Now that we’ve gotten the worst matches out of the way, it’s time for happier fare. In some ways, I found it harder to put this list together than the worst list. For one thing, the worst list had a lot of worthy candidates to choose from. WWE has not been interested in good women’s wrestling for very long, which leaves the list below with heavy recency bias. This all adds up to the actual list of matches being rather easy to assemble, mostly. The difficult part is plugging the gaps and figuring out the order. Here are the ten best women’s matches in WrestleMania history.
10. Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch vs. Carmella vs. Mickie James vs. Natalya (WrestleMania 33)
“This is the land of opportunity [Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon] had in mind.”
This match is short. A six-woman match that runs 5:35 in length is not, at first glance, a match that belongs on this list. What gives it just enough to get in here is that despite its length, this match is an absolute sprint where the wrestlers maximize the time available to them within the style WWE permits. The match doesn’t have quite the pace it could, though. The portion of the match with Alexa in the ring is very slow-paced, while the rest never gets to the frenetic pace a match of this length needs to be excellent. The short length of the match means there just isn’t enough for it to rank higher.
9. Victoria vs. Molly Holly (WrestleMania XX)
“How many barbers’ chairs have you ever seen that have straps on them like that?”
This match was originally not scheduled to happen, and the only one scheduled for the card was to be the evening gown tag match. Molly went to Vince McMahon and told him she’d get her head shaved if he’d put the women’s title on Wrestlemania. And thus the match was made: Victoria defends, and if Molly loses she gets her head shaved. A little acknowledged fact of the early 2000s is that while Trish and Lita were the major faces of the women’s division, Molly and Victoria were superior wrestlers.
This match is very competently executed. The neck vise is a bit long of a resthold and some of the other moves like the sunset bomb are not crisp. The match also doesn’t have a lot of heat from the audience and a sudden finish. These factors conspire to keep it from being higher on this list. On the positive side, the bulk of the match is sound, and Molly’s selling of the sudden realization of her hair’s danger is fantastic. The whole post-match segment with the head shaving elevates the match, as the lack of crispness in the ring can now be read as desperation to perform by Molly. This is among the best women’s matches in WrestleMania history.
8. The IIconics vs. The Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection vs. Beth Phoenix and Natalya vs. Nia Jax and Tamina (WrestleMania 35)
“That’s a true tag team right there.”
Wrestlemania IV should have had a match on this list, The Glamour Girls vs. The Jumping Bomb Angels, only it was torpedoed at The Fabulous Moolah’s instigation according to the Glamour Girls. Thirty-one years later, WWE would finally have a women’s tag title match at Wrestlemania. Nia Jax is working hurt, but she still puts the effort in to take the bumps she needs to. After nullifying Nia and Tamina to start, the match picks up its pace and some fun wrestling ensues. Sasha and Bayley mesh well with everyone while the IIconics bring a dose of personality. It’s not a great match, but it’s certainly fun enough.
The biggest bump of the match goes to Nia, who takes a nasty spill from the top rope onto the apron and floor. Beth Phoenix puts a lot into this match, both in terms of selling and being a core part of the flow. The finish is a bit of brilliance as Beth has her kill stolen by Billie Kay’s blind tag. The IIconics play sneaky, amusing cowards really well, and that helps things along here. Overall, a perfectly decent match.
7. Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James (WrestleMania 22)
“This woman is a dangerous psychopath!”
The story of Trish and Mickie leading to this match is the plot of the movie Single White Female, and it’s about as perfect an adaptation as you could ask for from wrestling. Jerry Lawler even takes a break from crass commentary to compare Mickie’s feelings for Trish to Mark Chapman’s feelings for John Lennon. If a women’s match can get Lawler to make a relevant comment, it’s already especially successful. Trish and Mickie offer total intensity here, using the ring post (not a common thing in WWE women’s matches at the time) and limb-targeting offense to good effect.
Mickie spends the bulk of the match working Trish’s knee and relishing in the pain. Not available on the WWE Network is the most iconic moment of the match, where Mickie counters Stratusfaction by reaching low and then licking her fingers. That moment was improvised by Mickie, who expected Vince to love it, but he felt it was crass (had he ever watched the matches on the worst list?). In the end, the moment was edited off future release of the show. Mickie and Trish build some great heat throughout the match and carry their story through logically, and this match for a long time was clearly the best women’s match in Wrestlemania history.
6. Nia Jax vs. Alexa Bliss (WrestleMania 34)
“I loved you!”
