Top 10

Athena, Awesome Kong and 8 other top black female wrestlers in WWE

For almost 40 years, WWE has been a big name in sports entertainment globally. While they haven’t always focused on racial issues, lately they’ve worked hard to give black women fair representation and recognition. So, who are the top black female wrestlers in the WWE?

Women’s wrestling has changed a lot since the 1980s and 1990s. From not being taken seriously to now headlining major events, these black female wrestlers in WWE have proven they deserve the spotlight.

1. Athena

Adrienne Reese, born on August 31, 1988, is an American professional wrestler currently with All Elite Wrestling (AEW) as Athena. She’s also the ROH Women’s World Champion in her first reign, making it the longest for this title.

Before WWE, she wrestled independently as Athena for promotions like Shimmer Women Athletes and Women Superstars Uncensored. In WWE, known as Ember Moon, she achieved recognition in NXT, holding both the NXT Women’s Championship and NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship.

Adrienne Reese, born in Garland, Texas, attended Lakeview Centennial High School, participating in tennis, softball, chess, and mathlete programs. In high school, she faced bullying for her interests in video games and wrestling. Introduced to wrestling by her grandfather, she began training under Skandor Akbar in April 2007, later at Booker T’s Pro Wrestling Alliance as Trouble and Athena.

Athena achieved promotions like Anarchy Championship Wrestling (ACW) and had notable appearances with Ring of Honor (ROH) as part of Team RnB. She also worked with Shimmer Women Athletes and Women Superstars Uncensored from 2010 to 2015.

Debuting in All Elite Wrestling on May 29, 2022, at Double or Nothing, Athena made her mark, featuring in AEW Rampage and challenging for championships. Notably, on December 10, at ROH’s Final Battle, Athena won the ROH Women’s World Championship against Mercedes Martinez.

Athena’s turn to a villain on the November 18, 2022, episode of Rampage, attacking referee Aubrey Edwards, led to a match against Mercedes Martinez at Final Battle. Her success continued with title defenses in AEW’s Dark: Elevation and ROH on Honor Club, showcasing her dominance.

With the relaunch of Honor Club, Athena maintained her title against Willow Nightingale on the March 9, 2023, episode of ROH. Known for attacking opponents post-victory, she faced challenges from Emi Sakura and Yuka Sakazaki, successfully defending her title in multiple events.

On July 21, at Death Before Dishonor, Athena made history, headlining the first women’s match in ROH’s pay-per-view, successfully defending her title against Nightingale. Her remarkable journey continues, leaving a lasting impact on professional wrestling.

2. Awesome Kong (Kia Stevens)

Kia Stevens, born on September 4, 1977, is an American actress and semi-retired professional wrestler.

She became famous with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling/Impact Wrestling as Awesome Kong. Stevens also worked with Ring of Honor (ROH), Shimmer Women Athletes, All Elite Wrestling (AEW), and WWE, using the name Kharma.

Starting wrestling in 2002 after a reality TV show, Stevens initially wrestled in Japan, winning several championships. In 2006, she returned to the U.S., making a mark in the independent circuit before joining TNA. Her time there played a pivotal role in establishing the Knockouts division. Stevens, also known as Kong, achieved the TNA Knockouts Champion title twice and the TNA Knockouts Tag Team Champion title with Hamada.

Ranked first in Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s PWI Women’s 100 in 2008, Stevens retired from wrestling in 2021 and was honored in the Impact Hall of Fame. As an actress, she portrayed Tammé “The Welfare Queen” Dawson in the Netflix series GLOW.

After taking part in the Discovery Health Body Challenge in 2002, Stevens began wrestling as a result of Lita from WWE.

Despite facing setbacks, including criticism about her physique, she persevered, eventually training in Japan and adopting the ring name Amazing Kong. Notable achievements include defeating Ayako Hamada for the WWWA World Single Championship in 2004 and forming the tag team W Kong in Gaea Japan.

Stevens ventured into various promotions, showcasing her talent, such as Shimmer Women Athletes. Her success in Japan led to opportunities in the U.S., with appearances in ROH and a memorable rivalry with Sara Del Rey. She also competed in Women Superstars Uncensored, engaging in a compelling feud with Amy Lee.

