Brian Damage, John Carbery and Benjamin Trecroci
The women’s revolution in the WWE has thrust female wrestlers into the spotlight after a period of time where the focus had been more on appearance than in-ring work. In today’s Top Five, though, we take a look back in wrestling history and list our favourite female wrestlers.
5. Sherri Martel: ‘Sensational’ Sherri was not only a great grappler in the ring…but extremely charismatic outside of it. Sherri was also tough as nails and could adapt to different styles of wrestling. Many will just remember her time in the WWF and WCW as a manager/valet, but Sherri had a great in-ring career as well.
4. Madusa Miceli: Madusa, in my opinion, would probably rank #1 on all female wrestlers that competed here in the States, and a big reason why is Madusa could wrestle any style thrown her way. She was also a champion in every promotion she ever wrestled in whether it was WCW, WWF, AWA etc. Madusa was also a trailblazer for her time. Not only by throwing the WWF women’s title in the trash, but also by introducing Japanese strong style to the states.
3. Akira Hokuto: My top three selections are all from Japan and it isn’t me trying to be smarkish but if you really watch these women compete, you will almost certainly agree with me. Hokuto had a great look and an even better wrestling repertoire.
2. Bull Nakano: Bull also had a great look, was extremely charismatic and could wrestle with both power and finesse. Bull Nakano was another wrestler who won championships practically everywhere she wrestled.
1. Manami Toyota: Perhaps not many people know of Toyota as they do say Bull Nakano or Madusa…but Manami Toyota was easily the greatest technical wrestler of all time. Every match I have ever seen Toyota have could easily be ranked as one of the greatest women’s matches you will ever see.In my book, Toyota is the greatest female wrestler of all time and simply one of the greatest wrestlers of all time…period!
5. Miss Madness (Molly Holly): I’ve decided to go with personal favourites here, while I’m sure some would balk at including the woman better known as Molly Holly on a top five list that doesn’t even include Manami Toyota, those folk are welcome to make their own list and put the great Toyota at the top of it. She deserves the spot. In 1999, though, a young woman appeared in Macho Man Randy Savage’s entourage called Miss Madness. It took a few weeks before she’d actually wrestle, WCW didn’t even have a women’s belt at the time. With her voluminous blonde hair, ball gown and bare feet she was visually striking and when the bell rang she could really go. I’d never seen the erstwhile Ms Greenwald reach the same level of quality in her WWE matches but I’ll always have fond memories of Miss Madness in WCW.
4. Ranmaru: One of the fastest flyers I’ve ever seen, with one of the oddest masks too, Ranmaru impressed me from the moment I first saw her wrestle. Like a female progenitor to the likes of the Young Bucks and Will Ospreay, Ranmaru wowed everybody who saw her wrestle on the Japanese and US indies in the 2000’s. Someone definitely worth seeking out on YouTube.
3. Sara Del Rey: Currently one of the head trainers in the WWE Performance Centre, Sara Del Rey was easily one of the best wrestlers in the world before she moved on to coaching. Her work in Chikara, ROH et al speaks for itself. Technically sound, hard hitting and possessing a real mean streak, Sara stood head and shoulders above her peers and I for one am hoping she laces up her boots again for the upcoming WWE women’s tournament.
2. Alundra Blayze/Madusa Micelli: An accomplished pro who spent her formative years in Japan before making her WCW debut and eventually becoming part of Paul E’s Dangerous Alliance, it probably wasn’t a shock to fans in the know when she turned up on WWF television and started turning heads with her matches. I honestly don’t remember seeing much women’s wrestling at all before Alundra Blayze turned up on my TV and started having knockout matches which were different from everything else on the card, but I became a fan instantly. Though to be honest, I preferred her most famous opponent.
1. Bull Nakano: Which brings us to Bull Nakano. When Blayze turned up on my TV screen, the woman she was invariably wrestling was Bull Nakano. Bull had an amazing look with her facepaint and spiked hair, great facial expressions and imposing physique. She made a great contrast with Blayze and could really wrestle. Later on, I was able to go back and watch her work in AJPW and other promotions which was at an even higher standard than her work in WWF. One of the greatest wrestlers of all time and one of my favourites, I have no other choice for number one than Bull.
5. AJ Lee: While she didn’t have the longest career her influence is still felt today in such people like Alexa Bliss. AJ’s facial expressions were unmatched and just little things like wiping her feet on the apron. Her ring work was outstanding and came at a time when some of the girls were just eye candy. She’s definitely missed. Maybe one day Phil Brooks will let her come back.
4. Lita: Much like AJ Lee she stood out at a time when it was all about T&A. She came in with Essa Rios but it was obvious that she was the star. Once she got into the ring doing moonsaults it was on! Then she went to have a Hall of Fame wrestling career. But she was also a big part of the Hardy Boyz appeal as their often physically involved manager. Then her story with Edge and Matt Hardy is an all-time classic.
3. Miss Elizabeth: While she wasn’t a wrestler her time in the WWF is as valuable as anyone during the explosion of the 80s. While Macho Man would’ve likely been a superstar without her, putting her with him only made him the Megastar that he was. Been watching some programming from 86-87 and she was outstanding showing concern for Ricky Steamboat and George the Animal Steele during the WrestleMania 3 saga. She was so classy and it’s a shame what happened to her.
2. Madusa: Her time in the AWA was one of the few good things that was happening in that federation at that time. She was not only beautiful but knew her away around the ring like nobody before her. Her time in WCW and WWF came at a time when women’s wrestling was all but being phased out but there was no way you could deny her.
1. Sherri Martel: Much like Madusa her run in AWA kept the company afloat. When she moved to WWF she was mostly a manager with Macho Man and got involved with Elizabeth. Go back and watch how good she was just from her facial expressions. Then as she moved to WCW and took the reins of Harlem Heat she showed how versatile she was. She could do no wrong.
You can read all previous Top Five pieces here.