Last year, I made a list of ten fantastic women’s matches that I felt needed to be appreciated by more people. But clearly, ten wasn’t enough. Although, times have thankfully changed, there are dozens of fantastic women’s wrestling matches that have happened in the last three decades that were unfortunately overlooked and overshadowed by bikini contests and evening gown matches. It’s time to give just some of those great matches the appreciation they deserve: Here are 10 More Women’s Wrestling Matches You Need to See.
As this is a list of matches “that you need to see”, I’ve decided to only include content that can be easily accessible, either on YouTube, Dailymotion or the WWE Network, so that most readers will actually be able to enjoy them. Another point is that I am not including any match that has already been given a lot of exposure, so I will be excluding the likes of the Sasha vs Becky matches, Trish vs Lita, and any match that took place at Wrestlemania. Also, these matches are not ranked in any way, they are simply ten wrestling matches that I love, and each one of them is definitely worth watching. With that being said, let’s get down to some wrestling.
Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks – NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable
So just like the last list, let’s start with the least obscure of the bunch. Before they revolutionised the women’s division on the main roster, the Four Horsewomen were amazing NXT audiences on a regular basis. When two of those women met back in May of 2015, they created an instant classic that sadly gets overlooked due to the amazing series of matches between Sasha and Bayley that occurred just a few months later. Becky Lynch especially put up such a strong showing that the Full Sail Crowd sang her theme tune back to her after the match as a sign of respect. If you were late to board the NXT bandwagon, then this is one of the bouts you need to go back and catch up on.
Kyoko Inoue & Takako Inoue vs. Mayumi Ozaki & Cutie Suzuki – AJW April 2nd 1993
It seems as though April 1993 was an incredible month for Japanese women’s tag team wrestling (try and say that ten times faster), as two matches from AJW earned five-star ratings from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, and one even went on to be declared the MOTY. Although this match wasn’t deemed the best of 1993 (let’s save that for another list), this bout between Kyoko and Takako Inoue, and Mayumi Ozaki and Cutie Suzuki is still absolutely incredible (fun fact: Cutie Suzuki had her own Japan-exclusive women’s wrestling video game named after her for the Sega Megadrive). Starting off with a 40 second giant swing that would give Cesaro a run for his money, this match is fast-paced, non-stop action from start to finish.
Megumi Kudo vs. Shark Tsuchiya: Barbed Wire Death Match – FMW December 22nd 1995
Much like Combat Toyoda vs. Megumi Kudo from my first list, this deathmatch needs to be witnessed purely for how brutally hardcore it is. Back in 1995, hardcore wrestling was only just hitting Western shores, thanks to the efforts of the relatively new ECW, but over in Japan, they were way ahead of the game, and it wasn’t just the men that were trying to mutilate each other. Women like the featured Megumi Kudo specialised in torturing others using all manner of foreign objects. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but if you want an extraordinary amount of blood, barbed wire and the always gruesome Kudo Driver (otherwise known as The Vertebreaker), this match is for you.
Gail Kim vs. Taryn Terrell – Last Knockout Standing
There’s not many things TNA really get right, but this match is one of them. It’s interesting to see Taryn Terrell, a woman who wasn’t even sure which way round you’re supposed to pin your opponent during her WWE development days, put on such a great, brutal showing against one of the best Western female competitors in recent years, Gail Kim. This match took place at a time where no mainstream companies were doing much with their female talent, yet TNA allowed these two women to put on one hell of a show.
Manami Toyota vs. Kyoko Inoue – AJW 25th April 1992
Back in 1995, these two women earned the prestigious honour of the Wrestling Observer’s Pro Wrestling Match of the Year award, but that wasn’t the first classic they both had together. Three years earlier, they earned a Meltzer five-star rating for a fantastic, hard-hitting bout. As I’ve stated multiple times, I believe Manami Toyota is the greatest female wrestler of all time, and one of my personal favourites in all of wrestling, and this match shows exactly how incredible she is.
Hisako Uno & Yumiko Hotta vs. Kazue Nagahori & Yumi Ogura – AJW April 27th 1987
Now for the earliest match on our list. While WWE was full of bright, cartoonish characters and experiencing full-on Hulkamania, brother, Japan were putting on joshi puroresu matches the likes the West had never seen. In 1987, the teams of Hisako Uno and Yumiko Hotta, and Kazue Nagahori and Yumi Ogura were creating unbelievable two out of three fall tag team matches well before DIY and The Revival. Part way through this match, Hisako (also known as Akira Hokuto) actually suffered a broken neck thanks to a tombstone piledriver off the second rope, yet despite this career threatening injury, she continued with the match because, as it has been proven time and time again, Japanese wrestlers are certifiably crazy. If you want a good fix of hard-hitting, strong style action, this is the match for you.
Maryse vs. Michelle McCool – WWE Unforgiven 2008
A clear case of a women’s match not given the time it deserves, as both women filled this short match to the brim with fast paced action. While not the longest bout on the list by any means, it is still more than worth checking out, and will leave you wondering why it took WWE so many years to begin to appreciate women’s wrestling.
Io Shirai vs. Kairi Hojo – Stardom January 17th 2016
Io Shirai and Kairi Hojo may just be the two greatest female wrestlers in the world today. Both were involved in one of my favourite matches of 2016 as part of the Black Lotus Triad in Lucha Underground, but when they’re not teaming together, they’re bitter rivals that have put on an incredible series of matches. Now that Kairi Hojo has recently signed with WWE (and will no doubt be a part of their women’s tournament taking place this summer, which will be amazing), it may be quite a while before we see these two fight again, but judging by the quality of this match, let’s hope it does happen somewhere down the line.
Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks – NXT Takeover R Evolution
Although you’ve probably now seen these two face each other plenty of times on the main roster, it is well worth going back and watching their encounters back in NXT. This 2014 match was fantastic from start to finish, and really displayed how much talent and potential both of these future champions had.
Manami Toyota & Akira Hokuto vs. Toshiyo Yamada & Kyoko Inoue – AJW 21st November 1991
Considering two of these women have already appeared on this list in a five-star match, and another carried on wrestling after she broke her freakin’ neck, you know straight off the bat that this is going to be good. Full of fantastic joshi action, stiff shots, and Manami’s beautiful front dropkick, this early 90s match is certainly worth your time.
Do you have a women’s match in mind that you think I need to see? Please leave your suggestion in a comment below or tweet it to me @hairywrestling