In 2015, when three of the four NXT Four Horsewomen were called up to the main roster, WWE ushered in a new era in wrestling (*sigh* the "Diva’s Revolution"), one which actually focused on the in-ring ability of women rather than their model looks. Although early on in the process, this new approach and wave of amazingly talented performers has drawn rave reviews from fans, industry veterans and experts alike, proving that if done right, women’s wrestling can draw just as well as the men. While this still may not be the view of the boss, Vince McMahon, the fans have proven that they are willing to embrace female wrestling as much as any other part of the product, which should lead to them becoming an even more prominent part of the product after the brand split.
While these matches may not all be instant classics, or feature the biggest names in the business, all 15 of them showcase in one way or another why this is currently the best era (from an in-ring standpoint) in WWE history, with matches from both WWE and where it all started, NXT.
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29 Carmella vs. Alexa Bliss - NXT
While this match didn’t headline a Takeover, or steal the show for NXT, it proves just how deep and talented the roster really is in WWE, and is an advertisement for how the changing ideologies within WWE have reinvigorated the entire women’s division, both in NXT and WWE. The match started off slow but eventually built into a high action finish, with Alexa picking up the win while telling a fantastic story of both women clawing and fighting to be the next challenger for the women’s title (before they both got drafted to SmackDown). This one won’t go down in the history books, and neither will be remembered as the best of all time, but it’s worth checking out on the WWE Network to watch a fantastically worked match, and it should help newer fans get acquainted with two of the most important women on the Smackdown Live roster going forward.
27 Emma vs. Asuka - NXT Takeover: London
On an amazing card where fans expected Enzo & Cass to open the show, Emma and Asuka stood up and delivered a fantastic story which showed the talents of both women, which really elevated the rest of the show to one of the best that NXT has ever put on. With Dana Brooke in tow, Emma set out to prove she wasn’t intimidated by Asuka, and that her new found bully attitude would lead her to success in WWE, and for the most part of the match, it looked like she would achieve this. In front of a rabid crowd however, Asuka was able to continue her hot streak and overcome the numbers game in a match which truly helped build Asuka as an unstoppable monster, which also almost stole the show, as it made all 3 competitors involved look good.
25 Bayley & Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte & Dana Brooke -Battleground
While this match didn’t steal the show at Battleground (that goes to Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens), but due to the huge pop that surprise debutant Bayley received, it makes it on this list as that reiterated the drawing power of female wrestlers in WWE if given the chance. For weeks Sasha had teased her tag team partner, and while many names were thrown out there like Eva Marie and Nikki Bella, there was only one person that the WWE Universe wanted to see, and when the hugger arrived, the roof flew off the building, a testament to her talent and likeability. The match itself was enjoyable, and saw Sasha tap out the Champ Charlotte, it was truly an exhibition of the abilities of all four women, and made fans think positively about the future of women’s wrestling (on Monday Night RAW anyway).
23 Nikki Bella vs. Charlotte - Night of Champions
I’m definitely not alone amongst internet fans in my hatred of the Bella twins, and the spot they’ve held on the WWE roster for years, all of which came to an end when Charlotte ended the record breaking reign of Nikki, which started her own dominant run as champ. Due to her huge improvements (unlike her sister Brie), Nikki gained the respect of fans, and this match showcased just how effective she could be as a heel, as the entire crowd was behind the emotional Charlotte to overthrow the Bella Empire. When Charlotte locked in her Figure-8 submission finisher, Bella had no choice but to tap, which signaled the future of women’s wrestling was here, as such it has become a key match in the current women’s revolution.
21 Charlotte vs. Natalya - NXT TakeOver
The first in the instalment of the TakeOver series needed a deep card, and no women’s match at the time would have been better than Charlotte vs. Natalya, with Ric Flair and Bret Hart in these performers corners respectively. For years, Natalya had been undervalued by the WWE on the main roster (not much has changed, has it?), and her return to NXT revitalized her career, and the chance to be able to work with a young star like Charlotte made her up her game to levels the fans had not seen for quite some time. Although Natalya showed the skills she has always possessed, this match was more about Charlotte being crowned the second ever NXT Women’s Champion, as she cemented her position as a future star with her talents in this match.
19 Bayley vs. Asuka - NXT TakeOver: Dallas
This one was a matchup over half a year in the making, as Asuka was built up as an unstoppable monster away from the title while Bayley was defending her title against all comers, and thus the matchup between two fan favorites was set for Dallas at NXT’s version of WrestleMania, and it did not disappoint. Although many expected Asuka to walk away champion, as Bayley was rumored to be heading to the main roster, it was the way in which Asuka dominated and choked out Bayley that was surprising, but keeping to her nature, Bayley chose to pass out rather than tap out, showing her toughness in the process. The two are set for a rematch in Brooklyn, and if the second even comes close to topping the first, it will be an absolute classic, presumably to farewell Bayley from NXT.
17 Nia Jax vs. Bayley - NXT TakeOver: London
When Nia Jax was thrust into the title picture so early in her career, many were worried that she was too green for the spot, yet Bayley carried her to a fantastic match in the electric atmosphere in London, and even used Jax’s inexperience in story to capture the victory to hold onto her championship. This match had the potential to be the first blemish on Bayley’s title run, but due to her uncanny connection with the crowd, and ability to work any style match, it became one of the highlights of the stacked card in London with a white hot finish that both women should be proud of. While the match itself may not be in the career highlights of Bayley, who has worked fantastic matches with Sasha, Charlotte and Asuka, this match showed the immense potential of the unique Jax, who may be one of the biggest players in the RAW women’s division going forward.
