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The 30 Most Influential Women in Wrestling

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G Tucker / ONE37pm

Hey everyone! It's The Wrestling Classic here with another list for ONE37pm.

This month to celebrate Women's History Month, I'll be making a list of some of the most influential women in wrestling. When the idea of this article was brought up, I was a bit hesitant. There was no way I could write this without feeling like I was leaving somebody out or not really doing the subject justice. The choices might be subjective. but I wanted to really show appreciation to every generation of women's wrestling, going back to the earlier days of the business.

There are a lot of women who aren't on this list that had a huge influence on the business but let's appreciate the list I tried to put together as a catalog of women you should know about.

Enjoy!

Honorable Mentions

The Fabulous Moolah, Babs Wingo, Marva Scott, Judy Grable, Kathleen Wimbley, Miss Elizabeth, Asuka, Alexa Bliss, Maryse, Eve Torres, The Beautiful People, Jazz, Victoria, Ivory, Melina, Kelly Kelly, Torrie Wilson, Stacy Keibler, Sunny, Sharmell, Summer Rae, Alica Fox, Michelle McCool, Layla, Maria Kanellis, Daffney, Rhea Ripley, Dakota Kai, Shayna Baszler, Bianca Belair, The IInspiration, Carmella, Zelina Vega, Liv Morgan, Nikki Cross, Kairi Sane, Ruby Soho, ODB, Taylor Wilde, Nia Jax, Britt Baker, Brandi Rhodes, Thunder Rosa, Jade Cargill, Hiraku Shida, Riho, Serena Deeb, Ronda Rousey, and Stephanie McMahon, and every other women's wrester that I may not have mentioned because they're all influencing the future of women's wrestling.

Influential Women

30. Sara Del Rey

sara del ray wwe
WWE

Many people may not be aware of who Sara Del Ray is or why she is on this list but I'll explain. Before there was a women's revolution in the WWE, Del Rey was setting the bar for women's wrestling on the North American independent scene. Del Rey would also wrestle in Japan and became the fourth woman to make the PWI Top 500 wrestlers.

The biggest influence Sara has had on the industry as of late is away from the limelight in her role as the head trainer for NXT. All of your favorite women's wrestlers of today who went through NXT from the Four Horsewomen, Alexa Bliss, Asuka, Rhea Ripley, Bianca Belair, and everyone currently in NXT was trained by Sara Del Rey.

29. Aja Kong

aja kong wwe
WWE

If you saw Aja Kong once, you wouldn't forget her. The war paint on the face, the short hair, and the size made Aja stand out. Starting in All Japan Women's Wrestling, Kong would dominate the women's wrestling scene in Japan. Kong would win many championships and even ended Bull Nakano's three-year championship reign.

Kong would make her presence felt in North America when she would briefly appear in the WWE built up as the next challenger for Alundra Blayze's Women's Championship. The match would never take place since Blayze would jump ship to WCW. Kong would continue to dominate in Japan and still make appearances in America for Shimmer and most recently AEW. There is something about Aja Kong though, that she always remains a threat.

28. Bull Nanako

bull nakano
WWE

Bull Nakano started her career at 15 years old and won her first championship at the age of 16 in AJW. From there on Nakano continued to build her legacy working around the world and winning championships. Bull would make her presence felt in the WWE when she had a memorable feud against Alundra Blayze. They were the two faces of the women's division during that incarnation of it.

She would win the WWF Women's Championship and hold it for about five months. Nakano and Blayze would continue their feud in WCW. Nakano continued to support women's wrestling the most she could and is truly one of the most memorable figures from the dark days of women's wrestling in North America. Many have been inspired by this Japanese legend.

27. Wendi Richter

wendi richter
WWE

It's impossible to talk about women's wrestling in the 1980s and not think about Wendi Richter. Although she began wrestling in 1979, it wasn't until the mid-1980s that she played a pivotal role in the wrestling boom. When Vince McMahon was interested in bringing outside celebrities into the federation, Wendi Richter was quickly paired with the popular Cyndi Lauper.

