SHIMMER and PWWA Champion Madison Eagles is the top female wrestler on the planet, according to Pro Wrestling Illustrated.

The 27-year old has taken the number one spot in the 2011 PWI Female 50, jumping from 15th place last year, and replacing Michelle McCool at the top. Since its launch in 2008, previous winners have been Awesome Kong (now Kharma), Mickie James in 2009 and McCool last year. That makes Eagles the first independent female wrestler to head the list.

As part of the announcement, PWI wrote:

Madison Eagles is not a household name.

She’s not a Diva. She’s not a Knockout. To a large portion of wrestling fans, she is completely unknown.

But that’s about to change.

The 6’1″ Australian has been selected by the editors of PRO WRESTLING ILLUSTRATED as the top female wrestler in the sport, and she heads the 2011 “PWI Female 50.”

The reigning SHIMMER champion has had a tremendous year, successfully defending her title against the cream of the crop of the independent circuit, including Mercedes Martinez, MsChif, Cheerleader Melissa, and Ayako Hamada. She has competed in Japan, Canada, and her native Australia (where she also holds the PWA Australia Women’s title) and has dominated competition worldwide.

She may not be world famous, but she has enjoyed worldwide success. And our editors took notice.

The article briefly covers her background, though for a more detailed account, you can still listen to our interview with Eagles from the Women Of Wrestling Podcast last year, where as well as her wrestling career, she talks about being a life guard, being a part of the 2000 Olympics opening ceremony and training with UFC welterweight Georges St. Pierre.

As part of her acceptance, Madison talked up the swelling of women’s wrestling around the world, something which is reflected in the number of DVDs which are available:

I personally think it’s on the rise, if only on the independent scene,” she said. “People are starting to recognize more and more women as talented athletes, and we are pushing our own abilities and skills further then we have before.

It’s a bold move for PWI to give the honour to someone who is not a part of WWE or TNA. They could have gone with someone who is a more well-known name so it puts a more recognised face on the cover, but they decided to go with a more deserving recipient, and even though the rankings are still decided in a kayfabed fashion with PWI – as in they judge it by wins, losses and championships – Eagles is still ahead of the pack. After all, she is a double champion – having held the PWWA belt for more than 12 months, and the SHIMMER title for close to 18 – and has had success on three continents over the last year. Madison is well travelled, well known and well versed in a range of different styles. We at Ringbelles feel that she is a worthy winner.

– Lee Burton

UPDATE: We now have the full list after it was posted on Lords Of Pain, and it’s even more success for indy women’s wrestling, with Mercedes Martinez claiming the runner-up spot. With Cheerleader Melissa, MsChif and Sara Del Rey also make the top 10, it’s a storming year for independent female talent.

1. Madison Eagles
2. Mercedes Martinez
3. Mickie James
4. Natalya
5. Madison Rayne
6. Cheerleader Melissa
7. Beth Phoenix
8. Tara
9. MsChif
10. Sara Del Rey
11. Eve Torres
12. Angelina Love
13. Layla
14. Sarita
15. Kelly Kelly
16. Serena Deeb
17. Velvet Sky
18. Ayako Hamada
19. LuFisto
20. Winter
21. Brie Bella
22. Angel Orsini
23. Melina
24. Daizee Haze
25. Nikki Roxx
26. Gail Kim
27. Jazz
28. Maryse
29. Christina Von Eerie
30. Portia Perez
31. Rosita
32. ODB
33. Nicole Matthews
34. Rachel Summerlyn
35. Jessicka Havok
36. Brittany Force
37. Kellie Skater
38. Tina San Antonio
39. Melanie Cruise
40. Cherry Bomb
41. Sassy Stephie
42. Tasha Simone
43. Alicia Fox
44. Amber O’Neal
45. Allison Danger
46. Kacee Carlisle
47. Brittany Savage
48. A.J.
49. Melissa Coates
50. Jessica James

Scott says:

That is really exciting. After Madison started competing in singles action with Shimmer, she quickly became one of my favorites. I think what I like the most about her is her ability to adapt to just about any style. Great choice, PWI!