When people think professional wrestling, what do they usually envision? Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, D-Generation X, NWO? Attitude Era! Stone Cold! The Rock! Ask around about women’s wrestling, and you’ll either get head scratches, scoffs, or the growing number of people genuinely interested in the sport and art of wrestling entertainment.
To be fair, wrestling was male-dominated for decades. However, as soon as the decision was made to focus on women ATHLETES instead of models, the entire game changed. Below is the Top 7 list of my all-time favorite women’s wrestlers. Unfortunately, until recently, WWF/E had a bit of a monopoly on the mainstream wrestling market. That being said, for this list, you won’t be exposed to the phenomenal indie women wrestlers currently on the scene. Maybe that can be another article? Stay tuned! (in no particular order)
1. Jacqueline [Class of 2016 WWE Hall of Fame]: Jackie MF Moore! She started off being a 14-time USWA Women’s Champion (U.S. Wrestling Assoc.). With WCW, she proved to be multi-faceted with her body slamming managerial skills (woe to the enemies of Kevin Sullivan) then briefly had Harlem Heat as clients, as well. Marc Mero was her way back into the spotlight, when she rejoined WWF later that year and took the mainstream wrestling world by storm.
2. Chyna [Class of 2019 WWE Hall of Fame (DX)]: I originally included the 9th Wonder of the World in my honorable mentions, ONLY because I wasn’t an active wrestling fan at her peak. I went back into the archives and watched this pioneer of women’s wrestling utterly destroy the status quo; and it angered me, knowing where she ended up. WWE’s women’s division wouldn’t be what is today, if not for Chyna. If the McMahons barely want to acknowledge her existence, fine; I will always honor this warrior goddess.
3. Jazz: The first ever Black female wrestler I ever encountered. Jazz isn’t as popular as the rest of my list, but the importance of representation (for me) prompted me to include her. Jazz got her start in ECW and caught a break with WWF/E just a couple years later. She then went on to become 2-time WWE women’s champ and, further still, held the NWA World Women’s Championship for 900 days.
4. Trish Stratus: Trish MF Stratus. 7 championship titles (the record for 12 YEARS, til the Spawn of Flair broke it). Trish started as a fitness model, so EVERYONE kept her in the eye-candy box. She honed her craft, used her experience to get better, then proceeded to make history. Any mention of women’s wrestling pioneers, which doesn’t include Trish, is madness.
5. Beth Phoenix: The Glamazon is another really personal addition, because I remember the first time I saw her; the awe and wonder of how powerful she was, yet was still 100% woman. I’ve always been a tomboy, and I didn’t grow into my shape until my 20s. Seeing Beth was affirming that I could be beautiful and STILL kick the ass of anyone who dared tell me otherwise.
6. Asuka: is my favorite women’s wrestler of this generation of professional wrestling. The Empress of Tomorrow has a record of 250 straight wins, over the course of 914 days (about 2.5yrs). She’s the first Japanese women’s champ on WWE’s main roster in 24yrs (ridiculous). Asuka has won all 4 championships available to the women’s division (RAW, SD, NXT, Tag Team) and she STILL is the longest reigning NXT champion (523 days). The list actually goes on, but I got a deadline to meet.
7. Becky Lynch: THE MAN! Becky is another favorite of this newest generation of women’s wrestlers. She’s tough shit, talks smack, and isn’t afraid to go to war for what she wants. Unlike some of the other women’s champs, Becky is one of the few who will defend that title; as long as someone is present to challenge her for it. Keep in mind, the only reason her 399-day title reign came to an end, was due to her pregnancy. I’m confident she would’ve still had that title, if given the opportunity.
I cannot express ENOUGH how difficult it was to put this list together. There are so many honorable mentions I wish I could include. This newer generations of women fighters/wrestlers have so many who deserve all the attention and praise I can give. Women’s wrestling has come such a long way, and by the looks of what AEW is bringing to the table (Big Swole? Kris Statlander??), things will only get better and bloodier.