It was during this partnership that Wendi Richter defeated Fabulous Moolah for the Women's Championship ending her nearly seven-year reign. It was the involvement of Cyndi Lauper and her partnership with Richter that kicked off the "Rock N' Wrestling" era.

26. Sable

Sable bio
WWE

Sable wasn't known for her in-ring prowess but the popularity she gained due to her beauty and presence on camera changed the game. There were attempts at a women's division for the WWE in both the 80s and 90s but the flame would always seem to burn out. By 1996 there wasn't much of a women's division but valets and personalities such as Sunny and Sable appeared on-air regularly. They both quickly became two of wrestling's biggest sex symbols. Sunny became the most searched woman on the internet at one point.

However, Sunny walked so Sable could run. Sable's fast rise to popularity led to her being the first WWE Diva featured in Playboy and it led to the resurrection of the defunct Women's Championship. Sable was the prototype for most of the divas we would see for the next decade and a half. The impact Sunny and Sable had really put the women back in the forefront of a male-dominated program even if it wasn't exactly for the same reasons.

25. Paige

Paige bio ad66c2e842f93608125275665332fe5c
WWE

Although Paige started wrestling at the age of 13 years old, her time in the ring for the WWE felt short. Paige had such a distinctive look that she stood out the moment wrestling fans saw her for the first time. Paige was appropriately dubbed the anti-diva because her goth-like appearance and pale skin weren't the stereotypical images of the WWE Divas of the past.

In her short time with the company, she would become both the NXT Women's and Divas Champion. At one point she held both titles simultaneously. In 2014, Paige was ranked the number one woman in wrestling for PWI's Top 50 and "Diva of the Year" by Rolling Stone. Paige was also a star of "Total Divas," had a Hollywood movie made based on her life called "Fighting for my Family'' and was even the GM of Smackdown after being forced into retirement due to neck injuries.

24. Ethel Johnson

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WWE

In all honesty, all three sisters should be on this list. Babs Wingo was Ethel's older sister and the first African American woman to integrate into professional wrestling. Their younger sister Marva would join the business as well. Ethel began wrestling when she was 13 years old and was dubbed "the biggest attraction to hit girl wrestling since girl wrestling began."

Johnson was known for being one of the first female wrestlers to perform a standing dropkick and a variation of the flying head-scissors. Johnson would be part of sell-out cards, toured Latin America, and even challenged for the NWA Women's Championship. Johnson and her sisters were trailblazers for this business.

23. June Bryers

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WWE

June Bryers was a popular women's wrestler of the 1950s and 1960s. Bryers at the peak of her career held the Women's Championship for ten years. Bryers began wrestling in 1944 and it wasn't until 1952 till she won her first championship capturing the tag team titles with Millie Stafford.

The pioneer of women's wrestling would win the vacated Women's Championship in 1953. Bryers was one of the first women wrestlers to cross over into entertainment by making appearances on shows such as "What's My Line?' and "I've Got a Secret." Bryers brought a ton of athleticism and technical skills to women's wrestling. Bryers would have a controversial yet memorable rivalry with Mildred Burke and retire as the Women's Champion.

22. Luna Vachon

Luna Vachon
WWE

There was nobody else like Luna Vachon. The adopted daughter of Paul "The Butcher '' Vachon wanted to continue her family's legacy and pursue wrestling even though they objected to the idea. Luna continued on her pursuit anyway. The unique look, the raspy voice, the half-shaved head, and the veins painted on her face all made Vachon stand out. In 1993, Vachon would join the WWE first appearing as a valet for Shawn Michaels feuding with Sensational Sherri.

Vachon would be paired with Bam Bam Bigelow for the rest of her tenure while also challenging for the revived women's championship against Madusa. Luna would be the first women's wrestler featured in a wrestling video game. Vachon would also have short runs in ECW and WCW before returning to the WWE. The second run would show Luna be a valet for Goldust, the Oddities, and even Gangrel. Luna would also be involved in elevating Sable and challenging for the women's championship. There weren't many women that were as different as Luna Vachon.

