Top 10 Best Female Wrestlers in WWE History – Redux
In the year since we originally posted this list, some recent events have warranted a return look at the greatest female wrestlers in WWE history.
Immediately after posting the original list I started questioning myself. Did I select and place certain women on the list out of nostalgia or fan loyalty? Were there women that didn't make the list that should have? After events like the several NXT Takeovers and Wrestlemania 32, I knew I had to go back and redo the list.
Like the first list, I need to clarify that this is definitely just my opinion. Don't agree? Post your favorites in the comments below. Second, we are again focusing only on women who regularly perform(ed) in the ring. Icons like Elizabeth and Sunny didn't make the cut because they are valets, not wrestlers.
And yes, the list is dominated by women no further back than the Attitude Era. I have several reasons for that, but the main one is that I feel that was the first time women's matches were really important to the show and not viewed as bathroom breaks or gimmicks.
In hindsight, Mae Young and the Fabulous Moolah probably didn't warrant a #3 and #4 listing, respectively. Sure, it was out of nostalgia, but I don't think their accomplishments should go unrecognized, hense an Honorable Mention. While Moolah was the champion, I feel like Mae Young had the bigger and more lasting impact on business and fanbase. But even as she was known for her comedic stints, Mae never lost the salty attitude and edge that kept her going in the early days. At 76-years-old, Mae was still fairly active in the ring, fighting the younger Divas and even being powerbombed off the stage through a table by the Dudley Boyz, telling Vince McMahon afterwards she wanted to be powerbombed off the top of a cage next. And wrestling Eric Bischoff a few years later, 79-year-old Mae Young was asked to perform a “Bronco Buster”, where she slammed her crotch into Bischoff’s face and chest. Before going to the match, Mae stuffed sardines down the front of her underwear.
In her short time with the company on the NTX roster, Asuka has become a top draw for the developmental brand, bringing a hard style rarely seen in women's wrestling in the states. She's definitely lived up to her hype from her years working in Japan, and quickly got the fans on her side since her first match on NXT. Currently the NXT Women's Champion, she may leave a little to be desired in terms of vocal skills (she's still learning English), but her personality has been more than enough to set her apart from the rest of the roster along her style that's so brutal fans chant, "Asuka's gonna kill you!" during her matches.
The first of the Four Horsewomen to make this list, Becky Lynch had just been called up to the main roster and was still working NXT shows when I posted the last list. Though she hasn't been a champion for WWE yet, its only a matter of time. Her look and personality lead to a lot of comparisons with WWE Hall of Famer Lita, but with the sense of humor of another Hall of Famer, Mick Foley. Of the Horsewomen, Lynch has unfortunately been on the losing end more than the rest, mainly for the fact that she's a tremendous performer and can make anyone she's in the ring with look fantastic. And we'll get more into it later, but her match at Wrestlemania 32 was more than enough to cement a place on this list.
Unfortunately, Mickie James just came into the WWE at the wrong time. She shined during the final days of the careers of both Trish Stratus and Lita, winning the Women’s Championship from both, and then was pretty much the only woman keeping the fires going into the age of the Diva, where model's pulled hair and slapped each other for a butterfly shaped belt. She had to make lesser performers look great in the ring while being bashed with on-air fat jokes. James could have done so much more for the division, possibly remaining with the company and ushering in the new stars of today, but she was kicked to the curb by management to make room for more models.
Since the first list, Paige seems to have been forgotten in the eyes of WWE management, being shifted over to a role on 'Total Divas', rather than a major contender for the newly reintroduced Women's Championship, a title she openly supported bringing back. Paige signed with the WWE at just 18, a journey that was chronicled by the documentary ‘The Wrestlers: Fighting with My Family’, and became the first woman to hold the NXT Women’s title. Paige’s popularity in the developmental league transcended to the main show, with a shocking debut on Raw the night after Wrestlemania 30. Though she's seen more on 'Total Divas' than 'Raw' or 'Smackdown', we can't forget the lasting legacy she's carved out in the short time she's been in the states and working for WWE, being the woman that helped bring about the revolution, in part by being the only woman to hold major women's titles of NXT and WWE at the same time.
