Since Nia Jax’s shock entry into the 2019 men’s Royal Rumble at the number 30 spot on January 27, fans have been questioning what this means for the future of inter-gender wrestling in WWE.
There has been speculation that Jax’s inclusion in the men’s match was WWE’s method of slowly introducing the idea of inter-gender bouts to the product. Her appearance in the Rumble where she eliminated Ali before being hit with a Dolph Ziggler superkick, a Rey Mysterio 619 and finally a Randy Orton RKO created a lot of buzz amongst the wrestling community, with many fantasy booking inter-gender matches that they would like to see.
While there has been no inter-gender action since this spot, the possibility of a woman taking on a man in WWE has become much more likely. We have compiled a list of 10 inter-gender wrestling matches that we need to see inside a WWE ring.
10. Candice LeRae vs. Tommaso Ciampa
Possibly the least well-known name on this list, Candice LeRae was signed to NXT back in the summer of 2017 after a 15 year-long run on the independent scene where she is best known for her time at PWG.
LeRae is actually familiar with inter-gender wrestling, she was part of the World’s Cutest Tag Team with Joey Ryan (the penis druid guy) and she is the only woman in the history of the promotion to hold the PWG Tag Team Championships. As such, an inter-gender dream match list without Candice would feel wrong.
In spite of this, it may appear odd to some that a lesser-known woman is on this list ahead of other more recognisable names just because she has locked horns with men inside the squared circle before, and some may ask why we have chosen her to go up against Tommaso Ciampa.
Well, LeRae is the real-life wife of Ciampa’s best friend turned fierce rival Johnny Gargano. Ciampa was even the best man at LeRae’s wedding to Gargano.
Despite seemingly putting an end to their feud after Gargano won the NXT Championship at NXT Takeover: New York, the raw emotion and deep story that went into the Johnny-Tommaso feud would carry over to a LeRae-Ciampa inter-gender match and would make for an excellent story and an even better in-ring product.
9. Io Shirai vs. Rey Mysterio
There is some debate about Io Shirai’s talent in the ring. Some have argued that Shirai is the best female wrestler in the world. Others have argued that the aforementioned statement would be selling her short, she is the best wrestler in the world regardless of gender.
Io is dubbed the ‘Genius of the Sky’ and her moonsault is a thing of beauty. She cites Rey Mysterio as one of her idols and even uses the Tiger Feint Kick, made famous by Mysterio with the 619, as one of her signature moves.
Rey has shown in his latest WWE run that he can still go as he approaches the tail-end of his career. A match between arguably the best high-flyer in WWE history and NXT’s newest high-flyer would result in a fast-paced, nail-biting encounter that would be certain to keep the crowd on the edge of their seats.
8. Rhea Ripley vs. Drew McIntyre
When Rhea Ripley entered the 2019 Women’s Royal Rumble she looked out of place. Not because she is cannot work like the rest of the female talent WWE has on their books, but because of her sheer size and strength which will make her a force to be reckoned with on the main roster when she eventually gets called up.
Standing at 5ft 8”, the Australian carries a ring presence only seen previously in Chyna that makes her appear to be upwards of 6ft. Ripley is just 22, and has a long career ahead of her outside of NXT and NXT UK. She is dominant and commands respect from the moment she steps out from behind the curtain and makes her way towards the ring.
The prospect of a monster match between Ripley and the ‘Scottish Psychopath’ Drew McIntyre makes the mouth water. Ripley’s ring presence and her intimidating look are incredibly similar to that of McIntyre who is now in his second run with the WWE.
McIntyre dominates any match he is in and has the ability to pull out innovative and exciting offence despite his large frame. The prospect of a dream match with Ripley is extremely exciting and would certainly be a hard-hitting affair.
7. Shayna Baszler vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
There is one provision to this match: we get the Shinsuke Nakamura that appeared in NJPW and even NXT, not the lethargic Nakamura that seems to be working a slower pace and laid-back style since his main roster debut.
Baszler only made her wrestling debut in the summer of 2015 after a two-year stint in the UFC. Since then Baszler has taken to wrestling like a duck to water and she makes you believe she has been doing this her whole life.
When it comes to her in-ring style, Baszler is a hard-hitting grappler and her move-set is based on strikes and submissions. Her signature Kirifuda Clutch has put the majority of the NXT women’s locker room to sleep and I fear for the women on the WWE roster when her inevitable call-up happens.
A superstar with a similar strike and submission based move-set is Shinsuke Nakamura. This was especially clear in his NJPW days where he would put superstars away with not only the Bomaye, now referred to as the Kinshasa, but also a triangle-choke submission that he has seldom used on the main roster.
Nakamura and Baszler would target the other’s limbs in preparation for their signature submission moves in a match that would blend brutal strikes with intelligent limb isolation, making it a must-watch dream match.
6. Sasha Banks vs. Seth Rollins
Sasha Banks and Seth Rollins are both athletic performers with the stamina and endurance to put on a 30-minute classic.
Banks reminded fans in her recent outing against Ronda Rousey at the Royal Rumble that she is one of the best female wrestlers that WWE has to offer. She was intense and systematic in targeting Rousey’s arm and leg, even using part of her ring gear to make her Bank Statment submission move even more painful in an innovative and inventive spot.
Rollins too is a classy performer in the ring. He often has the best match on Raw or on pay-per-view (with the exception of his snooze-fest against Dean Ambrose at TLC). He is a sympathetic babyface who knows how to get the crowd behind him and engaged for his eventual comeback that normally includes an impressive flurry of high-flying offence.
