Senior Writer, Pro Wrestling Illustrated
The good folks here at Diva Dirt have invited me to write a guest column explaining some of our selections with the 2018 PWI Women’s 100, and I am happy to have an opportunity to address some of the feedback I have seen since the digital edition was released on Nov. 1.
The fact that the Women’s 100 garners such a strong reaction is important. It’s a sign that women’s wrestling matters; that fans are passionate and willing to debate our list in forums such as Diva Dirt, Reddit, and across the Internet, means they care about it.
Women’s wrestling is important to me, as well. I have spearheaded the PWI Female 50 (now expanded to the Women’s 100) since 2008. I co-wrote the definitive history of women’s wrestling, Sisterhood of the Squared Circle: The History and Rise of Women’s Wrestling (with Pat Laprade).
I compiled this year’s Women’s 100 and wrote every bio (so, yeah … any errors made were made by me). In many cases, I had to track down the wrestlers individually to obtain up-to-date promo photos we could use. I reached out to promoters, wrestlers, and journalists in Japan, England, and Mexico to try to make this the most inclusive list of women we have ever compiled. If I were to guess, I’d imagine I spent upwards of 50 hours on this section. And I’m not getting paid by the hour, nor how many issues we sell, nor how much controversy we create.
I do it because I genuinely want the list to be as comprehensive and objective as possible.
Naturally, there are bound to be debates and disagreements. That’s the nature of the beast. And, while I’m not going to try to make everyone agree with the selection – and placement – of all 100 women in this year’s list, I will offer a few reasons why we made the choices we made.
“Why is Becky Lynch so low?”
This is one of the top questions I’ve seen. Becky herself even Tweeted about her spot at number 11. It’s important to remember that both the PWI 500 and the Women’s 100 look back over the previous 12 months as the evaluation period. For the Women’s 100, that period was October 1, 2017 through September 30, 2018. Becky Lynch has been on fire since winning the Smackdown title at SummerSlam. But, in the first half of the evaluation period, she was unremarkable, competing in multiple tag team, trios, and three-way matches (usually on the losing end of matches involving Charlotte and Carmella). Singles losses to Carmella and Mandy Rose also hurt. She ended the period as one of the top stars in WWE, but for most of the year, Becky was simply lost in the shuffle.
“How in the world is Ronda Rousey Number One?”
True … Ronda only wrestled 21 matches during the grading period (and only 10 singles matches), but she went undefeated in those bouts, captured the Raw women’s title, and had a show-stealing performance on the WrestleMania stage.
The criteria for the Women’s 100 includes championships won (check), quality of opposition (singles wins over two others in the top 10, check), technical proficiency (check), won-loss records (check), overall activity (her weakness), and momentum/promotional “push.” Rousey easily meets five of the six standards. And since no one has been able to beat her yet, it seems silly to consider anyone else for the top spot.
“Who cares? It’s a kayfabe list.”
I see this comment frequently, in regards to both the Women’s 100 and the PWI 500, and it simply doesn’t make sense to me. Our lists are based on achievements over the course of the past 12 months, not match quality or “work rate.” Match quality and work rate are actually incredibly subjective. A list based on won-loss records and titles won is decidedly more objective.
People go to wrestling matches to see who wins. Winning and losing is what wrestling is all about. Championships aren’t award by work rate. If you’re too “smart” for “kayfabe,” then why are you watching pro wrestling at all? The business is built on kayfabe. I love Greco-Roman and Freestyle wrestling as much as the next guy (well, considerably more, I imagine). If technical wrestling is your be-all, end-all, go check out the amateur mats. I won’t judge. Pro wrestling is sport and entertainment, personalities, championships, and storylines. That’s what our list reflects. Anything else would be doing a disservice to wrestling and the stories and characters we watch in the ring.
While disagreements are bound to pop up in any list like this, I encourage everyone reading this column to go out and pick up a copy of the magazine itself, either on newsstands or the digital edition available for purchase at www.pwi-online.com. Read the individual bios. Read why we placed each woman at that spot. Check out the incredible photos, the exclusive interview with Ronda Rousey, and the columns and features throughout the issue.
Most importantly, take a moment to look into the names that made the list that you may not recognize – the Gisele Shaws, Kaitlin Diemonds, Hudson Envys, and Skylars. These are women whose hard work on the independent circuit has earned them a spot in a national magazine. They, and many like them, represent the future of women’s wrestling. I am happy that the PWI Women’s 100 is able to introduce them to a national audience.
Who knows? A Female 500 might not be that far off in the future.