On April 7, 2019, the biggest wrestling event of the year was headlined by three women: Ronda Rousey, Becky Lynch, and Charlotte Flair. It was, in many ways, the culmination of the “women’s revolution” that unofficially began in July 2015 when Stephanie McMahon—acknowledging the “Give Divas A Chance” movement on social media—announced the start of a new era for women in WWE.
The three-minute “bathroom break” matches were gone. The “bra and panties” catfights of the Attitude Era were made relics of a bygone era. WWE was getting behind women as bona fide attractions and giving them the opportunity to take center stage … and ultimately the main event of WrestleMania.
But the so-called women’s revolution (or evolution, as it would become known) was really just WWE finally catching on with the times. In promotions like SHIMMER, STARDOM, and SHINE, women were already putting on incredible matches, showcasing athleticism over sex appeal. TNA’s Knockouts division was routinely drawing higher TV ratings that its men’s matches. In reality, the women’s movement in wrestling was under way long before WWE joined the party.
In 2008, in recognition of the rising popularity of women’s wrestling, PWI established the “Female 50.” Last year, we expanded it to the “Women’s 100,” and opened the ranking up to include international competitors instead of focusing exclusively on the U.S. and Canada as we had in years past.
The PWI “Women’s 100” is the most comprehensive evaluation of the state of women’s wrestling ever undertaken by a national publication.
Our rankings are based primarily on each wrestler’s performance from October 1, 2018, through September 30, 2019, though we do reference some events that occurred outside of that timeframe to provide historical context.
Like the “PWI 500,” this list is ranked based on the following criteria:
- CHAMPIONSHIPS WON
- QUALITY OF OPPOSITION
- TECHNICAL PROFICIENCY
- WON-LOSS RECORDS
- OVERALL ACTIVITY
- MOMENTUM/PROMOTIONAL “PUSH”
Becky Lynch was the easy choice as number one. Not only did she “The Man” come out of WrestleMania as “Becky Two Belts,” but she has been arguably WWE’s overall most popular (and successful) star over the past 12 months.
Ronda Rousey at number three might be considered a bit controversial, but Rousey has not officially retired, was sufficiently active during the evaluation period, and only had one controversial loss (at WrestleMania). There are many familiar names missing from the list, something we didn’t foresee happening when we doubled it size. That in and of itself should tell you something about the state of women’s wrestling as we finish off the decade.