Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s (mostly) kayfabe ranking of the world’s top female wrestlers joined the magazine’s annual top 500 list for men back in 2008. It started as a list of 100 names, grew to 150 in 2021, and this year expanded to 250. Recent #1s have been people like Becky Lynch, Bayley, Bianca Belair & Stardom’s Syuri.
Last year’s winner, Syuri, was the first time since 2013 a non-WWE wrestler came in first. Things are back to normal this year, with WWE Women’s World champion Rhea Ripley topping the list. Stardom & New Japan’s Giulia did finish second.
Here’s the top ten:
1. Rhea Ripley
3. Bianca Belair
4. Jamie Hayter
5. Tam Nakano
7. Deonna Purrazzo
8. Willow Nightingale
10. Jordynne Grace
According to the magazine, the PWI 250 covers the period from Oct. 1 of the previous year to Sept. 15 of the current one. Selectors weigh in-ring achievement, influence on the sport/promotion, technical ability, quality of competition, and activity. I call it “(mostly) kayfabe” because “influence on the sport” gives them some room to consider non-work elements of a person’s career... and because I personally believe some thought is understandably given to their own shoot business, e.g. what will sell magazines. Your mileage, as they say, may vary.
Ripley joins Seth Rollins, who took first place in the latest PWI 500, in being recognized as the best in the world.
Hard to argue The Nightmare hasn’t been presented as one of WWE’s biggest stars — regardless of gender — this year. She just passed 200 days with her title, and is a major player every week on Raw (and sometimes NXT) as the de facto leader of The Judgment Day. She hasn’t wrestled a ton though, with only four televised/streamed title defenses on her record since winning the belt from Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania 39... something that may rankle fans of wrestlers who were more active during their reigns like ROH’s Athena or the NWA’s Kamille.
It’s also just wild to not see any of the NXT Horsewomen’s names in the Top 10.
Anyway... let the debate begin!