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The 411 Wrestling Year-End Awards: Part Five – The Best Female Wrestler of 2016

January 6, 2017 | Posted by Larry Csonka

Welcome back to the Wrestling Top 5, year-end awards edition! What we are going to is take a topic, and all the writers here on 411 will have the ability to give us their Top 5 on said topic, and the end, based on where all of these topics rank on people’s list, we will create an overall Top 5 list. It looks a little like this…

1st – 5
2nd – 4
3rd – 3
4th – 2
5th – 1

It’s similar to how we do the WOTW voting. At the end we tally the scores and get our overall top 5! It’s highly non-official and final, like WWE’s old power rankings. From some of the best and worst, the 411 staff is ready to break down the awards! Thanks for joining us, and lets get down to work.

 photo Female_Wrestler_zps8bdea8f4.jpg

Rob Stewart
5. Alexa Bliss
4. Sasha Banks
3. Asuka
2. Sexy Star

1. Charlotte – She’s on a run for both general dominance and title wins that would make John Cena blush, but it’s hard to find a lot of fault in Charlotte’s body of work. She has proven to be a dominant champion and absolutely unconquerable on big event live specials. She, Becky Lynch, and Sasha had the best match at WrestleMania, and she and Sasha had an extremely intense feud the second half of the year over the Womens’ Championship. Their feud is divisive, but I think it’s been great (hell, I better; I wrote a whole article about it), and has given Charlotte a substantial body of work. Her heel work has been spot-on between–she’s developed a delightfully obnoxious in-ring charisma–and her matches have generally been no worse than solid. 2016 was a year fit for a Queen.

Justin Watry
5. Sasha Banks
4. Becky Lynch
3. Asuka
2. Bayley

1. Charlotte – A pretty stacked category where any of the five could win. If Nikki Bella was around for most of the year, she would have also made for a strong contender. Same with Alexa Bliss, who came out late in the year for a push. Not enough though, her year could be 2017. In the end, everything revolved around Charlotte and with good reason. Make no mistake, her father may be Ric Flair, but she is 100% deserving of all the praise and accolades. From NXT to WWE, she is dominating the women’s division and absolutely delivering in the ring. Main eventing RAW is now common place for her, as is getting a prime slot on pay-per-view. Including a great performance at WrestleMania 32 (where she kept the title in a thrilling triple threat match as I predicted) As Womens Champion once again, Charlotte leads Raw into WrestleMania season. No better choice.

Jake Chambers
5. Alexa Bliss
4. Sasha Banks
3. Becky Lynch
2. Sexy Star

1. Charlotte – As good a women’s pro-wrestler as we’ve ever seen in the WWE, Charlotte kind of killed it in 2016. She did was few pro-wrestlers seem to be able to do in the WWE today, create an aura around her appearances that feels beyond what the WWE media machine plans and executes. Unlike Brock Lesnar who we’re told is a “special attraction”, Charlotte follows up her sneering arrogance with enthralling matches. Unlike Sasha Banks who we’re told is the future of women’s pro-wrestling, Charlotte is actually doing all the work to establish said “division” rather than looking like a doll caught in the headlights. And unlike Roman Reigns and AJ Styles, a face and a heel respectively who garner the opposite reactions from the live audience, Charlotte has (surprise, surprise) the ability to make people hate her – despite being excellent in the ring – and rally around her inferior opponents – who are never as cool as her – and this is the exact traditional artistry that is required for top-notch WWE-style of professional wrestling.

Mike Chin
5. Becky Lynch
4. Asuka
3. Sexy Star
2. Sasha Banks

1. Charlotte – I’m a Sasha Banks mark, but feel these two were more or less equal contributors to a great in-ring rivalry (the quality of the storyline and the surrounding booking are up for debate). I’m giving Charlotte the edge as my pick for greater kayfabe success and starting to come into her own as a character to complement her ever-improving in-ring game, in which she got to show off her athleticism more this year besides her ground game. Charlotte was the first woman to ever win a PPV main event, and didn’t look out of place in doing so. On the contrary, she looked like a worthy champion and star, and for those of us who were upset Banks could never regain the title against her, maybe some of that frustration is on account of Charlotte playing the heel so well that we really did want to see her lose.

Paul Leazar
5. Sasha Banks
4. Asuka
3. Becky Lynch
2. Charlotte

1. Io Shirai – For all the good stuff that WWE has been doing with their female talent, I have yet to see a woman wrestler as impressive as Io Shirai has been this year. She’s the ace of STARDOM, she held five of their championships simultaneously this year, and since turning heel and forming Threedom, she’s been the biggest bad ass in the world. She’s also had terrific match after terrific match this year, and has made a couple appearances on Lucha Underground to boot. All props to the top ladies in the WWE and NXT, but Io Shirai has been untouchable this year.

Scott Rutherford
5. Becky Lynch
4. Sexy Star
3. Asuka
2. Sasha Banks

1. Charlotte – While none of the NXT woman have failed since coming up to the main roster, it’s no surprise they haven’t been given the same leeway and respect that they were before coming up. All have floundered at some stage. Charlotte has made the best of the situation and keep in mind; she’s only a tick over 2 1/2 years into her career. Charlotte will continue to improve for a good few years yet and may end up one of the every best ever. Her 2016 saw her dominate the division and move past being Ric Flairs daughter and become her own entity. She also notched up a fair few WWE firsts along with Sasha Banks as the two engaged in one of the better feuds of the year. This was very much a break out year for Charlotte.

