One of the best feuds in wrestling the past year belonged to WWE Superstars Charlotte and Sasha Banks (who was part of one of 2015’s best feuds with Bayley). And tonight, it met it’s current ending on Monday Night Raw, as WWE Raw Women’s Champion Charlotte put the Raw Women’s title on the line in a rematch with Sasha Banks, in Charlotte, North Carolina – a city universally known as “Flair Country” (and the city Ashley Fleihr’s character is named after).
The women have ascended to the throne room with the men, the Queens now sitting side by side with the Kings. And with their storylines and ring work now equalling (and in many cases surpassing) the men’s, it’s time that the historians and history books began equating the records of the past women with the same fervour and reverence as they do the men’s.
Every one knows the myths and legends (kayfabe or otherwise) of the men’s world title(s) in the WWE Universe. From Bruno Sammartino‘s stunning 2,803 day reign to Ric Flair‘s record setting 16 titles, the men’s title is full of facts and figures. But what of the women’s world title in the WWE?
We know that Flair has 16 world titles, that John Cena is closing in with 15, that Booker T is a 5-time (FIVE TIME! FIVE TIME!) WCW World Champion, that Ron Simmons is the first African-American champion, and that Roman Reigns has three World titles more than he should. But what of the women? We all know of past legends, but who ranks up there with the men? Who is the women’s Ric Flair? Who is their Bruno?
Here’s a look at the Most Decorated Women in WWE History.
FIVE TIED AT THREE
With the limited exposure on television and live events for so long, the women’s title hasn’t had the amount of opportunities that the men’s title has offered. So it’s been held by far fewer competitors. At the bottom of the Top 10, are five women tied at number 9 (yes, there’s 14 women in the Top 10).
ALUNDRA BLAYZE, 3 WWE Women’s
Although more famously known as Madusa – both prior in the AWA and later in WCW – it was as Alundra Blayze that she had her greatest success. Unfortunately she was ahead of her time and was in a time of women’s wrestling in North America that was still considered too much of a novelty. Ironically, she left the WWF in 1995 because of the lack of direction of the women’s division and went to WCW (where she infamously dropped the WWE Women’s title in the trash on a live Nitro) where they failed to utilize her wrestling ability at all in the final six years of her career. She retired in 2001 when WCW was purchased by WWE.
PAIGE, 2 Divas, 1 NXT Women’s
She was one of the WWE’s most promising female athletes in years, a second generation prodigy that arrived young and hungry, becoming the inaugural NXT Women’s Champion in 2013 (with a record 308 day reign), before becoming the youngest women’s champion in WWE history when she won the Divas title on her debut night at the age of 21. But injuries began to creep in and her turbulent relationship with former WWE Superstar Alberto Del Rio have many wondering if Paige’s best days are behind her at the ripe old age of 24.
IVORY, 3 WWE Women’s
Another important (if understated) cog in the dynamic of the second wave of women’s wrestlers in the Attitude Era (along with Trish, Lita, Molly Holly and Jacqueline), Ivory came to the WWF following stints in GLOW and other national independents. She was always at her best as a heel – including an outstanding run in Right To Censor – but no matter the circumstance this ring veteran made any opponent shine, win or lose.
EVE TORRES, 3 Divas
The 2007 Diva Search winner is an unlikely choice so high on the list, but she transitioned from backstage interviewer in 2008 to full-time wrestler in a year and became a popular staple of the Divas division. In a time many consider the division’s weakest state, Torres won over many of the haters and a lengthy run until 2013, when she retired to focus on acting and becoming an instructor with the Gracie Women Empowerment Self-Defence program.
AJ LEE, 3 Divas
Many attribute AJ Lee’s work with real life friend Kaitlyn as the true catalyst of what became the Women’s Revolution in the WWE Universe. But her solo work, from her side work with Daniel Bryan, CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler, to her three reigns as one of the most popular Divas Champions to both the casual and indie fan, AJ Lee has been sorely missed since her retirement in spring of 2015.
FIVE AT FOUR
The next group up feature four women who have held four top women’s titles in the WWE, four women who represented very different styles of WWE women.
THE FABULOUS MOOLAH, 4 WWF Women’s
Moolah is definitely the Bruno Sammartino of the Women’s world of professional wrestling. Or more accurately, Bruno is the men’s Moolah. While Sammartino’s 2,803 day reign as WWWF World Heavyweight Champion is a feat unto itself, Moolah held the Women’s title for 3,651 days in her first reign, from 1956 until 1966 (although WWE only acknowledges one title reign for 10,170 days, ignoring a loss in Japan and several title changes at Live Events). Moolah retired in 2007 at the age of 84…because she passed away.
BETH PHOENIX, 3 WWE Women’s, 1 Divas
The Glamazon was someone of the last of her breed. A throwback to the days of competitors like Chyna and Trish Stratus, Phoenix was a legitimate wrestler who brought some real athleticism to a division that was turning more model than mat trained. She did well in the Women’s division’s last days, but once the division became devoted to Divas, the writing was on the wall. She retired in 2012.