15 Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks - NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable
This one was certainly the coming out party for Lynch even in defeat, as she shed her previous look and embraced the fire red, rocker look which has made her stand out ever since, all which occurred in a technical masterpiece, which saw both women trade holds and stiff shots throughout. At the time, this was the best worked match of each women’s career, and perhaps NXT history, as the two performers spent 15 minutes trading submissions and high impact moves, and despite both technically being heels, the crowd were firmly invested in the match. This match proved Sasha was the best female wrestler in the world, yet even in defeat, Becky Lynch’s stock rose highly, as the fans post match gave her a standing ovation, which included the singing of her theme song, a true testament to the respect she had just earned.
13 Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch - Royal Rumble
This match was well done as it cemented the heel turn of Charlotte on her friend Becky, but despite the bizarre occurrences from Ric Flair in the match, still was a great exhibition for women’s wrestling on the main roster. This one was a story telling master class, as Charlotte had been teasing a heel turn for weeks by using the dirty tactics her father made famous, where Becky was the naïve friend who didn’t see it coming, and while many were disgusted with Flair’s actions at the Rumble, it made for fantastic television. While no one truly believed Becky would unseat Charlotte heading into ‘Mania, the match was well worked none the less, and led into a triple threat at the biggest show of the year with Sasha, so it also served a great purpose.
11 Bayley vs. Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch - NXT Takeover: Rival
This match came much too early in the career storyline for these 4 women, yet they put on a high pace, highlight filled match, which helped truly establish the NXT women’s roster as the best in wrestling, and saw Sasha Banks earn her first ever Championship in WWE by pinning Charlotte. From a top rope ‘rana, to a high flying exchange with all 4 women, this match had the crowd on their feet from the outset, and was really a key turning point in the character development for all 4 women, which helped them become the performers we see today. The finish was as exciting as you will see in all of wrestling, with several finisher counters and false finishes, which eventually led to Sasha rolling up Charlotte to capture the title, one which she would hold onto for over half a year before falling in spectacular fashion to Bayley.
9 Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte - RAW
The most recent match on this list saw Sasha finally achieve her lifelong dream by dethroning Charlotte in the first RAW after the brand split, in a match which has been heralded as the best main roster women’s match in years. While the match may not have been up to standard with some of the NXT Takeover matches involving Bayley or Sasha, the crowd were firmly invested in the character work and in ring action going on, and when Sasha finally captured her childhood dream, the crowd erupted in what felt like a truly historic moment. As these two will be spear heading the RAW women’s roster for years, this is a matchup fans will see more and more of going forward, but topping their first one-on-one match up will definitely be hard, as this will go down in the career highlights of both women when it’s all said and done.
7 Emma vs. Paige - NXT
Many will look to the rise of the Four Horsewomen as the start of the Diva’s revolution, but this match to determine the first ever NXT Women’s Champion certainly proves otherwise, as these two put on a back and forth, exciting contest way back in 2013. This was the culmination of a tournament to crown the first ever NXT Women’s Champion, and no two female competitors deserved the accolade more than the contrasting Paige and Emma, who had the crowd, and the commentary team in the palm of their hands from the outset. The match itself started out slow, but the action got hotter and hotter as it went on, with Paige eventually overcoming the dancing Aussie to claim her first Championship in WWE, all to rapturous applause from the Full Sail Crowd, and looking back on it, fans would be justified to claim this was the true start of the women’s revolution in wrestling.
5 Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks -WrestleMania 32
Although many were disappointed that on the night the ‘Women’s Championship’ was crowned that Sasha Banks did not come out victorious, this match was one worthy for a main event spot on the biggest night of wresting in 2016. The presentation was on par with the men on this night, with a fantastic back story, great story telling throughout the match combined with amazing wrestling, which all culminated in Charlotte retaining her title with the help of her rather, Ric. From Charlotte donning a Flair style robe, to Sasha’s tribute to her hero Eddie Guerrero, this one was filled with history and passion, and it definitely delivered, and should leave fans worldwide optimistic about future women’s Mania matches, as there is still one more Horsewoman to be called up to the main roster. On a card with AJ Styles, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and more, to be considered by many as the match of the night should be an honor for all 3 of these women.
3 Sasha Banks vs. Bayley - NXT TakeOver: Respect - IronWoman Match
After their success at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn, NXT wanted to capitalize on this rivalry, and made history by booking the two in the first ever female Ironman match in WWE history, and also the first time women had headlined a live special/PPV event in the companies history. And boy did these two prove the higher ups in the company right, as they told an amazing story over 30 minutes, culminating in a 3-2 victory for Bayley when she made Sasha submit with mere seconds remaining on the clock, an absolute thrilling finish to a historic rivalry (for now anyway). Following the historic contest, both women were presented flowers and given a standing ovation from not only the crowd, but their peers, which proves just how influential these two performers are in making this the best women’s wrestling era ever.
1 Bayley vs. Sasha Banks - NXT Takeover: Brooklyn
Of course it would be this, honestly what other match could it have been? Despite Sasha being the cocky heel and Bayley the plucky underdog coming in, the fans in Brooklyn were firmly behind both competitors, as Bayley looked to take the NXT Women’s title from Sasha after countless shots at the belt. No one in the sold out stadium could have predicted what happened next, as the two women crafted a masterpiece that had the fans hanging on their every move, which were called expertly by Corey Graves and Tom Phillips at ringside. From Bayley’s fire to Sasha’s arrogance which ended up costing her, both women showed masterful control of their characters, and the final breathtaking blow came when Bayley hit a reverse ‘rana from the top rope and a Bayley-to-Belly for the 1-2-3. This sent the sold out crowd wild and the fans showed their respects to both women, who knew that they had just wrestled an amazing match that will be remembered forever as perhaps the most important match in women’s wrestling history, as they were embraced by their fellow Four Horsewomen.
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