In 1956, which is quite a long time ago when you think about it, pro wrestling introduced its women’s league, an offshoot of its burly and glory-driven male wrestling showdown. Since then, it has featured a variety of divas involved in a medley of catfights both on and off stage, a convention which by its nature and purpose has been nothing less than dramatic. Often just as unruly as the regular pro male show, this brand of wrestling has interestingly featured a wide variety of young female wrestling stars, who often vary in size and musculature. Here we often see women with some toned and muscular physiques. We also see some with a regular fitness look, which is perhaps more useful in a test of fighting ability than strength in terms of agility and speed.
Unlike the male WWE, we don’t have a lot of stats on these girls and how much they can bench or squat. What we do have is a long track record of their feats in the ring. Sometimes these women have been able to pick up other male wrestlers and throw them off stage, so no one should say any of these girls are weak by any stretch. Some of this, as is natural in any wrestling match, has led many to speculate on who’s the strongest gal in WWE. Most of this speculation is just guesswork, but here are our 15 guesses.
15. Nikki Bella
By now you’ve probably heard the latest news: Nikki Bella and her longtime boyfriend, John Cena, resorted to going to a Halloween party as each other this past week. But aside from their offstage cross-dressing antics and hilarious escapades, Bella and Cena are both known as tangos in the ring, which is maybe why they hit it off in the first place. Contracted by WWE in 2007, Bella ascended to the title of Diva Champion in 2011 to 2012, around the same time she began dating Cena. Her initial claim to fame arrived between 2008 when she kicked off a twin team pairing with Brie Bella, who remained her sidekick and colleague until 2011. During this time, Bella’s tenacious fighting style has perhaps earned some privilege among the ranks of strongest females in WWE.
14. Nicole Bass
A female professional bodybuilder prior to coming to WWE, Nicole Bass is probably a good candidate for being maybe the toughest, strongest lady in the pro circuit. Bass is currently six foot two inches, and she weighs 240 pounds, so when she enters the ring for a fight, she is truly a dominating force to witness. Known for her hilarious commentary at times on the Howard Stern Show— she is currently a member of Stern’s coveted Wack Pack, a group of individuals which includes luminary comedians such as Beetlejuice— Bass is often a juggernaut in the ring, tearing up opponents with ease. Seeing as she won the 1997 NPC National Bodybuilding Championship as well as making other impressive NPC finishes, it’s no surprise that some consider Bass one of the strongest women in WWE.
Like Bass, Kaitlyn started her career in women’s bodybuilding, garnering the NPC John Sherman Classic Bodybuilding Championship and Fitness Championship. She’s also placed fifth in the NPC’s Figure Class D for the Arnold Classic, so naturally, we might not second guess her ability to vanquish her opponents in the ring— or her strength in the field. Kaitlyn normally uses a combative style in WWE, pile driving her opponents with a quick snapping movement. This suggests power and aggressiveness beneath her warm smile and cutie-pie face. Kaitlyn made her first WWE appearance in 2010 in a mixed tag team match with Dolph Ziggler, where she helped vanquish AJ and Primo. Since then, it was a steady rise to stardom in the WWE until 2014, when she retired from WWE to focus on her marriage and clothing line business.
12. Nia Jax
With a series of challenging signature moves at her disposal, Nia Jax is a formidable adversary in the WWE ring, bowling over her opponents with gusto and fervor, as well as a bit of toppling strength. Her signature moves bear some pretty nasty connotations: the Canadian Backbreaker Rack, the Cobra Clutch, the Samoan Drop, the Shoulder-breaker, and the Hair-Pull Whip. With these epithets attached to her, it’s hardly any surprise that Jax has quickly established her persona as a villainess in WWE. She first signed with WWE in 2014, where she first donned the title of Zada. In 2015, she was initially defeated in a ring debut against Bayley and Carmella, but she beat Evie in her debut in NXT not long after. Bayley quickly became a longstanding rival for Jax for months to come. Jax usually uses a mix of clobbering and brute force, making her a candidate for top strength contender in WWE.
The current NWA World Women’s Champion, Jazz, formerly known as Jazzmine, has had a long run in the WWE, which began back in 2001 with her debut as a villainess in the Survivor Series. A regular victor on the scene, Jazz was able to capture her first Women’s Championship a year later after defeating Trish Stratus. She also successfully fended off assaults on her title later that year against Lita and Trish Stratus in a triple-threat match. She was also the first championship title holder under the WWF’s new banner and acronym, which changed that same year in 2002. Granted all of this acclaim and ring experience has made Jazz one tough girl, as we might expect, so we might certainly expect her to be in any WWE ranking system for overall strength and power.
A recruit with the WWE since 2007, Natalya has an explosive and bombastic ring presence who regularly flaunts perhaps more aggressive ring tactics than many of her opponents. Whether hair pulling, flipping into tables, or tossing her opponent into the crowd, Natalya is rarely ever soft or casual in her approach. We’d therefore expect her to be among the strongest women in WWE, and in fact, we’d probably not second guess this assertion after viewing some of her melees as a villainess in the ring. Over the course, Natalya’s headstrong approach in the ring has also gotten her involved in some mixed gender matches, such as when she helped her uncle Bret Hart in a fight against Vince McMahon.
Known formerly as Tara in TNA wrestling, Victoria is a two-time women’s champion who also holds the honor of five-time TNA knockouts champion. Sporting a pushy, slam-style of wrestling, Victoria is certainly a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the sport of wrestling. Victoria, aka Lisa Marie Varon, initially began her career outside of the ring, winning bodybuilding competitions in the middleweight level for women. Before that, she also taught aerobics and fitness. Tara, or Victoria, had a rocky bout in TNA after she announced in 2010 that the lack of a pay increase was causing her to quit the league for a while. Later, after being roped back with a new contract with TNA, she returned in style, wearing a silver outfit and a motorcycle helmet.