21. Beth Phoenix

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WWE

Beth Phoenix is one of those women's wrestlers who I believed was ahead of her time and felt like she was in the wrong era. If Beth was to debut ten years later, she would have been a perfect fit for the women's roster in midst of their revolution. However, when Beth did debut in 2006 during the Diva era, she stood out like a sore thumb. Phoenix had a look that wasn't common among the rest of the division of the time.

It wasn't unbelievable to think that she could wrestle the men based on her physical appearance, strength, and technical ability as a wrestler. Beth would become a 3 time Women's Champion and 1 time Divas Champion but would choose to retire in 2012 due to her frustrations with the booking of the division even though she fought for change. Beth would return in 2017 to be inducted in the Hall of Fame, join the commentary team, and occasionally wrestle. Regardless, Beth Phoenix was a sign of what the future would bring.

20. Bayley

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WWE

Bayley dreamed of being a WWE Superstar since she was a child. Although many of the model women in the company for the previous decade didn't look like her or might not have had the same passion for wrestling as her, she still pursued her dream. Fortunately with the inception of NXT and slow build towards a revolution in women's wrestling, not only did Bayley fit in but she became one of the most popular women in sports entertainment. Bayley made her first appearances on NXT playing a super fan.

The Hugger was born when she would fangirl over her favorites and give them hugs. Bayley didn't win a lot but the colorful underdog never gave up. Bayley became the perfect role model for little girls around the world. Especially the misunderstood ones that loved WWE. Although she has scrapped the positive role model gimmick, she continues to be one of WWE's biggest stars. Bayley would become the first-ever women's Grand Slam and Triple Crown Champion among many other major accolades.

19. Awesome Kong

Kharma bio
WWE

In an era of pretty barbie doll-shaped models in women's wrestling, there was Awesome Kong. She was different in size, presentation, and power. Kong had a career that spanned nearly 20 years where she wrestled all over the world and for various different promotions. Initially perfecting her craft in Japan, Kong would dominate the North American scene. Most notably wrestling for companies such as Shimmer, ROH, and TNA.

Kong would also have brief stints in WWE and AEW before retiring in 2021. Regardless, she was a threat to everyone in every company she was part of. Kong also has a long list of accolades in wrestling. This includes being ranked the number one female wrestler in 2008 by PWI and entering the men's Royal Rumble. Lastly, she became a main character with her acting role on the Netflix series "Glow."Awesome Kong was a phenomenon.

18. Sherri Martel

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WWE

Sensational Sherri may be remembered as being a manager to some of the biggest legends in sports entertainment but many people didn't know she started off as an in-ring performer. In fact, Sherri Martel was a 3-time AWA Women's Champion before debuting for the WWE. In the WWE, she became the Women's Champion in 1987. Sherri Martel would go on to manage the likes of "Macho Man" Randy Savage, "The Million Dollar Man" Ted Dibiase, and the "Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels once WWE phased out their women's division.

In WCW, she would manage Ric Flair and Harlem Here. Sherri would change her presentation to match whoever she was managing at the time. In many ways aligning with Sherri helped elevate and complete the package for many superstars during transition periods of their careers. Sherri was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006, as her influence inside and outside of the ring couldn't be denied.

17. Mae Young

Mae Young Bio
WWE

Most of us remember the perverted old lady Mae Young that infamously gave birth to a hand in the Attitude Era. In reality, Mae Young was a pioneer of women's wrestling by that time. Young broke into the business in the 1940s and even wrestled through World War II. After the war, Mildred Burke and herself were the first women's wrestlers to perform in a post-war Japan. They were also the pioneers of opening up women's wrestling in Canada.