MICHELLE McCOOL, 2 WWE Women’s, 2 Divas
Although she’s known more these days as being Mrs. Undertaker, for years, McCool was one of the foundations of the women’s division, first in the Women’s division, then spearheading the Divas division. It’s only fitting that she held each title twice. In fact, she was the inaugural Divas champion and was also the one to unify the two, merging the Women’s title into the Divas title in 2010.
LITA, 4 WWE Women’s
Alongside Trish Stratus, she is arguably one of the most well known women’s wrestlers of all time. A 4-time WWE Women’s champion during the Attitude Era, she brought the high flying lucha libre style and her punk rock extreme to the WWE Universe, winning over the male wrestling fans long before the current crop did – and because of her ability, not her looks. While she retired in 2006, she’s still active on WWE television these days – looking healthier than ever (which draws continued interest from fans for at least “one more match”).
SASHA BANKS, 3 Raw Women’s, 1 NXT Women’s
Banks may have been a later bloomer than former NXT co-worker Paige, but she’s exploded into one of the most popular women in WWE history. Her year long rivalry with Charlotte has captivated every gender of fan and in only a year on the roster, she’s already a 3-time World Champion with her win on tonight’s Raw. Let’s hope her “devil may care” style begins to slow down and she remains healthy enough to climb to the top of this list before her career ends.
TWO AT FIVE
MELINA, 3 WWE Women’s, 2 Divas
She was one of the most controversial women’s athletes during a time when the WWE was full throttle into it’s PG Era. With her scandalous splits going under the ring to her limited ring attire, Melina first gained recognition as the on-screen manager of Johnny Nitro (aka John Morrison and Johnny Mundo) and Joey Mercury in MNM before splitting off on her own aspirations of gold. And collect gold she did. She won the Women’s title three times and still held her own in the era of the Divas, collecting two more. She left the WWE in 2011 and has worked the indie circuit sporadically, but at 37, even if she doesn’t return for one more run, she’ll still go down as one of the most decorated women in WWE history.
CHARLOTTE, 1 WWE Women’s World, 2 Raw Women’s, 1 Divas, 1 NXT
A Flair for the gold indeed. The daughter of the 16-time World Champion record holder Ric Flair, Charlotte is on a pace far superior than her Hall of Fame father, with five women’s titles in the WWE in only four years in the business. Originally a fitness trainer and collegiate volleyball player, Charlotte took to the industry like a natural becoming NXT Women’s Champion only two years into the business. In just over a year on the main roster, she’s won four titles, first ending Nikki Bella‘s record setting 301 day reign as Divas champion before retiring the title and winning the inaugural WWE Women’s World title at Wrestlemania 32 this spring. It became the Raw Women’s title when she was drafted to Raw, where she claimed that title two more times, of which she’s still the current champion. In another few years, Charlotte could quite easily be number one on this list.
THE SECOND MOST DECORATED CHAMPION IN WWE HISTORY
Mickie James, 5 WWE Women’s, 1 Divas
James started out in the indie circuit before debuting in the WWE in 2005 at the early stages of the Ruthless Aggression Era, captivating the WWE Universe with a legendary rivalry with her mentor and hero, Trish Stratus. She fought hard to keep the integrity of the women wrestlers on the roster as the women’s division began to drift into the Divas realm, but eventually she was weaned out with the deplorable Piggie James angle in 2010. Her return a week ago at NXT TakeOver: Toronto against Asuka – after a time away where she captured three TNA Knockouts titles in the process – James returned and delivered one of the finest performances of her career. At 37, time may not be on her side, but if her Toronto return is any indication, she may have enough left in the tank for one more run in the WWE Universe somewhere.
THE 7-TIME CHAMP
Trish Stratus, 7 WWE Women’s
The lone champion at the top, with seven reigns as WWE Women’s Champion throughout the Attitude and Ruthless Aggression Eras, Canada’s Trish Stratus is arguably the most popular woman to ever step in the ring. Chyna may have smashed open the door and got more mainstream press, but Trish proved to little girls everywhere that they didn’t need to look like a muscled superhero like Chyna to be a wrestler. A fitness model by trade, Stratus didn’t exactly turn heads with her ringwork when she debuted in 2000, by a year or so later, she was the talk of the industry. Her rivalry with Lita is perhaps the women’s greatest rivalry and Trish continues to excite fans around the world, despite retiring from the business in 2006.
…ONE LAST THING
While it’s generally agreed that Ron Simmons was the first African-American to win a World title for a major promotion, when he pinned Vader to capture the WCW World Heavyweight title in 1992 (although Bobo Brazil won the WWA World Heavyweight title in 1966, four years after beating Buddy Rogers for the NWA World Heavyweight title in 1962, in a match that the NWA refused to recognize), the WWE and it’s first African-American World champion is a bone of contention by many fans and conspiracy theorists. While most agree it was The Rock winning the WWF World Heavyweight title in 1998 as the first, there are those who insist it doesn’t count because The Rock is only half black (which is ridiculous, but whatever. If we go by a full African-American, then it would be Booker T in 2006).
But regardless which man you go with, The Rock or King Booker, the first African-American to hold the World title was actually 2016 WWE Hall of Famer Jacqueline, who won the WWE Women’s title on September 15, 1998, 60 days before The Rock won his on November 15th of the same year (or eight years before Booker).