International Women’s Day: Paying Homage To The Inspirational Women In Wrestling

international women's day project
international women's day project
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In the spirit of International Women’s Day, two dozen (active and retired) wrestlers have shared heartwarming tributes to fellow women in wrestling who have particularly touched their lives. For some, empowerment comes directly from the coaches, mentors, and colleagues around them. For others, childhood heroes remain a focal point of inspiration.

Regardless of where their influence may stem from, though, each of these women has come forth to not only commemorate this international holiday, but also honor the figures that have personally elevated them. Participants in this project emanate from across the globe, with representatives from Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, France, and both coasts of the United States.


Photo Credit: WWE

For former WWE Women’s Champion Mickie James, her former on-screen rival Lita continues to be a go-to figure for advice, both personally and professionally. As such, James has credited her as one of her key inspirations. In addition to James, Lita’s influence has also extended to a star in the Australian wrestling scene — Kyla Knight.

Mickie James

Based In: Nashville, Tennessee

“When we talk about who’s influential in my career and who really helped me, it was Lita,” James said. “When I first went to MCW, she was from there. I didn’t meet her until a little bit after when I started working more independents and do shows in North Carolina. She would come to those shows sometimes, and then she’d pull me aside after. In all of my [WWE] tryouts, she’d always put in a good word for me. I feel, in my opinion, she was very influential in me getting signed in the first place. And she’s remained to be such a constant, steady friend, adviser, and a person who I can trust and lean on, no matter what, still to this day.”

“There’s a lot of people who have influenced my career, but I think if we’re talking from baby Alexis Laree, to even now, I would still call her for advice. She was the one who would, if she was there, sit down and watch my matches. She would also give advice to both me and my opponents and remind me to send in tapes to Dr. Tom [Prichard] … For someone to be there, but also have the graciousness to want to see others succeed and actually aid them in that process is a very amazing quality. And not everybody does that. She didn’t have to make time for me because she was a star on television, but she did.”

Kyla Knight

Based In: Queensland, Australia

“I’d say Brandii Alexander from the local scene around here inspires me. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have debited when I did. Everything I’ve accomplished wouldn’t have been without her ongoing support,” Knight wrote.

“And Lita who I thought was the coolest women’s wrestler ever. From her style, to her in-ring work, there was no one like her. She inspired me to be who I am today. Hell, I even use Twist of Fate because of her. I wouldn’t be who I am and work as hard as I do if it wasn’t for these two women whom I’m very grateful for. If I could, I’d go on forever about them, but I’ll just leave it at that. My greatest influence and the one who helped push me to break into the scene.”

Honoring An Australian Legend

madison eagles
Photo Credit: @newphotographystudion IG

While she may not be much of an active competitor anymore, Madison Eagles remains involved in the Australian wrestling scene by guiding the emerging talent as a trainer at PWA. Eagles’ work is so revered, that several participants have pinpointed her as one of their biggest career influences.

Nikki Van Blair

Based In: Sydney, New South Wales

“One of the women who inspires me the most in my wrestling career is my coach, Madison Eagles,” Blair wrote. “In the ring, Madison is the blueprint of what every Australian wrestler should aspire to be, male, female, or non-binary. But outside of the ring, Madison had to face so much opposition and contention being a woman in Australian wrestling, and she knocked down all these walls and barriers with a smile on her face just so today’s generation of women’s wrestlers in Australia could have it easier and didn’t have to face the hard times she had to. On behalf of every single woman in Australia, we cannot thank Madison enough for her contribution to our industry. She continues to pay it forward today as a head coach at the Pro Wrestling Academy, paying special attention to us girls in our fortnightly women’s only classes.”

Shay Kassidy

Based In: Sydney, New South Wales

“I’m inspired by Charli Evans as she was the first person to really see something in me and really help me build my craft. I love how she’s so unapologetically herself. That has helped me build confidence in myself!”

“I’m also inspired by my tag partner, Kingsley, because she is so incredibly talented at so much that people don’t really see. She’s really helped me become comfortable being myself. I think she’s honestly one of the best humans I’ve ever met!”

