March marks Women’s History Month and following this week’s celebration of International Women’s Day, Rushonrock pays homage to some of the women that have changed the face of WWE. From the Golden Age of wrestling, all the way through to the present day, women have made a huge impact on the landscape of the industry.
Recent years have seen WWE shine a spotlight on the in-ring ability of their female roster but their influence runs deeper and much longer than just the past few years. Join us as we list 10 of our favourite influential women in WWE history…
10 – Victoria
It’s well documented that the 90s and noughties weren’t exactly PG viewing. A big part of that was the “divas” division and mentality that WWE presented. The ‘Attitude Era’ may have been wildly popular with fans and fondly remembered but looking back in 2021 the treatment of women in those years was, frankly, embarrassing.
‘Bra & Panties’ or ‘Fulfil Your Fantasy’ matches catered to horny teenageers and college jocks. It wasn’t until the late noughties that women were consistently given a chance to showcase their in-ring abilities.
Victoria found herself awkwardly positioned in between that transition. Debuting as one of the Godfather’s ‘Hoes’, the two-time Women’s Champion quickly ascended to the top of the division.
Never quite gaining the same recognition as some of the division’s other trailblazers, Victoria remains an under-appreciated talent, whose formidable skills in the ring helped the company transition into taking women seriously in WWE.
One to watch – Victoria vs Trish Stratus – Women’s Championship Chicago Street Fight – Raw January 2003
9 – Charlotte Flair
When you are the daughter of one of the greatest in the industry, expectations can weigh so heavily on your shoulders that it would be easy to crumble under the pressure. But expectations have never seemed to faze Charlotte Flair.
Part of the influential ‘Four Horsewomen of NXT’, Charlotte was the first of the quartet to capture the then WWE Divas Championship. A true main-eventer, Charlotte has made the most of any opportunity that has come her way.
The only woman in history to capture all available championships (including the now defunct Divas title), Flair has proven multiple times to be not only a main-event player but the woman to turn to when the company is in a bind.
One to watch – Charlotte vs Asuka – Raw Women’s Championship – WrestleMania 34
8 – Beth Phoenix
One of the commentators of NXT on Wednesday nights, Beth Phoenix has also enjoyed a stellar career inside the ring. The first Hall of Fame entrant on this list, Phoenix proved not only a match for the women’s division, but the men too.
One of only a handful of women to have appeared in both the men and women’s Royal Rumbles, the ‘Glamazon’ captured four titles in her career. One of the strongest to grace the division, Phoenix showcased her resilience in the Royal Rumble 2020 match.
Suffering a nasty cut to the head early in the match, she lasted just under 30 minutes in a true showing of her strength and grit. In recent months, Beth has proved just as capable on the mic, providing commentary for NXT, as well as mentoring the Superstars of tomorrow.
One to watch – Beth Phoenix vs Michelle McCool – Women’s Championship Match – Extreme Rules 2010
7 – Trish Stratus
Ask pretty much any woman on the WWE roster today who their influences are and the name Trish Stratus will feature prominently. In some ways Stratus is the perfect example of WWE’s transition from degrading to inspirational.
Starting out as a stereotypical valet/manager for tag-team T & A, Trish became the on-screen love interest of owner Vince McMahon. Few fans could have predicted the journey from swimsuit model photoshoots to record-holding seven-time women’s champion.
Alongside long-time rival and friend Lita, the pair are credited as changing the game after participating in the first women’s match to headline Monday Night Raw in its long history.
To this day Trish is listed as most women’s dream match despite announcing her semi-retirement in 2006.
One to watch – Trish Stratus vs Lita – Women’s Championship Match – Unforgiven 2006
6 – Miss Elizabeth
Fans of wrestling in the 80s will fondly remember the classy and glamorous Miss Elizabeth as the manager and love of Macho Man Randy Savage. Every other entrant on this list has successfully captured a championship of their own, but Miss Elizabeth remained strictly on the outside of the ropes.
The perfect serene foil for the lunacy and larger than life personality of Savage, Miss Elizabeth will go down in history as not only one of the best women to manage a WWE Superstar, but one of the most memorable managers of all time.
Helping Savage capture multiple championships, one of their pair’s defining moments occurred at WrestleMania 7. Having gone their separate ways, Savage lost a retirement match to The Ultimate Warrior. His new manager, Queen Sherri, began berating and physically assaulting the Macho Man until a spectating Miss Elizabeth could take no more, chasing off Sherri.
In a show of how much Elizabeth meant to the WWE Universe, the camera focuses on multiple members of the audience visibly weeping, as Randy Savage lifts her onto one of his shoulders and into the pair’s iconic pose. Beautiful.
One to watch – Randy Savage vs Ultimate Warrior – Retirement Match – WrestleMania VII
5 – Alexa Bliss
In the current WWE locker room, most Superstars have enjoyed at least some success or time in NXT or on the independent scene. From Sasha Banks to Bayley, Asuka to Shayna Bazsler. It’s almost a rite of passage to “earn” your way to Raw or SmackDown.