Young would first retire sometime in the 1970s but eventually became an on-screen regular on WWE television along with her friend the Fabulous Moolah. They first appeared in 1999 and would make sporadic appearances until her last appearance in 2013. The matches and segments were always fun and comedic. Young even took an unforgettable table bump from the Dudley Boyz off the Raw stage. Mae Young's legacy was honored when the WWE introduced a new all-women's tournament named after her called "The Mae Young Classic."

16. Jacqueline

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WWE

Jacquline was a mainstay on the wrestling scene since debuting in 1988. Jacqueline would make her mark in the USWA becoming a fourteen-time Women's Champion in the promotion. In 1993, Jacqueline would be the first woman to be featured in PWI's annual top 500. Following her run in the USWA, she would appear in WCW, WWE, and TNA. In WCW, Jacqueline would manage Kevin Sullivan and Harlem Heat during her time there. Although it was rare at the time to see women tangle with the men, it wasn't with Jacquline.

Jacquline would make her WWE debut to oppose the popular Sable. This rivalry would lead to the WWE reviving the Women's Championship which Jacquline would win. This would make her the first-ever African American Women's Champion. Jacqueline would also win the Cruiserweight Championship which was predominantly held by the men in 2004. In 2016, she was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

15. Gail Kim

gail kim
Daniel Moore Studios / IMPACT Wrestling

Gail Kim was a dynamic wrestler from Canada who instantly caught everyone's attention. Kim began her career on the Canadian independent scene before being signed to the WWE in 2002. Gail would win the vacated WWE Women's Championship in her debut match for the company. Kim would have two stints working with the WWE. Although she stood out for both her looks and in-ring skills, she was never able to break through the glass ceiling in that company. Gail would find major success in TNA.

TNA is where she would become the inaugural Knockouts Champion and went to have a highly praised rivalry with Awesome Kong. Kim would become a 7-time Knockouts Champion and the first woman inducted in the TNA Hall of Fame among all of her other accolades. Gail Kim is proof that you could succeed outside of the WWE and was a key piece to the revolution that was happening for women's wrestling outside of the federation.

14. Molly Holly

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WWE

Holly started her career on the independent circuit in 1998 but her first big break was with WCW. Since they didn't really have a women's division, she served as a valet to "Macho Man '' Randy Savage as "Miss Madness" at first. Behind the scenes, Molly and Madusa would be training women's wrestlers at the WCW Powerplant too. Holly was let go from WCW but was soon picked up by the WWE after an endorsement from Randy Savage.

During that run, we would see her be portrayed as Hardcore and Crash Holly's younger cousin, Mighty Molly alongside the Hurricane, and even a self-righteous prude who thought she was above the other "divas" on the roster. For Wrestlemania XX, when the women's title match was almost taken off the card, she suggested a hair vs title match in which she got her head shaved to secure their spot. Holly was more than a pretty face and she always delivered in the ring.

Whether the Hall of Famer produces, trains, or does anything else, you know she's passionate about this business.

13. Natalya

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WWE

It's not all about what Natalya Neidhart does on-screen but it's also how important she is behind the scenes. Natalya is the first-ever female third-generation superstar being the daughter of Jim "The Anvil '' Neidhart and part of the legendary Hart Family as the granddaughter to Stu Hart. The Queen of Harts would start her career on the independents in 2003, working for Stampede Wrestling and traveling to wrestle in places like England and Japan. Nattie was signed to the WWE in 2007 where she would become a mainstay for the company till this day being part of the pre and post-women's revolution eras for the division.

She would spend time both managing and wrestling. Natalya would become a multiple-time champion, a regular cast member of the reality television series Total Divas, and become a locker room leader for the women in the back. More recently we have seen Natalya and her husband TJ Wilson helping talent out in the ring at their new Dungeon.

One day we'll learn just how important Natalya's influence and mentorship meant for many women. This is why I find Natalya to be an unsung hero of women's wrestling.