Also called Awesome Kong, Kharma is a five-time Women’s Champion. She’s also won the TNA Knockouts Championship on two occasions, as well as the WWWA World Championship and NWA World Women’s Champions. Kharma has also excelled at tag team matches, paired up with Aja Kong, a four-time winner of tag team championships, as well as Hamada to secure the TNA Knockouts Tag Team Championship. She was also voted first in the Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s Top 50 Females. With these sorts of accolades, we might expect Kharma to be on top physically over most competitors, and we’d probably be right. Kharma has even pile driven some fairly large pro male wrestlers from time to time. She’s also hurled a 200-plus pound guy over the ropes in a brawl that broke out at one of her matches.
7. Beth Phoenix
Beth Phoenix’s pleasant, dimpled smile off stage rarely belies the fierce, lioness-like display she puts on in the WWE ring. Now retired, Phoenix, aka Glamazon, debuted on WWE Raw in 2006 but took a hiatus after she sustained a broken jaw the following month. Despite the rough start, she came back with a truly award-winning performance in the league, securing a WWE Diva Championship and three WWE Women’s Championships. Phoenix was not new to wrestling when she showed up at WWE, it should be noted. Previous to the WWE, she was an amateur wrestler for her high school, Notre Dame High School, and the only female one as well. Phoenix’s rough demeanor in the ring might make some fans wonder whether she possesses the most power and strength of them all. But only time may tell.
6. Molly Holly
Variously called Mona, Lady Ophelia, and Miss Madness, Molly Holly, an epitome of what some call Attitude Era in WWE, has held the WWF Hardcore Championship title. She’s also won the Women’s World Championship twice. A little bit in the history books by now, Holly retired from full-time wrestling in 2005 on a negative note, indicating that she was disenchanted with the WWE for allegedly giving preference to women wrestlers for their looks over their skill in the ring. Holly also allegedly did not like the fact that her character had been recast as a villain, but apparently this gripe wasn’t the reason she left wrestling. At any rate, Holly’s manual skills in the ring are near legendary by now. She might have been the strongest wrestler at the time of her reigns, but it’s tough to say.
5. Mickie James
Mickie James came on the pro wrestling scene in 2005 and was moved into the league via a storyline with Trish Stratus. As it turned, she has proven one of the more successful wrestlers in women’s WWE, securing a total of five titles in the women’s championship. If you count her winnings in TNA as well, James has won a total of nine championships, which marks a national record for the US. In 2009, James was also saluted by Pro Wrestler Illustrated as the top female wrestler. With all of these accolades, it’s tough to sideline the idea that her strength training and overall power in the ring didn’t have something to do with her success. While some like Molly Holly claim it’s all about the facial façade or the look, some might claim her basic strength carried her the distance. Still, by all accounts, it doesn’t appear Mickie is stronger than the likes of Kharma or Bass.
4. Aj Lee
While Aj Lee is pretty diminutive as far as women wrestlers are concerned, her looks may be a bit deceiving. For example, she took down Brie Bella several times during a match last year in a bid to defend her title. While she is apparently smaller than some wrestlers, there is also some underlying strength in her physique as well. Some of these factors may relate to the fact that Aj Lee held the Diva title a record-tying three times. She has also held the title for 406 days, the longest on record. Before her retirement, Aj was known for her various love sideline stories, which included a romance with Daniel Bryan as well as John Cena. At one point in the storyline with Bryan, though, she was injured and taken out on a stretcher after Big Show hit her accidentally.
3. Jackie Moore
Though Jackie Moore is now semi-retired from WWE, she still makes appearances here and there in the WWE ring from time to time. An interesting fact about Moore is that she has appeared to lose interest in coming up with provocative stage names for herself in recent years, as she now prefers to use her real name. Before that, this much celebrated wrestler had more names than you can imagine back in her heyday, including Sgt. Rock, Ms. Texas, and Miss Tennessee. Probably a bit swarthier than most of the female wrestlers going, Jackie Moore has been only the third woman in history to enter the WWE Cruiserweight Championship, which says a lot about her overall strength and facility in the ring (the Cruiserweight is dominated by men). This fact in itself might point to the fact that Moore is a bit stronger than the pack she contends against.
2. Bull Nakano
An interesting fact about Bull Nakano is that she isn’t only quick and strong but also immensely talented in terms of her dexterity. This can be deduced from the fact that in 2006, she joined the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). A Japanese wrestler, Nakano debuted in the WWE in 1983 but retired in 1997, after she chose to join the LPGA. Known for her Japanese-influenced moves, similar in some respects to Sumo wrestling, Nakano held the WWWA World Heavyweight Title for almost three years, from 1990 to late 1992, before losing it to Aja Kong. During her tenure in WWF, she had an ongoing feud with Alundra Blayze. Due to her strength and agility, Nakano might have been one of the better women wrestlers ever. Whether she’s the strongest ever remains to be seen, but she’s probably among the top contenders.
Although Chyna is no longer among the living, many fans regard her as the toughest and strongest of all the female wrestlers when she was in the ring. Part of this reputation may be built on her legacy of holding her own among male WWE wrestling peers. During her legacy, Chyna engaged in several mixed gender battles, defeating in single matches the likes of Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, Jeff Jarett, and Triple H. After departing wrestling in 2001, Chyna wrestled occasionally in Japanese pro wrestling, appeared in Playboy, and then took part in VH1’s Surreal Life, a reality TV show. In addition to being seen as a tough persona in the ring, Chyna, due to her high media exposure, was one of the higher impact female wrestlers in WWE history.