When looking at the biggest feuds in AEW history, one that has gone overlooked in the past few years is the battled between Thunder Rosa and Britt Baker.
The two former AEW Women’s Champions have had very different paths into AEW.
Dr Britt Baker D.M.D had an “easier” time making it to the top of AEW. She was the first woman signed to the company, and immediately pushed as the top face of the division.
While she originally flopped, a heel turn unlocked her incredible mic skills, elevating her to the level of other top stars in the company as a main event star.
Meanwhile, Thunder Rosa was not an AEW project. She cut her teeth wrestling against men in Mexico, after retiring from her role as a child social worker.
With her half-face paint, paying tribute to the Dia de los Muertos celebration, she had a unique look that differentiated herself from the rest of the women.
Rosa was originally brought in as a crossover from NWA, actually defending the NWA Women’s Championship on multiple occasions in AEW.
She eventually dropped the belt and signed full time with Tony Khan’s promotion, starting her long road to the top of the women’s division.
This is where the legendary Britt Baker vs Thunder Rosa rivalry began, and reshaped the WWE Women’s Division for the better.
Their First Match Revolutionized Women’s Wrestling In AEW
Ever since it began (and even lingering to this day), AEW has suffered with the criticism toward their lack of care toward their women’s division.
While effort has been made to build it up to the level of the men’s, some claim that Tony Khan either doesn’t know how to book women, or simply doesn’t want to feature them in main event spots.
However, it was Thunder Rosa’s battle with Britt Baker that would show fans that the women could be stars in AEW, as they main evented AEW Dynamite for the first time.
The first Britt Baker vs Thunder Rosa was in the main event of the St. Patrick’s Day Slam episode of AEW Dynamite. Their heated feud finally came to a head, in a brutal Unsanctioned “Lights Out” match.
The match was insane. The two women shocked the world, doing some things that had never been seen before in a women’s match, in a major North American company.
Huge moves, like a Death Valley Driver onto a ladder, had the crowd on their feet. The pair even brought out thumb tacks, which Rosa slammed Baker onto, in one of the best moments of the year in AEW.
While in Japan, these types of matches have happened for years, this is not the case in the United States. These two blazed the trail, and put themselves on the map in AEW as top stars.
Thunder Rosa hit her Fire Thunder Driver from the ring apron through a table for the victory, winning possibly the most important match of her career.
She would be absent from the show next week, although Britt Baker would appear to huge cheers, despite her loss.
The quality of the match was so high that fans could not help but commend both women in the match. It was voted as the Match of the Year by Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s readers, and will go down as perhaps the greatest women’s wrestling match in American history.
It was lauded by fans and critics alike. Mick Foley was a big proponent of the bout, while Dave Meltzer awarded it a five-star rating – the first women’s match in the USA to achieve that accolade.
On the back of the match, Britt Baker would go on to defeat Hikaru Shida to become the AEW Women’s Championship.
Britt Baker vs Thunder Rosa Changed The Perception Of Women
While the match did huge things for both Britt Baker and Thunder Rosa, it also did big things for the AEW Women’s Division as a whole.
While AEW promised to focus on their women, in response to WWE’s historic treatment of women (which has been rectified in recent years), they had a slow start with the division.
No big stars were available to sign to start with, so the company had to build the division from scratch. Couples this with stars like Awesome Kong and Kylie Rae’s runs being cut short, they faced an uphill battle.
Since the first Thunder Rosa vs Britt Baker match, the women in AEW have been featured more and more.
While a pay per view main event has never featured a women’s match, multiple Dynamite or Rampage shows have been built up around women’s matches since then.
Stars like Anna Jay and Tay Conti have even stepped up to the plate, putting on blood-filled, hardcore matches on multiple occasions. Meanwhile, stars like Jamie Hayter and Saraya looked poised to take the division by storm, and could tear the house down at All In in Wembley.
Their Rematch Was A Shocking Pay Per View Bout
After a year of build up, the rematch of the year took place at AEW Revolution 2022. Baker had held the world title for nearly a year, whilst Rosa had climbed the rankings to challenge her rival in a world title match.
This match was seen as fans as coming at the perfect time. They had grown tired of Britt Baker’s title reign, bored with her constantly being saved by her lackeys Jamie Hayter and Reba.
Thunder Rosa vs Britt Baker at Revolution was to give the fans a babyface champion to cheer for, and gave Britt Baker the chance to build another star up on her level in the women’s division.
So, when Britt Baker forced Thunder Rosa to tap out to the lockjaw, the fans weren’t just shocked – they were upset.
However, Tony Khan had his reasons for delaying the title win. Just a few weeks later was the one-year anniversary of their five star classic, and that also just happened to be on the birthday of Thunder Rosa too.
Thunder Rosa Defeated Britt Baker To Become World Champion
Finally, one year after Thunder Rosa beat Britt Baker in their unsanctioned match, she once against defeated her rival, this time to win the AEW Women’s Championship.
They battled inside a steel cage match – a clever stipulation, as it kept Baker’s cronies from interfering on her behalf.
The match could not have been more perfectly built for Thunder Rosa to beat Britt Baker. It was a year after their last match. It was in her hometown of San Antonio, Texas, and it was even Thunder Rosa’s birthday.
You could not wish for a more perfect storm, and in typical AEW fashion, they delivered. Thunder Rosa defeated Britt Baker, winning the AEW Championship and becoming one of AEW’s biggest stars.
Sadly, it would all be downhill from there.
Her Return Could Add Another Chapter To The Legendary Rivalry
Thunder Rosa sadly had to vacate her championship prior to All Out 2022. The AEW Women’s Champion suffered a back injury which was originally not meant to be too bad, but spiralled into a terrible injury for the star.
While it was originally thought she would be out for a few weeks, an interim champion was crowned. Toni Storm was announced as the interim AEW Women’s Champion, and awaited Rosa’s return for the impending unification match.
However, as the time went on, it became clear that the injury was worse than first fears, and the decision was made for Rosa to drop the title for good.
It wouldn’t be for another nine months when Thunder Rosa would finally return to AEW. She appeared backstage at AEW Dynamite on May 10th, 2023, and was seen going into Tony Khan’s office.
It is expected that she will be part of the AEW Collision roster, during the upcoming brand split in AEW. This would likely keep her apart from Baker, delaying another eventual rematch between the two.
Sadly, her injury ruined the chance for AEW to build up a new superstar, on Britt Baker’s level. When she returns to the ring, Thunder Rosa will have to stay on the level of new stars, like Jamie Hayter, Toni Storm and Saraya.
Only time will tell if they will be able to build up her to the level she was after the famous Britt Baker vs Thunder Rosa trio of matches.