12. Mickie James

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WWE

Mickie James began her career in 2002 as a valet but soon after began to train as a professional wrestler. James quickly made her presence felt in TNA joining the stable called "The Gathering." She would make her debut in WWE as a Trish Stratus super-fan who turned into an obsessive stalker. It's one of the most memorable storylines in wrestling. James would go on to win the Women's Championship five times and the Divas Championship once. Mickie would return to TNA in 2010 where she would win the Knockouts Championship three times really leaving her mark in that company.

She would return to WWE in the midst of the women's revolution as that established name that younger girls could work with. "Hardcore Country" would return to TNA again in 2021 where she would capture the Knockouts Championship for the fourth time. She would even make appearances for NWA. Mickie was even able to enter the 2022 Women's Royal Rumble as the Knockouts Champion, breaking down the forbidden door.

James has wrestled women from the past, the present and she continues to work with the future which is why she made it this high on the list.

11. The Bella Twins

the bella twins
WWE

The Bella Twins deserve more respect put on their name. They really earned it. The Bella Twins were introduced to the WWE in 2007 and were automatically labeled as models. The Bellas would both win the Divas Championship one time each during their first run before they would leave the company for a year, only to return to really elevate their brand. They were cast for the reality television series Total Divas upon their return. They soon became fan-favorites on the show which would lead to them getting their own spin-off series called "Total Bellas." Although they were usually together, they would have their own major achievements too.

Brie Bella would wrestle Stephanie McMahon at Summerslam in a storyline that involved her real-life husband Daniel Bryan. Nikki would win the Divas Championship again and became the longest-reigning Divas Champion. They became regulars for red carpets and outside appearances for the company. The way they took their success from the WWE and continued to grow their brands outside the company is really admirable.

The Bellas started their own businesses, appeared on other popular reality shows, and found ways to stay in the public eye even after retiring.

10. AJ Lee

AJ Lee bio
WWE

AJ Lee wasn't here for a long time but she really accomplished a lot in her short time. Lee was a lifelong wrestling fan and it was a dream for her to be in the WWE. Lee began wrestling in 2007 and was signed to the WWE by 2009. In 2012 she made her debut on television and she sky-rocketed from there. In a time when the "divas'' weren't getting a lot of time or appreciation, AJ Lee stood out. Lee played a mentally unstable character and was involved in the male storylines with on-air relationships with Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, John Cena, and Dolph Ziggler.

At one point AJ Lee even became the Raw General Manager. Being involved in these storylines made her more popular with the fanbase. Therefore, when she started focusing more on becoming the Divas Champion, it got more fans focusing on the division. AJ Lee would win the championship 3 times and even held it for 400 plus days at one point. I truly believe AJ's popularity put eyes back on the women's division.

AJ Lee always spoke up for the division and continues to help with women's wrestling being involved with WOW.

9. Becky Lynch

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WWE

The Irish Lasskicker began wrestling in 2002 and then suffered an injury in 2006 that made her give up on her dream for six years. Becky Lynch would return in 2012 and be signed by the WWE in 2013. Lynch had a ton of experience under her belt from wrestling in Canada, Europe and America before taking the time off. Our first exposure to Lynch on NXT was her river dancing and playing off her Irish heritage. Although she got more serious when pairing up with Banks and found more confidence when she became the steampunk version of herself, something still felt off.

Becky became the first-ever Smackdown Women's Champion and the fans adored her but there was still something missing. Becky just didn't have that chip on her shoulder like the other Horsewomen until she did. The rise of "The Man'' in 2018 changed everything and she became one of the biggest names in sports entertainment. "Big Time Becks' ' is now a six-time Women's Champion, a Royal Rumble winner, and was victorious in the first-ever women's Wrestlemania main event.

Lynch's star continues to grow and the sky is the limit for her success now.

8. Mildred Burke

Mildred Burke bio 1804efb1d4a1b60d71bab6ef30aebf20
Pro Wrestling Illustrated / WWE

When people think of pioneers of women's wrestling, they usually think of The Fabulous Moolah. However, before Moolah there was Mildred Burke. Burke began wrestling in the mid-1930s until the mid-1950s. She started out wrestling at carnivals in 1935. Mildred would hold a handful of women's championships but most notably the NWA Women's Championship for nearly 20 years. In the 1930s, Burke wrestled over 200 men while only losing to one of them.

