The WWE women’s division is arguably in a better place right now than it’s ever been.
With three distinct rosters; one each for Raw, SmackDown Live and NXT respectively, the women of WWE are being afforded a fair chance at stardom as the weeks go by, that they otherwise mightn’t have had when the company kept the same faces in line for a push on both of the company’s primary shows every week before the brand extension came back into play.
With three different platforms to shine on each week, the WWE needs to support that with some of the very best that women’s wrestling has to offer and they certainly have, with almost 30 active women’s wrestlers on the payroll having already made varying levels of impact thus far in their careers, from multi-time champions to first-timers looking to break into the business and make a name for themselves.
The roster showcases all kinds of versatility, from those with strong wrestling backgrounds to those with backgrounds in other realms of sport and athletics. It hosts strong mic skills, strong character and personality, and a whole selection of wrestlers that the fans love to cheer and love to boo on the weekly - the natural order of pro wrestling.
This list will rank each of the wrestlers within WWE’s women’s division, taking factors such as in-ring ability, mic skills, impact thus far and overall star power into account.
Keep in mind that only regularly active (including injured) wrestlers are involved, so people like Maryse and Lana are not listed.
27 Rosa Mendes
Rosa Mendes has been under contract with WWE for ten years. Let that sink in.
In that time, the woman has done a number of things – the Diva search, managing Primo and Epico to the ring, participating in Total Divas. But in a whole decade of being a WWE employee, nothing Rosa Mendes has done is exactly groundbreaking or impressive.
Not to be insensitive, but she could walk away from the WWE tomorrow and she would be forgotten by many in a heartbeat. Some are even likening her to a new JTG, who spent years on the WWE roster without much of a role beyond the occasional match on WWE Superstars, prompting fans to basically take bets and predict not if he was going to get fired, but when.
26 Liv Morgan
Liv Morgan is just beginning to stand out as a member of the NXT women’s locker room, having just recently captured her first singles victory against Aliyah. Though not much is known about her past, working as a competitive cheerleader before coming to WWE, her athletic background is going to be a big helping hand with regards to her in-ring ability.
25 Billie Kay
Now that NXT’s female roster is full of unfamiliar faces after the promotion of Bayley and Nia Jax to the main roster, Billie Kay is definitely one of those in the locker room who stand a chance for a push up the card. She’s yet to receive great exposure in a winning effort on NXT programming, but her nine years of experience wrestling from Australia to the U.S. gives her all the tools she needs to be a big star on the developmental brand.
If you’re not a regular viewer of NXT, any WWE Network subscribers may recognise Aliyah from Breaking Ground, an original program set around the development of characters and athletes in the WWE Performance Centre. You may recall Aliyah as being very, very green in the ring and having less-than-stellar personality in her performance as she prepared for her debut and attempted to develop the “Aliyah” persona.
Looking back now, it’s clear to see that Aliyah has vastly improved her work in the ring and has sunk very comfortably into her heel role. Her athleticism and intensity in the ring don’t hurt either, but it goes without saying that Aliyah still has a long way to go before she can even be considered for an invitation to the main WWE roster.
23 Eva Marie
As a wrestler, Eva Marie isn’t much to write home about. She’s tried to improve her skills between the ropes, even enlisting the help of an extraordinary talent like The Brian Kendrick to try and teach her a few things, but it didn’t really come across well on television.
So what better way is there to capitalize on somebody’s lacklustre in-ring ability, without wishing them the best of luck in their future endeavours? Build a gimmick revolving around the fact that she doesn’t want to get in the ring, of course.
Fans are always going to hate Eva Marie – after all, she’s one of the few remaining women on the roster who were hired solely based on looks. But if it’s going to make her the most loathed woman on the roster, then the WWE isn’t going to let that heat go to waste.
22 Daria Berenato
You might recognise Daria Benerato from WWE’s revival of the Tough Enough reality show back in 2015. The woman had a lot of potential in the competition, but just couldn’t connect with the fans to the level that she would have hoped. It didn't help that the winner of the competition, and the losers each week, were determined by the WWE Universe.
Despite being voted out, however, Daria received a contract and has been impressive in the WWE Performance Center and in her assorted appearances on NXT programming since then, as a well-versed striker who relies on her fists to dominate in the ring.
