The Deathmatch Love Song

“Mox is gonna be so proud.” 

Those were Britt Baker’s words as she sat getting cleaned up from her brutal lights out match with Thunder Rosa on March 17, 2021 St. Patrick’s edition of AEW Dynamite. She was bloody, but a smile was still etched on her face even after defeat. I could talk about how proud everyone was of these two ladies, I could talk about the very real emotion in the air after the match, the ovation the locker room gave Rosa as she walked back stage. I could talk about all of that and spin it up in a nice little package that reviews the match as a whole. I could do that, or I could talk about how the match made me feel. 

Very few things grab my attention like a Deathmatch does. This isn’t how this match was advertised, but at AEW, the term Lights Out comes with more than a few expectations and images; brutal, blood soaked things stuck in my head for hours after the fact and sometimes, for weeks on end. As I sat in the afterglow of Britt and Rosa’s shining and horrifically beautiful moment, I couldn’t help but think of the last Lights Out match that made me feel something like this. Stuck in a moment in time, looping spots back, a blow off to a blood feud that’s been simmering for more than five months at this point.

I thought of Kenny Omega shoving glass in Mox’s mouth. A brutal kiss. When Britt opened the bag of tacks, pulling the tie off with her teeth, the same kind of chill ran up my spine. Watching a Deathmatch always feels intimate, but watching women make history like this, something inside of me shifted again just like it did after I watched Kenny and Mox more than a year ago. Watching matches like this feels like making memories. 

Britt Baker was on the shelf for months with a knee injury last year, but turned out some of the most engaging, funny and despicable segments during that time. Time off can be debilitating to a performer, but not Britt. The time off only seemed to make her more determined, and she bided her time until she could get back into the ring and actually show everyone why she was the face of the women’s division.

Right as lockdown started, she’d had her nose broken by Hikaru Shida, another match coated in blood. I remember watching blood pour out of her face as she maintained an eerie calm smile. I remember realizing then, that this is what it feels like to fall in love with a performer. I felt the same thing in my chest as I watched her bleed again in the main event. Strong, determined and more than a little unhinged. This is what women’s wrestling is. Unfettered. Unafraid. Doing the same thing the men can do and never ever looking back. It’s vitally important that women get to be bloody and broken and angry. I haven’t seen anything quite like this before. It’s going to sit in my chest for weeks.

As Britt sat on the sidelines, someone else walked into her place in the locker room. Thunder Rosa, the NWA World Women’s Champion. She carried herself like a star, picked up all the slack and pushed forward giving us some incredible matches in a company she didn’t have to bust her ass for. She, in fact, doesn’t go here, but that didn’t stop her from hefting the division on her back. It was noble and needed, and we were all so lucky she decided to spend her time and talent with us as lockdown dragged on, and the outside world started to pierce our little wrestling bubble.

I was excited and enthralled watching her. This is what the woman’s division needs. I remember saying to myself. Rosa can carry it. I wasn’t wrong, but I had taken my eye off of Britt as I think so many of us had, despite everything. Nothing breeds more resentment than being forgotten. Or believing someone has forgotten about you. Imagined slights. 

This is how a blood feud is built. Subtle and dangerous. The face of the women’s division vs a scrappy outsider who seemingly wants to take her place. It echoes familiar in my head, but in the best of ways. Two people at the very top of their game both with something to prove, but very, very different. Rosa has been here for month’s clawing and scratching and tearing through any competition that was in her way, ravenous and hungry. Britt was hungry too, and when two warriors meet one another, full of passion and every other bubbling emotion you can think of, beautiful things happen.

It’s Kenny and Mox. But we don’t need comparisons, this is a singular moment. Two women’s stars burning bright and somehow finding a way to go supernova without burning out. They have so much farther they can go. 

So yeah. Mox would be proud. Everyone should be.