32 Women Who Should Be In the New WWE Women’s Tournament

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With the combined success of this summer’s Cruiserweight Classic – featuring 32 of the top cruiserweight and indie wrestlers from around the world under 205 lbs. – to the 2nd Annual Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Tournament on NXT, it appears that the WWE could be adding a third annual tournament to the WWE Network in the form of one that features 32 of the world’s top independent female wrestlers, with the assumption that, like the CWC, several would be signed to fill in the ranks of NXT and ultimately restock the Raw and Smackdown women’s divisions as well.

Women’s wrestling has never been hotter in the history of professional wrestling. No longer the sex objects or lackeys of the business, removed from the Bra & Panties and Mud Wrestling matches of days gone by, women are now stealing the show from their male counterparts, from local indie promotions all the way up to the WWE. Just this past Sunday, Charlotte and Sasha Banks made history by being the first female wrestlers to headline a major wrestling PPV at Hell In A Cell.

So it’s no surprise that it was revealed the past few days by Wrestling Observer that WWE does indeed plan on a women’s tournament. And not only that, apparently several top names have already been contacted, with the tournament possibly starting as early as January of 2017 (but as late as March).

If the CWC was any indication, it will be a mix of talent featuring international indie performers on their radar, a couple wild cards that may not be on everyone’s scouting lists, a couple familiar NXT names, plus a veteran or two back for one last run. Applying that formula to this as well, here’s a look at 32 women’s wrestlers who could (although depending how certain contracts play out and TNA’s future stabilizes, many may end just being should) be in 2017’s first World Women’s Classic (the current working title).

(Photo: Pinterest.com)
(Photo: Flickr.com)
  1. TESSA BLANCHARD, USA

Not only is she one of the top women’s wrestlers on the North American indie circuit, she’s a third generation wrestler. Her father is WWE Hall of Famer and Four Horseman Tully Blanchard, and her grandfather is Joe Blanchard, former NWA wrestler and President of AWA. She’s one half of the indies’ great power couples, with international sensation Ricochet (whom the WWE covets), roommates with WWE Superstar Apollo Crews (actually, where is he?) and she’s already made a few enhancement appearances for NXT (much to the internet’s chagrin). She’s almost a lock to be in the tournament and could be an early favourite to win it all.

Photo: Twitter.com
Photo: Twitter.com

2. RACHAEL ELLERING, USA

Another indie wrestler with a WWE Hall of Fame father, she’s the daughter of legendary manager of The Legion of Doom/Road Warriors Animal and Hawk, as well as current mentor to NXT’s Authors of Pain. Much like Blanchard, she’s already had some short looks in NXT, so she’s on their radar and another likely entrant.

(Photo: alchetron.com)
(Photo: alchetron.com)

3. KIMBERLEE, USA

KimberLee may look like a Princess, but she hits like a Dragon. She was created in the brutality of CZW and has toiled for much of the past few years competing in intergender matches alongside the boys, becoming the first woman to capture a major indie’s top belt, when she won CHIKARA‘s Grand Championship last year. She recently had a tryout at the Performance Center for WWE, which could have been more of a glimpse to see if she was good for the WWC. Expect to see Suplex Kingdom on the Network this winter.

(Photo: Pinterest.com)
(Photo: Modern Myth)

4. SANTANA GARRETT, USA

Considered one of North America’s best indie performers (she ranked #4 in the PWI Women’s 50 in 2015), Garrett has been a staple in SHINE and Japan, as well appearances in NXT (with losing efforts against Charlotte and Asuka) and TNA (with a forgettable run as Brittany in 2014). But if she gets room to be herself, you’ll see why she’s been at World Champion in the NWA, SHINE, World Wonder Ring Stardom and more.

(Photo: Pinterest.com)
(Photo: Pinterest.com)

5. IO SHIRAI, Japan

One of the names that came up recently in the news in reports that she had given notice to her promotion in Japan, World Wonder Ring Stardom, that she was heading to the WWE. Considered by many as the top female performer in Japan, she’s also wrestled in Mexico for both AAA and CMLL, as well as being former stablemates with current NXT Women’s Champion, Asuka in WWRS’ Triple Tails faction. Another odds on favourite to win the tournament, especially if she, unlike her countryman Kota Ibushi after participating in the CWC, decides to remain.