21 Mandy Rose
Another competitor you may recall from last year’s WWE Tough Enough, Mandy Rose made it to the finals of the competition before being ousted by the fan vote when Sara Lee – who’s yet to make her television debut – captured the prize contract despite uproar from a number of fans and wrestling experts. Then known simply as Amanda, the woman showed great promise as a potential heel and was a quick learner between the ropes.
20 Nikki Cross
With eight years of wrestling experience under her belt, Scotland’s Nikki Glencross (now Nikki Cross in WWE) is easily one of NXT’s brightest prospects, and will have a big opportunity to shine now that the brand is going to be looking for people to move up in the roster.
The self-proclaimed “best wrestler in the galaxy” is renowned for her impressive heel work, with great personality and charisma both in competition and on the microphone.
19 Peyton Royce
Peyton Royce started off slow in NXT, but she’s quickly becoming somebody that the fans could easily get invested in. The Australian has developed her character nicely, showing aggression in the ring when she needs to and already has a reputation for her strong in-ring skill based off of six years spent on the independent circuit.
Over the last year, she’s impressed as a member of the NXT roster at live events, competing as a legitimate threat to some of the faces we’d grown accustomed to as the faces of the roster, and that kind of ability isn’t going to be put to waste.
We haven’t seen Tamina since she left to undergo knee surgery back in May and although she might be a dominant athlete inside the ring, she hasn’t necessarily been missed.
Now that Naomi has made the transition from heel to babyface on SmackDown, it all but confirms that when Tamina does make her return, she’ll be going it alone from now on. It’s hard to picture Tamina becoming a major player on either brand, but one thing that would definitely be interesting to see is a clash between Tamina and Nia Jax on Raw.
17 Dana Brooke
Dana Brooke is a spectacular athlete, built like a champion with a lot of skill, but as a character, she’s not much to write home about. She’s played second fiddle to both Emma and Charlotte since arriving on the main roster, the latter of whom having made her look like a second rate Scrappy Doo as she tried to cater to the WWE Women’s Champion’s every whim.
16 Summer Rae
When the brand extension came into play, it promised hope and opportunity for those on the WWE roster who had gone overlooked for years under the old regime. Though that’s proven true to a point, there are some distinct exceptions, including Raw’s Summer Rae.
For those who only know Summer as a dance partner for Fandango, or an old flame for Rusev, you may be shocked to hear that this woman can really go. She’s just been booked in meaningless roles that caused for her to be less of a wrestler and more of an entertainer. It’s a shame, because Summer can pull off the beautiful-but-fierce heel role excellently, as seen from her time alongside, believe it or not, Sasha Banks and Charlotte as a trio in NXT.
15 Alicia Fox
Alicia Fox’s role on the WWE roster may not seem like much right now, but there was a time where the former WWE Divas Champion was actually one of the most entertaining characters in the division. Alicia’s crazed persona from 2014 made her one to watch for sure, and after a brief segment backstage recently, it appears as though this side to her character may be making a return. That being said, even with her impressive work between the ropes, Alicia Fox just isn’t relevant on the roster these days.
14 Ember Moon
Making her professional debut in 2007, Ember Moon came into the world of NXT with almost a decade worth of experience at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. Having paid her dues on the independent circuit for eight years before signing a contract, fans of her work were happy to hear that her efforts were paying off as she turned her attention to the WWE.
She’s made a strong start under the “Ember Moon” persona, defeating Billie Kay in a match that highlighted Moon’s best features – her hypnotic red eyes, compelling skill set and an extraordinary finisher that could best be described as a diving stunner from the top rope.
With Bayley and Nia Jax heading to Raw recently, NXT is in dire need of someone new to step up and stand toe-to-toe with the reigning NXT Women’s Champion Asuka. Given the strong showing she’s had in her short time thus far, it looks like the fans might be able to get behind her to the point where she can be a legitimate challenger for the prize.
13 Nia Jax
Fans might be split down the middle with Nia Jax, but one thing that is undeniable is her uniqueness in comparison to the rest of the WWE women’s division.
Her intimidating stature comes as a breath of fresh air that we haven’t really seen since Kharma’s brief run with the company back in 2011, but her familial ties to The Rock have a lot of people weary that she might get pushed far too soon.
