Mickie James Reveals Her Top 10 Most Important Women's Matches

Over the past few years, we've witnessed multiple women main-eventing WrestleManias, wearing crimson masks in Lights Out matches, and stealing the show on cards with higher-profile men's matches. The industry has come so far in the ongoing women's revolution that WWE refers to both its male and female wrestlers as "superstars" and has reportedly considered dropping "women's" from the titles to further bridge the gap.

As someone who has witnessed both extremes of women's wrestling — the divas' sideshow act and the serious main event one — Mickie James is as qualified as anyone to list out the most important matches in women's wrestling history. On a recent episode of "Busted Open," James attempted to do exactly that, breaking down each of her picks and their specific contribution to the business.

At #10, James picked the Hardcore match between Trish Stratus and Victoria from the 2002 Survivor Series pay-per-view. The match marked the first instance of a pair of women settling their bad blood through a no holds barred contest — at least in WWE. "It was the first time I really saw them doing something like that on WWF television," James said. "It was really cool to see a different type of character, with the Victoria crazy character, and going the hardcore route with the girls."

At #9, James picked the Last Woman Standing match between Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch from the 2018 Evolution pay-per-view. Seeing as the match occurred at WWE's first-ever all-women's pay-per-view, it bore a little more significance for James, but she remembers it more fondly for the quality of the slugfest that lasted nearly 29 minutes. "It was incredible," James admitted. "I thought it was the perfect main event-type match to have at an all-woman's pay-per-view. It was an incredible night, and it was incredible to be there — it was really powerful for women's wrestling, and they killed it."

Giving Gail Kim And Awesome Kong Their Due

At #8, James picked the inaugural Women's Royal Rumble from 2018, where she entered the battle royal at #26 and lasted over 8 minutes before being eliminated by Trish Stratus. James fondly remembers the night as it felt like the culmination of her long-time rivalry with Stratus. "We fought for that moment," James said. "But just to be a part of that first-ever Royal Rumble, and then Asuka winning — it was really cool and it was a game changer for the women."

At #7, James went with the memorable rivalry between Gail Kim and Awesome Kong in TNA/IMPACT Wrestling. While James didn't pick a specific match from the long-standing feud, she highlighted the overall significance of the rivalry and how it inspired other women in the industry. "For us in the business, it was like, 'Now there is more opportunity,' and you could see all these other women shining — and some of them were my friends, so it was really cool to see TNA really put their women's division on the map. I think IMPACT's had one of the best women's divisions since, and they've been the catalyst of that."

At #6, James picked her WrestleMania 22 match against Trish Stratus, prefacing her choice with an "I'm not being biased" remark. James noted that the match was all the more memorable due to the mentor-protégé storyline that preceded it. "Because of the storyline and the 9 months it took to get to that moment," James explained. "It was really the first time, I believe, they invested that much time in a single character, and in developing a [storyline] arc. And, it was hot, people were into it, and it was one of the loudest reactions of the night — it had so much drama. We all worked really hard to get to that point. It was awesome."

'it made me realize this is a global thing'

At #5, James picked the Alundra Blayze vs. Bull Nakano matches from mid-'90s WWE, specifically their contest at SummerSlam 1994 that lasted nearly 10 minutes — a rather unprecedented feat for women in that era. James is thankful for those matches as they revitalized women's wrestling in the United States. "The women's division had gone away for some time," James recalled. "Since the days of Sherri [Martel], there really hadn't been a champion that was showcased on WWE television, so for them to be showcased — it really started to bring back the women's division, I think, with credibility."

At #4, James chose the 5-on-5 Survivor Series match from 1987 pitting The Fabulous Moolah, The Jumping Bomb Angels, Rockin' Robin, and Velvet McIntyre against Dawn Marie, Donna Christanello, The Glamour Girls, and Sensational Sherri. Watching the match as an 8-year-old, James was floored at the sight of Itsuki Yamazaki and Noriyo Tateno displaying their athleticism. "I had never seen Jumping Bomb Angels before," James said. "I remember watching and I was like, 'Oh my god! They are so different and they can do all these different things.' To watch all these different women come in together, it was really powerful for me — as a fan — because I was like, 'There's more than just a couple of wrestlers.' It made me realize this is a global thing." James added that she re-watched the match several times while training in OVW.

At #3, James went with an admittedly "biased pick" by choosing Sensational Sherri's WWE debut against The Fabulous Moolah in 1987. On that night, Sherri — as the reigning AWA Women's World Champion — walked into WWE and shockingly upset the biggest women's star in the history of the business. "She [Sherri] is my favorite of all time," James said. "That was the moment when she was introduced to me, as a wrestling fan."

'it put wrestling in the mainstream'

At #2, James picked the match between Trish Stratus and Lita, credited as the first-ever women's bout to main event an episode of "WWE Raw" on December 6, 2004. "That's when I was in the business, training, and I was like, 'Wow. It's possible for me or anyone [to main event a show]. It was such a powerful moment in the evolution of women's wrestling because it was a big step in being seen as equals."

Technically, other matches such as Stephanie McMahon vs. Lita on the August 21, 2000 edition of "Raw," and Alundra Blayze vs. Bertha Faye on the October 23, 1995 edition of "Raw" did go on last, but Stratus vs. Lita was arguably the first women's main event program that WWE creative was truly invested in. 

And finally, at #1, James went with the iconic Wendi Ritcher vs. Fabulous Moolah match from 1984, which aired as a special broadcast on MTV titled "The Brawl to End it All." While Cyndi Lauper's cameo as Ritcher's manager surely helped draw the eyeballs of non-wrestling fans, the match also put women's wrestling on the map as WWE continued to capitalize on the momentum generated by WrestleMania 1. 

"That was a huge thing for wrestling," James began. "It put wrestling in the mainstream — it was such a big, big thing, and for it to air on MTV, I think it really brought wrestling into pop culture and really started opening up those doors for wrestling to be more than just a local kind of thing."

For what it's worth, James had earlier refused to name "Honorable Mentions" as she put a lot of thought and effort into making her definite list. One could argue that WrestleMania main events such as Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair and Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch vs. Ronda Rousey could have made the cut, but James, it would seem, believes her peers had already laid the groundwork for their successors to thrive.