Over the last 20 years, women’s wrestling has taken such a sharp turn and evolved in a way where women’s matches are no longer a 30 second segments and they are main-eventing pay-per-views, or having an entire pay-per-views dedicated to their craft.
Women in WWE (and in the world) are constantly over-looked compared to their male counterparts and aren’t given the same stage. With the Women’s Revolution and debates on who started it/when it officially started, you can’t deny that women’s wrestling has taken leaps and bounds in quality and quantity. I know there are plenty of great women’s bouts on the indie scene but given that my knowledge on the indie scene is as extensive as it is for WWE, this list is exclusive to WWE matches only. With that being said, here are my top 5 women’s matches in the last 20 years.
5. Victoria vs Trish Stratus – Hardcore Match for the WWF Womens Title (Survivor Series 2002)
Long before Sasha Banks and Charlotte fought inside Hell in a Cell, Stratus and Victoria beat the living crap out of each other in a hardcore match for the women’s championship. This match had an excellent storyline that led up the feud and to this match.
The match itself is not a technical masterpiece but you don’t always need it when having an incredible match. These two women, two gladiators, went to absolute war and this also was during a time where headshots with weapons were still allowed. Victoria emerged victorious, all the while sporting a noticeably bloody nose.
4. Trish Stratus vs Lita – WWE Womens Title (WWE Raw, Dec 6th, 2004)
I feel as if this match can’t not be on these lists. Stratus and Lita made history when they main-evented a Monday Night Raw in 2004. The history of these two will go down as one of the greatest rivalries in WWE history and they did not disappoint in this contest. It’s remembered for the monumental moment of being a women’s match in the main event, but also for Lita’s horrific suicide dive that made the live audience and viewers at home gasp and collectively cover their mouths with their hands. We all genuinely thought Lita may have broken her neck, and with a notable history with neck issues, there’s good reason to have believed something was wrong.
Miraculously, Lita recovered from the fall and ended up pinning Stratus after pulling off her patented moonsault. From the spill to the atmosphere of the crowd, this match was crucial with what came later to be an inspiration to the Women’s Revolution.
3. Becky Lynch vs Charlotte vs Sasha Banks vs Bayley – Fatal Four Way for the NXT Womens Title (NXT TakeOver: Rival)
This was a match that was filled with double-teams from both heels and babyfaces, near falls, and an electric crowd that filled the match with energy and excitement.
The four horsewomen in the months leading up to the pay-per-view had faced each other in single bouts, and there was a sense that the four would all come head to head sooner or later. The match was an excellent bout that saw Banks tie up Charlotte in the Bank Statement but ended in a surprising twist where Banks countered Charlotte’s attempt to break it up, pinning her and winning the title.
It was a nice change for what is sometimes a lazy, repetitive way of booking that WWE is synonymous with.
2. Asuka vs Ember Moon – NXT Women’s Title (NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 3)
Asuka vs. Ember Moon will go down as arguably one of the best women matches that I’ve had the privilege of watching. The match was a masterpiece from start to finish. The arc of the storyline, from Ember Moon quickly rising in the ranks to Asuka being on her absolute dominate run as Women’s Champion, it had all ingredients to be a masterpiece, and it delivered.
From superkicks, to submissions to Ember hitting the eclipse oh-so perfectly and for Asuka to shockingly kick out, the roar of the crowd was felt all throughout the night.
The match as well cemented two things:
1. Asuka was the Goldberg of her division. There was no one that could top her (although Ember Moon came close).
2. Ember Moon’s athletic ability was showcased for the world to see. Her display of pure athleticism, agility, quickness and stamina were all on full effect.
The end result wasn’t in Moon’s favour but if there was anyone that hadn’t given their respects to her and her craft, that night became the night to do so.
1. Sasha Banks vs Bayley – NXT Women’s Title (NXT Takeover: Brooklyn)
If there were ever a match that had a storybook ending, it would be this match. It was something derived out of a fairytale; full of triumph, sadness and an ending fit for a happily ever after.
Sasha Banks was THE top dog in NXT’s women’s division. No one could touch her, or so she thought. Bayley spent time as the babyface underdog, winning matches and climbing the ranks of the women’s division. When the two clashed at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn 1, the crowd knew they were in for something special.
The match itself had an aura about it that made it feel different from before. Weeks before the match, it was leaked about how Takeover: Brooklyn was going to be Banks’ last match in NXT before being called up. Brooklyn knew that Banks wasn’t staying, but there was a feeling that Banks could potentially win and bring the championship with her.
Regardless of what was felt from the crowd, the energy and electricity felt from the crowd was undeniable. The two women stole the show that night, and the particular pop of the ending two-moves from Bayley was something out of a movie. It was deafening. This underdog babyface, who has scratched and clawed her way to her position, finally takes seat in her throne at the top. Bayley and Banks both proved they could be a main-event star, as well as being a performer who was capable of stealing shows.
And with that, comes the end of our list. While yes it may seem short, you, the reader must remember that it’s only been a few short years that WWE has taken women’s wrestling seriously. The years of degrading segments, to matches being under one minute, to women wrestlers often overlooked as nothing more than arm candy. None of which is something I agree with but as far as women’s wrestling goes, it was never showcased the way it has been the last three, four years.