The 10 Best Women's Matches in WWE History
While today is a landmark moment for the women of WWE, with Evolution--the first ever all-women's PPV at WWE--kicking off today, the sports entertainment company has had a plethora of memorable, fantastic matches throughout its history. Ranking these matches across multiple eras is difficult because the standards for evaluating those wrestling matches change. The physical demands of modern matches are extreme; yesterday's finisher is today's transition move. Superstars kick out of everything these days, and that makes older matches--which might have ended with a bearhug, or a diving crossbody, or a sleeper hold--seem quaint in comparison to newer matches.
And for the WWE women's division, which has evolved so quickly in such a short period of time, the problem of comparing old to new becomes further magnified. How does one evaluate the greatest WWE women's matches of all time, when the biggest jump in quality has occurred in just the past five years?
To create this list, we tried our best to be contextual and pay respects to history instead of purely counting the number of moves per minute. A match that was great at the time of its performance should still be considered great today; it was a necessary step in the evolution to today's high expectations.
Here are the the top 10 women's matches in WWE history. If you liked this gallery, take a look at our ranking of every active woman on the WWE roster. And be sure to come back to GameSpot on Sunday, October 28 for WWE Evolution, the first all-women WWE pay-per-view. We'll be providing live coverage throughout the show.
10. Alundra Blayze vs. Bull Nakano
Event: Summerslam (1994)
It's a classic David vs. Goliath matchup--the American underdog versus the foreign monster heel. Nakano dominates the majority of the match before missing a top rope leg drop. Blayze then hits a bridging German suplex (a singularly impressive feat of strength) to retain the title. This match told a simple, direct story and told it well.
Women's wrestling in WWE was comparatively rare at the time; there was no full-time, comprehensive division like there is today. And to these two women's credit, they made their moment count.
9. Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks
Event: Monday Night Raw (November 28, 2016)
Over a six-month period, starting in July 2016, the Raw Women's Championship changed hands six times, between Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks. This match was the best of the entire feud--a "falls count anywhere" match that ended up in the audience, with Sasha wrapping Charlotte around the railing in a Bank Statement to earn the win.
The Bo$$ was champion, and Ric Flair came out to the ring (his daughter Charlotte was a heel at the time) to help Sasha celebrate.
8. Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James
Event: WrestleMania 22 (2006)
This match was a long time coming. For months, Mickie James had followed Trish Stratus around like an overly-enthusiastic puppy dog, eager for her approval. But Mickie became obsessed, and her actions took on an increasingly creepy, stalkerish vibe. It led to this match at Wrestlemania 22, where Mickie defeated Trish to become WWE Women's Champion.
The best part of the match is the bizarro double turn, when the crowd started cheering for Mickie instead of Trish. Commentator Jim Ross, struggling to make sense of it all, hilariously insulted the crowd by speculating that they might identify with Mickie's psychotic fandom.
7. Paige vs. Emma
Event: NXT Arrival (2014)
Wrestlers from different eras prioritized different elements of their craft. In the '80s, for example, it was considered poor form to move too smoothly, because that made the match look rehearsed and scripted. But now that everyone knows wrestling is predetermined, this matters less--smooth movement can be a positive under the right circumstance.
But part of the appeal of this NXT Arrival match, between Paige and Emma, is its rough edges. It actually looks and feels like a contested fight, rather than the slickly produced, ready-for-primetime sports entertainment we're accustomed to. Whether that was intentional or not is another question. But the lack of polish enhances this match and magnifies the stakes.
6. Trish Stratus vs. Lita
Event: Monday Night Raw (December 6, 2004)
The two most popular women of their generation squared off in the main event of Raw for the WWE Women's Championship. Trish was the villain; she wore a mask because at the time, she claimed that Lita had broken her nose (she didn't). It ended with a victory for Lita; she hit a high-arcing moonsault to seal up the win.
The entire match is only ten minutes long; you can see Lita and Trish hurrying things along, especially near the end. But that also gave the entire contest an adrenaline-fueled urgency.
5. Women’s Royal Rumble
Event: Royal Rumble (2018)
The first women's Royal Rumble main evented the 2018 Royal Rumble pay-per-view. And as far as firsts go, this was a phenomenal celebration of past and present. WWE managed to bring back Trish Stratus, Lita, Vickie Guerrero, Torrie Wilson, and Molly Holly; all they had to do was bring back Rockin' Robin or Wendi Richter to have every era covered).
Every wrestler got the chance to pull off her signature moves; WWE even booked a brief showdown between Trish and Mickie James. But most importantly, the right woman won; Asuka eliminated Nikki Bella to become the inaugural women's Rumble winner, and she challenged Charlotte for the Smackdown Women's Championship at Wrestlemania 34.
4. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks
Event: NXT Takeover: Unstoppable (2015)
Sasha Banks has been a babyface for so long, that it's hard to remember how good she was as an out-and-out villain. This match is heel Sasha at her peak: smirking, preening, and bending Becky's arm back, just because she can, and just to take pleasure in her pain.
Though Becky put up one hell of a fight, Sasha won this match with the Bank Statement. She would eventually lose the NXT Women's Championship later that year at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn, in a now classic confrontation against Bayley. More on that later.
3. Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka
Event: WrestleMania 33 (2018)
Ideally, a title fight is between the two strongest wrestlers on the roster. That isn't always the case, of course, but at Wrestlemania 34, the fans got what they wanted--a dream match between Charlotte Flair and Asuka. It was a meeting of American fundamentals and Japanese strong style. And at the time, Asuka was undefeated, with a longer win streak than Bill Goldberg.
Charlotte submitted Asuka by locking in the Figure 8, and she did it by bridging on one arm. Were it not for the mixed tag match between Kurt Angle, Ronda Rousey, Triple H, and Stephanie McMahon, this would have been the match of the night.
2. Asuka vs. Ember Moon
Event: NXT Takeover: Brooklyn III (2017)
The best aspect of this match was its physicality. Asuka and Ember Moon were striking and slamming each other for real, and it showed; Asuka got a broken collarbone for her efforts. Ember Moon looked every bit the champion that Asuka did--so much so, that she should have won. Considering that Asuka was moving up to the main roster anyway, it would have been perfect timing.
But Asuka cinched in the Asuka Lock, and Ember tapped out. The match itself was impeccable--both hard-fought and hard-hitting. Plus, Asuka managed to kick out of the Eclipse, which no one had done before.
1. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley
Event: NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn (2015)
This is the greatest women's match in WWE history. And it's the best by a considerable margin; it's going to take something truly special to dethrone it.
Context is everything; at the time, Bayley was widely considered to be the weakest member of the Four Horsewomen. That was solidified further when Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks were all called up to the main roster at the same time, leaving Bayley behind in NXT.
To earn this title shot against Sasha Banks at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn, Bayley beat Emma, Charlotte, and Becky, establishing herself as the No. 1 contender. And even then, she was considered an underdog heading into the match.
Sasha was all swagger that night; she entered the arena in an Escalade, flanked by four bodyguards. And the match itself was a perfect mix of brawling and ring work. In one of the best spots of the night, Sasha stomped on Bayley's fingers to prevent her from reaching the ropes. But Bayley had the bigger heart, and she performed a reverse frankensteiner followed by a Bayley-to-belly suplex to win the title.
All Four Horsewomen broke character and celebrated their success in the ring together. This was women's wrestling.