Alexa Bliss, however, did things her way. Featuring as the manager of Blake & Murphy and a handful of sporadic appearances on the black and gold brand, few could have predicted the level of success Bliss would enjoy after her move from NXT.
Billed as 5 foot 1”, Bliss is a multiple time Raw, SmackDown and Women’s Tag Team Champion. Throw in matches at WrestleMania, a Money In The Bank win and her own WWE talk show, Bliss has made waves inside and outside the ring.
Outside of wrestling, Alexa has repeatedly spoken about her own battles with eating disorders throughout her life, inspiring countless fans to speak out about their experiences too.
Such is her popularity, Bowling For Soup even penned and named a song after Little Miss Bliss, complete with a Weird Science-style music video.
One to watch – Raw Women’s Championship Elimination Chamber Match – Elimination Chamber 2018
4 – Chyna
Before Beth Phoenix wowed the WWE Universe with her impressive strength and going toe to toe with her male counterparts, there was another unafraid to mix it up with the men.
Heralded as the ‘Ninth Wonder Of The World’, Chyna, evolved from D-Generation X to fully fledged singles competitor. A two-time Intercontinental Champion (and only female holder), WWE Women’s Champion and Hall Of Fame entrant (with DX), Chyna’s work is not only revered, but fondly remembered as one of the early embers for the Women’s revolution.
Chyna worked with and against some of the industry’s biggest names such as Triple H, Eddie Guerrero, The Rock and Shawn Michaels, never looking out of place while doing so.
Tragically passing away in 2016 at the age of 46, fans continue to remember the legacy Chyna created for those that followed as well as a hugely successful career.
One to watch – Chyna vs Lita – Women’s Championship Match – Judgement Day 2001
3 – Lita
Bursting on to the WWE scene as a valet for (the less well remembered) Essa Rios, fans instantly knew Lita had something different about her. Flaming red hair, huge tattoo and a high-flying attitude gave the women’s roster a new dimension.
Joining the ever-popular Hardy Boyz to form Team Extreme, Lita quickly became a firm fan favourite. Career-threatening injuries could easily have derailed her climb to the top of the women’s division, perhaps in part due to her trademark gravity defying hurricanranas and devil-may-care wrestling style.
December 6th 2004, would see Lita help change women’s wrestling forever. Capturing the Women’s Championship from long-time rival, Trish Stratus, the pair became the first women to have a main event match on Monday Night Raw in its illustrious history.
A risqué relationship with Edge saw Lita add a different dimension to her on screen persona before retiring from in ring action in 2006. Lita would take her place in the WWE Hall Of Fame in 2014 and similarly to Stratus, is considered an inspiration to many of today’s roster.
Quite possibly the most risk-taking female to ever step foot in a WWE ring, any number of her matches can be considered classics.
One to watch – Lita vs Trish Stratus – Women’s Championship Match – Raw December 2004
2 – Stephanie McMahon
Bound to ruffle more than a few feathers, Stephanie McMahon, has undeniably contributed a huge amount to women’s wrestling in WWE. Daughter of chairman and owner Vince McMahon, Stephanie’s evolution from the spoilt ‘Billionaire Princess’ to WWE’s Chief Brand Officer has played out for the entire world to see.
From a merchandise model, to leading the creative team. A Women’s Champion to General Manager. Stephanie has experience at just about every level of the world’s leading sports entertainment company.
Reviled in the ring, respected as a businesswoman, Stephanie has proven time and time again that she can do it all. One of her crowning achievements is her involvement in the company’s women’s revolution.
They say behind every man is a strong woman and the real-life marriage between Stephanie and Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque, certainly gives evidence to that particular adage. One of the driving forces behind Triple H’s ascent to WWE legend, McMahon might not be every wrestling fans favourite, but her influence at every level of the company cannot be denied.
One to watch – Stephanie McMahon announces WWE Evolution (WWE’s first all woman’s PPV)
1 – Becky Lynch
In 2018, Becky Lynch shed her perennial good girl persona for a no-nonsense badass and the women’s division was never as relevant or popular since WWE’s inception. Tapping into the WWE Universe in a way only Stone Cold Steve Austin seemed capable of, Lynch sparked one of the hottest stories in WWE throughout 2018/19.
Riding a wave of popularity, Lynch was arguably the biggest reason why women, not men, main-evented WrestleMania for the first time in history. Facing Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey in a triple-threat match, the Irish ‘Lasskicker’ upset the odds to claim both the Raw & SmackDown Women’s Championships.
A seasoned professional in the ring, Becky Lynch holds the title of first ever SmackDown Women’s Champion, as well as the longest reign as Raw Women’s Champion amongst her accolades.
In May 2020, Becky Lynch announced she was pregnant before giving birth later that year. Arguably the women’s division has not been the same since her departure and fans already seem eager for ‘The Man’ to return to the ring as soon as possible.
Few women will ever be able to claim the success or universal popularity that Becky Lynch has enjoyed even if she were to never step foot in a wrestling ring again. Ever the pioneer, it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that Lynch will return to lead the women’s revolution once again.
One to watch – Becky Lynch vs Charlotte vs Ronda Rousey – Raw & SmackDown Women’s Championship Match – WrestleMania 35