Transitioning to Impact Wrestling, Stevens had notable moments, including a steel cage victory against Havok. She later turned face, aligning with Gail Kim to battle The Dollhouse. Despite her impact, Stevens was released in 2016 due to a backstage altercation.

In 2019, Stevens debuted in AEW, participating in significant events but later went on hiatus. AEW chose not to renew her contract in 2021. On August 28, 2021, Stevens announced her retirement during NWA EmPowerrr, concluding her nearly two-decade-long career. She was later inducted into the Impact Hall of Fame at Bound for Glory in October 2021.

After seven years away, Kong made a surprising in-ring return to Impact Wrestling during the Impact 1000 celebrations, contributing to a victorious 10 Knockout Tag Team match.

3. Jade Cargill

Jade Cargill, born on June 3, 1992, is an American wrestler now with WWE. She became famous in AEW from 2020 to 2023, holding the AEW TBS title for a record 508 days.

Originally from Gifford, Florida, in a Jamaican family, Cargill excelled in school and basketball at Sebastian River and Vero Beach High School. A graduate of Jacksonville University, she entered wrestling in 2019, attending a WWE tryout and training in various schools.

Cargill’s AEW debut was in 2020, and she secured a multi-year contract. Her standout moment was winning the AEW TBS title in January 2022. Throughout 2022, she defended her title against tough opponents.

In April 2022, Cargill formed The Baddies stable and continued her success. She faced challenges, including feuds with Athena and Nyla Rose, whom she defeated to keep her title.

Celebrating one year as TBS Champion on January 5, 2023, Cargill became the longest-reigning AEW champion. However, her reign ended in May 2023 when Kris Statlander defeated her in a quick match.

Transitioning to WWE in September 2023, Cargill made her debut on October 7. Beyond wrestling, she, along with her husband Brandon Phillips, owns the Texas Smoke franchise in Women’s Professional Fastpitch (WPF) in Austin, Texas, since March 2023.

Cargill, mom to Bailey Quinn, finds inspiration in Chyna and X-Men’s Storm in her wrestling journey.

4. Kiera Hogan

Kiera Hogan, born on September 16, 1994, is a professional wrestler with All Elite Wrestling (AEW).

She gained fame in Impact Wrestling, winning the Knockouts Tag Team Championship twice with Tasha Steelz. Hogan’s wrestling journey began in 2015 in Atlanta, winning the WWA4 Intergender Championship.

She worked in Georgia and across the U.S. for promotions like Atlanta Wrestling Entertainment. In 2017, Hogan claimed the WSU Spirit Championship. She joined Impact Wrestling in 2017, made her debut in 2018, and faced various challenges.

Transitioning to Women of Wrestling (WOW) in 2018 as “Fire,” Hogan won the WOW Tag Team Championship in 2019.

She joined AEW in 2021 and joined The Baddies stable in 2022, but Jade Cargill later fired her on November 23, 2022.

Beyond wrestling, Hogan announced her relationship with fellow wrestler Diamante on July 20, 2019.

5. Jazz (Carlene Denise Moore-Begnaud)

Carlene Denise Moore-Begnaud, born on August 27, 1972, is an American professional wrestler and manager widely recognized by her ring name Jazz.

Notably, she achieved prominence during her tenure at World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), where she clinched the WWF/WWE Women’s Championship twice. Additionally, she competed for the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), holding the NWA World Women’s Championship for an impressive duration of over 900 days. Jazz also made her mark in Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) and Impact Wrestling, where she concluded her in-ring career.

Begnaud transitioned to professional wrestling after graduating from college because of Jacqueline Moore’s performances. Under the alias Jazzmine, she joined Extreme Championship Wrestling as part of the Impact Players alliance. This group, featuring wrestlers like Jason Knight, Lance Storm, and Justin Credible, marked her early wrestling career.

Jazz later engaged in a feud with Jason, culminating in her victory at Heat Wave in 1999. Following intermittent appearances, she left ECW before its closure due to bankruptcy. In 2001, the World Wrestling Federation expressed interest in Begnaud. After six months of training at Ohio Valley Wrestling, she adopted the ring name Jazz and signed a two-year contract with WWF.