Photo: WWE.com
Photo: WWE.com

6. MOLLY HOLLY, USA

Much like Brian Kendrick, Molly Holly is a beloved Superstar from the WWE’s past. And, much like Kendrick, she is a skilled wrestler who seemed to be beloved by everyone. Tough to find anyone who didn’t like Molly Holly. Whether it was accompanying “Macho Man” Randy Savage in WCW as Ms. Madness, or her stints in WWF as the little cousin of Hardcore and Crash to a super sidekick to Hurricane Helms. She retired young, but recently has began training other wrestlers. She’s made a couple appearances on the Network the past few years with the Table for 3 series, so she’s definitely a familiar face for the casual viewer that even the indie fans still pine for.

(Photo: Pinterest.com)
(Photo: Pinterest.com)

7. MEIKO SATOMURA, Japan

A Japanese veteran and founder of Sendei Girls Pro Wrestling in Japan, she is a study of grace and poise in the ring. A 21-year veteran, she wrestled for WCW in 1997 for the short lived WCW Women’s Cruiserweight title and this year she captained the winning team in the 2016 CHIKARA King of Trios. It would be great for her to get a real shot of exposure to current North American wrestling fans, even if just one match.

(Photo: Pinterest.com)
(Photo: Pinterest.com)

8. MADISON EAGLES, Australia

One of the world’s top wrestlers, she’s been a mainstay Superstar of both Shimmer (where she’s a 2-time champion) and SHINE. During her early days in Shimmer, she was in the tag team The Pink Ladies with current NXT Superstar Billie Kay. She’s also feuded with current WWE producer (and former NXT trainer) Sara Del Rey. The WWE sure seems to love their Australian talent of late – Emma, Billie Kay, Murphy (of Blake And…), Peyton Royce and TM61 all come from the Land Downunder. Why not add one more?

(Photo: Pinterest.com)
(Photo: Pinterest.com)

9. SOLO DARLING, USA

With her “furry”/Cosplay gear, it’s no wonder she’s attracted a lot of followers, but she’s also a damned good performer. She’s been a regular for SHINE and Shimmer, as well as appearing for the NWA, Ring of Honor and CHIKARA. With her fur-tailed gimmick, she’s a marketing goldmine for the WWE, so don’t be shocked if she ends up in NXT as a hybrid between Dana Brooke and Bayley…with a tail…and fox ears.

(Photo: Pinterest.com)
(Photo: Pinterest.com)

10. DEONNA PURRAZZO, USA

By this time next year, Purrazzo could be talked about in the same breath as Blanchard, Eagles and LeRae. She’s had one sky rocket of a year on the indie circuit, that included a one month span that saw her wrestle for Ring of Honor, TNA and NXT. She’s actually had a few NXT appearances (most notably for being knocked out by a kick from Asuka), but don’t be fooled by her work on the Network. Like Blanchard and Santana, she’s miles better than her enhancement appearances and she’s only getting bigger and better.

(Photo: Twitter.com)
(Photo: Twitter.com)

11. VELVET SKY, USA

I’m sure a lot of die hard indie fans are groaning at this, but Velvet Sky had a great character in the early days of TNA’s KnockOut Division and her work in The Beautiful People was entertaining and fun. Her relationship with Bubba Ray Dudley will open doors that may not have been as accessible and even if it’s just for a one match rub for a younger star, Sky’s familiarity with TNA and indie fans will have some appeal to the WWE brass.

(Photo: Pinterest.com)
(Photo: Pinterest.com)

12. HEIDI LOVELACE, USA

Another veteran of CHIKARA, Shine and World Wonder Ring Stardom in Japan (and a stiff firecracker), Heidi has been a force against men twice her size as well as some of the top women’s wrestlers in North America. She’s had appearances with the WWE before (she was one of Adam Rose‘s Rosebuds in a few segments) and was also recently at a WWE tryout at the Performance Center.

Photo: Twitter.com
Photo: Twitter.com

13. CAT POWER, Canada

Originally from the East Coast, she’s another product of Windsor, Ontario’s Can-Am Wrestling School, trained by former TNA stars Scott D’Amore and Johnny Devine and CWC competitor Tyson Dux. She’s a long time veteran of Shimmer, as well as in Canada’s elite ECCW (where she’s the current Women’s Champion). She’s currently tearing up Japan in Reina Joshi Puroresu.