Rollins and Banks also have two of the best variations of the Frog Splash in WWE, and their encounter would be intense, athletic and engaging for the audience, once again making it a must-watch.
5. Asuka vs. Daniel Bryan
Asuka can kick your head off. So can Daniel Bryan. Asuka can make you tap-out with a variety of brutal-looking submission moves. So can Daniel Bryan.
This match could go so many ways. Both wrestlers could bring their strike-based offence and have a hard-hitting encounter. Alternatively, they could work a systematic submission-based game, both methodically targeting their opponent’s limbs in preparation for their signature submission holds.
Either route would be fantastic. The strike-based encounter would be more akin to the strong-style matches we have become accustomed to in Japan. The submission-based match would be a technical masterpiece that would go down as a classic like Mr. Perfect’s match with Bret Hart at SummerSlam ’91.
The different routes that this match could take would ensure that even a series of encounters would work between the two current Smackdown stars, with both feeling fresh and exciting.
4. Bayley vs. Finn Balor
Like Sasha Banks, Bayley showed in her Raw Women’s Championship match with Ronda Rousey that she has so much potential, and this led many people to remember back to the Bayley of NXT that fans fell in love with following her classics with Sasha Banks.
Their final encounter at NXT Takeover: Respect in a 30-minute Iron Woman match is widely regarded as one of the best women’s matches in WWE history and the match that really helped kick-start the Women’s Evolution.
Her opponent in this dream match: Finn Balor. Balor has received somewhat of a push of late and despite coming up short in a receny Universal Championship match against Brock Lesnar, Balor had an impressive showing.
Bayley and Balor were actually tag team partners in the second season of Mixed Match Challenge before Balor was replaced by Apollo Crews after the Irishman suffered an injury that would rule him out at the semi-final stage.
Both Bayley and Balor are loveable babyfaces who can put on an intense and engaging match with the crowd buying into their signature offence.
The match might not be the most gripping in terms of in-ring action, but both represented their genders in NXT for much of the brand’s successful years and at times were the most over faces in NXT, and perhaps WWE as a whole during their time in developmental. Their match would be one that the fans could get very easily invested in.
3. Charlotte Flair vs. AJ Styles
Here we go!
With AJ Styles standing at 180cm, and Charlotte Flair being billed at 178cm, this encounter would certainly not feel like a mismatch.
Styles is a rare talent. He has the ability to bust out high-flying manoeuvres like his moonsault-DDT or his 450 Splash, whilst also delivering brutal looking strikes and locking his opponent in gruelling submissions like the Calf Crusher. This rare combination makes him the complete package.
When we look to the women’s roster, I can say the same for Charlotte Flair, she has it all. Flair delivers picture-perfect corkscrew moonsaults, whilst also delivering devastating chops like her father Ric Flair. Her variation of the figure four with the bridge makes the submission feel all the more brutal and devastating. She too can do it all.
Both characters can play cocky heels or crowd-pleasing babyfaces, and this all makes for the prospect of a truly exciting match-up.
In terms of a storyline, the fact that Styles was the protégé of, and has wrestled, Ric Flair throughout his time with TNA would make this match a surreal prospect that would almost certainly result in an absolute classic for the WWE fans.
I was excited about the prospect of this match before writing this article, but after all I’ve said, I really do hope WWE pull the trigger at some stage on this match.
2. Ronda Rousey vs. Brock Lesnar
Ronda Rousey has taken the WWE by storm. Since her debut at WrestleMania 34 she has proved that she is a natural in the ring and has as of yet failed to produce a poor match, far surpassing everyone’s expectations for the former UFC Champion.
Lesnar on the other hand, whilst his matches, on the whole, may be repetitive, featuring nothing but German Suplexes and F5s, has proved against smaller opponents like AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan and Finn Balor that he has the ability to sell and have the audience on the edge of their seats thinking that he may actually lose.
Both wrestlers can deliver devastating strikes, lethal-looking throws and bone-breaking submissions. Rousey hoisting up Lesnar and delivering judo throw after judo throw before locking in the Arm-bar would be a spectacle that fans of the WWE could really get behind.
The match would draw attention to the WWE for the fans of UFC and MMA in general. The prospect of seeing an inter-gender matchup in the Octagon is extremely unlikely, so the two most recognisable names in UFC history for their respective genders so should do battle inside the squared circle and create a match that will have fans jaws hitting the floor harder than a Brock Lesnar suplex.
1. Becky Lynch vs. John Cena
There is only one man (if you pardon the pun) that Becky Lynch should face in an inter-gender matchup: John Cena.
While he was hosting his weekly United States Championship Open Challenge, Cena would start with a promo and say “If you want to be the man, you’ve got to beat the man”. Becky should call out Cena and say she, as ‘The real Man’, intends on beating Cena, who is merely claiming to be the man.
Becky and Cena teamed together on the 2019 New Year’s Day episode of Smackdown Live, taking on Andrade and Zelina Vega, but Lynch would throw Cena out of the ring to score the fall for her team. She would then snub a Cena handshake and walk to the back.
Cena is the most recognisable name in WWE. He is on all the posters, all the billboards and the man WWE turn to for social media and public appearances. Lynch, if she wants to solidify herself as the true ‘Man’ of WWE, should make Cena tap out to the Dis-Arm-HIM in a match that is sure to get the crowd fired up in support for Becky with ear-shattering boos for Cena.