This weekend we’ll be eagerly watching history being made as Sasha Banks defends the RAW Women’s Title against Charlotte in the first ever women’s Hell in a Cell match. Although, let’s not forget the women that have walked down this path before. Throughout the years, women have shown that they can take it to the next level in all sorts of stipulation matches and do just as well as the men. So, take a trip down memory lane with me as I list 10 must-see women’s stipulation matches!
If you want a match that sums up the Attitude Era, then this would probably be it. After Sable fled the (then called) WWF in 1999, the women’s division was lost and ‘puppies’ were still at the forefront. Luckily, the Attitude Era also meant a whole lot of chair shots, table smashing and cookie sheet busting – so what better way to get the women involved than to let Ivory defend her WWF Women’s Championship against Tori in the first ever women’s hardcore match?!
The match begins with Tori dunking Ivory’s head down the toilet and chucking a bunch of tampons at her. Ivory even mentioned that something broke in Tori’s mouth and had to get lodged out with tweezers! The match even features a cameo from Hall of Famer Jacqueline, whose shower gets interrupted in the brawl. The finish comes with Ivory smashing a friggin’ mirror over Tori’s head and then burning her in the back with an iron, oh Attitude Era I miss you a lot dear friend…
While we may not see matches like this again, this is a definite landmark in the ‘Diva history’ for how outrageous matches could be and the first taste at the WWF letting the women get hardcore.
Now, hear me out on this one before you start ranting in the comments about how this match doesn’t belong in this list. For a good decade or more, T&A gimmick stipulation matches went hand-in-hand with women’s wrestling – from gravy bowls to snowball fights, so it’s only fair that one should be included in this list. So what better one to include, than a match that featured the Original ‘Golden Four’ during the Invasion, which was arguably one of the biggest pro-wrestling angles of all time.
So it’s pretty obvious that this wasn’t a wrestling classic; Torrie and Stacy had little wrestling experience and Trish was still very green herself. However, what this match did have was 4 extremely popular women who were the women’s ‘cogs’ in the big Invasion picture. Lita was in the peak of her popularity, Trish was making her transition to a wrestler and the WCW ladies were drawing in a new audience with their WCW following and obvious t&a appeal. What lacked in wrestling skills, the girls made up for with character and popularity which is why these women were the faces of the division from 2000 to 2004.
Knowing that these 4 women never really shared the ring again altogether, also makes this one feel slightly more important!
If you’re a women’s wrestling fan, then this match should probably be etched in your memory. One of my favourite matches ever and one of the reasons why we call 2003 part of the ‘Golden Era’.
This match is arguably one of the reasons why Trish Stratus is sitting pretty in the Hall of Fame. Within the first minute of the match, Trish is choked with a kendo stick and thrown into the steps! It’s weird to think that literally 5 months before this, Trish was taking part in ‘that Jackie Gayda match’, but by this match she looked like a professional.
The beauty of this match is the character storytelling throughout. Without Victoria’s psycho gimmick, this would have been like any other hardcore match. She’s demented and hell bent on destroying Trish, which makes the crowd get behind her. Honestly, I feel that this should have closed out the show that night. Trish takes a sick bump to the outside, loses the match and just when you think it’s over… Jazz makes her return and sends a message to the Women’s Division. Ah, it sends chills (good chills) down my spine! I love this match and you should too!
While Sasha and Charlotte are first to battle in the Cell, Lita and Victoria were the first to enter the cage. Back when RAW Roulette was actually something exciting, the then-Women’s Champion Molly Holly spun the roulette wheel and her rival Lita was forced to have a Steel Cage match with the crazed Victoria.
The chants Lita receives as the cage lowers around her is amazing to watch! Fresh in an angle with RAW GM Eric Bischoff and breaking up with long-term on-screen boyfriend Matt Hardy, the crowd rally behind Lita throughout this match. Both her and Victoria fearlessly pelt each other right into the cage several times! Despite the match being a short match and having a weird ending interference, they both bumped like soldiers throughout and showed no fear being in the cage.
The biggest appeal with this match, aside from being inside a cage, is that it was completely unexpected. Social media tea spills? Not a thing in 2003. Fans were ecstatic to see the women given a new unique chance and they did an amazing job – a match that has definitely paved the way for this Sunday’s match.
Long before there was a Knockouts Title and before the term ‘Knockout’ was a thing, this match was a surprise treat. 2004 was a bleak period for women’s wrestling fans, with the ‘Diva cull’ halving the WWE roster and a slow introduction of un-trained Diva Search models taking centre stage. Luckily, TNA had this match rolled up their sleeves! Desire was making her return from a career threatening back injury, while Trinity had become TNA’s daredevil answer to Lita. Their feud saw both women attacking each other using chairs and batons, culminating in this stretcher match.
While this match wasn’t a solid classic and had a bit of lame end (due to the interference of Big Vito) it was still unexpected and exciting to see in a period where the women in TNA didn’t even have a division. It was also a surprisingly tight match, considering Desire had been out for 10 months previously and had only 2 years experience training in the ring. Being thrown around a ring when you’ve almost broken your back is something she should highly be commended for! No discredit to Trinity either though. You name it, she was thrown into it – the barricade, the stretcher, the entrance ramp – heck even missing a leg drop off the stage into a table.
