WWE's upcoming women's wrestling tournament is a hot topic of discussion as of late, as is WWE women's division as a whole. With the resurrection of the company's women's division in the last year and the success of the WWE Cruiserweight Classic from this past summer, WWE looks to continue to expand it's programming and talent by showcasing women's wrestling- reportedly in January of 2017.
Here are 5 female competitors who are not already affiliated with #WWE that I would love to see in the tournament, some of which have reportedly already been contacted to do so.
5. Nixon Newell
I first saw Steffanie Newell - known by her ring name "Nixon" Newell, back when WWE was promoting Tout. Remember Tout? Don't worry, neither does Tout. Back then, Newell was training and posting about her 'Miz' obsession. To recently re-discover her and find out how well she's doing is awesome. Go, Steffanie!
With the recent emergence of WhatCulture Pro Wrestling (WCPW), Newell has become the company's first Women's Champion and is proving herself to be one of the most promising female competitors in the UK at the moment. Having competed in various countries across Europe, Newell is becoming familiar with fans of the continent's wrestling, and is apparently already being looked at by WWE.
Newell would be a great choice for the tournament. It would be great for Newell to gain exposure, of course, hone her skills and would be a great draw to bring more international viewers to come to the WWE Network, which we know WWE is always looking for ways to do.
4. Sexy Star
Dulce Maria García Rivas, known as Luchadora enmascarada Sexy Star, is best known for her work in Mexican promotions Asistencia Asesoría y Administración and Lucha Underground. In Lucha Underground, she became the first woman to win the Gift of Gods Championship and the Lucha Underground Championship, both of which she would lose to Johnny Mundo (former WWE superstar John Morrison/Johnny Nitro), proving that she can hang with the men too.
Sexy Star most recently has been wrestling unmasked for US women's promotion Shimmer Women's Athletes under the name Dulce Garcia where she continues to showcase herself in the business. Star is a badass and would be a fantastic addition to WWE's Women's tournament, further attracting international audiences.
3. Angelina Love
While international viewership is important, so is recognizable faces among more causal fans. Angelina love is best known for her lengthy back-and-fourth run with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), where she became a six-time Knockouts Champion. Love wrestled for WWE between 2004 and 2007 in their then-developmental territories Deep South Wrestling and Ohio Valley Wrestling. Angelina Love has gone on to become one of the most accomplished and popular women's wrestlers outside of the promotion and one of the best TNA Knockouts Champions of all time.
Rumours have been floating around for about the past five years that she would make the jump and those rumors now may very well become reality as Love already expressed interest in the tournament on her Twitter page, with an overwhelmingly positive response from fans. WWE would be pretty silly to not take Love into consideration. It would also be great to have a veteran of her level in the tournament to perhaps help the out the other women who may have less experience, especially the international competitors, in learning WWE's ways.
With Love's interest in joining the tournament, speculation has also begun flying around (as it has been for the past half a decade or so) that former teammate of "The Beautiful People", Velvet Sky, may also end up appearing. Now that would be awesome!
2. Io Shirai
Already contacted by WWE and reportedly already having accepted, Io Shirai is recognized as the "ace" of joshi puroresu promotion World Wonder Ring Stardom and is the first Grand Slam Champion and currently in her second, almost year-long reign as World of Stardom Champion.
Shirai has also competed in Mexico and is full of talent and charisma, making her one of the most exciting performers in professional wrestling. Shirai wrestles like a real-life video game character, coming at her opponent from all angles. She is fast paced and always has a nail-biting move up her sleeve.
As mentioned, though at this point it is still uncertain , Shirai is reportedly heading to WWE and would be a further huge draw for Japanese fans (after the acquisitions of Shinsuke Nakamura, Hideo Itami and Kana along with appearances by Kota Ibushi). Especially considering that she would once again be in the same promotion as one of her former Stardom stable-mates, current NXT Women's champion, Asuka (formely "Kana").
1. Kairi Hojo
Another from Stardom (I am a fan), Kairi Hojo is one of my favourite wrestlers. Hojo is full of personality and always just looks like she's having a lot of fun. It's impossible not to get pumped when watching Hojo in the ring.
Hojo made her professional debut in just 2012 and has already put on some of the best matches in recent memory. If you haven't already, go seek out her match with Meiko Satomura from Stardom Galaxy Stars for the World of Stardom Championship. It had more hard-hitting drama and intensity than probably any women's match I've ever seen. Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (whose word is like gospel to wrestling fans) has called Hojo, along with Io Shirai, one of the best wrestlers in the world.
Not to mention that Hojo has the meanest looking elbow drop in professional wrestling. The move may be most identified with Shawn Michaels, but nobody drops that elbow quite like Kairi Hojo. The way that Hojo executes the elbow is unique as she lifts her legs horizontally for it to really give off a hugely impactful look as all the the weight looks to come from just her elbow. Masterfully done!
Kairi Hojo has also already been contacted by WWE and as of now, Hojo has not given a final answer but is reportedly interested in heading over, but Stardom is trying to do what they can to get her to stay. The acquisition of Kairi Hojo would also be a huge deal for Japanese viewership to the WWE Network and in fleshing out and building an absolutely incredible women's division.
Additionally, both Shirai and Hojo, along with Mayu Iwatani (honourable mention), recently appeared in Lucha Underground and proved that they can seriously go in a foreign environment and put on a show like you've never seen. Especially Shirai (in an immensely "holy shit!" type of way). Seriously, look it up. Lucha Underground Season 3, Episode 13: Breaker of Bones. I'll wait.
With WWE recently recruiting a lot of talent from Japan, it would be great to have Kairi Hojo and Io Shirai appear for the women's tournament, though it would be a huge hit for Stardom to lose its two top stars. Of course, it isn't one-hundred-percent certain that participants of the tournament will sign full-time with WWE, though it is likely.
WWE looks to be completely dedicated to its women's division at the moment and the women's tournament would be a huge jump forward. WWE's talent roster is unbelievably good right now. Some of the biggest names in domestic and international professional wrestling are there now, all at the same time. If WWE can secure these ladies too, then the future is looking very bright!
I eagerly look forward to what's to come.
Who would you like to see in WWE's Women's Tournament? Let us know!