As things presently stand, AEW has two Women's World Champions: Thunder Rosa and Jade Cargill. Yes, Britt Baker is the Owen Hart Cup Women's winner, which does technically come with a belt, but as Tony Khan detailed when explaining the concept, the strap is more formal than functional, and thus can't be defended.
But did you know there's actually a third female champion on the AEW roster? A wrestler who actually defends the title in an AEW ring all of the time? Well, guess what? Though she hasn't been on television since March, Mercedes Martinez has been defending her Ring of Honor Women's Championship light as a full-on fighting champion both on AEW Dark and Dark Elevation.
#AEWRampage is THIS FRIDAY at 10/9c on @tntdrama!
–#FTR's @CashWheelerFTR v #UnitedEmpire's @RealJeffCobb
–@AndradeElIdolo v @ReyFenixMx
– @730hook v #NJPW LA Dojo's @Dylankylecox
–@ringofhonor Women's World Champion @RealMMartinez & @SerenaDeeb in action! pic.twitter.com/Z8UKSDlBMa
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) June 23, 2022
Mercedes Martinez has been on a roll in an AEW ring.
When Mercedes Martinez was released from the WWE in August of 2021, it felt like only a matter of time before “The Latina Sensation” made her way back into an AEW ring.
Yes, yes, you read that correctly: Back. For those out of the know, Martinez actually wrestled on the first-ever edition of All Out back in 2019, where she was the joker entrant in the pre-show Casino Battle Royal match that also featured Nyla Rose, Allie, Awesome Kong, Bea Priestley, Big Swole, Brandi Rhodes, Britt Baker, Faby Apache, Ivelisse, Jazz, Leva Bates, Nicole Savoy, ODB, Penelope Ford, Priscilla Kelly, Sadie Gibbs, Shalandra Royal, Shazza McKenzie, Teal Piper, and Tenille Dashwood.
Though that was ultimately Martinez's only AEW performance, at least until her release from WWE, it clearly left enough of an impression on Tony Khan to inspire a full-time signing when she became available once more.
And yet, fast-forward to September of 2021, when Martinez was free to sign wherever she'd like, and it was PPW, not AEW, who got her first match back on the open market, where the premier performer secured a three-way win over Christiana Marie and Rachael Ellering in Brodheadsville, Pennsylvania on Pay-Per-View. While performing at a smaller Pay-Per-View right after a run in WWE isn't particularly unusual, as the Hardy Brothers' first match reunited came at BTW, not AEW, what was surprising was to see Martinez on Impact television shortly thereafter, as she entered the Knockouts Knockdown Tournament and ultimately defeated former Fire ‘N Flava member Tasha Steelz to win the whole darn thing.
From there, Martinez bounced around the independent wrestling world, taking on the likes of Deonna Purrazzo and at 2CW, Holidead at Hybrid, Allie Katch at GCW, and Thunder Rosa at Warrior before making her first appearance in AEW as a hired gun of Britt Baker in January of 2022 and then as an in-ring competitor in February.
Signed to the promotion in a full-time capacity shortly thereafter, Martinez sort of treaded water in the AEW Women's mid-card… at least until she was inserted into the Ring Of Honor title picture by Tony Khan at Supercard of Honor, where she ultimately secured the victory over fan favorite Willow Nightengale to become the Interim ROH Woman's Champion; becoming only the third person to accomplish the feat after Rok-C and Purrazzo. From there, Martinez won the title outright in a winner-takes-all match on Dynamite versus Purrazzo and has since gone on to defend the title on four more occasions, including wins over Trish Adora, Hyan, Mazzerati, and Vivi Van. Though Martinez has since begun teaming with Serena Deeb on both Dark and Elevation, and will take the pairing to television on the forthcoming edition of Rampage, there's little reason to believe that Martinez won't continue to push forward against the best performers the independent wrestling world has to offer, at least until ROH kicks back into action in some way, shape, or form later this year.
If you forgot that Mercedes Martinez was still signed to AEW when her name popped up on the Rampage card at the end of Dynamite, you aren't alone; she hasn't been featured on television since May 4th and probably won't become a fixture of the medium unless the promotion drops a tag team woman's title or they seriously elevate the status of Ring of Honor belts. Still, it's not like Martinez has disappeared or is waiting in the wings for her next chance to defend her title. No, Martinez is simply wrestling a few minutes before television goes live each week, and her matches can be caught for free on YouTube each week, sandwiched between Dark Order segments and hijinks from Max Caster and the Gunn Club. Considering a segment of AEW's fanbase routinely complains about the lack of woman's matches on television each week, Dark and Dark Elevation should be considered much-watch viewing each week – especially a few hours after it airs when some kind soul has placed the time stamps in the comments section.