In a dispute with her former manager, trainer, and ex-husband Billy Wolfe, a lot of controversies surrounded Burke and the importance of women's wrestling to the National Wrestling Alliance. This led to Burke starting her own women's wrestling promotion and she also introduced women's wrestling to different countries around the world, most notably Canada, Mexico, and Japan.

To this very day, Burke's influence and footprint are felt in wrestling as she was truly one of the earliest pioneers of women's wrestling.

7. Alundra Blayze/Madusa

Alundra Blayze bio
WWE

During the dark years of women's wrestling, Alundra Blayze was fighting to make a difference. Madusa began her career in the AWA in 1986 and was the first woman to be awarded the "Rookie of the Year '' by PWI. She would be the first foreign woman to sign a contract to All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling. In 1991, Madusa would join WCW to be a valet for the Dangerous Alliance. In 1993, she would debut in the WWE under the new name of Alundra Blayze. When WWE decided to try to revive their women's division in the mid-90s, Alundra was at the forefront. During this time she became a three-time Women's Champion.

When she was released from WWE, she infamously returned to WCW television by throwing the WWE Women's Championship in the trash. Madusa would be blacklisted from the WWE and stay in WCW till the company went out of business. Along with Molly Holly, she would train wrestlers at the WCW Powerplant too. Feeling that women's wrestling went in a raunchier direction, Madusa retired from professional wrestling.

In 2015, the WWE finally invited Madusa to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, finally appreciating her contributions to wrestling.

6. Trish Stratus

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WWE

Trish Stratus went from sex symbol to arguably one of the greatest of all time. Stratus was a Canadian fitness model who transitioned into wrestling as she grew up a fan. In the beginning, she was portrayed as eye candy and involved in overly sexualized storylines such as having an affair with the Mr. McMahon character. Slowly though, Stratus would improve her in-ring skills and she became more focused on pursuing the Women's Championship. In her pursuit, Stratus would become a fan favorite.

Stratus would win the Women's Championship a record-setting seven times and was even a former Hardcore Champion. The Canadian Bombshell would be the PWI Woman of the Year four times. Stratus was also the PWI Woman of the Decade for 2000-2009. There is no denying her popularity as she has appeared on magazine covers, television shows, and movies. In 2011, she came out of retirement for a couple of matches before she was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013. In 2018, she returned for the first-ever Women's Royal Rumble.

Stratus would wrestle Charlotte Flair in her hometown at SummerSlam which is her last match as of right now.

5. Lita

Lita
WWE

Lita started her career by training and working in Mexico in 1997. In early 1999 she would appear in ECW and would be signed to the WWE by the end of the year. The fiery redhead instantly stood out when she made her first appearance on WWE alongside Essa Rios. Lita's popularity skyrocketed when she was paired up with the Hardy Boyz forming "Team Xtreme." This led to her changing her attire, introducing the famous thong and baggy pants look to fit in with the Hardys.

She would go on to become a four-time Women's Champion and the PWI Woman of the Year in 2001. The first three Raw main events featured women and the first-ever women's cage match featured Lita. The fiery diva would also be involved in a ton of male storylines throughout the years. The period she was paired with the "Rated R Superstar'' Edge was infamous. Although she retired in 2007, Lita returned a handful of times since then.

As recent as this year she challenged Becky Lynch for Raw Women's Championship. Many of today's women's wrestlers credit Lita for inspiring them since she was more relatable, exciting, and unpredictable.

4. Sasha Banks

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WWE

Sasha Banks began training at 18 years old and worked on the independent circuit before signing to the WWE in 2012. It was her childhood dream. During her time on NXT, she became the Women's Champion and put on an all-time classic with Bayley in Brooklyn. The two of them would continue to make history in NXT. During her legendary feud with Charlotte Flair in 2016, she had so many first-ever moments for women's wrestling such as being the main event of a PPV and entering the Hell in a Cell. Banks later became one half of the first-ever Women's Tag Team Champions with Bayley in 2019.

