The art of true living in this world is more like a wrestler’s than a dancer’s practice.Marcus Aurelius
Women In Pro Wrestling – Who’s The Lineal Champion In 2020?
Although it isn’t sure when women debuted in pro wrestling, by looking at history, we know women in pro wrestling are trading chops on the square circle at least since the 1880s.
It’s in this period that we find the first Women’s World Championship (WWC) holder, Josephine Blatt, an American strongwoman of German descent.
Since that date, the Women’s World Championship has already changed hands many times, and many times with controversy surrounding it, which resulted in many pro wrestlers and promotions reclaiming to own the lineal Women’s World Championship multiple times in history.
In this post, I will bring some light on the matter, and by the time you end up reading this post, you will be more than ready to make up your decision of who is the present and reigning lineal Women’s World Championship holder or I hope so because they messed up a bit this one!
The Beginning Of The Lineage
So everyone seems to agree that Josephine Blatt was the first Women’s World Champion. However, some doubts remained until this day as another pro wrestler by the name of Alice Williams around the same period had claimed to be the first Women’s World Champion as well.
Keep in mind that there were no pro wrestling promotions at this time, with the events being held mostly in carnivals. Hence, all the information we have from this early professional wrestling period isn’t so reliable.
From this initial period until the early 1930s, there isn’t a way to detail and confirm who held the Women’s World Championship and where, from whom, and how the WWC changed hands.
Though it’s believed that names like the before mentioned Alice Williams, Laura Bennett, Hazel Parker, Mary Harris, Masha Poddubnaya, and Cora Livingston all held the Women’s World Championship.
Cora Livingston apparently kept the title until her retirement in the early 1930s.
Clara Mortenson, who won the vacant title apparently in a match against Barbara Ware in 1932, lost it to Mildred Burke in the mid-1930s. After some back and forth between the two, Mildred Burke captured the Women’s World Championship once again, but this time from Betty Nichols in 1937.
Most likely during the third, last, and lengthy reign of Burke as Women’s World Champion, the title was recognized by the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) as a world title and was rebranded as NWA Women’s World Championship.
The inaugural champion of the brand new NWA Women’s World Championship was Mildred Burke that after a lengthy and impressive career promoting and introducing women in pro wrestling to the world, saw all her long life efforts be recognized by the entity that ruled professional wrestling at the time, the National Wrestling Alliance
And as I see things, this can be the end of the old testament in terms of the Women’s World Championship’s history.
After winning from Betty Nichols, the now NWA Women’s World Championship, Mildred Burke went in what is the most lengthy reign as lineal Women’s World Champion of all time. Burke held the title for more than 14 years!
In 1953 after disagreements with his husband, Billy Wolfe (who turned to be the most influential pro wrestling promoter at the time), Mildred Burke left the NWA. The NWA Women’s World Championship was vacated, and though she was stripped of the title by Wolfe, Burke apparently took the title with her on her way out of the NWA.
After the departure from NWA, Mildred Burke went to create the World Women’s Wrestling Association. She renamed the Women’s World Championship as WWWA World Championship, and despite the NWA didn’t recognize her as the champion, she always recognizes herself as the lineal and undefeated champion.
Who capitalizes on Burke’s absence was June Byers, Wolfe’s daughter-in-law that on June 13, 1954, won a tournament and the vacant title in the process becoming the new NWA Women’s World Champion.
But it didn’t take long for Burke to make her return to NWA and fight Byers for the title in a “two out of three falls match,” which turned into a shoot fight with real heat between both women.
The fight was stopped with the score of 1-0 to Byers, and it ended with a no contest, though it was later controversially transformed into a victory to the still NWA Women’s World Champion, June Byers.
After the loss to Byers, Burke left once again the NWA and went back to the WWWA, and in possession of the WWWA World Championship, Burke kept recognizing herself as the lineal and still undefeated Women’s World Champion despite NWA recognizing Byers as the rightfully lineal Women’s World Champion.
The Lineage’s Multiplication
So this was the first moment in history when more than one pro wrestler recognizes herself as the lineal champion. Still, when in 1956, after a long career, Mildred Burke retired, the Women’s World Championship’s descended, the WWWA World Championship was vacated and vacated stayed until 1970 when All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling (AJW) bought the legal rights of the title and restarted its lineage.
In that same year of 1956, June Byers turned public her intentions of retiring as champion and, as a result, saw the NWA Women’s World Championship being stripped from her by an athletic commission leaving the championship vacated, though is important to retain that by the time June Byers retired, she retired with the title.
After that, a 13 Women Battle Royal was created to determine a new NWA Women’s World Championship. The winner of that match and the new NWA Women’s World Champion was The Fabulous Moolah.
Moolah at the time had a junior heavyweight version of NWA WWC that was recognized by some promoters within the Alliance as the NWA Women’s World Championship.
Though it took several years for Moolah to be recognized by all NWA promoters as the NWA Women’s World Champion due to the influence of Billy Wolfe, with whom Moolah had disagreements previously.
From here, Moolah went to trade the NWA Women’s World Championship with some weeks span with Bette Boucher and Yokiko Tomae on March 10, 1968, and after The Fabulous Moolah had an impressive 10 years title reign.
