10 Wrestlers Who Should Be In WWE’s Women’s Tournament
A look at who should be in the WWE Women's Tournament.
A few things before we start. This isn’t a top ten countdown, it’s more of a spotlight on some wrestlers I think should be included in the tournament. Also, these aren’t necessarily my ten favourite female wrestlers, although many are, but rather ten wrestlers I feel would add the most to the tournament.
Candice LeRae is someone that has ties to the WWE already, as she is married to current NXT superstar Johnny Gargano. She was also trained by former Cruiserweight champion TJ Perkins. She has been wrestling since 2002 but is still only 31, so she has a few more years of top level wrestling left in her. She has wrestled all over the world but is most well known for her matches in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, where she has held the PWG Tag Team Titles with frequent tag partner Joey Ryan. They held those titles for nearly a year and Candice has also competed for the PWG World Title, and got to the quarter finals of the 2014 Battle of Los Angeles tournament, where she lost to Johnny Gargano. Candice is a wrestler who has spent a large portion of her career wrestling men and that allows her to bring something different to the table. I hope she gets her chance.
Cheerleader Melissa is another wrestler that has a tie to WWE: one of her trainers was Daniel Bryan. She debuted on her 17th birthday, which means she has now been wrestling for just over half her life. She has had most of her success in Shimmer where she is a two time Shimmer champion, with one of her reigns lasting 560 days. But she has also won the ChickFight tournament on two occasions, at ChickFight V and ChickFight VII. She also has past TV exposure as she has wrestled for TNA (as both Raisha Saeed and Alissa Flash) and Lucha Underground (as Mariposa). As Melissa is now 34 it would be good to see her get her shot on the highest stage and given her accomplishments she definitely deserves it.
Shirai is a Japanese wrestler who debuted in 2007 at the age of 16. She has wrestled extensively in Japan and Mexico, where she underwent further training. She has also wrestled for Lucha Underground where she pinned Pentagon Dark. She has picked up titles wherever she has gone, in both singles and tag team competition, and one of her former tag team partners was Kana, now Asuka in NXT. She is the current World of Stardom champion. She has also held every other title that Stardom has to offer. She is now considered the ‘Ace’ of Stardom.
Shirai was named as Women’s Wrestler of the Year by Tokyo Sports in both 2015 and 2016. At this stage in her career there are no other women in the world of professional wrestling that are on the same level as Shirai. She is one of the best wrestlers on the planet regardless of gender and it would be fantastic to see her take those talents into the WWE Women’s Tournament.
Most of the women mentioned here started wrestling at a young age and Ivelisse certainly fits into that category. She debuted in 2002 at the age of just 14 in World Wrestling Council (WWC) in Puerto Rico. She appeared on the fifth season of WWE Tough Enough but was eliminated due to injury. Despite this fact she was offered a developmental contract by the WWE. She wrestled in Florida Championship Wrestling, and later the rebranded NXT, as Sofia Cortez. She picked up some good wins over the likes of Paige and Natalya but was released from her contract in 2012. She would later say that she believed this was because she spoke out about Bill DeMott’s behavior. Following her release she has gone on to further success in Lucha Underground and Shine, winning titles in both. It would be good to see her get another chance in WWE, but there may be some issues with her Lucha Underground contract in addition to her comments after leaving.
Kairi Hojo stands a great chance of being part of this tournament as she has recently signed a 3 year contract with WWE. She has been wrestling since 2012 having previously been an actress and world class yachtswoman. She took to wrestling quickly though and established herself as a top talent in Stardom, where she has won most of their top titles and was awarded the MVP Award in 2015. The quality of her matches is consistently high and she has the prettiest elbow drop I’ve ever seen. Dave Meltzer described her, along with fellow Joshi wrestlers Io Shirai and Mayu Iwatani, as “three of the best wrestlers in the world”. She can add so much to the tournament and if she is in it I expect her to go deep into the later stages.
LuFisto is a French-Canadian wrestler that has been wrestling for 20 years, making her the most experienced wrestler on this list. She has also had the most eclectic wrestling career. She has wrestled in the US, Canada, Mexico, Japan and Europe and, like most on this list, she has won titles. What sets LuFisto apart though is that she has worked extensively in deathmatch wrestling. She has won both Queen of the Deathmatch and King of the Deathmatch tournaments and was involved in CZW’s Cage of Death VIII, a match well known for it’s insanity. She also once won the CZW Iron Man Title by pinning Kevin Steen, now Kevin Owens. At 37 years old there is a chance WWE may consider her too old, but a good tournament needs a mix of styles and influences and LuFisto brings something that nobody else can.
The third, and final, Japanese woman on this list is Mayu Iwatani. Mayu is a bit of an anomaly on this list as even though she is only 24 she has stated her desire to retire before the end of the year. I think it would be a great shame if that were to happen without her getting showcase herself in front of the biggest possible audience. She has proven herself as a tremendous wrestler in her 6 years as a pro and her match with Io Shirai on the year ending Stardom show was one of the best matches of 2016. I urge everyone to check it out. She also has a history in tournaments, having won both of Stardom’s Cinderella tournaments.
This pick is a bit of a personal one for me, as I was at Shimmer 80 in Dallas for the Heart of Shimmer Title tournament. I didn’t really know a lot about Nicole Savoy but during that show I saw her beat LuFisto in round 1, Kimber Lee in the semi-finals and Candice LeRae and Heidi Lovelace in the final to become the first Heart of Shimmer champion. The first round and final were particularly great matches and Savoy impressed me no end. She has an MMA influenced style with plenty of suplexes thrown in to the mix. The only real issue with including her in the WWE tournament is that she has been injured since late 2016 and so she might not be fully recovered in time. If she is though, it would be great to see her in it.
At just 22 years of age, Nixon Newell is the second youngest wrestler on this list as well as the least experienced, having debuted in 2013. The young Welsh wrestler has been successful in that short space of time time though, and has already wrestled in the US and Japan. She stands a significant chance of taking part in this tournament too as she was recently signed by the WWE. This tournament would provide a great introduction to people who aren’t familiar with her work, as well as a great jumping off point for Newell herself. As a coincidental side note, she has a move called the Vulture Culture Destroyer.
Toni Storm is an Australian wrestler who debuted in 2009, despite only being 21 now. That means she is the youngest wrestler on this list and also the second wrestler to debut at age 14. She moved to the UK early in her career and established herself throughout Europe, where she has become a favourite. In 2016 she got her first invitation to tour Japan with Stardom, and she won the SWA World Championship shortly after, a title she still holds. She has a look that fits with what WWE would historically be searching for, she is young and she is a great wrestler. In addition to this she also wrestled in a WWE ring this year as part of WWE Axxess.