Photograph credit score: WWE.com.
Professional Wrestling Illustrated introduced Thursday that SmackDown Ladies’s champion Bayley earned the No. 1 spot on this 12 months’s PWI Ladies’s 100 record:
It marks the first time Bayley has ranked No. 1 in the world since PWI began ranking women’s wrestlers in 2008. Her best finish previously was fifth in 2016 and 2017.
Bayley is followed by a quartet of fellow WWE Superstars to round out the list, with Becky Lynch at No. 2, Asuka at No. 3, Charlotte Flair at No. 4 and Sasha Banks at No. 5.
Following the announcement, Bayley commented on the honor:
The evaluation window for the PWI Women’s 100 ran from Oct. 1, 2019, through Sept. 30, 2020, making it difficult to deny that Bayley was deserving of the top position.
PWI bases its rankings off several factors, including win-loss record, in-ring ability and accomplishments, such as title wins.
Shortly after the evaluation window began, Bayley dropped the SmackDown Women’s title to Charlotte. She then turned heel and won it back days later. Since beating Flair for the title on Oct. 11, 2019, Bayley has held it for more than one year.
Bayley and Banks have been the primary focus of the WWE women’s division for the past several months, especially since Money in the Bank in May, as Lynch announced the next night that she was pregnant and relinquished the Raw Women’s Championship.
That ended a 373-day reign. Although Lynch was absent for about four months of the evaluation period, she did enough during that time to earn the No. 2 spot in the PWI Women’s 100, including wins over Shayna Baszler at WrestleMania and Asuka at Royal Rumble.
Asuka was crowned Raw Women’s champion after Lynch vacated the title, as she won the women’s Money in the Bank ladder match.
The Empress of Tomorrow accomplished a ton during the evaluation window, including winning both the Raw Women’s title and Money in the Bank, as well as the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships with Kairi Sane.
Asuka and Sane beat Lynch and Flair in a TLC match at the TLC pay-per-view in December to retain the tag titles, and after dropping the Raw Women’s title to Banks in July, she won it back at SummerSlam.
Like Lynch, Flair missed some time during the evaluation period, as she has been out injured since June. Even so, she earned her spot by being a consistent presence on Raw, SmackDown and NXT for months.
Flair held the SmackDown Women’s title briefly at the start of the evaluation period and beat Rhea Ripley at WrestleMania to become the NXT Women’s champion for the second time, although she dropped it to Io Shirai about two months later.
It can be argued that Banks deserved a higher ranking than fifth since she and Bayley worked in lockstep throughout the evaluation window and held the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships together. Bayley has since turned on Banks.
Sasha’s Raw Women’s title reign lasting only one month likely played a role in her ranking, although it can be argued that there was no better women’s wrestler in the world from an in-ring perspective, as she put on memorable and entertaining matches against the likes of Lynch, Asuka and Shirai, among others.
Pro Wrestling Illustrated began ranking the top men’s wrestlers in the world with the first PWI 500 in 1991, and it created the PWI Female 50 in 2008 before expanding it to the PWI Women’s 100 in 2018.
In the 13 years that PWI has been ranking the top women’s wrestlers, 13 different women have now earned the No. 1 spot.
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