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.

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Thanks to these women’s efforts, the WWE’s Women’s Revolution of the 2010s was able to springboard itself off of the groundwork laid down a decade earlier. So before we look at the amazing future that the Women’s Revolution represents, let’s take a look back at the 10 greatest women’s matches of the Ruthless Aggression Era that laid the revolution’s foundations.

 

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10Lita Vs Victoria (November 24, 2003)

So much of women’s wrestling during this era remains unsung by WWE and its fans alike. For example, in a late 2003 edition of Raw, Lita and Victoria fought in the first-ever women’s steel cage match in WWE. How could this match go unrecognized for so long?!

The match itself kicked off the show and features Lita’s trademark risk-taking style, although it is rather short. Despite that, it was another innovation in women’s wrestling that would be felt over a decade later as wrestlers like Sasha Banks and Charlotte took their feud inside a full-fledged Hell In A Cell match.

9Michelle McCool Vs Natalya (Great American Bash 2008)

As the (generally considered) time period of Ruthless Aggression was ending, a bevy of talented women began to take the forefront of the division with the introduction of the WWE Diva’s Championship.

The match to decide the inaugural champion was fought between two women who would become known for impressive in-ring work, with Michelle McCool coming out victorious against the then-rookie Natalya. Although the match was relatively brief by modern standards, it helped to set the pace for further encounters in the division as the new title was introduced and women fought for their place.

8Trish Stratus Vs Victoria (Survivor Series 2002)

It was definitely a shake-up to the same old structure of a women’s match when Women’s Champion Trish Stratus faced off against the relative rookie Victoria in a Street Fight on PPV.

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The two had a personal feud stemming from their days as fitness models and wasted no time in using the hardcore implements that were certainly not associated with women’s wrestling at the time. This match is well-remembered by fans for the novelty of seeing the women of WWE cut loose when given the opportunity, proving they can kick as much butt as the guys.

7Trish Stratus Vs Victoria (January 27, 2003)

 

For this fight, the face of the women’s division in the 2000s, Trish Stratus, fought a brutal rematch with rival her Victoria on Raw in a Chicago Street Fight. This match played off their well-remembered match at Survivor Series from two months earlier and both women have gone on to say that they personally prefer this one to their initial PPV encounter.

Here, they take no prisoners and it is still a lot of fun to watch women put their spin on the hardcore style of wrestling that was seemingly reserved exclusively for men at the time.

6Melina Vs Beth Phoenix (One Night Stand 2008)

Two rising stars in the women’s division in Beth Phoenix and Melina got to showcase a different side of women’s action in a brutal “I Quit” match.

Phoenix and Melina were part of an influx of talented wrestlers who entered the women’s division near the end of the Ruthless Aggression Era. They used this opportunity to showcase their ferocity, including a memorable spot where Phoenix uses Melina’s flexibility to have 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.

5Victoria Vs Jazz Vs Trish Stratus (Wrestlemania XIX)

Over a decade ago, women were not necessarily guaranteed any time at all at WWE’s biggest annual events, so these three had to make the most of what little time they were given. In a night that featured the Miller Lite Catfight Girls, all three worked hard to deliver a fast-paced and fun triple threat match that rivaled other matches that night. A triple threat that, by the way, featured none other than Trish Stratus.

One again, Trish added another Women’s Championship to her collection, as well as another impressive Wrestlemania showing to her resume. Needless to say, this three-way brawl delivered and exceeded expectations.

4Trish Stratus Vs Mickie James (Wrestlemania 22)

In what is considered to be one of the best women’s matches in Wrestlemania history, Trish Stratus put her championship on the line against her obsessive stalker: Mickie James.

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.

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3Mickie James Vs Beth Phoenix (April 14, 2008)

Long after the days of stalking Trish Stratus, Mickie James ascended as the face of the women’s division near the Ruthless Aggression Era’s end. Her feud with Beth Phoenix was a memorable part of both women’s time in WWE and their best match together came at a Raw episode taped in London, England for the Women’s Championship.

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For its time, the match had an unusually big feeling for a women’s event and was treated with respect. The heated contest saw Mickie win back her Women’s Championship to a receptive UK crowd in spectacular fashion.

2Trish Stratus Vs Lita (Unforgiven 2006)

After years of being the most recognizable woman in WWE, Trish finally hung up her boots in a retirement match that left one last great memory in the minds of the fans. Trish, now the retiring hero against the villainous Lita, managed to best her now-bestie for the Women’s Championship one final time, ending her time on top with 7 reigns to her name.

Retiring in her hometown of Toronto with the infamous Sharpshooter to win the match, Trish put a bow on her career with a terrific match and an unforgettable sendoff.

1Trish Stratus Vs Lita (December 6, 2004)

In what was only the second women’s main event match in WWE history, both Trish Stratus and Lita took their incredibly personal rivalry to a new level and definitely lived up to their main event status.

Both women regard this as one of their career highlights, as they worked as hard as possible to deliver a match that proved they were worthy of being featured on the top. Lita walked away that night with the Women’s Championship and a piece of history that would echo a decade later with further women’s main events.