I have been a wrestling fan since I was a kid and always remembered watching in the early mornings or late evenings on the weekend. Everything from WWF, WCW/NWA, and even GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) shaped my childhood appreciation of the sport. Women’s wrestling has always been there as a part of that, even if it was not as highlighted. But sadly, the years to come pushed these talented athletes even further away, forcing them into the roles of valets and managers, with no in-ring work to show off their skills, and leaving the focus on their other assets instead. Thankfully, things changed and a lot of talented competitors were able to take the stage and show that the women could fight just as hard as the men, but it wasn’t until recently in the WWE that fans were allowed to see these athletes truly perform again.

Now with the recent passing of the Ninth Wonder of the World, Chyna, fans have lost one of the cornerstones of modern women’s wrestling and I am down a personal favorite. So I thought now was the time to highlight some talented and beautiful wrestlers outside of the main company who deserve a little attention.

Real Name: Stephanie Bell
Aliases: Mia Yim

UFW Jade Prime

This current TNA Knockout’s champion is someone I first saw as a manager in Ring of Honor (RoH) years ago and was excited to see that she was also quite the wrestler. Her career has carried the young Korean-American through many promotions (most notably Shimmer and Shine), learning under a number of individuals, but few female wrestlers can say they have survived a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match in Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW). Jade has traveled through the US and Japan, dominating with her package pile-driver and sheer athleticism, winning belts along the way. She was brought in as a part of one of the more interesting women’s stables in a long time, The Dollhouse, playing the silent but strong character with a twisted smile. I mean, this as a compliment when I say she does crazy well. Her recent matches against Gail Kim—another amazing talent that WWE did not utilize—showed great work and tenacity on the mat, from someone who is not afraid to take the bumps. She has a bright future ahead, but I’m not sure about Jade’s recent face (hero) turn, as she’s so good at being bad.

Shelly Martinez
Real Name: Shelly Leonor Martinez
Aliases: Salinas, Ariel, Desire, Koffin Kitten, Cle-Ho-Patra, Halloween Barbie

UFW Shelly Martinez Prime Shelly is someone who made it into the WWE, but was a victim of a bad vampire gimmick as Ariel. She was under their ECW brand, and only lasted a year, supposedly due to an altercation with Dave Batista. The actress and model caught much more attention as a member of the Latin American Xchange (LAX) in TNA, where she turned heads and also got to show off some in-ring skills, but left the company to film an Italian horror movie. Martinez has years of experience in the business and still does matches in between her other work. She has made her way around the independent circuits under various names and branched out into multiple mediums, doing a reality show called The Search for the Next Elvira as well as films and softcore pornography. Even though she is most noted as a valet, the thirty-six year old California resident has a lot to offer any promotion with her ring work, stunning looks, and a nice range of mic skills, making her an overall presence that would liven up a stage in any role.

Real Name: Thea Megan Trinidad
Aliases: Divina Fly

UFW Thea Trinidad Prime
After being trained by a couple of notable high-flyers (T.J. Perkins and Azrieal), Rosita was discovered by Tommy Dreamer, who was working as a talent scout for the TNA promotion. She gelled well with Sarita, her storyline cousin, where the two would win the Knockouts Tag Team belts and be a part of the Mexican American faction. Though she is heavily rooted in the wrestling world—even being engaged to NXT star Austin Aries—this talented twenty-five year old has found time to teach zumba, act, model, and share the inspirational story about her father, who died in 9/11, and was the reason she got into wrestling. Trinidad is not only a Puerto Rican bombshell, but this athlete has an aggressive move set in the ring and a beautiful moonsault that is a pleasure to watch—plus I hear she’s a great dancer. Though I think she does quite well on her own, more serious strength has been shown in being a tag team competitor. Now that she has a good amount of experience under the belt, paring her with a good partner could be making an instant hit in a strong women’s division.

She’s also an avid gamer:

Taeler Hendrix

Real Name: Taeler Conrad-Mellen

Aliases: Vanessa Hendrix Wundor, Taeler Cassidy, Taeler ThomasUFW Taeler Hendrix Prime

Taeler is a redheaded heartthrob with a dangerous side, who draws eyes and commands a crowd whether in a long black dress or wrestling gear. I’ve seen her play an underdog, manipulate the girls backstage, and dominate the ring as an ultimate bitch, making each role look natural. She seems to have a knack for the showmanship side of the business, and was trained by talented people—like Spike Dudley, Nick Dinsmore, and Al Snow—in Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), where she was a multiple time champion. Hendrix is currently showing these talents off in RoH as a valet and part-time competitor, but many first saw her on TNA as a part of their Gut Check series, where her in-ring skills were first showcased in a match against one of her inspirations, Tara. The Poison Princess, as she has been called, has an entertaining set of moves that show off her versatility as well as sex appeal—look up The Kiss Goodnight—and is one of the best sellers on this list. Staying busy in other organizations as well like Absolute Intense Wrestling and Queens of Combat, she is always trying to work towards the impossible, proving that it’s best to not doubt her, and to instead, hail Hendrix.

Velvet Sky
Real Name: Jamie Lynn Szantyr
Aliases: Talia Doll, Talia Madison

UFW Velvet Sky Prime

One of my favorites hitting the mat still, Velvet Sky has been in the industry since 2003 and gave up a lot to make her dream happen. Like so many of her peers, Lita was a huge inspiration. So Sky followed in those footsteps and made the rounds through the indie circuit, took her shots at the big show, and even did some work in Mexico, but is mainly known for her work in TNA as a member of The Beautiful People, making a name for herself. Sky has improved over the years, developing a sizable arsenal of moves, proving she can work as a face or heel equally well, and capturing multiple belts within the company. She is often referred to as one of the most beautiful women in the business, and possesses and incredible drive, always pushing to improve. Selling the moves and working a crowd have become her expertise, showing what she has learned in those years of training. After almost a decade in TNA, multiple WWE rumors are popping up, especially being at the top of her career and the real life girlfriend of Bubba Ray Dudley, but skill alone could get her there, and I would love to see that.

Sexy Star
Real Name: Dulce Maria Garcia Rivas
Aliases: Dulce Poly

UFW Sexy Star Prime

I hope no one lets the name fool them. It sounded a little silly to me at first as well, but this wrestler has lived up to it. Not only is this high-flyer a truly sculpted beauty, but she has captured the attention of many wrestling fans being one of Lucha Underground’s top stars. Most of the thirty-three year old woman’s work has been put into the AAA federation as a multi-time champion, but this superstar has made her mark in the recent seasons of El Rey’s wrestling show as one of the toughest and most versatile athletes in a field of truly talented competitors. Sexy Star shows little fear, as she fights against all challengers, often taking on the men, women, as well as monsters, and winning, even capturing the company’s top title at one point. I can’t speak too much about her promotional skills, as most of them are in Spanish or short bursts of English, but there is passion in her words and a lot of facial expression for someone wearing a mask. Sexy Star may actually be the best all around representation of a female performer currently hitting the ropes, and if anyone doubts that, check out her recent I Quit match with Mariposa or any of her other work.