WWE are clearly playing the slow game thus far, considering her weekly squash matches and now her inaugural main roster feud with Alicia Fox, so in order to maintain this they’ll need to hold off on pitting her against the likes of Sasha Banks or Bayley for a while.
Being forced to separate from Enzo Amore and Big Cass when the two made the journey to the main roster may have been a momentary lapse of progression for Carmella, but it’s proven vital in transitioning the “Princess of Staten Island” from a valet to a WWE Superstar.
Now, not only does she carry with her the charisma acquired from a close relationship to the realest guys in the Raw locker room, but she also stands as a legitimate threat to the SmackDown Women’s Championship with her impressive in-ring ability also.
11 Alexa Bliss
Alexa Bliss didn’t waste any time in becoming a fierce and impressive athlete upon being drafted to SmackDown Live back in July. As one of the shortest women in WWE history, Bliss needed to make up for her shortcomings by showing double the personality, and she’s done so quite well in being one of the most attitudinal women in the whole company.
Naomi has been a consistently spectacular athlete ever since she was a part of NXT’s original game show format, but despite a number of twists and turns to her character, with an occasional alliance thrown in there and the complete rejuvenation of her gimmick, Naomi has yet to capture gold in the WWE women’s division.
The brand extension, however, has potential for a star like Naomi written all over it.
Naomi has returned from injury in terrific fashion with a brand new gimmick that sees the fans’ eyes glued to the screen whenever she puts on a show, both inside the ring and on her way down the ramp. It’s not that Naomi needed something eye-catching like a glow-in-the-dark bodysuit to make her a better wrestler, but it has given her character a distinct edge against the rest of her SmackDown counterparts.
Emma is currently sidelined with a back injury, but when she returns, there’s a clear opening for her to get back to work under her new heel persona.
Emma has always been a talented wrestler, coming in from Australia and joining the likes of Paige to kick-start NXT’s rise to popularity as one of its focal female performers heading into NXT Arrival; the first live special broadcast on the WWE Network.
Her initial main roster run, in which she portrayed a joyous, fun-loving, dancing loon that got over quickly in NXT, didn’t end up that good as the character didn’t translate well to the main roster and her immediate alignment with Santino Marella set her up for failure from the start. Her return to NXT, however, allowed her to re-evaluate her career and adopt a badass heel persona that even allowed her to compete in the WrestleMania pre-show this year.
Paige may be about to leave the WWE, considering her recent suspension and the departure of boyfriend Alberto Del Rio just last week, but until we receive confirmation of those rumors, she still remains as one of the most talented females on the WWE payroll.
Paige’s introduction was a pivotal moment in the women’s evolution within WWE, as the former “Anti-Diva” used her unique image and persona to turn a lot of heads and capture the WWE Divas Championship in her debut match on Raw. Naturally, Paige has fallen to the wayside considering her struggles with management and the introduction of more names to the roster, but that doesn’t mean her talent has taken a dive as well.
As the only female graduate of the infamous Hart family dungeon, and the daughter of Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, Natalya obviously knows a thing or two about professional wrestling. She’s been in the WWE for eight years, in which she’s had to deal with quite a lot of hard booking, but now she finds herself as one of the most experienced ladies on SmackDown.
Natalya turned heel this summer in a moment that had a lot of fans scratching their heads, considering she’s been one of the most likable WWE stars since 2010. Nevertheless, Natalya always makes the best of a bad situation, and surrounded by babyface stars like Becky, Nikki and Naomi to work with, Natalya has a lot of potential for greatness on SmackDown.
6 Nikki Bella
Love her or hate her, Nikki Bella is a superstar. She may not exactly be the embodiment of the women’s evolution like Paige and The Four Horsewomen, but following her rise to reality stardom as part of Total Divas, she really began to push the envelope as a wrestler.
Having such close ties to athletes like John Cena and Daniel Bryan will only help you get so far, and Nikki definitely put the work in herself to become the longest-reigning WWE Divas Champion in history. A career-threatening injury may have taken her out of the game for the better part of a year, but Nikki is back with a vengeance, and she’s already done well to raise spirits on SmackDown and make the blue brand’s female division worthwhile television.
