2018 was another standout year for women’s wrestling with many firsts in the WWE’s Evolution: NXT’s first 2-time women’s champion Shayna Bazler, NXT UK crowning its first ever women’s champion, WOH’s inaugural championship tournament and IMPACT resetting and refreshing its entire scene. The evolution has created a whole plethora of women to watch.
2019 looks to be a very interesting year in the world of wrestling, with thriving scenes in U.S., Germany, Japan and Australia, while the UK indie scene is facing a challenge from the launch of NXT UK. We take a look at 10 wrestlers on brink of stardom, and ones to look out for in 2019.
Toni Storm – Stalwart of the UK scene and absolute rock star, Storm went from strength to strength in 2018. Holding both the PROGRESS and wXw Women’s Championships, as well as defeating long-time nemesis Jinny, Japanese legend Meiko Satomura and Io Shirai en route to winning the Mae Young Classic 2018. Holding bags of charisma, overwhelming likability and impressive ring style, a bright and brilliant 2019 awaits. It’s no wonder NXT UK is firmly behind her.
Rhea Ripley – Due to her size and stature, she was instantly likened to Charlotte Flair; a comparison many would be proud of, but not Ripley, Ripley is better and badder. Her recent badass, take-no-prisoners attitude change has paid dividends by being placed firmly in the forefront of the NXT UK Women’s Division as its first ever Women’s Champion. Ripley is a standout star in a division full to the brim with standout stars. Her punk-rock look, cocky confidence and intimidating presence scream superstar, and in 2019, that’s exactly what she’s going to be.
Jordynne Grace – Her star-making appearance at All In was fantastic and really captured the magic the of night. Her awesome strength and powerlifting gains make her a standout attraction in the ring and strong positive role model out of it, and her strong Twitter and Instagram game make her a must follow. Recently signing with IMPACT has given her further opportunity to show the world just how good she is.
Tessa Blanchard – Already boasting a stellar 2018, Blanchard is riding high in IMPACT and showing everyone the diamond that she truly is. Solid promo skills and a natural-born heel, she is fierce and full of fight, and her lengthy title reign as Knockout’s Champion is fully justified and brought legitimacy after years TNA/GFW turmoil. Her match vs. Mercedes Martinez at RISE 10 was a must watch, and set the new record for the longest women’s singles match in the history of pro wrestling at 75 minutes long. As IMPACT seem to be fully behind her and independent women’s wrestling her matches with Grace, Rosemary, Valkeryie and the like in 2019 are going to be ace.
Lana Austin – Hailing from Manchester, England, Austin has been making waves on the UK and European indie scene for the last few years. Her feud against Bea Priestly in Defiant and against IMPACT’s Su Jung at WrestleCon 2018 have brought her infamy (in a good way), and she seems on the verge of breaking into the next level. Once she does, her sass, hardcore, rough-and-tough style and skill (her tilt-a-whirl stunner is a thing of beauty) will get her notoriety (again, in a good way) in 2019.
Bea Priestley – Representing New Zealand all over the planet, Bea is making a huge impact on the wrestling world. Boasting some of the most dangerous feet in the business, her merciless style really shows her monstrous side. Cocky, confident and totally unafraid of taking insane risks it is no wonder that she is a prominent fixture of World of Sport Wrestling and set Stardom on fire on her recent Japanese trip. Expect a whole lot more of Bea in 2019.
Penelope Ford – There were lots of amazing things at All In, but Ford stood out. Her interference during the Jenela vs. Page match was pure athleticism that wowed the crowd in a night full of wows. Penelope Ford is as highly athletic as she is hardcore. “The Bad Girl” Ford is no stranger to razzle-dazzle back-flips and barbed wire. The fact that she was trained by the Gulaks at the CZW Dojo should give you an idea on just how tough she is. Her high-flying, insane and thrilling style will no doubt of caught the eye of certain promoters and the promise of a new promotion. 2019 could (and should) be the year that she really shines.
Millie McKenzie – Only three years in and just 18 years old, 21st century badass “Suplex Millie” has been making a name for herself in the UK indie scene for her intense and impressive catalogue of suplexes and in-ring combat. Recently signed with NXT UK, the company will provide her with the launching pad she deserves to catapult into the limelight. Denying her age to get in her way, she commands the ring like a wrestler way beyond her years, and she’s held in the highest regard by trainers Travis Banks and WWE UK Champion Pete Dunne; 2019 might just be Milly’s year.
Killer Kelly – Another recent NXT UK signing, Kelly’s brutal kicks now airs to a wider audience. Her match vs. Satomura at the Mae Young Classic was a fantastic debut, and despite the loss, she showed just how tough she is. Debuting in 2016, Kelly really is as “real deal” as her matches in wXw, PROGRESS and Pro Wrestling: EVE prove. As soon she enters the arena, you just know it’s about to go down. As she enters 2019, there are no signs of her success letting up, one bit.
Kelly Klein – ROH/WOH alumni Klein is a striker and powerhouse with technical and submission styles all rolled into one. Klein reached the finals of the WOH’s inaugural championship tournament, losing to Sumie Sakai. Klein is a badass heel that would take any promotion by storm, and with IMPACT having a strong emphasis on women’s wrestling, she would make a perfect addition to their division and give her another platform upon which to thrive. Could 2019 be the year Kelly Klein gets the recognition she deserves?
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