Great Women Wrestlers You've Probably Never Heard Of

Christi LottCorrespondent IFebruary 4, 2009

Those of us in the United States who are fans of wrestling tend to equate Trish Stratus as one of the greatest women's wrestlers of all time, definitely by WWE standards. There could be some argument for it here in the states, but many people don't put one up.

If we were to include at least Mexico and Japan in this argument, Stratus would be lucky to make the top 50. I thought it would be interesting to look at a few women from around the world who are considered some of the greatest women's wrestlers today or of all time; and in at least two cases, the greatest wrestlers, period.

I will admit though, before writing a quick biography on each, that my own familiarity with the Japanese and Mexican wrestling scene is not good at all. I give all the credit to YouTube for introducing me to most of these women in the past year. Oh, and before I forget, the order below is the same in the picture above.

Faby Apache

Faby is currently a luchadora down in Mexico for AAA where she is the reigning Reina de Reinas Champion. I am the most familiar with her because I actually watch AAA. Faby is easily the most popular luchadora performing right now, and can be called the 'Trish Stratus of Mexico' in terms of popularity.

A second generation star, daughter of fellow AAA luchador, the legendary Gran Apache and sister to AAA luchadora Mari, Faby was trained in Japan by Mariko Yoshida, Aja Kong, (both will be talked about in this article) and her father.

She debuted at the age of 18 with a lucha libre inspired move set infused with the johsi puroresu skills she learned in Japan, including many different types of suplexes to finish off her opponent. 

Although there isn't much focus on the women's roster in AAA(much like the WWE), Faby is the most featured on a consistent basis, and it is hard not to equate women's wrestling in Mexico without her name coming up.

Ayako Hamada

Like Faby spoken above, Ayako is a second generational wrestler. She is the daughter of Gran Hamada and sister to another great wrestler, Xochitl Hamada. She was wrestling in AAA a few months ago, but left due to not having any real focus on the roster and control of her career.

Shortly after debuting in Japan, Ayako won the prestigious Queen or ARSION (a women's wrestling promotion in Japan) from Aja Kong. Ayako also has a unique and agile move set, and can always be seen using different variations of a moonsault on more than one occasion in a match.

She also has some great strength and uses quite a few power moves, like a few variations of a power bomb as well as finishes that her father uses.

Aja Kong

If you're a TNA followers and thoroughly impressed and amazed by Awesome Kong, you'll be completely blown away by Aja Kong. Wrestling since the age of 16, Aja is still an active wrestler 20 years later.

Though she doesn't match awesome in height, she more than stands her own in terms of skills, being hailed as one of the most brutal, stiffest, and most powerful Joshi wrestlers to have ever stepped foot in the ring.

She uses her size to her up most advantage, including using some power moves off the top rope. Aja has put on some fantastic matches with many legendary joshi wrestlers, and was even recently in a tag team with awesome Kong, if you can believe that. She is the only one on this list the WWE can say they employed at one time.

In the mid '90s, Kong was being built up as a challenger for then WWF Women's Champion Alundra Blayze, but was let go after Blaze was fired. Kong created the legendary ARSION promotion, and is now a part of the Oz Academy, and continues to help train the generations of wrestlers that follow hers.

Manami Toyota

Considered one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, male or female, Manami has a 20 plus year career since debuting at the age of 16.

From a legendary feud with longtime rival Kyoko Inoue, including having one match that was awarded by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Match of the Year in 1995, to a match against the legendary Chigusa Nagayo in a one-time-only legends match that saw arguably the two best female wrestlers ever go at it in 1998.

Toyota has elevated many female wrestlers besides herself in her long career. With an arsenal of a flashy style, high flying moves(including a NO HANDS springboard somersault plancha) and a great set of signature moves, Toyota has maintained an original and legendary status that can't be ignored.

She is the only woman to be a part of six matches to be given five star status. She continued to wrestle until putting her career on hiatus last year following her tribute show in which she wrestled in every single match that night.

She only recently got back into wrestling in the past year. For anyone to speak of the greats of women's wrestling of any time, Manami's name is without a doubt in the top five.

Mariko Yoshida

To me and to a lot of others, this woman is the greatest wrestler ever, and the greatest to have never stepped foot into the WWE. There is no one like Mariko before her, and no one like her after.

Having eclipsed a 20-year career, in the beginning of her career she used a move set of beautiful lucha-libreinspired maneuvers along side her great mat skills and made quite a name for herself.

When she left the All Japan Women's Pro Wrestling organization to join Aja Kong's ARSION group, Yoshida repackaged herself into a star who utilized a unique submission style of joshi wrestling; inspired by shoot wrestling-predetermined finishes like we're used to, but with much stiffer wrestling.

She is the inventor of the Air Raid Crash (think of the WWE's Finlay; the Celtic Cross) as well as the Spider Twist, one of the most unique submission moves ever witnessed. I recommend looking it up on YouTube, as it's too difficult to describe.

In June 2005, she launched Ibuki, a bi-monthly event series, with her intention to provide opportunities for young, up and coming wrestlers from different promotions to compete with each other and to challenge senior wrestlers like Yoshida herself, and it has now gained high reputation among joshi puroresu fans in Japan.

If you wish to see the fruits of her training labor for those who follow U.S. women's wrestling, take a look at Cheerleader Melissa, who was among the fortunate to train with her.

Mariko deserves all the recognition she receives in Japan as arguably their most famous and best, as well as the recognition she gets from a far. If you want to watch some real wrestling, male or female, watch this woman.