We are coming up to the time that the winner of the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Female 50 is revealed – though the magazine itself will not be released until mid to late November. Since its launch in 2008, the second week of September is when the winner’s name comes out, so I’ve been having a think about who PWI could possibly select as the woman who will sit atop the heap.
Now bear in mind that PWI still bases the criteria for the winner in the way any legitimate sport could be judged, so victories, title wins and lengths of reigns come way above match quality or column inches, so whoever you may think would win may not necessarily be the same as who PWI has in mind. When we asked the question on who you would think would win on our Facebook and Twitter, AJ Lee‘s name popped up a couple of times, with the reasoning being that she is the WWE Raw General Manager and has been embroiled in the WWE and World Championship pictures this year. However, she is unlikely to win the PWI editors’ pick because as an in-ring performer, she has only wrestled a handful of times, and hasn’t won any championships. Likewise, Sara Del Rey is probably an outside bet to win – despite placing in the men’s PWI 500 due to her victories over men in CHIKARA – as she doesn’t have many championship wins or reigns to speak of, and has lost quite a bit recently.
Hailey Hatred was another pick, and she has more chance of winning as someone who held six belts at one time and currently holds the Remix Pro Women’s Title, but PWI doesn’t really assess wrestling in Japan for the Female 50 – if it did, Yuzuki Aikawa would probably win the whole thing as she holds the Wonder of Stardom and Goddesses of Stardom belts, and has only lost twice in her entire career, while World of Stardom champ Nanae Takahashi and Ice Ribbon‘s Tsukasa Fujimoto would probably be up there too, considering all the titles she’s amassed recently.
Kalamity has held the nCw Femmes Fatales International Title since last October, but probably isn’t high enough up the totem pole yet, even though her rise in the last 12 months has been amazing. Mercedes Martinez was third in 2010 – making her the highest-placed indie star that year – and was runner up last year to then-SHIMMER Champion Madison Eagles, and will probably be up there again, as she held the Women Superstars Uncensored World Title until March and regained it briefly in April, but more likely to be challenging for the top spot will be Jessicka Havok, who currently holds the belt and also held the Spirit Title. In fact, she may be the top indie star – but I don’t think she will win.
Why? Because PWI will recognise WWE and TNA above the indies, and chose Eagles last year partly because she was brilliant, but also because the big two’s wrestlers had absolutely nothing to brag about. However, when they can, they would prefer to go for a “bigger” name like Awesome Kong in 2008, Mickie James in 2009 and Michelle McCool in 2010. For that reason, I think the eventual winner will be either current Divas Champion Layla or former Knockouts titleholder Gail Kim.
Admittedly, since winning the belt on her return at Extreme Rules back in April, Layla’s title reign has been as hot as a typical polar expedition, but on paper, her winning streak is very impressive. She is undefeated in singles competition since her comeback from ACL and MCL surgery, and has retained her title against every challenger, including former titleholder Beth Phoenix (who should be up there on the list but probably won’t be). Her possession of the championship, coupled with having her hand raised so often both on TV and on the road means she will be vying for the top spot.
However, I believe the winner will be Kim – the woman who offered some much-needed stability to the Knockouts after winning the belt in November and holding it until June, making her the longest reigning Knockouts Champ in the promotion’s history. She also enjoyed a four month run as Knockouts Tag Team Champion with Madison Rayne, and has been the focal point of TNA’s women’s division – whereas Layla’s had to take a backseat to AJ’s antics for the bulk of the spring and summer.
Of course, this is all speculative and I could be crushingly wrong – not for the first time, mind you – but I would say Gail Kim is the woman to beat in this year’s PWI Female 50. If previous years are anything to go by, it won’t be long until we find out.
– Lee Burton