PWI’s Top 50 Females revealed
Pro Wrestling Illustrated published its annual Female 50 edition, and has released its official list of the top 50 Female Wrestlers of 2015.
The list, began in 2008, ranks active pro wrestlers based on a criteria that includes win-loss record, championships won, quality of competition, major feuds, prominence within a wrestler’s individual promotion(s), and overall wrestling ability.
Last year, the coveted #1 spot was held by Paige. Having successfully made her transition from NXT to WWE’s main roster in dramatic fashion by capturing the WWE Diva’s Championship while still holding the NXT Women’s Championship, she also became the youngest champion ever.
However, faced with stiff competition from emerging and established talent this year, the second generation UK-born star dropped to #2.
Sasha Banks boasted a stand-out year, participating in numerous critically-acclaimed matches, holding the NXT Women’s Championship for the first half of the year, and making a the leap to WWE’s main roster. Previously unranked by PWI, she debuted at #3 on 2015’s list.
Representing wrestling’s independent scene, Santana Garrett moved from #15 to #4, in part because of her prolific accomplishments in a diverse number of promotions. Currently, she holds fifteen championship titles, including the NWA Women’s Championship, the Shine Championship, and the USWA Championship.
Gail Kim drew top spot among TNA’s Knockouts along with Santana, landing spot #5. Injury, time off from competition, and losing her Knockouts Championship caused her to fall slightly, two spots down from 2014.
Aside from Sasha Banks, the most improved of the top women’s athletes and to some the largest shock of all was Nikki Bella, who jumped from #24 in 2014 to the top of list.
Some argue that Bella is not the best female wrestler in the world and does not deserve the honour of #1.
Wrestlezone.com used provocative language to describe her accomplishment, publishing an article using the headline “Controversial WWE Diva Tops PWI’s Female 50 List for 2015”.
Certainly, Hulk Hogan was never considered the best technical wrestler of his or any generation, but that didn’t stop him from being named #1 wrestler by PWI in 1991 above other stars such as Ric Flair, Sting, Randy Savage or Ricky Steamboat. However, his prominence on television and influence on the industry as figurehead of WWF at the time increased his standing.
Nikki Bella held the Diva’s Championship for a record-setting 300 days, which spanned most of 2015, which definitely raises her profile.
The year’s top Diva tweeted her appreciation and gratitude to Pro Wrestling Illustrated, saying:
“I truly feel as if I have won an Olympic gold medal! This achievement has made my past decade beyond worth it! I know they’ll be haters, but if they can’t see past the character that’s their problem. It’s just nice to be acknowledged for hard work and passion. I have battled every obstacle that’s been in my way and will continue that. WWE Universe perception was first. I’m a female wrestler, whether you like it or not.”
She went on to personally thank her sister Brie, Paige, and Charlotte. She dedicated the achievement to her coaches in Florida Championship Wrestling as well as the producers, her fellow competitors and the “Bella Army”.
Geno Mrosko of CagesideSeats.com suggested that Sasha Banks was “unhappy” with her ranking, citing a tweet from The Boss on November 4th. The tweet featured a meme, which stated:
“4 Match of the Year Candidates, 1st woman to main event a WWE special, 1st ever female Iron Man match in WWE history, Best Women’s Match in WWE history according to WWE.com … Number 2 in PWI Female 50
BUT THAT’S NONE OF MY BUSINESS.”
The sideways hostility expressed in the tweet and accompanying meme may be a genuine shoot, or it may only in the realm of kayfabe. Whether the message came from Sasha “The Boss” Banks, the character, or whether it came from Mercedes Kaestner-Varnado, the professional wrestler, is up for speculation. Such is the beauty of the sports entertainment industry.
On a local level (as far as The ‘Jobber is concerned), former ECCW Women’s Champion and former ECCW World Champion Nicole Matthews continues her presence on PWI’s list, improving her station from #30 in 2014 to #16.
Coming in at #45 is previously un-ranked Cat Power, who enjoyed a healthy stint as ECCW Women’s Champion this year, as well as making an impact in Japan’s Reina promotion.
Elsewhere, Lucha: Underground provided opportunities for otherwise unknown or largely unrecognized female talent. Sexy Star, an accomplished luchadora enmascarada, debuted on the list at #13, while Ivelisse debuted at #25.
The Top 50 Female edition of Pro Wrestling Illustrated is available online now.