December is probably my favorite month of be year. This is not just because Christmas has always been my favorite holiday; it is also because it is time the perfect time for reflection. It’s the right time to look back on the year that was and celebrate what made that year so great. And while 2015 has actually been a catastrophic year in the world of politics and social justice and things are only getting uglier in those fields, it’s been a whirlwind year in entertainment And that’s what I’m here to look back on. I will take up three weeks this month to look back on my favorites in entertainment this year; and since I am FearlessRiOT, it will all obviously be in countdown form. This week, I tackle my favorites in pro wrestling, next week I’ll tackle music, and two weeks from now will see me take on acting, along with the bonus field of celebrities on social media. Hope you enjoy this week’s installment!
In 2015, WWE bought the Divas Revolution to the main roster, an attempt to freshen up the Divas Division by bringing in some new, incredibly talented faces and giving them longer match times to prove what women can really do. Though exciting at first, fans grew disappointed with it overtime; fans noticed that other than match times, not much really changed. The Divas still lacked character and real storylines. Honestly,the fact that they had to make such a big deal about turning the Division around on the main roster is kind of tragic seeing as the women in NXT and on the Independent scene seemingly didn’t need a revolution because they were pumping out good stuff on a consistent basis. So yeah, WWE seemed a bit behind the curve on pushing the women (I still hold on to my belief that the mainstream push for feminism and the rise of Ronda Rousey played a part in their decision to do so), but that doesn’t mean the Divas didn’t take advantage of the opportunities. In fact, this list contains women from the WWE main roster, the NXT roster, and the Independent scene, including a couple Women of Honor. (Sorry, TNA Knockouts; y’all are sitting this one out, no matter how many potshots Madison Rayne take at the Divas.) I enjoyed so many female wrestlers this year, I had to leave people off the list who I really wanted to include, and you’ll see who those are when we get to the Honorable Mentions. Which female wrestlers had me hooked this year? Let’s take a look with this Year-End Top 10!
#10. Taeler Hendrix
After making a couple of appearances on WWE television in 2014 as one of Adam Rose’s gang of Rosebuds, the Gingerlicious former TNA Knockout has kept herself busy in 2015 by making appearances for a number of other promotions (none of them being SHIMMER yet, sadly). Along with making her debut for session wrestling/combat website Sleeperkid’s World, she joined the House of Truth and became an official Woman of Honor for ROH, and she remains a regular in the Queens of Combat promotion, where she recently won the tournament to be crowned their first ever World Champion.
Another year has gone by without a Divas Championship for Naomi. Before 2015, it was easy to let it slide and chalk it up to other Divas rising to the occasion before her. But in 2015, she really hit her stride after a spring heel turn, which led to a couple of Divas Title opportunities. However, due to WWE’s desire to give Nikki Bella the longest Divas Championship reign, Naomi was once again pushed to the side. Currently a member of Team B.A.D., Naomi still maintains a regular spot on the main roster, but hopefully she won’t be denied the Divas Title much longer.
#8. Alexa Bliss
2015 was the year of face WWE Divas successfully reinventing themselves. Who would’ve guessed cute, blonde, adorable little Alexa Bliss could also get her Regina George on? She went from the Glitter Queen to the small-but-fierce villainess who regularly hangs out with Blake and Murphy. And she’s so damn good at it; her facial expressions are probably the best in NXT right now, her pimp hand is mighty strong, and all of that is backed up with a wrestling repertoire while not the most complete shows promise of a great career in the immediate future for this NXT standout.
#7. Becky Lynch
In one of the most famous promos of 2015, Paige proclaimed that Becky Lynch was the most irrelevant Diva in WWE. In a roster that also features Tamina Snuka and Rosa Mendes, that was a bit of an exaggeration. And even if it wasn’t, it’s still untrue; 2015 was a big year for the witty competitor. While she’s spent her time on the main roster playing Charlotte’s redheaded sidekick, her time in NXT put her on the map, leading to a show-stealing match against Sasha Banks at NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable. Her performances are top notch and hopefully she steps out of Charlotte’s shadow soon.
