The Ruthless Aggression era (2002-2008) was a time when the women of WWE began to take more real estate in the ring and as personalities on weekly TV. It was in these years that some of the most popular and legendary female wrestlers of all time perfected their craft and put on spectacular matches that have been both celebrated by WWE but also left underrated and unappreciated. Thanks to these women’s efforts, the WWE’s Women’s Revolution of the 2010s was able to springboard the women itself off of the groundwork laid down a decade earlier. So before we look at the amazing future that the Women’s Revolution represents, here are my top 5 Ruthless Aggression women matches from that era.
5. Trish Stratus Vs. Mickie James – Women’s Championship- Wrestlemania 22
When The now “Hardcore Country’ would debut for the WWE she was put into a rivalry with none other than WWE Hall of Famer herself Trish Stratus. Mickie would debut as an obsessed fan who stalked Trish Stratus for 8 months and she would finally get her shot at Trish on the grandest stage of them all Wrestlemania 22. The two had undeniable chemistry together as opponents and used that to tell a very personal and heated story in the ring, one that ended with Mickie gaining her first of many Women’s Championships. The Detroit crowd was also very receptive to the match, and it stands today as a highlight of both women’s careers which is really saying something given their longevity in the wrestling business and landscape today
4. Michelle Mccool Vs. Natalya – The Bash 2008- Divas Championship
The Smackdown ladies were left without a title to contend for when the WWE Women’s Title was a RAW-only exclusive. Then Smackdown GM Vickie Guerrero revealed a new championship, the WWE Divas Championship. These matches finished on June 6 and July 4 when the (normally allowed) time span of Ruthless Aggression ended. Michelle McCool defeated then-rookie Natalya to win the first female champion. Despite its briefness, the event helped set the tone for subsequent contests in the category.
Trish Stratus Vs. Victoria – Survivor Series 2002- Hardcore Women’s Championship Match
Until the PG era, women’s gimmick bouts were mostly humiliating. There was a time in WWE programming around the turn of the century when bra and lingerie competitions were prominent. Putting two ladies in a brutal bout felt like pure dream booking at the time. Tori and Ivory’s 1999 match was nothing compared to Trish Stratus and Victoria’s Survivor Series match in 2002. Victoria was the company’s top female heel, while Trish was the babyface, trying not to fall for her mind games. Again, this match isn’t flawless, but it has some seriously groan-inducing moments, leading to Victoria’s bleeding nose. However, she won the Women’s title and held it until WrestleMania four months later.
2. Lita Vs. Trish Stratus – Unforgiven 2006 – Women’s Championship
Trish Stratus retired in a way that left a lasting impact on the crowd. Stratus, now the retiring hero opposite Lita, beat her best friend for the Women’s Championship. Trish crowned her career with a fantastic bout and an amazing sendoff that left the WWE Universe standing ovation.
1. Melina vs. Beth Phoenix – WWE One Night Stand 2008 – I Quit Match.
It was a horrific first-ever women’s “I Quit” match between Beth Phoenix and Melina at WWE One Night Stand. Phoenix and Melina were among a wave of skilled women’s wrestlers that joined the women’s division towards the conclusion. In one notable scene, Phoenix exploits Melina’s flexibility to make her kick herself in the head. This is a truly underrated match that deserves to be remembered among some of the best of the time.