Just when we thought that NXT’s female division couldn't survive the loss of three-quarters of The Four Horsewomen as they went up to the main roster in the summer of 2015, “The Empress of Tomorrow” emerged on the scene with a fresh technique that up until then, hadn’t been seen before from a woman under the WWE umbrella.
From Osaka, Japan, the experienced Asuka brought her stiff and intimidating style to the ranks of NXT, where she immediately made her mark, ousting names such as Emma, Dana Brooke and Nia Jax. Paired with a scintillating sense of charisma, Asuka’s in-ring presence instantly made her look like a fit for the championship picture and she took advantage of that by defeating Bayley for the NXT Women’s Championship at NXT Takeover: Dallas.
Now, Asuka stands firmly at the pinnacle of NXT's female division with no signs of dropping the title any time soon. Her abilities are better put to use encouraging and building up the women in Full Sail for now, but once she’s left her mark and an opening for the future progression of the brand, Asuka will be a welcome commodity on Raw or SmackDown Live.
For many fans, there was a huge concern associated with promoting Bayley from her comfortable spot on top of the NXT roster to the most dangerous depths of Monday Night Raw. It’s not that Bayley isn’t talented, in fact she’s competed in a large handful of the WWE women’s divisions best matches in the past two years and she’s one of the company’s greatest role models for children and adults alike since her enthusiasm took Full Sail by storm.
But wacky characters don’t always translate well from NXT to the main roster, i.e. Emma, The Vaudevillains, and we didn’t want to see one of the best in the business suffer because of that.
Our worries were put to bed, however, because since her debut on the flagship show, Bayley has quickly taken over the main roster audience as one of its most popular stars, selling out merchandise and receiving huge ovations wherever she goes.
The recently crowned two-time WWE Women’s Champion, Charlotte has had an amazing start to her WWE career between now and her days back in NXT. She’s currently the only woman in company history to have held the NXT, Divas and WWE Women’s Championships in her short time on the payroll, being the very first ever to capture the latter, which she’s recently earned back from Sasha Banks at SummerSlam in a hard-fought battle.
Though Charlotte is one of the WWE’s very best heels, and an impeccable athlete at that, she doesn’t find herself slightly higher up this list simply because of her promo work.
When Charlotte speaks, more often than not, her monotonous voice and poor line delivery has left a lot of pivotal segments hanging high and dry as she tried to build hype for an upcoming match. In WWE, you need to have the full package, and though she’s very close to being there, when you can barely cut a promo, and win the majority of your championship defenses by hook or by crook to boot, the fans can lose investment very fast.
2 Becky Lynch
The brand new SmackDown Women's Champion, otherwise known as the “Irish Lasskicker”, has been a consistently entertaining entity on the WWE roster since signing a contract, as well as in the many years beforehand wrestling all over the world on the independent circuit.
Lynch has all the right tools; her skills inside the squared circle are unparalleled, she’s a likable, relatable woman and her promo style is great for her character.
She speaks and wrestles from the heart, and now that names like Sasha Banks and Charlotte aren’t preventing her from securing the top spot, she’s made short work of climbing to the top of the SmackDown ladder as the first representative of the blue brand’s women’s division, winning the title in a crowning moment befitting of a true master of the art.
1 Sasha Banks
Sasha Banks has been a crowd favorite since she began closing in on the NXT Women’s Championship. Since those early days of her WWE career, she’s broken barriers, shattered glass ceilings and pushed the boundaries associated with being a women’s wrestler in WWE.
Competing in two extraordinary matches against Bayley in NXT, one of WrestleMania 32’s feature matches against Becky Lynch and Charlotte, and her crowning match for the WWE Women’s Championship on Monday Night Raw in July, she has proven to be one of the very best in the history of the sport.
Even though it bites her in the back on a number of occasions, as seen with her cringe-inducing suicide dive attempts, Sasha Banks is never afraid to go the extra mile to put on a show and weave a legacy for herself unlike any other.
Losing the title at SummerSlam was the right move for her future on the Raw roster, because the potential is there for her to now recreate the magic she did with Bayley last year on a much bigger platform very soon, and when that inevitable clash occurs, we might just look back on it as the greatest rivalry in the history of women’s competition within WWE.
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