Making her debut at the Survivor Series pay-per-view, Jazz entered a Six-Pack Challenge match for the vacant WWF Women’s Championship. Although Trish Stratus emerged victorious, Jazz initiated a compelling rivalry with her. Jazz secured her position as the number one contender and, on February 4, 2002, defeated Stratus to claim the Women’s Championship. She successfully defended her title at WrestleMania X8 in a triple-threat match against Lita and Trish Stratus.

Following the rebranding of the World Wrestling Federation to World Wrestling Entertainment in 2002, Jazz became the last woman to hold the Women’s title under the WWF banner and the first under the WWE banner. Despite a torn ACL in her knee, Jazz dropped her title to Stratus in a hardcore-Rules match on May 13, 2002.

In 2006, Jazz briefly returned to WWE as part of the new ECW but did not continue in an on-screen role. Her last appearances with WWE occurred at ECW house shows. WWE released her on January 18, 2007.

Jazz’s post-WWE career included capturing the NWA World Women’s Championship in 2016. She successfully defended the title against various contenders, ending a remarkable 948-day title reign in 2019 due to medical and personal reasons. Despite being retired, Jazz made sporadic appearances in All Elite Wrestling and Impact Wrestling.

In recognition of her contributions, Jazz has received numerous accolades, including inductions into the Cauliflower Alley Club Hall of Fame (class of 2020), Texas Wrestling Hall of Fame (class of 2012), and Women’s Wrestling Hall of Fame (class of 2023). Her achievements also encompass championship victories across various promotions.

Overall, Jazz’s enduring impact on women’s wrestling solidifies her legacy in the sport.

6. Kristal Marshall

Kristal Melisa Marshall, born on November 11, 1983, is an American model, beauty queen, and former wrestler known for her time in WWE and TNA.

Before WWE, she competed in the 2004 Miss California pageant, worked on Deal or No Deal, and appeared in music videos and commercials. She was also a Barker Beauty on The Price Is Right.

Joining WWE in 2005, she worked as a backstage correspondent on SmackDown! In her debut match in 2006, she beat Jillian Hall. She had feuds with Ashley Massaro and Layla El, teaming up with Michelle McCool and Mike “The Miz” Mizanin.

In 2007, Marshall turned face and had storylines involving Vickie Guerrero and Theodore Long. A plot twist at their in-ring wedding led to her release.

In 2009, she joined TNA as Kristal Lashley, cheering for Bobby Lashley and engaging in storylines with Scott Steiner and Awesome Kong. Her last match was in 2013.

She dated Bobby Lashley from 2007 to 2010, confirming their split on Twitter in April 2010. She’s of Barbadian descent.

7. Ethel Johnson

Ethel Blanche Hairston, born on May 14, 1935, in Decatur, Georgia, was a groundbreaking WWE wrestler. She passed away on September 14, 2018, at age 83 due to heart disease.

Who is the first black woman champion? Starting at 16, Ethel became the first African-American women’s champion, earning fame as “the biggest attraction in girl wrestling.” Trained in the 1950s by promoter Billy Wolfe, inspired by her sister Babs Wingo, Ethel, along with her sisters, drew crowds of thousands in the ’50s. She showcased athleticism, pioneering moves like the standing dropkick.

Facing wrestlers like June Byers, Penny Banner, and challenging Mildred Burke, Ethel caught Stu Hart’s attention. She worked for Big Time Wrestling and the Capitol Wrestling Corporation. Her last match was in 1976 against her sister, Marva Scott.

Born Ethel Blanche Wingo, she took the name Ethel Johnson to stand out. Despite wrestling her sister Betty (Babs Wingo), many fans didn’t know they were related. Ethel dreamed of performing at Madison Square Garden, but women’s wrestling was banned in New York during her prime. She retired in 1977 without realizing this dream.

Ethel Johnson passed away on September 14, 2018, leaving a lasting impact on women’s wrestling.

8. Alicia Fox

Victoria Crawford, born June 30, 1986, is a U.S. wrestler known as Alicia Fox in WWE. She began on SmackDown in 2008 and later managed DJ Gabriel on the ECW brand.

In 2010, she won the WWE Divas Championship, making history as the only African American Divas Champion.

