wrestling / Columns

The 411 Wrestling Year-End Awards: Part Five – The Best Female Wrestler of 2017

January 13, 2018 | Posted by Larry Csonka
Charlotte Flair WWE Photo Shoot Clash of Champions

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

Kevin Pantoja
5. Ember Moon
4. Kairi Sane
3. Alexa Bliss
2. Asuka

1. Toni Storm – I think I’m going to end up as the only person to not pick Asuka first. She had a great year, I just feel Toni Storm was slightly better. Toni did a ton in 2017. She made history by becoming the first PROGRESS Women’s Champion, beating Jinny and Laura Di Matteo in a great main event. From there, she successfully defended the title against everyone thrown in her way. Candice LaRae, Di Matteo, Dahlia Black, Alex Windsor, Kay Lee Ray and others, all in good to great matches. She competed in the Mae Young Classic, making it all the way to the semi-finals before losing to eventual winner Kairi Sane. That would be enough to have a great year, but Toni wasn’t done. Over in Stardom, she won the 5STAR Grand Prix Tournament and went to win the World of Stardom Title. Granted, that was due to a legitimate injury, but it’s another accomplishment in a long list. She’s just 22 and already had one of the best years I can recall.

Justin Watry
5. Ember Moon
4. Bayley
3. Alexa Bliss
2. Asuka

1. Charlotte – For the record, I am not including anybody from the Mae Young Classic because that would be unfair. I only saw them wrestle a couple of times or in some instances, once. Not much I can do with that when discussing a full year. It was a tight race at the top between Charlotte Flair and the undefeated Asuka. Both dominant and both so far ahead of everybody else it isn’t even funny. Luckily, the two are on separate brands and will not cross paths for a long time. If I could go with a tie, I would. The reason The Woooomens Champ edges out the former unbeaten NXT Women’s Champion is simply because of the structure of the shows. WWE is considered main roster. NXT is not. I know Triple H and others will argue this all day long, but you still leave NXT for the main roster when all is said and done. There is some cross over and that may change. Until then, it is WWE > NXT in importance. I believe 2018 is the Year of Asuka (as Michael Cole claimed on Christmas Raw last night). We’ll see in December 2018…

Rob Stewart
5. Io Shirai
4. Charlotte
3. Kairi Sane
2. Alexa Bliss

1. Asuka – STILL undefeated. In an era of WWE booking that has the attention span of my cat when I grab the laser pointer, it’s impressive that they’ve managed to not undermine Asuka’s unbeaten streak (she hasn’t felt super relevant on the main roster yet, but it’s better to let her slowly build steam than rush right into an angle where they’ll feel compelled to have her take her first loss). She had a great stretch against Ember Moon to close out her NXT career, hit the main roster, and starred as the sole survivor of the Raw women’s Survivor Series team. It won’t happen because these things need more time to build than WWE has between now and April, but if they are serious about ever having women main event WrestleMania, this upcoming year would be the year to do it, and the stars of that show should be Asuka and Charlotte. I know I’d love to see that, anyway.

Mike Chin
5. Natalya
4. Kairi Sane
3. Charlotte Flair
2. Asuka

1. Alexa Bliss – To be clear, Alexa Bliss isn’t the best in ring performer on the Raw women’s division, let alone in WWE on the whole, or in the entire world. She’s a good wrestler, though, who has come a long way since debuting on the main roster. On top of that, she’s a skilled talker, with rock solid charisma. In a sense, Bliss feels like something of a throwback to earlier eras, for not having the in-ring chops of talents Asuka, Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, Bayley, or Becky Lynch. She’s more than a pretty face, though, proving herself adaptable and capable of getting over in a lead heel role. WWE afforded Bliss big opportunities in 2017, and she made the most of them. While she wound up losing to Flair in Survivor Series champion vs. champion match, the bout felt like a bit of a capstone to an excellent year for her terrific character performance, and what may well have been her most complete performance in the ring thus far.

Ken Hill
5. Nikki Cross
4. Rosemary
3. Alexa Bliss
2. Charlotte Flair

1. Asuka – She remained entirely undefeated throughout her time in NXT and only relinquished the NXT Women’s Title due to injury. She has been undefeated since coming up to the RAW roster. She was the sole survivor for the RAW Women’s Team at Survivor Series 2017, and looks to dominate the first-ever Women’s Royal Rumble, firmly establishing herself after cold-cocking RAW Women’s Champ Alexa Bliss with a single kick. Really goes without saying at this point that 2017 was Asuka’s year and, if booked right, 2018 won’t be much different.

Jake Chambers
5. Priscilla Kelly
4. Toni Storm
3. Kairi Sane
2. Alexa Bliss

1. Manami Toyota – Easily the greatest female wrestler ever, and one of the best wrestlers of all-time regardless of gender, was competing semi-regularly at 46 in this her final active year, up until her epic retirement show in November. Watching her wrestle in 2017 was more of a nostalgia act for her super fans than the state-of-the-art wrestling she was famous for in her prime; however, like an older Ric Flair, she’d just about forgotten more about wrestling great matches at this point than the stars of today have ever learned. So it was a real treat to watch her wrestle 50 one-minute time limit matches on the night of her retirement before bringing out that old fire one last time in an impromptu 2/3 Falls match with Tsukasa Fujimoto. With the increased focus on women’s wrestling in the past few years, there’s no doubt we’ll be seeing many great careers flourish in a similar way, but there will only ever be one Manami Toyota.

Larry Csonka
5. Alexa Bliss
4. Asuka
3. Meiko Satomura
2. Io Shirai

1. Toni Storm – 2017 was a banner year for Toni Storm, she won the first PROGRESS Women’s Championship, had a high quality run in the Mae Young Classic, and became the first women to win STARDOM’s Cinderella tournament and the Five Star Grand Prix in the same year, establishing her at the top foreign talent in the promotion. Add in a long list of very good to great matches from the year onto those accomplishments, and she was a clear-cut and easy choice for the top spot this year.

AND 411’s The Best Female Wrestlers of 2017 ARE…

5. Kairi Sane9 points

4. Toni Storm12 points

3. Charlotte16 points

2. Alexa Bliss23 points

1. Asuka24 points

* The Biggest Disappointment of The Year: >Katsuyori Shibata’s Injury & Retirement – 14points
* The Best Non-Wrestler: Dario Cueto – 17points
* The Best Tag Team of The Year: The Usos – 31points
* The Worst Major Shows/PPV of 2017: WWE Battleground 2017 – 16points