The Boss has won the Women's Championship six times in her career. Last year, Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair made history when they were the first two black women to main event at Wrestlemania. "The Blueprint'' has won awards from ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stones, CBS Sports, and PWI. Sasha's popularity has allowed her to crossover to mainstream media as she's featured in commercials, walking red carpets, regularly making outside appearances, and has a recurring role on The Mandalorian television series that is part of the Star Wars franchise.

The "Legit Boss's" star power is undeniable, her passion is unmeasurable and she's definitely a role model for little girls around the world.

3. Chyna

chynarip
WWE

Chyna was trained by "Killer" Kowalski in 1995 and was signed to the WWE by 1997. The "Ninth Wonder of the World" made her first WWE appearance when she attacked Marlena from her seat at ringside during a Goldust and Triple H match. Later it was established that she was Triple H's bodyguard. When The Game aligned himself on-screen with his real-life friend Shawn Michaels, it made Chyna a founding member of DX too. Chyna proved to be a valuable asset to DX as she could overpower and intimidate the men due to size.

During her time with WWE, she broke barriers by being the first woman to win the Intercontinental Championship, to enter the annual Royal Rumble match, to regularly wrestle the men, and to become the number one contender for the WWE Championship. Chyna would also become the Women's Champion in 2001. In her short stint with the company, Chyna became one of the biggest stars of the Attitude Era, appearing on television shows and movies. Chyna also posed for Playboy in the year 2000.

Chyna would leave the WWE in 2001 but made appearances for companies such as NJPW and TNA. There will never be another Chyna.

2. Charlotte Flair

charlotte flair 1 1
WWE

Charlotte Flair may be one of the most polarizing stars of the modern era but her influence on the future of women's wrestling can't be denied. The Queen is a second-generation superstar as she is the daughter of the legendary Ric Flair. She decided to pursue professional wrestling after her younger brother Reid passed away to fulfill his dream of becoming a wrestler. Charlotte has succeeded so much in such a short amount of time that she really has become the bar in women's wrestling.

Put in a position to break out of her dad's shadow and work even harder to prove herself to the doubters, The Queen always rises to the occasion. Charlotte is a 15 time Women's Champion if including her NXT and Divas Championship reigns. She has won the Women's Tag Team titles with Asuka, been victorious in a Royal Rumble match, and was part of the first-ever women's main event at Wrestlemania along with Becky Lynch and Ronda Rousey. Charlotte has had unforgettable feuds with Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Asuka, and Bayley.

Flair is now in the position where she's almost untouchable and standing across the ring from her means something. It is almost as if she was destined to perform.

1. Manami Toyota

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Twitter (@vintagepuro)

Manami Toyota is a name I've heard about for years. When checking out her work when prepping for this article, I understand why. Toyota was ahead of her time and a trailblazer for women's wrestling. Making her debut in 1987 at the age of 16, this Joshi professional wrestler is considered one of the greatest of all time. Toyota spent most of her career in All Japan's Women's Pro Wrestling.

Whether teaming with Toshiyo Yamada or in singles competition, her talent was being compared to the major male names of the wrestling world. Manami's feud with Kyoko Inoue produced the WON 1995 "Match of the Year" when they fought to a 60-minute draw in Korakuen Hall. If you're someone who follows Dave Meltzer's star rating system, then Manami is the only woman to have competed in fourteen 5 star matches. Manami has won many World Championships. Toyota would take a hiatus after 2007 and make her United States debut for Chikara in 2010. In 2017, she announced her retirement.

If you are a student of the game though or a woman who wants to pursue professional wrestling, study Manami Toyota. 

I hope you all enjoyed this list of influential women in professional wrestling. Let me know if I missed any matches you think should have made this list but didn't.

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