Jack McGee
5. Nixon Newell
4. Sasha Banks
3. Charlotte
2. Sexy Star

1. Io Shirai – Due to relocating outside of the US, my TV & Wrestling watching habits changed dramatically. I rely mostly on streaming, and have spent more time watching more international wrestling and that includes STARDOM. In my opinion, Io Shirai is not only the best in ring female talent in wrestling; she’s one of the best overall wrestlers today. Her top end stuff is amazing, and she is also extremely consistent in terms of delivering. With all due respect to the other ladies nominated, no one means more to their promotion than Io Shirai. If you haven’t had a chance to check her out, you really should.

Chad Perry
5. Io Shirai
4. Asuka
3. Becky Lynch
2. Sasha Banks

1. Charlotte – She is not my favorite of the Four Horsewomen, but there is no denying that she has been the most successful of them in 2016. While Charlotte & Banks were really shoved down our throats on Raw for all their history making performances, they were able to deliver. Both ladies stepped up and had some great matches in 2016, and along with Lynch had the match of the night at WrestleMania.

Kevin Pantoja
5. Sasha Banks
4. Charlotte
3. Asuka
2. Io Shirai

1. Becky Lynch – This was a very close race for me between Becky Lynch and Io Shirai. Shirai had great matches in Japan all year and even made a splash in Lucha Underground, but I had to go with Becky Lynch. After being nothing more than Charlotte’s friend in her first few months on the main roster, Becky evolved into the best babyface female the company has had in years, possibly ever. She’s just undeniably likable. After failing to win gold at Royal Rumble and WrestleMania, Becky won a decent feud with Natalya. She then became Smackdown’s first female draft pick and went on to become the first Smackdown Women’s Champion at Backlash. She continued to deliver night in and night out, including a rivalry with Alexa Bliss that I enjoyed more than the history making women’s feud on Raw. Becky helped make Alexa into a star and Becky is, hands down, the MVP of the women’s division in the entire WWE.

Jack Stevenson
5. Charlotte
4. Sasha Banks
3. Mayu Iwatani
2. Becky Lynch

1. Io Shirai – As much as I thought their trilogy of Raw title matches were absolutely terrific, the booking of Charlotte and Sasha Banks’ feud was consistently disappointing and their two most high profile encounters, at Hell in a Cell and Roadblock, had some fairly notable issues. I think Kevin makes a great case for Becky Lynch and I came close to putting her at number one as a result, but I’ve seen the big, recommended Io Shirai matches from Stardom this year and they all live up to the hype. Shirai is a fantastic performer, a superb athlete, and a surprisingly convincing take no shit rulebreaker. She’s been a constant in the best women’s wrestling of the year, and as a result has started to receive real international recognition outside of the utmost internet hardcores, garnering bookings across the U.S. and Europe. Stardom has a handful of world class talent, but it’s Shirai’s star that shines brightest.

Larry Csonka
5. Becky Lynch
4. Sexy Star
3. Sasha Banks
2. Charlotte

1. Io Shirai – This was a difficult choice for me, while I feel Io Shirai is the best in ring performer as far as the women go, Charlotte had a tremendous breakout year for sure to take the top women’s slot in WWE. The WrestleMania match and Raw matches with Sasha were all excellent, even if the booking of the feud left something to be desired. And despite the “making history” line being run into the ground, you can’t take away from her accomplishments this year. But once the year slowed down, I had a chance to really dive into the list of STARDOM recommendations. I was finally able to really see all of the top-notch matches from Io Shirai that had been recommended to me through out the year. Io Shirai is without doubt the top in ring performer among the women today, and makes a hell of a case for a most outstanding performer nomination.


AND 411’s The Best Female Wrestlers of 2016 ARE…

5. Sexy Star19 points

4. Becky Lynch23 points

3. Io Shirai25 points

2. Sasha Banks27 points

1. Charlotte44 points


THE 2016 411 WRESTLING AWARDS:
* The Biggest Disappointment of The Year: The WWE Cruiserweight Division – 28 points
* The Best Non-Wrestler: Dario Cueto – 45 points
* The Best Tag Team of The Year: The Revival – 45 points
* The Worst PPV/Major Show of The Year: WrestleMania 32 – 23 points

* The Best Female Wrestler of The Year: Charlotte – 44 points
* The Best PPV/Major Show of The Year: TO BE DETERMINED (JANUARY 7)
* The Best Promotion of The Year: TO BE DETERMINED (JANUARY 8)
* Most Outstanding Performer 2016: TO BE DETERMINED (JANUARY 9)

* The Best Match of The Year: TO BE DETERMINED (JANUARY 10)
* Most Overrated Performer 2016 : TO BE DETERMINED (JANUARY 11)
* Most Underrated Performer 2016 : TO BE DETERMINED (JANUARY 12)
* The Best Wrestler of The Year: TO BE DETERMINED (JANUARY 13)

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