“Madison Eagles is another that inspires me. It continues to blow my mind that I’m so fortunate enough to train under her every week. The way she understands wrestling is so incredible and I feel a lot of my improvement over the last year was due to her guidance!”


Based In: Sydney, New South Wales

“Having Madison Eagles as my head coach since the beginning of my pro wrestling career has been such a blessing,” Kingsley wrote. “She’s the epitome of empowerment and motivation in professional wrestling and her constant fight for equal opportunities for women in wrestling has been inspiring and game-changing. She is a huge reason why Australia has a gold mine for talent and she deserves her flowers.”

Frankie B

Based In: Sydney, Australia

“Women that break the mold are always an inspiration, but there are some that completely dismantle and reshape it. That for me, is Maddison Eagles. A true pioneer of wisdom and strength. She has an innate ability to create this environment that uplifts those around her to be better and always be your authentic self.”

Vicki Void

Based In: South Australia

“I definitely have gravitated to being inspired by our local talent and I have the softest of spots for my fellow rookies Leah Lovegrove and Axe Massacre. They joined in similar timelines as I did. I’ve had aspirations to eventually get myself into a coaching position, and as I’ve had to take the sidelines on more than one occasion, I’ve found myself getting involved with their journeys by helping them with match planning, setting up promos, things of that nature. Sitting back and watching them go from strength to strength on their own journeys has been an absolute delight and some of the most inspirational moments of my career. Leah in particular, who joined a year after I did, has exceeded me in every way possible, and I could not be more proud of her.”

“By extension, [the] Sydney-based promotion PWA has been a company that I’ve held in high regard because of their respectful values and integral program for women. Not only do they hold their entire roster to world-class standards, the women in their school are coached by Madison Eagles, who holds one of the most impressive resumes in the country. While I haven’t had the privilege to attend myself, the school’s ability to support their women through training is admirable, this much is evident from the quality output of their wrestlers and matches. Charli Evans, Steph DeLander, Cherry Stephens, Jessica Troy just to name a few, are known across the country, and for perfect reason. PWA has a phenomenal reputation for supporting women and I always look to them as world class talent in the community.”

Lighting Up The Landscape

aj lee aj mendez
Photo by John Wolfsohn/Getty Images

Much like her signature theme song, former WWE Divas Champion AJ Lee continues to light up the wrestling landscape as well.


Based In: Paris, France

“I was really inspired by AJ Lee growing up,” Calypso wrote. “I was a lot like her when I was a teen, different style and ambition than most of the teenagers around me, really in my own world, and especially dealing with mental stuff. Seeing her change the women’s division at the time, encouraging everyone to believe in their dreams, showing everyone that you can do it, no matter what you look like, really inspired me and helped me pursue my wrestling dream and make me the wrestler I am today.

Eleaine Hope

Based In: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

“AJ Lee was the first female wrestler I could relate to as she was a tomboy, which, growing up, I identify as. I even do the black widow ’cause of her, as it became one of my favourite submissions of all time, as her style was different from everyone I saw at the time.”

“Another female wrestler that inspires me is Erika Reid. When I joined Relentless, she welcomed me with open arms and as I continued to grow in wrestling, she’s been there to help guide me through the world of wrestling as well as push me to new limits every chance we get to be in the ring together.”

The Role Model

Photo Credit: WWE

As a self-proclaimed “Role Model,” Bayley prides herself on not only inspiring her peers in WWE, but also the viewers watching at home. As such, it is no surprise to learn that the longest-reigning WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion is also a role model for two of the rising stars on the independent circuit.

Mia Friday

Based In: Bryan, Texas

“I gotta say Mercedes Mone [is a major influence]. Even now, she still inspires me. I just love how she keeps reinventing herself because sometimes in my stage of my life, I feel lost sometimes and she always reinvents herself. She’s magic every time I watch her in the ring, I have such a focused look in my eyes. She really is just an inspiration to me. And still this day, Bayley [inspires me]. Same thing with Mercedes, just keep on reinventing yourself and still finding success. Right now, that really speaks to me.”

