EDMONTON, AB: Western Canada just keeps proving why it’s a hotbed of professional wrestling.
Six Western Canadian-bred wrestlers found themselves included in this year’s edition of the PWI100 released earlier this morning.
Since 2008, the PWI100 has been curated by the writers of Pro Wrestling Illustrated based on categories including the given wrestler’s win-loss record, any titles won, quality of competition, major feuds, and overall wrestling ability among others.
Heading up the Albertan division of this year’s PWI100 is none other than Natalya Neidhart. The Calgary native and Hart Dungeon graduate is as close to wrestling royalty as it gets in Western Canada. Natalya is a two-time women’s/Diva’s champion in the WWE, joining the promotion after an independent run that included stops in the Prairie Wrestling Alliance and, of course, Stampede Wrestling. Earlier today, Natalya made history yet again as part of the first-ever WWE women’s match to take place in Saudi Arabia.
At #15 on this year’s list stands Storm Wrestling Academy graduate Taya Valkyrie. After graduating the SWA in 2010, Valkyrie plied her trade in the Prairie Wrestling Alliance and ECCW before departing the promotions to wrestle on an international basis. Since departing Western Canada, Valkyrie has claimed championships in Lucha Libre AAA and Impact Wrestling, where earlier this month she became the longest-reigning Knockout Champion of all-time, with her reign now standing at a remarkable 298 days.
Making her way up to #49 from #92 last year is one-half of the IIconics, Peyton Royce. Though originally from Sydney, Australia, Royce made her way to the Great White North in 2012 to train at the Storm Wrestling Academy. Once completing her training, Royce - then under the name of KC Cassidy - wrestled four matches for the Prairie Wrestling Alliance, including in a triple threat against Kellyanne and then-champion Jordyn Brooks. Since leaving Alberta, Royce has gone on to international fame as part of the IIconics with Billie Kay, becoming the longest-reigning WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions earlier this year.
Coming in at #74 on this year’s list is Canadian independent veteran Nicole Matthews. Though the majority of Matthews’ work takes place in British Columbia, 2019 saw the Shimmertaker claim the RCW Women’s Championship, justifying her place as an Albertan wrestler as far as this fan is concerned. Matthews’ accolades in British Columbia are almost too numerous to name; she’s a three-time ECCW Champion, a four-time ECCW Women’s Champion, and the 2017 Pacific Cup Winner.
Rounding out this year’s Albertan talents are current NXT star Rachael Evers (#87) and independent sensation Gisele Shaw (#92). Evers has been synonymous with Albertan wrestling since graduating from the Storm Wrestling Academy in 2015. Shortly after her graduation, Evers - then known as Rachael Ellering - made her debut for the Prairie Wrestling Alliance in a mixed tag-team match against Brett Morgan and, ironically, Gisele Shaw. Since her first match in Alberta, Evers has gone on to appear in both iterations of the Mae Young Classic, officially signing with WWE earlier this year. Unfortunately, Evers last wrestled on July 27th against Lacey Lane, where she tore her ACL, keeping her out of action for at least the remainder of 2019.
Shaw is yet another SWA graduate making an appearance on the PWI100. The current Crossfire Wrestling Women’s Champion began her career in 2015, and shortly after began wrestling for the PWA, HIW, RCW and more. Since leaving Alberta in 2017, Shaw has taken over the independent scene worldwide, wrestling for the likes of Women of Wrestling and IMPACT. The latter, in fact, included a Knockouts Championship match against former titleholder Tessa Blanchard.
Congratulations to all on their selection to the PWI100.