(Photo: Pinterest.com)
(Photo: Pinterest.com)

14. JESSICKA HAVOK, USA

Havok is an icon in the indie circuit, a veteran of a lot of wars since 2004, where she earned her stripes in the gritty Ohio indie circuit that produced Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler and Johnny Gargano. She’s had stops in CZW, Shine, Shimmer and TNA and now tours on her own schedule. She’s only 30 too, which means she’s got a lot of road wisdom to pass on.

(Photo: Pinterest.com)
(Photo: Pinterest.com)

15. BEA PRIESTLY, England

After the recent headaches caused by Paige, the WWE may be a little sour on young British wrestlers. Priestly is only 22, but she’s already turning heads in the UK scene, which is becoming one of the globe’s hottest upcoming wrestling circuits. Her series of matches in WCPW recently with Nixon Newell were great fun and being part of another indie power couple with international sensation Will Ospreay doesn’t hurt either.

(Photo: WWE.com)
(Photo: WWE.com)

16. KHARMA, USA

During her run as Awesome Kong in TNA during the KnockOut Division’s peak years, her feud with Gail Kim helped put TNA on the map. She was an unstoppable force on the indie circuit (as Amazing Kong) and was the buzz of the internet when she signed with WWE and became Kharma. But an unplanned pregnancy and painful aftermath pulled her from the scene, except for a brief TNA comeback last year. Even if it’s just to put over one of the younger girls, one more look at Kharma (because let’s face it, WWE will go with their name for her) would be a nice happy ending considering the tragedy that ended her last run.

(Photo: Pinterest.com)
(Photo: Pinterest.com)

17. COMMAND BOLSHOI, Japan

A 25-year Japanese wrestling legend, Bolshoi was part of the early 90’s women’s wrestling scene that bears a striking resemblance to a lot of the high spot style than the male indie stars are doing today. Her clown lucha mask hides a mystery that even social media hasn’t been able to crack – in true lucha fashion, no one knows her true identity. An icon from JWP Joshi Proresu, she recently made a splash in North America as part of the Team JWP in the 2016 CHIKARA King of Trios, where the faced the Sendei Girls in the finals.

(Photo: Pinterest.com)
(Photo: Pinterest.com)

18. SHAYNA BALSZER, USA

While NXT has their Four Horsewomen in Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Bayley and Becky Lynch, before them UFC had theirs. Lead by UFC Champion Ronda Rousey alongside Marina Shafir, Jessamyn Duke and Shayna Balszer. And it’s no secret that UFC’s were all big wrestling fans – Rousey has appeared at a Wrestlemania and Natalya has mentioned training various members at times. Balszer was recently announced as attending a WWE tryout and it could very well be for this tournament. They’d love to have a female Brock Lesnar in NXT (and eventually the WWE) to face Asuka…and potentially Rousey herself when her own UFC career ends.

(Photo: Pinterest.com)
(Photo: Pinterest.com)

19. NICOLE SAVOY, USA

At 31 years old, Savoy is a veteran of the indie circuit and as good as they come. She’s been a main event wrestler in Shimmer for years now and her Heart of Shimmer Championship win over Wrestlemania weekend at a Shimmer event was apparently received with high marks from a WWE scout in attendance. She’s definitely on the company’s radar and adding an older veteran will only help the roster.

(Photo: Pinterest.com)
(Photo: Pinterest.com)

20. NICOLE MATTHEWS, Canada

A product of one of Canada’s premiere indie promotions, Vancouver’s ECCW. She’s not only a 4-time ECCW Women’s Champion but a 2-time ECCW Champion as well. She’ll throw down with anyone, man or woman. She’s also taken her trade to the U.S., where she’s captured the Shimmer Championship as well.

(Photo: Pinterest.com)
(Photo: Pinterest.com)

22. LuFISTO, Canada

This Montreal wrestling queen is an indie legend. Before Rosemary, Crazy Mary Dobson and Jessicka Havok, there was LuFisto. She’s a 19-year veteran of the ring and she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty either. She’s the only woman ever to win the CZW Iron Man Championship (beating current WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens in Philadelphia in 2006) and won the IWA: Mid-South Queen of the Deathmatch a year later. She’s been a part of Shimmer for a decade, as well as stints in Shine. An NXT run (possibly joining SaNitY?) and possible position as a trainer aren’t out of the question either.