Another Horsewoman to make the list, and the only one to not be called up to the main roster... yet. Bayley stayed behind on NXT while her friends were called up to the main roster and did more than enough to hold her own, making the Women's Title a major draw, if not the top draw, for the program. Her feud with fellow Horsewoman Sasha Banks resulted in two matches that many consider the best matches of year, with some calling them the best women's matches of all time. Their 30-minute Iron-Woman rematch at NXT Takeover: Respect marked the first time a Women's match headlined a major WWE event, and they truly earned that distinction. Her recent loss of the Women's Championship to Asuka only makes me hope a call up to the main roster is not far away.
Though she came out on the losing end of both of her show stealing championship matches with Bayley, Sasha comes out higher on this list for her recent work on the main roster. She played the perfect heel in her program with Bayley being able to get the crowd who cheered her out of appreciation to boo her with classic villainous tactics. Coming to the main roster, she, Becky Lynch, and Charlotte stole the show at Wrestlemania 32 in their triple threat match, with Sasha channeling her hero, Eddie Guerrero, not only in her attire but when she executed a perfect Frog Splash from the top rope.
While people credited women like Paige and Emma with jump-starting the Divas revolution, AJ Lee is definitely the person who breathed life into the dying division. A life-long wrestling fan, whose first encounter with her idol Lita was famously captured by WWE cameras, AJ didn’t want to be a WWE Diva, she wanted to be a WWE Superstar and it showed in her attitude in the ring and out. She demanded change in the division that had degraded to the usual bathroom break match at live shows. So frustrated with the state of women’s wrestling in the company, especially the focus on the cast of ‘Total Divas’ over actual wrestling, Lee cut a famous promo on the cast of the show that hit so close to home that several members of the cast of ‘Total Divas’ complained to management and the storyline was changed. Its such a shame that her time with the company had to be cut short and she's not able to reap the benefits of the rejuvenated division she's responsible for keeping alive.
Charlotte has shown on many occasions that she was the perfect woman to retire the Divas Championship at Wrestlemania and walk away with the reintroduced Women's Championship. Her gimmick may be that she's genetically superior to the rest of the women on the roster, but she makes you believe that she is. She never intended to be a wrestler and only did so to fulfill the dreams of her brother Reid after his passing. Since then she's proven herself to be not only a worthy successor to her father's legacy, the great Ric Flair, but she's making a name for herself as one of the greatest women to ever lace up a pair of boots and step in the ring. She makes everything look look amazing, like her photo-opportunity moonsault at Wrestlemania 32, to her own version of the leglock that is definitely better than her father's. And even though it wasn't the last match on the card at Wrestlemania, her triple-threat match with Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch was definitely the main event!
While regularly topping lists such as this, Trish was once again barely edged out in my book for the #1 spot. Trish Stratus succeeded where so many other women failed, appealing to what the company wanted in a Diva and what the fans wanted in a female wrestler. Trish took the in-ring portion more serious than other models before and since her, becoming a greatly accomplished wrestler, something that quickly surpassed her looks in the grand scheme of her career, eventually becoming only one of three women to ever main event Monday Night Raw. Though called the “Diva of the Decade” for the 2000s, the Hall of Famer is one of several past and present superstars who were openly critical of the term “Diva” and the company’s reliance on and marketing of the term.
Bottom line, women like Lita and Trish set the standard for what audiences demand in WWE's female wrestlers. In the time where fitness models were getting contracts before ever being trained, Lita packed up and moved to Mexico to be trained in pro wrestling by luchadores. Coming back to the states and spending time in ECW, Lita caught the attention of WWE and was brought in as the manager of another wrestler, quickly becoming the center of attention by performing the same aerial moves, which was completely unheard of at the time. Breaking out as a female wrestler, Lita became one of the top draws in the company, being the standout Diva in terms of wrestling ability and look. Much like her best friend Trish, Lita was the total package for the WWE, being a beautiful woman who looked good in a bikini like the company wanted, and being one hell of a wrestler in the ring like the fans wanted. In the history of Monday Night Raw, there have only been two times that a women’s match main evented the show, and both times Lita was in the match, once against Stephanie McMahon and once against Trish Stratus, which speaks volumes for Lita’s importance as a female wrestler.