If you want a technical masterpiece, then this match won’t be the one but it was definitely a match ahead of its time for TNA and for what would become the Knockouts division.
Long before NXT was a thing, WWE’s developmental ground was OVW. Barely anyone could watch it, there were no big lights or sell out crowds, it was nothing like the WWE’s current Performance Center. So who would have thought that in 2006, two unknown talents Beth Phoenix and Katie Lea Burchill would compete in the first ever women’s ladder match!
When the OVW ‘05 crop of Mickie James, Jillian and Melina had moved to the main roster, the women’s division had opened up for new faces including Beth, Katie Lea, Serena and ODB. Out of nowhere, a title was introduced and the coaches backstage let the women run with the ball.
To think that this match was probably going to be seen by a couple hundred people, yet both ladies went out there and killed it, showed how driven these two were. What’s strong about this match is how they make the ladder the strong focus – hitting each other with it, slamming each other on it, falling off of it – that’s what makes a good ladder match. When the ‘06 main roster was slowly hitting a dud, this match showed what the future was holding! It’s honestly such a shame that we never really got to see Katie Lea show off these skills on the main roster, but God bless Dailymotion so that we can see this match in all its glory!
I don’t know what the WWE have in store for Nia Jax, but she needs to sit and watch this clip right here. Kong and Kim, the traditional David VS Goliath tale for us women’s wrestling fans. This feud put the Knockouts on the map, heck I’d even say it helped to certify TNA’s justification for second TV hour back in 2007.
Kong was at the peak of her career and Gail was fresh after a few quiet years of just being a manager. We craved it and we got it! Pure amazing storytelling throughout, with Kong dominating Gail in every which way possible – the swing into the guardrail makes Nia’s ragdolling of Alicia Fox the other week look pathetic.
They’re both known for working stiff and boy did these women lay it into each other. The crowd build up throughout, until Gail uses that speed to get the ‘David’ victory after capitalising on Kong taking her temper out on the referees. Not only did this match mark Kong as a monster, but it certified Gail to the fighting Champion that she still is today as a well-deserved TNA Hall of Famer!
While the Knockouts division were on fire in 2008, the Divas were really struggling to keep up until the WWE dropped this surprise on us. A stipulation match in the ‘Divas’ era? Yes way!
After a completely horrible Bunnymania feud, seeing Melina turn face and take on Beth Phoenix was more than a breath of fresh air. Sure this feud did take attention away from Women’s Champion Mickie James at the time, but this definitely helped in making Melina one of the most popular women ever.
While the build up to this feud was very short and almost filler, the WWE gave these two women the chance and once again they didn’t disappoint. Up until this point, Beth was quite protected – she was the Glamazon and clear muscle of the division. Conversely, Melina had always been a catty scrappy heel and still wrestled like one, despite being a face for the first time in her career. Her flexibility helped to create some amazing spots, including the spine tingling finish with Beth basically curling Melina into a pretzel. Again, another match that the WWE weren’t ready for and only peeked at what these women could offer in that period.
Of course I’d include this match! This is probably the closest time that we ever got to seeing the ‘Divas’ era get hardcore and probably the last time we’ve seen it in recent years. Sure we had the Michelle/Beth ‘extreme makeover’ match, but even typing that stipulation alone makes me facepalm.
This was definitely a match that got me interested in quite a ‘bleh’ period for the women. The fact that the women were allowed to even touch a table in this PG-era made for exciting viewing. It is interesting to note, that the women actually don’t strike each other with the tables in this match.
It was always a treat to see Beth and Natalya in the ring together and while I hate to admit it, Laycool’s dynamic worked well in-ring too. The frequent teases, with Beth having Layla in a press slam position and McCool almost setting Nattie for a Faithbreaker off the turnbuckle amped up the crowd which was so rare during this period. The fact that these women got ‘told off’ for this match (according to Twitter) shows that it was a match ahead of its time and just makes me wonder what they could have done if they weren’t held back.
Now I won’t front, I’m not the biggest Lucha Underground viewer and it was actually the other members of the Diva-Dirt team who told me to include this match. But wow, boy if I left this match off the list, I would have looked stupid because this match was amazing. As a first time viewer, the fact that I was even invoked and managed to get into this match shows how good it was!
I know that LU tends to have a more ‘soap opera’ feel and this match was definitely boosted by the characters involved. You wanted to see Sexy Star get over her tormentors and the sheer brutality of the match took it to another level that we’ve not seen in the mainstream companies in a very long time. Let’s not forget to mention that awesome moment when Sexy Star screams “F*CK YOU MARIPOSA!” when she looks close to tapping.
An amazing match that a viewer of the main two companies would have missed – me being one of them! Sexy Star has stated this match “allowed [her] to make it clear what women’s wrestling is. A real female match is a match between to gladiators, two warriors who are ready for anything and who are willing to leave their blood splattered in the ring if it’s necessary”. This match definitely warmed it and is ultimately a perfect step as we once again see women being given the ball… Sunday will see if Charlotte and Sasha can run with it.
Do you feel like some of these matches would have been better if they took place now? Do you miss the occasional t&a match? Do you think Sasha and Charlotte will be able to put on another must-see match? Let me know in the comments below!