Though she dropped the title in 1976 to Sue Green, the NWA didn’t recognize Green as the champion, meaning that only in 1978 did The Fabulous Moolah officially drop the title, this time to Evelyn Stevens just to win it back a couple of days later.
In the late 1970s, Moolah bought the legal rights of the NWA Women’s World Championship, and when in 1983, the WWE (WWF at the time) left for the second and last time the NWA, Moolah signed a contract of exclusivity with Vincent McMahon Sr.
The Fabulous Moolah then sold the title’s legal rights to McMahon Sr, who renamed the title “WWF Women’s Championship,” being Moolah the inaugural champion.
From this point, it became confusing to determine who’s the rightful lineal Women’s World Championship holder. Instead of keeping following a unique path, we”ll be following multiple paths to bring some light on the matter.
The Lineage’s Paths
WWWA World Championship
To start things, let’s take a look at the Women’s World Championship held by Mildred Burke, which, as mentioned before, was retired with her in the mid-1950s.
So after the legal rights were bought in 1970 by AJW as the WWWA World Championship, the title was used from that date until 2005, the year that AJW closed doors, leaving the WWWA World Championship vacated.
The likes of Ayko Kyo, Jackie Sato, Lioness Asuka, Aja Kong, and Awesome Kong are just a few of the most recognized names that hold the title.
Since 1970 the WWWA World Championship changed hands 59 times and was vacated 7 times.
WWE Raw Women’s Championship.
After being renamed as WWF Women’s Championship and having in The Fabulous Moolah the first champion, the title was deactivated on February 20, 1990, when Rockin’ Robin (who had won the title from Moolah) left the WWF in the late 1980s.
Three years after, in 1993, Alundra Blayze beat Heidi Lee Morgan in a tournament’s final and was crowned new WWF Women’s Champion.
Blayze had three title reigns until the championship was vacated after her release by WWF in 1995. Just five days after being released, Blayze made her shocking debut on WCW in an episode of Monday Night Nitro in her new gimmick “Madusa” and infamously dropped the WWF Women’s Championship in a trash bid claiming the title had no value!
Jacqueline won three years after the vacant title, and after being held by a couple of wrestlers on May 6, 2002, the title was renamed WWE Women’s Championship; the champion at the time was Jazz.
September 19, 2010, marked the day when WWE Women’s Championship and the WWE Divas Championship were unified in a bout between Michelle McCool and WWE Divas Champion Melina.
The Divas Champion won the bout, and after Melina’s victory, the title became known as Unified WWE Divas Championship, though WWE dropped the “Unified” shortly after.
Despite Michelle McCool fighting that night, the real WWE Women’s Champion was Layla, meaning that Layla was the undefeated champion when the title was retired!
WWE just had dropped a title with more than 100 years of history in favor of a title that had just a couple of years of existence.
Years later, at WrestleMania 32 on April 3, 2016, a new WWE Women’s Championship was on the line in a triple threat between the at the time WWE Divas Champion Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch.
Flair got the W and was announced as the new WWE Women’s Championship, retiring the WWE Divas Championship in the process.
Nowadays, the title is exclusive of the Raw brand and is known as “WWE Raw Women’s Championship” her holder is “The Man” Becky Lynch.
NWA Women’s World Championship
The NWA Women’s World Championship held by June Byers after defeating Mildred Burke was retired by her when she officially retired in 1964. However, in NWA’s eyes, the title’s lineal heritage had been passed to Moolah’s title, especially after June Byers retired.
And following that path of the NWA Women’s World Championship, we find out the title was deactivated due to The Fabulous Moolah’s departure from the NWA.
The NWA Women’s World Championship came to life again to claim the lineal heritage in 1986. Debbie Combs got the gold when she won a 9 Women Battle Royal, being crowned new NWA World Women’s Champion.
NWA lost mainly as from the 1980s, power, influence, and stability in the realm of pro wrestling, and as a direct consequence, it became more complicated to book long-term champions.
From here, the title was vacant, deactivated, stripped, and won more times than we can count. Nevertheless, here are some names and numbers.
Since the late 1930s, the title changed hands officially 37 times, was stripped on 4 occasions, and vacated another 8 times.
Bambi, Malia Hosaka, Madison, Awesome Kong, Santana Garrett, and Jazz are names that during the time hold the NWA Women’s World Championship.
The current NWA Women’s World Champion is Thunder Rosa.
The Lineal’s End?
So, where this leaves us? Was the lineal championship retired with Mildred Burke, or was it retired with June Byers?
Did The Fabulous Moolah have the right to claim the championship’s heritage after her departure from the NWA or did the lineage were kept with Debbie Combs when she won in1986 the NWA Women’s World Championship?
I’m not sure who’s the rightful heir of the lineal Women’s World Championship, to be honest with you guys.
Still, if I have to take a shot, I would say that both WWWA World Championship (if activated), NWA World Women’s Championship, and the present WWE Raw Women’s Championship can reclaim to themselves the lineal’s heritage. However, none of them can reclaim exclusivity on the matter.
And that’s all folks, my best shot to explain to you the Women’s World Championship lineage and my honest opinion on the subject.
And you? Who do you think is the rightful heir to the title and why? Let me know in the comment section below what do you think via the traditional superkick, and as usual, I will gladly chop you back!
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Founder of Against the Ropes.