#6. Nicole Matthews
2014 marked the ultimate crowning of a Canadian Ninja. And heading into 2015, two-time SHIMMER Tag Team Champion Nicole Matthews was confident after winning the SHIMMER Championship she would go on to have a great title reign. She seemed to have underestimated the will of Madison Eagles, though, as the Australian grappler was able to dethrone her this past October. Matthews’ tag team partner Portia Perez has retired from the sport, so now is the time for Nicole Matthews to kick her singles career into high gear the way she has in her home country promotion, ECCW. Oh, and she was in a music video too.
#5. Nikki Storm
Rumor has it the “Best in the Galaxy” (and hopefully the Backstreet Boys’ favorite wrestler) will join WWE’s Performance Center soon, and if true, it means they’ve recruited one of the most entertaining talents in pro wrestling. She’s made one appearance for WWE in 2014 as a Rosebud and also took part in TNA’s British Boot Camp. And in 2015, she made the second round of SHIMMER’s ChickFight Tournament, wrestled for Japan’s STARDOM promotion, made the finals of ICW’s Women’s Title Tournament, and shared the ring with the one and only Mickie James!
Everyone’s favorite underdog had pro wrestling’s ultimate Cinderella story in 2015. After a long journey of struggle in WWE’s developmental territory/Indy brand, she was able to take Sasha Banks to the limit in Brooklyn and win the NXT Women’s Championship in front of NXT’s biggest crowd ever. And she managed to knock it out the park a second time at NXT TakeOver: Respect in a 30-Minute main event match against Sasha Banks. When Bayley takes to the ring, we’re all virtually a bunch of Izzy’s, cheering her on as she lives her dream and knocks it out the park every time.
#3. Veda Scott
Such a well-rounded performer in such a pint-little size. Veda Scott’s presence prevailed both on television and in the Indy scene, as she took part once again in both women’s and intergender matches. She took home the XX Division Championship, became one of the most despised heels in SHIMMER Women Athletes (she practically gets Vickie Guerrero-level reactions there now), she still wrestles in AIW, and she turned on Moose in ROH to side with Cedric Alexander. She even notched a WWE tryout this year. Whether or not they’ll end up signing her is anyone’s guess.
It was not easy being a Paige fan in 2015. Between WWE shoehorning her into the title picture at every turn, continuing to portray her as bi-polar, her judging stint on Tough Enough, or her cutting one controversial promo after another, an unfortunate wave of Internet hate followed Paige all year. But fans such as myself stand by the amazing grappler, who managed to remain relevant all year by churning out a number of decent in-ring performances, was on the winning end of her WrestleMania debut, stole the show on Total Divas, and proved to be a decent actress in WWE Film’s Santa’s Little Helper.
#1. Sasha Banks
Is there a wrestling fan on Earth who hasn’t jumped on the Sasha Banks bandwagon yet? I think it’s officially at capacity with WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley at the wheel. Last year, Sasha Banks was one of WWE’s greatest secrets, a talented performer who was always overlooked for the other women on the roster. By the beginning of this year, all of that changed as she won the championship in February and went on to have one amazing title defense after another before moving on the main roster to once again be underutilized, but retains her popularity with the audience. Sasha Banks is a star in the making!
+ Allysin Kay
The AK-47 ties for the unofficial #11 on this list; her year wasn’t too shabby, with the highlight probably being when she took the fight to Saraya Knight in SHINE. She also just happened to get a black eye doing some MMA fighting. Tough one, that Allysin.
+ Alicia Fox
Foxxy ties with Allysin for the unofficial #11; she ends another year as one of the Divas Division’s most underrated assets. She’s too good to be the third banana of Team Bella. At least she’s still one of the most entertaining Total Divas cast members.
+ Cheerleader Melissa
Cheerleader Melissa, heeling it up with the assistance of another face-turned-heel Yumi Ohka, continued her SHIMMER perfect attendance while also being a vital part in STARDOM’s American crossover.
+ Brooke Adams
+ Cherry Bomb
When you were able to capture four championships in one year and crack the Top 10 of the PWI Female 50 as a result of your accomplishments, you know you had a great year. Unfortunate shoulder injury notwithstanding.
The leader of Team F’n Kick competed on SHIMMER, SHINE, appeared on NXT, formed a tag team with Heidi Lovelace, and just recently announced a tour of Japan with Kellie Skater. Keep getting that exposure, Evie!
What female wrestlers left an impression on you in 2015? Hit me up on Twitter @FearlessRiOT or leave a comment below. Stick around for more Year-End Top 10s!