Becca Wiley

Based In: New Jersey

“The wrestler who inspires me is Bayley. She changed my life. The way she held her head up no matter if she lost or won, that really spoke volumes to me. It helped me get confidence in my daily life, teaching me to hold my head high no matter the outcome, because it can always get better. I first saw her in 2014, and instantly felt a connection to her. No one grabbed my attention the same way she could.”

“She made me feel good about myself. She helped me accept who I was and embrace it. Bayley was my underdog. She overcame all the challenges put in her way. And with that, I gained the confidence that I can beat anything that’s in front of me as well. And because of her, I’m a wrestler. Without Bayley, there is no Becca Wiley. She inspired me and continues to do it every week.”

Drawing Inspo From The Divas Era

mickie james melina
Photo Credit: WWE

For some, inspirations lies within the Divas Era of WWE.

Ashley Vega

Based In: Glasgow, Scotland

“A lot of women from the diva era inspire me and early TNA, as that’s what I grew up with and what made me a wrestling fan. The likes of Mickie James and Trish Stratus, their match at Mania is art to me, and inspired me to step into the ring and get others to feel the same emotion from storytelling and athleticism. Victoria was always one of my favs from her hardcore match with Trish and Steel cage match. she raised the bar for women.”

“I remember being so invested in the Gail Kim and Taryn feud, I was so amazed to see these women do the same matches as the guys and just kill it. There’s so many from that era. Even the likes of Torrie Wilson showed you can be beautiful sexy and still be a strong ass woman.”

Nicole Jasmin

Based In: Glasgow, Scotland

“The woman that inspires me is Melina. She’s empowering and motivates me to be my true self, she’s a tough lady and has always shown such confidence in and out of the ring. She’s inspired me to be my true authentic self and I now truly believe in myself and my own abilities as a performer!”

Emily Jaye

Based In: Roanoke, Virginia

“Maria Kanellis is someone who taught me from a very young age that I can do anything and everything I put my mind and heart to. She has shaped me into the person I am today and has always been a women’s wrestling advocate and always wanting the best for the women. There would be no Emily Jaye if there was no Maria Kanellis.”

‘Mami’ & ‘The Man’

rhea ripley becky lynch
Photo Credit: WWE

As Rhea Ripley and Becky Lynch continue to move the needle in WWE, their contributions have also specifically moved the hearts of talent in the Oceania region.

Harli Hyde

Based In: Perth, Western Australia
“One of my biggest inspirations comes from fellow Australian talent Rhea Ripley. Not just because she’s a badass in the ring, but also knows where she comes from and is such a humble person,” Hyde wrote. “Meeting Rhea for the first time in 2023 really sparked a fire under my ass and even though only being in the industry a few years, I’ve felt more passion than ever seeing someone that came from a similar environment to me achieving the incredible goals she has.”

“A second woman that currently inspires me is someone that is much closer to home, and that is fellow Perth wrestler, Layla Divine. We came up together only a few months apart and made our debuts around the same time. Over the few years together we have faced the same challenges in a male-dominated company pushing to stand out from the crowd. Although being adversaries in ring, she is someone who I hope will continue to rise alongside me and continue to me for years to come.”

Victoria Ryan

Based In: Auckland, New Zealand
“Becky Lynch has been my inspiration for as long as I can remember, from her ability to never give up despite injuries before becoming a part of WWE & then coming back after having a baby. She was the reason I started wrestling & the idea behind my character, the reason I still try to push myself even despite injuries. She never gave up, she main-evented WrestleMania & became Becky 2 Belts.”

A True Wonder

Credit: WWE
Credit: WWE

The spirit of the late Chyna continues to live on in, especially in the heart of rising west-coaster Gin Sevani.

Gin Sevani

Based In: Long Beach, California

“I feel like without Chyna, there would not have been a woman who paved the way as much as she did. I know there’s several other women, aside from Chyna, who also paved the way, but she sticks out because that’s who I grew up watching as well,” Sevani said. “She was one of the first females that I ever knew could wrestle. She’s just an icon. She allows me to believe that if you put your mind to it, you can do it.”

“Asuka is just incredible [too]. When it comes to in-ring work, she’s definitely somebody that I look up to. And hands down, she’s just an incredible athlete. I feel like she doesn’t get enough credit and somebody needs to give her her flowers. More flowers please because she’s just amazing.”

