Every year, Pro Wrestling Illustrated ranks the top men and women wrestlers in the world. Traditionally, PWI releases the top women in their list “Female Top 50”. This year, with the women’s revolution in full effect and gaining momentum, the writers at PWI decided to turn the PWI Female Top 50 into a PWI Women’s 100.
There’s already been some controversy with the release of the top contenders, so PWI wants to be clear on the evaluation standards:
FYI: The evaluation period for the “Women’s 100” is October 1, 2017-September 30, 2018. Feel free to offer your views, but do keep that in mind when you do. #ss.
— PWI (@OfficialPWI) November 1, 2018
It’s also important to note that the list is ranked using kayfabe factors, with win and losses as the primary factor. Also used to rank wrestlers are in-ring abilities, promo skills, and drawing power, as well as other attributes.
LuFisto and Natalya stand as the only women who have been on every PWI women’s list since the original list debuted in 2008. This year’s top ten, though, has some new faces. Let’s see who made top of the class for 2018.
Fans seem split on the decision of the magazine to list Ronda as their number one female wrestler in the world, since it’s Ronda’s first year on the list, and her first year in wrestling.
PWI‘s Senior Writer Dan Murphy made his decision crystal clear, though, when discussing the list during a taping of The PWI Podcast.
“Ronda’s success in such a short period of time is absolutely unprecedented,” Murphy said of the number one choice. “She has become one of the biggest stars in WWE, male or female, and is setting a new standard for excellence in the women’s division. When it comes to our ranking criteria of championships won, quality of opposition, technical proficiency, won-loss record, and promotional ‘push,’ she is unmatched. Ronda was an easy pick as number one.”
“Rowdy” Ronda Rousey, who got her nickname from the late professional wrestler Roddy Piper, started making strides for women at an early age. She started her career as the first American woman to earn an Olympic medal in Judo, where she received the bronze medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
In 2010, Rousey began her career in mixed martial arts, working with King of the Cage, acting as Strikeforce’s last-ever Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion, then finally joining the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2012. In the UFC, she completed a two-and-a-half-year undefeated streak, becoming the first female champion in the promotion’s history. She served as the longest-reigning UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion, and the first female fighter to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. There she became known for her first-round knockouts and armbar submission hold, which she would use in WWE, later.
She debuted for WWE at WrestleMania 34, in 2018. Rousey won the Raw Women’s Championship in just her fourth career match, at SummerSlam 2018, against Alexa Bliss. Rousey has had only 10 televised matches for WWE, with a perfect 10-0 record.
Though plenty of fans are outraged at the choice, Rousey has been involved heavily in the polarizing female MMA industry, broken down barriers for women in combat sports, and is easily one of the highest-pay-per-view draws in the world. FOX Sports named her as one of the defining athletes of the century.
WWE win record percentage: 100
Alexa stands as one of the best heel characters in WWE, serving as an active roster member of Raw.
Bliss debuted on SmackDown Live in 2016, where she quickly became the SmackDown Women’s Champion, and later as the first competitor to hold the title twice. Bliss was drafted to Raw in April 2017. There, again, she quickly snagged a title reign, becoming the Raw Women’s Champion within a month.
Bliss is a five-time champion, and the first woman to have both the Raw and SmackDown Women’s Championships in WWE. In Feb. 2018, she was the winner of the first-ever women’s Elimination Chamber match, and the winner of the 2018 Money In The Bank ladder match, which she cashed-in that night to become the Raw Women’s Champion for her third time.
WWE win record percentage: 33.33
Charlotte is a second-generation wrestler, debuting in NXT in 2012.
In NXT, Flair won the NXT Women’s Championship in 2014, and was named Rookie of the Year that same year by PWI.
Charlotte was instrumental in the women’s revolution, being called-up to WWE in 2015. There, she quickly grabbed the Divas Championship, and later the inaugural Women’s Championship in 2016.
Charlotte has a number of “firsts” for women: with Sasha Banks, they’re the first women to headline a WWE pay-per-view (Oct. 2016 Hell in a Cell), first to main-event Raw in a singles match since 2004, first to win the PWI award for Feud of the Year, and took part in the longest WWE women’s one-on-one match at Roadblock: End of the Line in Dec. 2016, clocking in at over 34 minutes.
PWI readers named her Woman of the Year and World’s Top Female Pro Wrestler for 2016. She’s an outstanding eight-time champion, holding the NXT Women’s title once, the final Divas title, the first and four overall Raw Women’s titles, and the SmackDown title twice. She’s the first and only wrestler to hold all four titles, and is the longest-reigning SmackDown Women’s Champion in WWE history.
Fans are waiting to see what happens next in her feud with newly found enemy, Becky Lynch.
WWE win record percentage: 61.40
Io debuted in professional wrestling in 2007 at the young age of 17. From there, she garnished enough attention to land her at the World Wonder Ring Stardom promotion, where she flourished.
She holds a plethora of records, including: two Wonder of Stardom Championships, six Artist of Stardom Championships, two World of Stardom Championship, Goddess of Stardom, High Speed Championship, SWA World Championship, and is known as the “ace” of Stardom.
After resigning from Stardom in June 2018, and despite neck and heart problems concerning WWE, Io made her house show debut on June 30, 2018 at Ryogoku Kokugikan, where it was announced she would be added to NXT’s roster.
Io debuted with WWE at the Mae Young Classic 2018 Tournament, where she defeated Xia Brookside in the first round. She defeated Zeuxis in the second round, Deonna Purrazzo in the quarterfinals, Rhea Ripley in the semi-finals, before being eliminated by Toni Storm at Evolution.
Fans are excited to see what Io can bring to NXT’s women’s division.
WWE win record percentage: 80.0
Asuka started wrestling professionally in 2004 with the AtoZ promotion. She continued to work as a freelancer for various promotions, until she joined NXT in 2015.
There, she quickly became NXT Women’s Champion, holding the title for 510 days: the longest of any title in WWE’s post-national expansion era. She won the NXT award for Female Competitor of the Year in 2016 and 2017, as well as Overall Competitor of the Year in 2017.
Asuka joined WWE’s main rosters in Sept. 2017, where the company boasted that she had the “longest undefeated streak in WWE history at 914 days”. She became the inaugural winner of the Women’s Royal Rumble match in Jan. 2018, and won the Mixed Match Challenge’s first season with the Miz. In 2017, Asuka became the first Japanese wrestler to top PWI‘s annual PWI “Female 50” list.
Asuka is currently in search for that title reign, again, and acts as a freelance graphic designer and video game journalist, on the side.
WWE win record percentage: 88.14
Rounding out the rest of the Top 10:
8) Nia Jax
9) Mayu Iwatani
10) Kairi Sane
The digital version of PWI‘s Women’s 100 can be downloaded at www.PWI-online.com.
Do you agree with the top ten? What are your predictions for the rest of the 100?