commercial property manager and author in the suburbs of Philadelphia. She’s a news junky, sushi addict, and geek extraordinaire.

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