An AEW Original

Nyla Rose
Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for WarnerMedia Company

For “The Super Saber” Saraya Saber, former AEW Women’s World Champion Nyla Rose serves as a major source of motivation in not just her personal life, but also in her professional wrestling career.

Saraya Saber

Based In: Marietta, Georgia

“If I had to choose a woman that inspires me in wrestling, it would have to be Nyla Rose. As a trans woman myself, to see someone not only get hired to a major wrestling company, but to win their top women’s title, it makes me feel like I could someday do it too!”

Inner Circle

mercedes martinez
Photo Credit: All Elite Wrestling

For some, inspiration can be found closer to home. In fact, several participants are paying homage to their current (and former) colleagues and trainers on this day.


Based In: Glasgow, Scotland

“Ashley Vega empowers me to work hard and take no notice to the negativity people say. She’s shown that hard work will get you far! She inspires not just me, but many people to be the best version of yourself,” Rayhne wrote.

“Women like Kay Lee Ray (Alba), Nikki Storm (Cross) proved you can go as far as you want as long as you put the work in. There’s no age limit or specific look to be a woman wrestler nowadays, you can go out there and be amazing and fierce at any age and there’s no time limit to making your dreams come true!”


Based In: United Kingdom

“Alex Windsor inspires me to be a stronger version of myself. Dani Luna inspires me to be the best version of myself physically. Safire Reed gives me so much patience because if I didn’t have her as a friend, I would not need the patience that I have to deal with her.”

“Laura Di Matteo, Skye Smitson, Nightshade, Rhia O’Reilly. Everyone on the EVE roster. Truly, what we have in EVE the roster is a prime example of what Women’s History Month is. The support we have for each other in the back is one of the best locker rooms in the world. It really, really, truly is. The love that we all have for each other and the want to see us all succeed and the want to see us all grow is a prime example of it.”

Missy Sampson

Based In: Clifton Heights, Pennsylvania

“The first person who comes to mind when I think of a woman who inspired and empowered me is one of my trainers, Heidi Lee Morgan. She saw how passionate I was about wrestling and took me under her wing to help me learn so much. She did this at a time I was new, frustrated and thinking about giving up. Also did this for free at a time when she had a broken back. All she asked is that one day I pay her kindness forward which is what I try to do with my coaching.”

Sassy Stephie

Based In: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

“Allison Danger is one of my inspirations. She always has been since I met her as a fan. Took me under her wing, and still to this day, watches over me. She has had many professional setbacks but she continues to drive some of the best women in the business.”

“Mercedes Martinez has constantly pushed boundaries of women’s wrestling. She is a pioneer and she makes you better by just stepping into the ring with her. She is one of a kind who wants nothing but the best for the whole business.”

Albie Anne Troska

Based In: New South Wales, Australia

“A woman who has inspired me is Harley Wonderland. She is one of the strongest women in wrestling and I admire her so much. I have never seen anyone stand up for themselves or others the way she has. She would jump in front of a train for another wrestler and she has been there for me so much throughout my career as a young female in the industry. She is one of the most genuine, beautiful people and I couldn’t wish anything but great things for her.”

Layla Divine

Based In: Perth, Western Australia

“My journey in professional wrestling has been shaped by incredible inspirations. Mainly due to Michelle K. Hasluck, the Queen of Australian wrestling, as I see her as a prominent figure. Her unwavering support for the female talent in WA and her innovative approach inside and outside the ring have been truly admirable.

Within the limited pool of female talent in our state, there are remarkable individuals who each bring a unique flair to the wrestling scene, here’s to name a few:

Edith Knight – The Tactical N Practical
Stella Nyx – The Star Child
Lizzie Maximus – The 80s Retro Gal
Harli Hyde- The Hellraiser

All stand out with their exceptional talents, setting themselves apart in their own distinctive ways.
However, I am also inspired by every woman who decides to step inside the ring and is willing to learn this art. As the journey itself can be challenging, but with an exceptional group of women, it’s a path filled with limitless possibilities and empowerment.”

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