Starting with WWE’s Ohio Valley Wrestling in 2006, Crawford’s journey involved a brief championship win in OVW. She moved to Florida Championship Wrestling in 2007, engaging in rivalries, including one with The Bella Twins, and later debuted on SmackDown as Alicia Fox.

After a break, Fox surprised in 2021 by winning the 24/7 Championship. Despite leaving WWE in 2023 after 17 years, she confirmed a return to wrestling. In July 2023, she’s set to appear at Booker T’s Reality of Wrestling.

9. Sasha Banks (Mercedes Justine Kaestner-Varnado)

Sasha Banks whose real name is Mercedes Justine Kaestner-Varnado, born on January 26, 1992, is an American wrestler and actress.

Currently with New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) as Mercedes Moné, she previously held the IWGP Women’s Championship. Varnado also features in NJPW’s sister promotion, World Wonder Ring Stardom. She gained recognition during her time with WWE from 2012 to 2022, wrestling as Sasha Banks.

Starting her wrestling journey in 2010 with Chaotic Wrestling, Varnado won the Chaotic Wrestling Women’s Championship. Joining WWE in 2012 as Sasha Banks, she excelled in NXT, winning the NXT Women’s Championship. Notably, her 2015 match against Bayley marked the first women’s match to headline an NXT TakeOver.

Moving to WWE’s main roster in 2015, Varnado held the Raw Women’s Championship five times. In 2016, Charlotte Flair, made history as the first woman to headline a WWE pay-per-view and compete in a Hell in a Cell match. Their feud earned them the PWI award for Feud of the Year. Varnado continued her success, winning the inaugural WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship in 2019 with Bayley.

In 2020, at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, Varnado achieved the SmackDown Women’s Championship, completing her Women’s Grand Slam and Triple Crown Championship. Recognized as the Wrestler of the Year by Sports Illustrated, she, along with Bianca Belair, became the first two black women to headline WrestleMania 37.

Experiencing creative differences in 2022, Varnado left WWE and debuted with NJPW/Stardom at Wrestle Kingdom 17 in January 2023 as Mercedes Moné.

Beyond wrestling, Varnado plays Koska Reeves in the Disney+ series The Mandalorian. Born in Fairfield, California, on January 26, 1992, to Reo and Judith Varnado, she moved to various places before settling in Boston, where she began wrestling. Having grown up watching All Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling, she started training at Chaotic Wrestling in 2008, winning the Women’s title before signing with WWE.

After a successful WWE career, including a historic feud with Bayley, Varnado moved to NJPW in 2023, capturing the IWGP Women’s Championship. However, her reign was short-lived as she lost the title to Mayu Iwatani at Stardom All Star Grand Queendom.

In subsequent events, Moné participated in a tournament for the inaugural Strong Women’s Champion but faced defeat due to an ankle injury sustained during the match against Willow Nightingale at Resurgence on May 21.

10. Bianca Belair

Bianca Blair Crawford, born April 9, 1989, is an American wrestler and fitness figure in WWE.

Performing on SmackDown as Bianca Belair, she’s a three-time women’s champion and won the 2021 Women’s Royal Rumble. Pro Wrestling Illustrated ranked her as the top female wrestler in 2021, and in 2023, she set a record as the longest-reigning Raw Women’s Champion.

Mark Henry discovered her on the CrossFit circuit, leading to her WWE debut in 2016. Belair’s career includes milestones like an undefeated streak, WrestleMania appearances, and transitioning to the main roster in 2020. Her significant moment was winning the SmackDown Women’s Championship at WrestleMania 37, making history as the first time two African Americans headlined WrestleMania.

Known as “The EST of WWE,” Belair’s wrestling style focuses on strength. In 2023, she moved to SmackDown in the WWE Draft, retaining the Raw Women’s Championship until Night of Champions, where she lost it after 420 days, setting a new record as the longest-reigning African-American world champion in WWE history.

Despite setbacks, Belair remains a force with her powerhouse style, signature moves like the K.O.D (Kiss Of Death), and her distinctive ponytail as a weapon. Her impact and dedication make her a standout in modern women’s wrestling.

Yusuf Olajide

As a skilled content writer and journalist, Yusuf Olajide possesses a keen eye for uncovering emerging trends and translating them into captivating narratives that engage readers and spark curiosity.

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