2021 was a pretty good year for Women of Wrestling. We saw plenty of talented ladies showcase their skills across various promotions. Some showed up out of nowhere, bursting onto the scene and making fans and critics take notice. On the other hand, there were some who finally hit their stride and realized their full potential. Team TWM could write plenty of articles about these women, but we decided to narrow it down to the best of the best. So, without further ado, here are the top five women’s wrestlers of 2021!
5. Sasha Banks | Women of Wrestling ’21
How many wrestlers can say they have had a Hall of Fame careers before the age of 30? Not many, but Sasha Banks is one of them. She entered 2021 as SmackDown Women’s Champion, successfully defending the title against Carmella. Bianca Belair won the women’s Royal Rumble and chose to face The Boss at WrestleMania 37. The two went on to main event night one of the show, making history in the process. They became not only the first African American wrestlers to main event ‘Mania, but also the first African American women to do so.
The match is considered one of the best of the year, and further proved that both women are bonified stars. Banks returned several months later to challenge Belair to a highly anticipated rematch at SummerSlam. However, she could not compete due to “unforeseen circumstances”.
Regardless, year after year Banks continues to cement herself as one of the most must-see performers of her generation. Any time she is on the card, whether in the opening match or the main event, it is a big deal. This level of star power even helped her transition into Hollywood; she played Koska Reeves in the second season of The Mandalorian, the wildly popular Disney+ series.
Whether in the ring or on a TV screen, Banks always knows how to make a statement. The 2021 she had certainly proved that.
4. Deonna Purrazzo | Women of Wrestling ’21
No one has had the career resurgence like Deonna Purrazzo.
Just months after getting released by WWE, she joined Impact and won the Knockouts Championship. Purrazzo lost the title in late 2020 but won it back shortly after and remained champion going into 2021. She then successfully defended the title against the likes of Rosemary, Taya Valkyrie, Jazz, Havok, Thunder Rosa, and Melina. She also defeated Faby Apache in May in a winner-take-all match to capture the AAA Reina de Reinas Championship.
Purrazzo lost the Knockouts Title to Mickie James in October, ending her reign at 343 days. That and her 98-day reign in 2020 (441 days combined) rank only behind Gail Kim (seven reigns, 711 days combined) in Impact history. This helped secure her a second-straight Knockout of the Year award. She also won the Knockouts Match of the Year for her bout against James at Bound for Glory.
Everything she accomplished in 2021 helped show what WWE missed out on. She doesn’t call herself The Virtuosa for anything; she is technically sound in the ring and her numerous title defences were always top-notch. She easily earned the title of one of the most dominant Impact champions in recent memory.
If there were any doubters, Purrazzo definitely silenced them in 2021. She has ensured that her name is brought up in conversations about the top women in wrestling today.
3. Utami Hayashishita | Women of Wrestling ’21
While plenty of joshi wrestlers turned heads this year, none did it quite like Utami Hayashishita.
In 2021—and in the middle of a pandemic, mind you—she took Stardom and put the promotion on her back. Hayashishita held the World of Stardom Championship for over 400 days, taking on the likes of Momo Watanabe, Saya Kamitani, Bea Priestley, Takumi Iroha, and Hazuki.
However, her most notable opponent was Syuri. In fact, their title match back in June is still praised by both fans and critics alike as one of the best bouts of the year. The two met again just last week in a winner-take-all match for the World of Stardom and SWA World Championships. Though not as strong as their first meeting, it was still one of the best matches on the Stardom Dream Queendom card.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Hayashishita is how new she is. She made her debut back in August 2018 in a time-limit draw with Jungle Kyona. The fact that she is at this level already in just over three years shows how special of a talent she is. That and to be the top star of one of the most respected promotions in the world speaks volumes.
This also means that we have not seen the best of Hayashishita yet. If what we have seen so far is any indication, though, we are in for a real treat.
2. Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D | Women of Wrestling ’21
As Britt Baker said herself, “You can’t bring up the year 2021 without calling it the era of the D.M.D.”
Baker’s meteoric rise began in late 2020 when she feuded with Thunder Rosa. However, things really took off in the beginning of 2021. On the March 17 episode of Dynamite, Baker and Rosa competed in an unsanctioned lights out match, the first women’s main event in the show’s history. The match received widespread praise and is still regarded as one of AEW’s best matches to date.
Even in defeat, most people could not stop talking about Baker. The toughness and grit she displayed helped establish her as a true star. She took that momentum and turned her sights towards championship gold. The improbable happened on May 30 at Double or Nothing, where she defeated Hikaru Shida to finally capture the AEW Women’s World Championship. Since then, she has successfully defended the title against the likes of Nyla Rose, Red Velvet, Kris Statlander, and Tay Conti.
In the blink of an eye, Baker has become one of the most popular wrestlers in the industry. Her promos continue to impress, and her in-ring work has improved considerably in just a few short years.
Every ounce of hard work she has put in has paid off and then some. But despite all her success, the best is still yet to come for everyone’s favourite D.M.D.
1. Bianca Belair | Women of Wrestling ’21
Without a doubt, 2021 was the year of the EST.
Belair started things off with a bang, winning the women’s Royal Rumble back in January. She then challenged Sasha Banks to a title match for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at WrestleMania 37. The two main-evented night one of the show, where Belair defeated Banks to win the title.
She successfully defended the gold against Bayley at WrestleMania Backlash and Hell in a Cell. Then, Banks returned and challenged Belair to a rematch at SummerSlam. However, as mentioned above, the match did not happen as originally planned. Instead, a returning Becky Lynch challenged the champ and shockingly beat her in 27 seconds.
The loss could have derailed Belair completely, but she continued to persevere. In November, she became the first person ever to overcome a four to one deficit in the traditional Survivor Series elimination match. She most recently defeated Doudrop in an impressive effort on the December 20 edition of Monday Night RAW.
Watching her journey from NXT to now has truly been worthwhile. Her blend of athleticism, strength, and speed makes her a one-of-a-kind performer that really shines in the ring. However, it is her story that has won the hearts of fans all over the world. She has fought hard to get to where she is, and she shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
– Main evented the March 17 episode of Dynamite with Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D.
– Officially signed with AEW on July 22.
– Won the Stardom 5 Star Grand Prix on September 25.
– Defeated Utami Hayashishita on December 29 to win the World of Stardom Championship.
– Entered 2021 as NXT Women’s Champion (304 day reign).
– Won the NXT Women’s Tag Team Championships with Zoey Stark at The Great American Bash.
– 20-3 record since returning from an ACL injury.
– Challenged Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. for the AEW Women’s World Championship at AEW All Out.
– Held the AEW Women’s World Championship for 372 days, the longest title reign in the company’s history.
– Helped produce the Japanese bracket of the AEW Women’s World Championship Eliminator Tournament.
– Won the RAW Women’s Championship from Asuka at WrestleMania 37.
– Won the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships with Nikki A.S.H. on September 20.
– Won the Casino Battle Royale in her AEW debut at All Out.
– Advanced to the finals of the TBS Championship Tournament.
– Defeated Giulia in a hair vs. hair match to win the Wonder of Stardom Championship at All Star Dream Cinderella.
– 301 day reign as Wonder of Stardom Champion.