Tiffany Stratton appears to be the next star in women’s wrestling.

With a legitimate athletic background in gymnastics, a great look, and a charisma you can’t teach, she is already getting crowd responses well beyond expectations of a wrestler so early in her career. She appears a natural in her persona as an entitled, cosmetically enhanced primadonna. Her future appears bright.

Women's Iron Survivor Challenge -- Blair Davenport vs Tiffany Stratton vs Lash Legend vs Kelani Jordan vs Fallon Henley -- at NXT Deadline on Saturday, December 9, 2023, at the Total Mortgage Arena, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Photo by George Tahinos,

Women’s Iron Survivor Challenge –Tiffany Stratton stalks opponent Fallon Henley in ring. Photo by George Tahinos,

Stratton has also shone a light on a growing problem in women’s wrestling. The vaunted Four Horsewomen (Charlotte Flair, Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch) helped establish women’s wrestling as a legitimate draw just as the sport’s world began highlighting female athletes. Since then, there have been a few stars developed such as Bianca Belair and Rhea Ripley, who appears to be on her way to being one of the biggest stars, male or female, in modern wrestling. There have also been success stories of wrestlers being brought in from Japan and other places, but many of those stars are closer to the end of their careers.

Charlotte Flair

Women’s wrestling, however, has not developed many competent midcard performers. This has been highlighted during the last month as Tiffany Stratton has been working with undercard performers like Zelina Vega, Naomi, and Mia Yim. With all due respect, all three are not very good. Zelina has a look and charisma, but regularly botches moves and tries to do things she isn’t capable of performing. Her diminutive size made Stratton’s selling look preposterous. Then there’s Naomi, who has a great entrance. There isn’t much else to say about her. She is plodding in the ring, regularly misses moves, and often appears to be lost as to what to do next. If we’re being honest, she was rehired because of who she’s married to. Mia Yim is probably the best of the three but has forgettable matches and has just not caught on with crowds.

Zelina Vega

Stratton lacks experience. Inexperienced male wrestlers have many options of midcard talent that they can work with and learn from. The same just isn’t true of the women’s division. Stratton is left to try to learn from performers who shouldn’t be on TV, unless they’re used in a managerial capacity. There’s very little to learn. She somehow got a decent match out of Naomi, which is a testament to Stratton’s own talents. The matches with the other two were forgettable at best.

WWE consistently features multiple women’s matches on their shows. At last year’s WrestleMania, Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley had a match I would suggest every fan of wrestling should see, as I believe it’s one of the greatest matches, male or female, I’ve witnessed. For every Flair-Ripley match, however, there are matches with Zelina, Naomi, Mia, and even worse Maxxine Dupri. Throw in a Shotzi Blackheart match and it makes you wonder why they even have a women’s division. Again, highlighting the dearth of competent women wrestlers beyond the very top.

Rhea Ripley Vs. Charlotte Flair (C) in a match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship at Night 1 of WrestleMania 39 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, on Saturday, April 1, 2023. Photo by Steve Argintaru, Twitter: @stevetsn Instagram: @stevetsn

It gets worse. AEW routinely features some of the worst matches you’ll ever see. This is especially true in its women’s division. A large number of AEW’s women wrestlers appear to be untrained. And, because of the style AEW has fostered, they attempt moves that they aren’t capable of doing. In fact, they perform high-risk maneuvers that their male counterparts, supposed trained professionals, mess up on a regular basis. This has not only led to an incredible injury rate, but moments when their performers have missed serious neck injuries or worse by centimeters.

Kris Statlander is a great example. She’s talented. Put into the WWE system and trained popularly, she could be a star. Unfortunately, in AEW, she has gone through multiple injuries that have kept her out for months at a time. In fact, she’s been off TV with injuries more than she’s been on it performing. Her style isn’t particularly dangerous, but who does she have to work with?

AEW TBS Championship: Kris Statlander (C) Vs. Ruby Soho (w/ Saraya) at AEW All Out at the United Center in Chicago, on Sunday, September 3, 2023. Photo by George Tahinos,

AEW TBS Championship: Kris Statlander at AEW All Out at the United Center in Chicago, on Sunday, September 3, 2023. Photo by George Tahinos,

AEW overall has paid a price for its style. The injuries have piled up. If they continue, the price will become steeper. This is true of its men’s division as well as the women’s. AEW’s women’s division is not only brutal to watch, it’s also scary. The few competent performers may never make it to the WWE to reach their full potential. This is also true of independent women’s wrestling, which has taken on the AEW style with similar results and fewer performers with anything resembling a legitimate athletic background.

So the question becomes, after the Four Horsewomen retire or go into TV and movies, who will the Strattons of the world have left to feud with? Where will the next generation of stars come from? There’s Rhea Ripley who’s just hitting her prime, but seems like a natural to breakout in TV and movies. The same could be said of Bianca Belair. There’s Jade Cargill, who WWE signed from AEW, who has a look and charisma of a star. She’s also had to be retrained after being rushed onto TV by an inept company. But who else is there?

Bianca Belair on the WWE Holiday Tour stop at the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan, on Wednesday, December 27, 2023. Photo by Brad McFarlin

Bianca Belair on the WWE Holiday Tour stop at the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan, on Wednesday, December 27, 2023. Photo by Brad McFarlin

The independents, overall, don’t seem to be developing many wrestlers, male or female, anymore. The NXT roster is largely filled with home grown talent, a change from years past when the top indy talent was mixed with trainees. The indy talent that shows up on AEW are largely exposed, much like their male counterparts, for being either poorly trained or self-trained. For every Statlander, there is a Billie Starkz, who may have potential, but who was signed way too early in her development. Plus, who does she have to work with?

WWE will have to rely heavily on its development system. The NIL program has drawn athletes with high level athletic backgrounds. I witnessed this firsthand at a recent NXT Live show. The female roster now has former cheerleaders, gymnasts, swimmers, and bodybuilders, all with credentials at a college or higher level. So there is hope for the roster to fill out with high level athletes. The development system is beginning to have better results, but the women’s side has been more miss than hit. While the level of athlete has risen dramatically, not many have stepped out as potential stars or solid midcard wrestlers yet.

I predict Tiffany Stratton will soon be feuding with the likes Becky Lynch. There just isn’t any other viable option than to push her into a main event level spot. She is inexperienced, but the potential is there. She is a bright spot for the future of women’s wrestling. In three years, it’s possible Stratton and Cargill will headline PLEs. The question will remain, however, how wrestling fills out the rest of the women’s roster. With little talent in AEW, a dearth of talent on the indy scene, and, so far, mixed at best results with the NXT roster, the future of women’s wrestling is full of more questions than answers.

TOP PHOTO: Tiffany Stratton. WWE photo