(Photo: Pinterest.com)
(Photo: Pinterest.com)

23. NIXON NEWELL, Wales

WWE is certainly expanding their British stocks and Nixon Newell could very well be on the horizon. Another young one, she made a buzz this past summer with a series of matches against Bea Priestly in WCPW, where Newell claimed the inaugural WCPW Women’s Championship.

(Photo: Pinterest.com)
(Photo: Pinterest.com)

24. THEA TRINIDAD, USA

Trinidad has had quite the career for a 25-year old. She started in TNA at the age of 20, as Rosita, part of the Mexican America stable with Hernandez, Anarquia and Sarita. She left after a couple of years and hit the road, wrestling for CMLL in Mexico, Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling and Ring of Honor. In Ring of Honor she would manage her fiance, NXT Superstar Austin Aries. Her TNA tag partner Sarita was played by current NXT trainer Sarah Stock, she was trained by CWC winner TJ Perkins, and Trinidad recently had an NXT appearance in a match versus Asuka. It’s almost a lock she’s part of the tournament (and most likely billed from Puerto Rico).

(Photo: Pinterest.com)
(Photo: Pinterest.com)

25. LEVA BATES, USA

Leva Bates had a brief flirtation with WWE in NXT as the quirky Blue Pants. She became an internet sensation, which was surprising as she was supposed to be an enhancement character. In a way, she was Ellsworth before Ellsworth. But indie purists knew her as Leva Bates, one of the circuit’s most entertaining performers. She’s had solid matches in Shimmer, SHINE, Full Impact Pro and appearances with TNA. Whether it’s as Blue Pants or a fresh start under her name (or Beva Lates), unless the rumours of her burning bridges are true, it would only make sense she may make an appearance.

(Photo: Pinterest.com)
(Photo: Pinterest.com)

26. MERCEDES MARTINEZ, USA

A 35-year old veteran of the indie circuit, Martinez still has a lot to bring to the table. She’s a 10-year veteran of Shimmer, Ring of Honor, and Germany’s premier promotion, wXw. She’s a natural bad-ass and would be a solid veteran to hold together a tournament or a division.

(Photo: Pinterest.com)
(Photo: Pinterest.com)

27. JADE, USA

Before debuting as Jade with the Dollhouse in TNA a couple of years ago, she was indie sensation Mia Yim. A solid combination of athleticism and charisma, she was trained in CZW, where she began as the manager for current ROH World Champion Adam Cole. She ended her career in CZW a wrestler before moving on to Shine and Shimmer – she even had an NXT appearance versus Charlotte prior to joining TNA. Jade is still under contract with TNA, so unless something significant happens in the next few months, chances are slim we’ll actually see her in the tournament. But if she does happen to find herself out of work by January…

(Photo: Pinterest.com)
(Photo: Pinterest.com)

28. KAIRI HOJO, Japan

Many international wrestling fans consider Hojo one of, if not the best women’s wrestler in the world. Another rumoured roster member of World Wonder Ring Stardom to have given their notice that they were heading to the WWE. Seriously. THAT ELBOW DROP THO.

(Photo: Pinterest.com)
(Photo: Pinterest.com)

29. MARTI BELL, USA

Trained by WWE Hall of Famer Johnny Rodz, Bell was an indie standout in Shimmer, Shine and Evolve before joining TNA with the Dollhouse angle in 2015. Much like her former Dollhouse cohort Jade, the stability of her current employer will see if she’s even available come January.

(Photo: Pinterest.com)
(Photo: Pinterest.com)

30. CANDICE LeRAE, Canada

Arguably one of the indie circuits top women’s stars, LeRae is a 10-year veteran of PWG, and tag team partner of Joey Ryan, she became the first woman to compete in PWG’s prestigious Battle of Los Angeles in 2014. She’s got more guts than most men, with athleticism and charisma to boot. She’s also recently married to NXT Superstar Johnny Gargano.

