This week, Pro Wrestling Illustrated released its annual list ranking the top 150 women’s wrestlers in the sport. Of course, it being a PWI list means that it adheres more to kayfabe markers for success than things like match quality (though that does factor in), but it’s still a great resource that gives some of your favorite wrestlers their just due while illuminating some names you’ve yet to discover.
In a sense, that’s what these (semi) regular pieces seek to accomplish with certain wrestling matches, the participants in those matches, and the stories that surround them. It doesn’t even have to be the best match of the week; this space could be for wrestlers who exceed expectations in the ring or something as simple as praising a returning star.
These are three matches from this week that are worth a rewatch.
Bianca Belair vs. Bayley (WWE Raw Oct. 24, 2022) (***3/4)
After battling over the Raw Women’s Championship in a ladder match at Extreme Rules, Bayley and Bianca Belair continued their longstanding rivalry in the main event of the Oct. 24 WWE Raw.
The well-acquainted adversaries wrestled with a pace and crispness that matched their familiarity. Even little things like Bayley countering a flip Belair tried with a rollup after she saw Belair counter the duck-under the same way the first time enhanced the story of these two knowing each other well.
Of course, Dakota Kai and IYO SKY’s presence at ringside ensured that this match wouldn’t reach its full potential. Sure enough, Bayley and Belair’s battle would give way to the other members of Damage CTRL and the re-repackaged (reverted?) Nikki Cross. This led to Bayley picking up the tainted win to set up another Bayley/Belair match.
Jamie Hayter vs. Riho (AEW: Dynamite Oct. 26, 2022) (***3/4)
If you’re still on the fence about whether or not Jamie Hayter should receive a big push, hopefully, her match with Riho on the Oct. 26 episode of AEW: Dynamite should erase any lingering doubts.
As you would expect in an encounter between two wrestlers with such stark contrasts in size, the match centered around Riho keeping her larger adversary at bay with her in-ring aptitude and her speed while Hayter would bring things to a screeching halt with her power. The two kept the audience invested with a number of great, well-timed spots, like when Hayter tossed Riho in the air and Riho turned it into a Code Red for a good nearfall. Tremendous stuff.
Anyhow, Hayter scored the pin with her Ripcord Lariat and appears destined to face Toni Storm for the interim AEW Women’s World Championship. This one is well worth your time, at the very least for the Code Red spot.
Mayu Iwatani (c) vs. KiLynn King- SWA World Championship (NJPW Rumble on 44th Street) (****)
Friday’s New Japan Pro Wrestling show, Rumble on 44th Street, featured plenty of the sort of hard-hitting matches that the promotion has become known for. One of those matches was the SWA Title tilt between Mayu Iwatani and KiLynn King.
Similar to the previous match, these two built around the obvious story to tell: Iwatani surviving the power of King and chipping away at her larger opponent. Of course, having one of the greatest women’s wrestlers of all time makes scribing that narrative much easier. Iwatani’s reputation preceded her based on the crowd’s reaction to her, immaculate selling and timing throughout this match showed how well-founded that adulation was.
To be clear, King — who has become a young wrestler to keep an eye on thanks to some great in-ring outings in AEW and other promotions — wasn’t some vessel that needed to be carried; she matched the champion’s psychology with great fire and deftly leaning heel without going over the edge.