Following a vibrant discussion in the comments section during last Monday’s Raw, community-member Captain Charisma suggested an article selecting the top five women’s wrestlers. However, since it’s Royal Rumble week, we’ll follow that theme. What if we could book a Royal Rumble featuring only the best wrestlers of all time? One for the men, and one for the women, who would make the cut? For the purposes of this exercise, consider everyone ‘in their prime’, so age and activity are not relevant here.
Bare in mind, there are few subjects in the world more subjective than professional wrestling. Whilst some love the oratory skills of Paul Heyman and could listen to him all night, others hear the sound of nails on a chalkboard. The point is, even using objective criteria, such as career impact, championship reigns and landmark moments, etc., there will be some who feel someone should have made the list who didn’t, and someone who made the list who shouldn’t be allowed near a ring. That’s what the comments section is for – please register any and all disputes and objections, along with inclusions you’d agree with, below.
Also of note, this isn’t a ranking from 30 to 1. The ladies are grouped in 10’s, with each in their respective grouping considered as great as the others. Even between groups, it would be easy to slide people up and down the list. This is by no means definitive, but it’s pretty solid. If you don’t feel like reading the paragraph on each participant, head to the end, where the whole list is summed up quickly at the bottom – including the 10 women on standby. With all the explanation out of the way, let’s get to the participants!
The First 10
Chyna – The Ninth Wonder of the World was a founding member of Degeneration X, and was the first female in WWF to be cast in the role of an enforcer for a stable. Chyna is still the only woman to ever be named number-one contender for the men’s World title. She’s the only woman to win the Intercontinental championship, which she managed twice. She was also the first female to enter the Royal Rumble, and the first to enter King of the Ring. There’s no question that Chyna belongs in the WWE Hall of Fame for her wrestling accolades; will they ever be able to overlook her life after the squared circle?
AJ Lee – Lee shares the record for most WWE Diva’s Championships (three) with Eve Torres, but stands alone with the record for overall days as champion at 406. Trained by Jay Lethal, Lee only wrestled with WWE from 2009 to 2015, but was a relatively big star in the company before she walked away.
Paige – Paige was just 13 years old when she made her in-ring debut in England for her family’s World Association of Wrestling promotion. She won several titles on the European independent circuit before signing with WWE in 2011, eventually becoming the inaugural NXT Women’s Champion in 2012. In 2014, she won the WWE Diva’s title from AJ Lee in her debut main roster match. She was the youngest to wear the belt at 21, and was still the NXT champ at the time. Paige went on to win the Diva’s championship one more time before injury forced her retirement.
Lita – Amy Dumas worked on the independent scene in Mexico and the US before she got her first big break with ECW. She started with WWE in 1999, and became one of their most exciting in-ring talents until she retired in 2006. A four-time WWE Women’s Champion, Lita was inducted into the HOF in 2014.
Meiko Satomura – Debuting with Gaea Japan, Satomura was one half of the first AAAW Tag Team Champions with Sonoko Kato, a title she would hold two more times in her career. She won the AAAW Singles Championship two times before Gaea closed. In 1996, she debuted in WCW as part of the tournament to crown their first Women’s Champion. Satomura was knocked out by eventual winner Akira Hokuto. Back in Japan, after the finish of Gaea, Satomura formed the Sendai Girls’ Pro Wrestling promotion with Jinsei Shinzaki. In 2009, along with Kaoru and Tomoko Kuzumi, Satomura won the Splash J & Running G tournament. In 2012, she debuted in Chikara, winning their King of Trios tournament with Cassandra Miyagi and Dash Chisako. Satomura was part of the second Mae Young Classic, losing in the semifinals to Toni Storm.
Mayu Iwatani – Since debuting with World Wonder Ring Stardom in 2011, Iwatani has been the World Stardom Champion, two-time Wonder of Stardom Champion, the High Speed Champion, the Goddess of Stardom Champion and a four-time Artist of Stardom Champion. She also won the 2015 and 2016 Cinderella Tournaments. She is the last remaining member of Stardom from their original roster. She was the first wrestler to hold both the World and Wonder of Stardom Championships at the same time, defending both straps in separate title matches. She was part of Ring of Honour’s tournament to decide their first Woman of Honour Champion, losing to Kelly Klein in the semifinals.
Tessa Blanchard – A third-generation star, Tessa is the daughter of Four Horsemen soldier Tully Blanchard. She currently works for Impact Wrestling, The Crash Lucha Libre in Mexico, as well as various indy promotions. She was eliminated from the first Mae Young Classic by Kairi Sane. She’s currently enjoying her first reign as Crash Women’s Champion, and also currently holds several independent titles. She’s a one-time former Impact Knockouts Champion, one-time Shimmer Tag Team Champion, and one-time Phoenix of Rise Champion.
Arisa Nakajima – Nakajima first joined JWP Joshi Puroresu in 2006, winning the JWP Junior title twice, as well the Princess of Pro-Wrestling Championship. She retired from the sport in 2009, but returned to JWP in 2012 and eventually won a record four JWP Openweight Championships. She also claimed the JWP Tag Team and Daily Sports Women’s Tag Team titles twice before leaving the promotion in 2016. She currently works for the Seadlinnng promotion.
Natalya Neidhart – The world’s first third-generation female wrestling star, Neidhart is a member of the legendary Hart clan, daughter of tag team superstar Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart. She was the first female student at the infamous Hart Dungeon. She won the inaugural Stampede Women’s Pacific Championship in 2005 (a title she ended up holding twice), and in 2006 she won the Big Time Wrestling/NWA SuperGirls Championship. She claimed the WWE Diva’s Championship from Michelle McCool at Survivor Series in 2010. She won her first, and only, SmackDown Women’s Championship at SummerSlam 2017.