By Goose Mahler, Associate Editor
The worst kept secret in the wrestling industry is just how loaded the NXT women’s roster is.
People thought that when Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, and Bayley left NXT. it would hurt their product. Then, along came Ember Moon and Asuka to keep things moving forward. They ascended to Raw and Smackdown and that opened the door for the next wave of women to take center stage and boy… have they.
AEW may be currently winning the Wednesday ratings war, but the NXT women are constantly getting the better edge in gains over AEW segments. All Elite Wrestling also has a women’s division that just isn’t as strong as they had hoped for and it seems that nothing is being done to fix the problem. That’s a bad sign for AEW, not a death warrant, as they have already signed an extension with TNT.
If the swing in demographics is towards women’s wrestling, then the WWE has the best crop in the business to build on, and it continues to get stronger and stronger. Here’s a glimpse.
NXT is easily 22 women deep right now:
- Aliyah (25 years old)
- Bianca Belair (30 years old)
- Candice LeRae (34 years old)
- Catalina Garcia (19 years old)
- Chelsea Green (26 years old)
- Dakota Kai (31 years old)
- Deonna Purrazzo (25 years old)
- Io Shirai (29 years old)
- Jessamyn Duke (33 years old)
- Jessie Kamea (31 years old)
- Kacy Catanzaro (30 years old)
- Kayden Carter (31 years old)
- Marina Shafir (31 years old)
- Mercedes Martinez (39 years old)
- Mia Yim (30 years old)
- Rhea Ripley (23 years old)
— Current Champion
- Shayna Baszler (39 years old)
- Shotzi Blackheart (28 years old)
- Taynara Conti (24 years old)
- Tegan Nox (25 years old)
- Vanessa Borne (31 years old)
- Xia Li (31 years old)
The above list doesn’t even include the talented group of NXT UK women.
- Isla Dawn (26 years old)
- Jinny (30 years old)
- Kay Lee Ray (27 years old)
— Current Champion
- Killer Kelly (27 years old)
- Nina Samuels (39 years old)
- Piper Niven (28 years old)
- Toni Storm (24 years old)
- Xia Brookside (21 years old)
- Aoife Valkyrie (23 years old)
The NXT female roster average age is 29 years old. And this doesn’t include some recent signings that have not yet appeared on TV like Scarlett Bordeaux and Indi Hartwell. There are multiple women champions from several different promotions and a plethora of experience on the current NXT women’s roster and it just doesn’t seem like it stops.
Since NXT invaded Smackdown, a lot of attention has gone to this group of women.
Shayna Baszler, the former NXT women’s champ, beat Bayley and Becky Lynch at Survivor Series and had one of the most impressive two year run of any wrestler. Baszler’s time in NXT may be coming to an end soon, but her replacements are talented and ready to pounce. It doesn’t remove the fact that Shayna has been a great leader for the women’s revolution in the WWE wave 2.
Rhea Ripley, the current NXT women’s champ, has been on a meteoric rise since her impressive run through both the WWE and NXT women starting with the invasion at Smackdown. Rhea is on one of the hottest runs for any wrestler, male or female, in a long time. Here’s the sick thing, she is just hitting her stride and is only 23 years of age. Ripley has easily the most athletic wrestler on the roster and seems headed for a one on one showdown with the golden child Charlotte Flair.
Kay Lee Ray, the NXT UK women’s champ, is one hell of a performer. Often overshadowed by Ripley and others that are not in the UK, Ray is proven to be a master manipulator, a psychological wrestler and an amazing bump taker in the ring. She also has a high-level wrestling IQ both in and out of the ring. She enters the ring and throws herself all over for the sake of putting on a great show and she never disappoints, but her mind games with Toni Storm have been great for storytelling.
Toni Storm, former NXT UK women’s champ and Mae Young Classic winner, is spitfire. Toni is deceptively quick and strong in the ring and matches up well against all comers. She has had three different matches with Rhea Ripley since they started in NXT and none have disappointed. Her striving to be a gold standard has also become her weakness, but no one can deny Toni is WWE ready whenever she wants to make the jump.
Bianca Belair arguably the strongest and one of the most entertaining heels in NXT made a big splash at the Royal Rumble. Both Bianca and Shayna threw out 8 women at the Royal Rumble. But Belair went 30 plus minutes and had exchanges with NXT, Raw, and Smackdown talent. Bianca next challenge for the NXT belt held by Ripley should be one of the most entertaining women’s matches of the year.
Io Shirai the high-flying daredevil. Shirai has been everything advertised since coming from Japan. But she has not been able to win the big one. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because she had the women’s match of the year with Candice LeRae at Takeover. It’s only a matter of time she is moved to Raw and joins Asuka and Sane and makes a villainous trio.
There is also Tegan Nox, Dakota Kai, and Candice LeRae. Formerly known as Team Kicks, these women had a fall out over Kai’s turn at NXT War Games. All three women have tremendous upsides to offer NXT and the fans. It’s a matter of staying healthy and building this feud. Kai a master of kicks, LeRae a master of in ring storytelling and Nox a human highlight reel with a high lever wrestling IQ could be step away from Raw or Smackdown but right now are honing their skills in NXT while developing their on-going rivalry.
There is so many more of these women to talk about but instead of talking about them, I recommend catching them on TV or the WWE Network. They are worth the watch. From Purrazzo to Green, Martinez and Blackheart, Niven & Yim, Dawn or Taynara, and rest of this roster are all women to keep an eye in the future as NXT continues to grow. No matter who NXT puts in the ring on any given night women wise you are guaranteed a different style match and an entertaining one at that.
If All Elite wants to compete with the WWE, I highly recommend finding women that can work at the rate the NXT women are currently working. If not, AEW should scrap their women’s division and start over. Maybe even call Al Snow in, and see who he can offer to help them out.
Because right now, AEW might be winning the ratings war against NXT, but they are not winning the race for talented women that can wrestle their asses off. That title is undisputed… and belongs to the Women of NXT.
Mark Mahler is the Associate Editor of TheGorillaPosition.com and the former Editor-in-Chief of Absolute Wrestling. Follow him on Twitter @MGoose37