Bianca Belair topped the Pro Wrestling Illustrated yearly 150 name ranking of female pro wrestlers in its recently released January issue. Taking the number one spot is a boon for Belair, whose meteoric rise in World Wrestling Entertainment’s women’s division throughout 2020 was halted upon losing the Friday Night SmackDown women’s title to Becky Lynch at SummerSlam. Amongst the Pro Wrestling Illustrated list, alongside Bianca Belair, that spanned the scope of international and independent pro wrestling as well as major promotions like WWE and All Elite Wrestling, here is how some of WWE’s other female performers fared:
#6: Sasha Banks: Sasha Banks ranked number six, on the strength of her 2020 Hell in a Cell match against Bayley, and Asuka at 2020’s Survivor Series, as well as her history-making WrestleMania 37 bout facing off against Belair, for which they won an Espy in 2021. Despite an absence in summer 2021 that caused her to miss her SummerSlam rematch against Belair, Banks continues to be a pillar of WWE’s women’s division as her feud for the SmackDown title against Charlotte Flair, and animosity with newcomer Shotzi Blackheart both catch fire on the “blue brand”.
#34: Becky Lynch: The woman who tapped in in Banks’s stead at SummerSlam, Lynch, is at the top of the women’s division with her new heel persona “Big Time Becks”. However, her 10-month absence from competition lowered her ranking considerably in the eyes of PWI.
Two former NXT Women’s Champions, Io Shirai and Raquel Gonzalez, round out the top 10 at numbers 8 (Shirai) and 10 (Gonzalez). Shirai held the NXT women’s title for 304 days. Her aerial wiles making her seem an almost invincible opponent as she held off challengers like Rhea Ripley, Toni Storm, and Candice LeRae. She also held the NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship alongside Zoey Stark, until losing them to Toxic Attraction. Gonzalez’s run with the women’s belt was ended by the faction’s leader Mandy Rose, but even without the gold Gonzalez’s mystique as a powerhouse competitor remains mostly intact, and her feud with former best friend Dakota Kai rages on as NXT gears up for its TakeOver: WarGames event on December 4.
Despite being released by WWE in 2021, Nia Jax and Ember Moon made the list at numbers 69 (Jax) and 90 (Moon). Jax’s release was one of the most abrupt of 2021 so far, as she had been a prominently featured main roster player for some time. As for Moon, she seemed to be rebounding nicely from whatever time and momentum that injuries whilst on the main roster had cost her with a steady NXT run. Although a challenge to Gonzalez did not result in Moon winning the NXT Women’s Championship, she was an NXT Women’s Tag Team Champion on the brand alongside Shotzi Blackheart, until Blackheart’s call-up to SmackDown.
However, the most remarkable accomplishment for WWE’s female performers out of the January issue’s rundown belongs to Natalya. The “Queen of Harts” clocks in at number 66, but holds the distinction of having ranked on the list every year since its inception. On November 19’s SmackDown, she logged another achievement. Natalya has had a long career and has a long family history with WWE, and on November 19, she achieved her 500th WWE victory in a tag match paired with Shayna Baszler against Naomi and Aliyah.