(Photo: Twitter.com)
(Photo: Twitter.com)

31. SEXY STAR, Mexico

Earlier this year, Sexy Star stunned Lucha Underground fans when she announced she was retiring from professional wrestling. She wrapped up her recording for future seasons of Lucha Underground and left AAA, Lucha Underground and wrestling behind her to become a boxer. But even though she’s retired, this 10-year veteran of the ring is only 34. While a full time return to the ring may be out of the cards, a couple of matches in an international tournament on the WWE Network may be enough to entice her back for a match or two.

(Photo: Pinterest.com)
(Photo: Pinterest.com)

32. SARA DEL REY, USA 

If the Women’s Revolution in wrestling had happened 10 years earlier, Sara Del Rey may be the biggest name in women’s wrestling. Don’t get me wrong, she still had a helluva career. She was a long time face of Shimmer (including winning the company’s inaugural Championship), with great matches in Ring of Honor, CHIKARA, all the way to Mexico and Japan. She retired in 2012, at the young age of 32, to take a trainer position with the WWE Performance Center and producer role with NXT. She’s currently the co-head trainer with Matt Bloom, as well doing more frequent producer/road agent work with the WWE main roster as well. She’s only 35 years old. If they wanted to create a Brian Kendrick story of a veteran with one more run in her, Sara Del Rey is the one to do it. She never got the big spotlight but perhaps no one else in this list has deserved it more.

So who would YOU put on your list? Obviously there’s many, many more women who deservedly could (and should) be considered. Who would you add to this list? Let us know your substitutions in the comments below!

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38 COMMENTS

  1. Good points on Evie and Kay Lee Ray. Definitely contenders. It was a tough list to compile. I had about 70 names and it literally has taken me 2 or 3 months to finally say this is it. Ever since the first rumours of this happening started. With the recent news, it seemed like the right time to do it and it made me cut off now. I’ll bet it would be different in 3 months, haha. Ben is correct, I didn’t include any Ring of Honor or Lucha Underground contracted wrestlers, as they were likely unavailable. I also didn’t include any of the more iron clad contracts of TNA, like Gail Kim, as they were likely unavailable either. As for Crazy Mary Dobson, I have a feeling she may be too involved in actual NXT to be in the tournament. In the CWC, none of the competitors, except for maybe Gargano and Ciampa, had any real momentum or pushes pre-CWC. Rich Swann, for example, was a sporadic enhancement talent. So anyone who had a shot at being more regular storylines in NXT by January or March I excluded as well, which is why I didn’t use Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, Mandy Rose, or Nikki Storm either. But if they WERE available, I think Taeler Hendrix for sure would have been on my list. I’m not sure if Veda is top 32 for me (but she’s up there), but still a solid pick! Thanks for the input, folks!

  2. Demi Bennett from South Australias Riot City Wrestling should be on that list as she has a tryout soon and is arguably the top female talent in Australia.

    • All great names to be sure! Only reason I didn’t include Nikki Cross is because she’s already on the NXT roster and actively in a storyline. For her to appear in the tournament would be unfair as storyline she would bring Sanity with her and it could detract from the tournament. Victoria is a good bet and she was on my Big List as well, but in the end I opted with Molly Holly and Sarah Del Rey as the vets, but Victoria isn’t a bad choice either. I think all your choices are solid, except for Jillian Hall. No one needs to see – or hear – her again 😉

  3. Bea Priestley is from New Zealand. You have missed Kay Lee Ray of your list which is baffling, and Viper is one from Scotland you forgot too. Viper absolutely killed it in her run in Stardom earlier this year.
    Lots of above average Yanks on the list though!!

    • True, she did spend her formative years in New Zealand, although she WAS born in North Yorkshire, England and now competes in the UK Indie scene. And yes, I did miss Kay Lee Ray – I had a list of nearly 100 wrestlers that were whittled down to this one and like any list is subjective. She was definitely on my “Big List”. But like I said to someone else, if I was to do this list again every month it would probably be a different 32! And I agree with Viper as well. Big fan of her work in Shine as well.

  4. Awesome list. I can iclude a few names on this… Evie, Kay Lee Ray, Toni Storm, Viper, Shanna, Victoria (Lisa Marie), Hania (She’s signed with ROH, but I don’t know how works the contract, so… the same pocede for Veda Scott), think these women could figure this list better than some names.