Where this match stumbles is in its layout. The size differential between Alexa and Nia means that the story should be about Alexa sticking and moving, countering power with speed. A speedy and agile heel against a babyface with a size and power advantage is antithetical to WWE’s style, however, so the match suffers from a lack of clear identity. What they do unambiguously right is use the template they give to the match to build sympathy for Nia during the match, complementing the storyline about body positivity and Nia standing up to her diminutive bully. Nia’s “I loved you” to Alexa before finishing the match says everything and feels like an earned beat in the story of overcoming the bully who posed as a friend.
Nia starts the pre-match by utterly annihilating Mickie James, and Mickie’s selling is fantastic. Alexa sells the fear and the match starts going with Nia dominant for the first two minutes before Alexa thumbs her eye. Alexa’s control over the match lasts too long and strays into the realm of tedium, unfortunately, but the right finish goes a long way toward helping the match stay golden. This match sacrifices some potential quality by making Alexa dominant in order to better tell its story, and I can respect that decision.
5. Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch vs. Ronda Rousey (WrestleMania 35)
“Tables are for bitches!”
The first time women main-evented WrestleMania was just last year, and WWE treated it with the appropriate level of over-the-top grandeur. Charlotte’s entrance is a true absurdity involving a helicopter, and Joan Jett plays Ronda Rousey out to the ring. Becky Lynch, true to her character arc, has a comparatively muted entrance (it would have been nice for her to come out of the crowd, though).
There’s some big stuff working against this match. The crowd’s energy is sapped from a seven-hour show, but they try valiantly to stay with the action. The storyline building to the match was a bit janky and nobody wanted a triple threat, let alone one that took up both championships and kept Asuka from having a rematch with Charlotte. The finish is the biggest issue with the match: Ronda’s shoulders come up and the referee counts the pinfall anyway. The issue is both the count and the fact that there’s a pinfall at all – the only narratively satisfying conclusion to this story is Becky making Ronda submit. WWE deprived the fans of the correct finish.
What keeps this match so high is the action. It’s messy, sure, but in exactly the right way that works to convince fans the three women in the ring hate each other. Each wrestler sells her character well. The crowd sounds quiet on tv, but that’s the stadium and the exhaustion – they’re clearly invested as much as they can be and they do respond appropriately. The match suffered live from its placement on a long card, but in isolation, the match is far better than it initially came across. Molly. This is among the best women’s matches in WrestleMania history.
4. Bayley vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks (WrestleMania 33)
“And the clinic begins.”
When you have an elimination match, it’s important to structure things logically. This match does a great job of structuring the eliminations and telling a story in the process. Sasha, Bayley, and Charlotte work together to eliminate Nia first, taking out the biggest and least-known threat. Charlotte isolates Sasha to avoid being teamed upon herself. Bayley is then left with Charlotte alone. Sasha had cheated on her behalf to enable Bayley to win the championship, and now at last Bayley has the chance to prove she can beat Charlotte on her own. Each competitor plays her role here perfectly, but I want to give Nia extra credit. She plays the monster here very well and makes the story of this match possible.
There’s a lot to like about this match. The story told is fantastically executed. Charlotte’s corkscrew moonsault is beautiful and hits the mark. Nia takes the big bumps she needs to. Sasha’s wrestling with Charlotte is fluid and skilled. Bayley overcomes the wicked queen in the end. There are some negatives. The transition to the figure four after the missed moonsault is ugly. The crowd is into it, but clearly, they have room to get more into it. On the whole, though, this match does the job well. It’s not great, but it’s definitely good.
3. Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey vs. HHH and Stephanie McMahon (WrestleMania 34)
“I’m gonna go continue beating up your wife, okay?”
I confess that I hesitate to include this match on the grounds that it is a mixed-tag and not strictly a women’s match. My rationale is as follows. The focus of this match is that it is the debut of Ronda Rousey. HHH and Kurt Angle are a secondary focus at best, and are there to ensure the match works as planned. That said, they do take up enough of the ringwork that I can’t justify putting this ahead of this spot. Stephanie is Ronda’s true foil here, and therein lies the story of the match. Stephanie needs to avoid Ronda; Ronda can hang with the boys and will seek and destroy. I do wish Ronda’s naiveté about wrestling rules had remained a character trait after this match, though.
The fact that this is a mixed match does put it on the back foot here. In some ways, it is a better match than the two matches ahead of it on this list. The action is engaging (it’s a bit slow before Ronda tags in, but all energy after) and the story told has no hiccups. Ronda vs. HHH is a fantastic moment, and Stephanie plays her role to perfection. For a match with older HHH and Kurt, non-wrestler Stephanie, and complete rookie Ronda, it far exceeds the sum of those parts. These top three matches are ultimately fairly interchangeable in order – any of them could be in any of these spots for me depending on my mood and feeling.
2. Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka (WrestleMania 34)
I’ll lay my bias on the table right away. I think this match has the wrong result and that Asuka should have kept her streak intact until Summerslam at a minimum. But other than that, you’re in for a treat if you watch this match. This match comes with a simple story that holds a lot of tension: streak vs. title. Asuka has been an unbeatable monster for 914 days. Charlotte has been an absolutely dominant champion on the main roster. Is Charlotte ready for Asuka? The answer is yes.
This match is, I think, a touch better in the ring than the match that goes ahead of it. We see some absolutely breathtaking ring work. Asuka delivers the same curb stomps to Charlotte that Cheerleader Melissa did to Asuka on SHIMMER 67, Asuka’s last loss in North America at this point. Asuka counters a moonsault into a triangle choke. She suplexes Charlotte off the Apron. Charlotte hits a Spanish fly. Superb submission transitions abound.
Everything about the in-ring performance in this match comes off superb, with one small exception: Charlotte never once touches Asuka’s leg. The Figure Eight is a leglock. If Asuka is going to submit to a leglock, and do it quickly while Charlotte only supports herself with one arm at that, the least they could do when structuring the match would be to encourage Charlotte to work Asuka’s leg. That little touch is what makes the story in the ring and the story around the match not link up, and that’s why this match comes in second place. Molly. This is among the best women’s matches in WrestleMania history.
Alundra Blayze vs. Leilani Kai from Wrestlemania X
This not a great match. It’s almost good, though. The moves are performed well, and excepting the hairmares, the match avoids the Moolah style. The match is not without flaws, though. The crowd does not care much because there’s nothing much to care about. WWF has not given much of any thought to women’s wrestling at this point, so the return of the women’s championship to Wrestlemania for the first time since Wrestlemania II is disappointing. There’s nothing egregiously wrong with the match, but there’s nothing particularly commendable either. Which says a lot about the bar women’s matches at Wrestlemania have historically been set to and have failed to clear, that “almost good” is good enough for an honorable mention.
Jazz vs. Lita vs. Trish Stratus from Wrestlemania X8
If Wrestlemania X is not good, this match is not pretty. It’s downright ugly at points. But one thing shines through, and that’s that the three women in the match are trying their hardest to make a watchable match happen. And they succeed. The match may not quite be good, but it’s got some heart. Jazz is defending the women’s title in this match, and her victory is the right move here. Her physical superiority makes plenty of sense as the deciding factor, while Trish and Lita focus on each other to their own detriment.
Trish Stratus vs. Victoria vs. Jazz from Wrestlemania XIX
You could make the case that this is the first women’s match at Wrestlemania that’s arguably good. Jazz and Trish are both much improved, and Victoria has a natural ability that serves her well. The double shoulderbreaker is not pretty, but Victoria’s scoop powerslam is. Jazz also basically does a Glam Slam without the sitout, and that’s neat to see. Steven Richards getting involved is used well and not to the detriment of the match. The best part is that the crowd gets into Trish’s struggle against two bigger, more muscular foes. They pop for her big offensive flurries and the audience are made to want her success throughout the match, culminating in a good response for Trish’s victory. Call this number 11, really.
1. Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch (WrestleMania 32)
“And if you’re wondering if this is the greatest era of women’s wrestling in history, just replay that right there!”
It’s hard to understate how glad I was to see the Divas Title retired and a new Women’s Title introduced. Listen to the crowd during the ring introductions. Becky and Sasha are hot faces, and Charlotte is doing fine as a heel. The opening of the match has a load of intensity, and the match quickly settles into its rhythm. The only significant issues the match has are the finish and the modern triple threat style of alternating one-on-one encounters. Nothing can be done about the latter, but the first issue bears some scrutiny. This match is the big relaunch of the women’s division without the Diva branding. It’s a major landmark moment for WWE. Therefore, Ric Flair being a significant factor in the finish is not ideal, to say the least. Let the women’s division stand on its own feet – the wrestlers can do it.
There’s so much that just works about this match, but it far exceeds that bar of mere competency. Sasha, Becky, and Charlotte pour themselves into the match and create some truly beautiful work together. Becky’s dive onto Ric Flair is an exquisite demonstration of safe work. Charlotte’s moonsault to the outside is spectacular and hits the mark perfectly. Sasha’s frog splash onto Becky and Charlotte’s knees is just beautiful. Nobody is slouching in this match. The pressure is on all three women to perform and show that the new attitude about women’s wrestling is warranted, and they thrive on it. It is impossible to watch this match with what came before in mind and not count it as more than a success. This match is a statement.