  5. Maria Manic and Miranda Vionette, both working the Northeast Indies, are both great young talents. If they are looking for new names to make an impact, I’m sure both would be more than capable.

  6. In general, this is a good list. Although everyone on this last is very talented and many of these picks will likely be selected to compete, I think that some of these picks are too aspirational and not realistic enough. Also, there are some mistakes and oversights. Let’s look at the list:

    Some the picks are definite front runners for a spot in the tournament: Deonna Purrazzo, Rachel Ellering, Evie, Nixon Newell, Heidi Lovelace, Kimber Lee (NOt Kimberlee as she is mentioned in the article). Rumor has it that these are 6 most likely to be chosen. Newell has been offered a deal. Lee and Lovelace were at the Orlando tryout and seem like good bets to get longterm contracts. Evie will surely be at the Australia tryout and may also end up in NXT regularly. Ellering and Purrazzo have been on NXT multiple times.

    Some of the other picks also seem like strong bets to be in the tournament: Thea Trinidad, Candice LeRae, Kairi Hojo, Io Shirai, Shayna Baszler, Tessa Blanchard, Santana Garrett. Trinidad, Blanchard and Garrett have all appeared on NXT so that works in their favor. Baszler was at the recent Orlando tryout and while a little old, the MMA connection is probably compelling for them. Shirai and Hojo are surely on WWE’s wishlist, but their have been mixed stories as to whether or not they are planning on leaving Stardom to move to Orlando or not. LeRae is local, married to Johnny Gargano and is one of the top workers on the indy scene.

    There’s also a few picks that stand a realistic (but far from guaranteed) shot of getting in: Solo Darling, Nicole Matthews, Bea Priestly, Cat Power. Matthews and Priestly seem like the more likely choices here. Matthews was recently on NXT and is from Canada. Priestly is English and was at the Glasgow camp. Darling seems like a solid backup and Power is interesting, but the competition to represent Canada will be stiff.

    There’s also some some picks who may very well likely have a right person/wrong time situation going on: Velvet Sky, Meiko Satomura, Command Bolshoi, Mercedes Martinez, LuFisto. If WWE is using this tournament to scout talent, are there ladies really going to be on the radar? Command Bolshoi is in her 40’s and the rest are in the 35-37 range. I wouldn’t count any of them out and they are all still very very good wrestlers, but time is working against them. Velvet Sky seems like the most likely from this group due to her connections with the Dudley Boyz and already having an established TNA fanbase, something WWE seems to like these days. Satomura seems more likely to send Dash Chisako or Cassandra Miyagi to represnt Sendai. Martinez might actually be a possibility, but she’s the current Shimmer champion and I’m not so sure that they’d put the belt on her if she’s not going to defend it. LuFisto and Bolshoi may be longer shots.

    I’m giving Sexy Star/Dulce Garcia her own section because her case is particularly interesting. Although she’s 34, there’s a lot of reasons to believe that WWE would want to not only bring her in for the tournament, but also sign her fulltime shortly thereafter. 1.) She’s in the prime of her career. 2.) She’s from Mexico which is a market WWE would love to tap into even more. 3.) She has a background in lucha which is something that none of the main roster WWE women have right now. 4.) She just left Lucha Underground. 5.) She is a legitimate star in the world of women’s wrestling right now. The only problem, however, is that it’s unclear as to whether or not she intends to keep wrestling. She was just at Shimmer a few weeks ago, but nobody knows what her actual long-term plans on.

    There’s also a couple picks to fill the token veteran’s slots, but I wouldn’t bet on them: Kharma, Molly Holly. Kharma was fired from WWE and TNA for being difficult. Those bridges might just be burned at this point. Also, I think she is winding down her career. Molly Holly retired from the business years ago. Both would get huge pops, but if WWE is going to use a veteran, I think they’d be more likely to go with Jazz, Victoria and/or or Mickie James. All three recently competed as a team at Chikara’s King of Trios so they are all still ready to go. Also, Mickie should probably be on the main roster after her showing against Asuka.

    Then there’s the women who are not just unlikely to be in the tournament, but are also probably not in contention for a spot: Jade, Marti Belle, Sara Del Ray, Madison Eagles, Nicole Savoy, Leva Bates, Jessicka Havok. Jade and Belle are still signed to TNA so unless they are granted a release in the next couple weeks and that release does not contain a non-compete clause, they are non-starters. Sara Del Ray is even less likely because she will be busy training, producing and reviewing the matches to actually partake in it as a competitor. I expect her to be more focused on making sure that the tournament goes well and that the right people are signed afterwords. Savoy and Eagles have a 0% of competing because they are both rehabbing injuries after having knee surgery. Havok was denied by WWE a couple of years ago after having her own Twittergate scandal break out while she was at a tryout. Leva Bates seems like the most likely candidate here, but if the rumors are true that she rubbed people the wrong way backstage, she may very well also be out. Plus, her cosplay gimmick likely wouldn’t work as well on TV and her actual in-ring skills are not as strong as others on the list. There’s a lot of strong candidates to grab the USA slots so I wouldn’t bet on her.

    So although I agree with many of your selections, I do think that some of them miss the mark. Some other noteworthy possibilities may include Su Yung, Aerial Monroe, Jessica James, Viper, Jayme Jameson, Shazza McKenzie, Alpha Female, KC Spinelli, Christina Von Erie, Shotzi Blackheart, Kiera Hogan, Kay Lee Ray, Toni Strong, Arisa Nakajima, Dash Chisako, Cassandra Miyagi, Mayu Iwatani, Momo Watanabe, Hiroyo Matsumoto, Zeuxis, Britt Baker, Delilah Doom, Angelina Love, Victoria, Mickie James, Jazz, Arriana, Yoko Bito, Kennadi Brink, Amanda Carolina Rodriguez, Charli Evans, Taylor Made, Andrea and Kellyanne.

    • Thanks that for that VERY informative reply and discussion! Great stuff! I agree 100% with most of what you wrote – keep in mind, that at the time I wrote this, the future of TNA was in real jeopardy, which is why I mention at one point that the TNA names are on the basis that TNA wouldn’t be around. They are now, so this would be a very different list if I was to redo it now.

      A few notes though.

      Kong/Kharma wasn’t fired from the WWE because she was a problem – she left because she was pregnant. She was on good enough terms that she came back for a guest appearance at the Royal Rumble years after her release.

      Molly Holly may have retired, but she wrestles quite regularly as she is a trainer at the new wrestling school in Minnesota run by Mr. Anderson and Daivari. She’s in shape. Her appearance regularly on WWE Network specials made the choice one of the contenders because she would have current “familiarity” with Network subscribers and have an Attitude Era connection. But you’re veteran contenders are all equally good ones.

      As for the older wrestlers, I just think that having one of them in even one opening match, would be a token for the countries they are trying to expand their appeal to. Adding a Japanese women’s legend would be a great show of respect. Sarah Del Rey doesn’t train anymore, she’s on the road as a producer – her training position is now filled by her former assistant, Sarah Stock. I’m sure they’d give her a few days off to tape a match or two.

      Sexy Star, you’re bang on about everything. But I would think spending 3 days in Orlando to tape one or two matches for the tournament would be something that would be attractive, even if she doesn’t plan on wrestling again. She can retire knowing she’s competed in a WWE ring.

      And yes, all of the names you mentioned are solid candidates. I won’t deny there’s a little personal bias on some of my picks.

      Thanks again for weighing in!

    • Only reason I didn’t include her was her Impact contract would prevent her for participating. All names were mentioned with realistic contract availability.

    • They wouldn’t be eligible. The criteria was that they had to be contractually eligible. Both are signed with Impact Wrestling.

  7. With the announcement of 17 nations being represented, a change in the wrestling landscape, recent signings, some new gossip, a new start date and the release of names mentioned at recent tryouts, I think this list could use an update. Any chances we’ll get new predictions?

    • I suspect Mia Yim may actually show up now that she has left TNA. I doubt WWE is going to let one of the top female wrestlers in the world escape their grasp.

  8. How bout Hania the howling Huntress and maybe even Veda Scott or Angelina Love well she’s kinda of currently in a storyline with Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards right now

    • When I first wrote this article, Veda Scott was still under ROH contract – I only used women that had a legal reality of taking part. Now that she’s gone from ROH, ABSOLUTELY I think she has a strong chance. Angelina Love is under contract with Impact so couldn’t.

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