In the male-dominated world of WWE, these 25 women used their brains, beauty and power to make an indelible mark on sports-entertainment.
In the male-dominated world of WWE, it takes a special kind of woman to make an impact. Hundreds of female competitors, valets and backstage interviewers have attempted to make their mark, but few have succeeded. This list pays tribute to the 25 women who played an integral role in defining what the women's division is all about, from the lady wrestlers of the past who paved the way to the Divas of today who are reshaping the road. Now, step aside. It's ladies first.
With her fitness model figure, Trident smile and all-American good looks, Torrie Wilson was one of the most desired Divas during her seven years with WWE. A stunning blonde who graced the covers of top selling men's magazines like FHM and Playboy, Torrie stood in the corners of Superstars like Carlito and Tajiri when she wasn't competing herself. And while she never held the Women's Championship, the former Miss Galaxy winner can lay claim to performing in one of the most downloaded matches in WWE.com history: a Bikini Contest against Sable from Judgment Day in 2002.
A major star in her native Japan for the majority of the '80s, Bull Nakano arrived in WWE in 1994 with one goal in mind: winning the Women's Championship. Aligning herself with the equally bizarre Luna Vachon, Nakano set her sights on Alundra Blayze and wreaked havoc on the champion at every turn. In November of 1994, the powerhouse defeated Blayze for the title in Tokyo's Egg Dome and would hold the championship for more than four months. She disappeared from WWE rings soon after, but her unique appearance and vicious ring style would not soon be forgotten.
A competitor for more than two decades, Ivory grappled in the short-lived Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling promotion in the 1980s before arriving in WWE more than a decade later. Disgusted by the prevalence of bikini contests that greeted her when she arrived, Ivory set her sights on cleaning up the Divas division. While her quest for censorship wasn't always successful, the double-tough Diva did win the Women's Championship on three occasions, besting the likes of Fabulous Moolah and Lita in the process. Ivory's views may not have always been popular, but her courage would inspire the likes of Molly Holly and Beth Phoenix.
The beautiful Kelly Kelly has already chalked up four stellar years with WWE and she's still not old enough to legally rent a car. Making her debut as a part of the relaunched Extreme Championship Wrestling while still a teenager, the gorgeous blonde's exhibitionist streak quickly caught the attention of the WWE Universe. But as the Florida native matured, so did her persona, and by the time she was drafted to the Raw brand in 2008 she had blossomed into a sexy, smart and powerful woman. Now, as one of the most public faces of WWE, Kelly is ready to make her mark as the Diva of her generation.
A hero is nothing without a great villain. So Sable should be forever grateful that Jacqueline was in the mix during the blonde bombshell's rise to pop culture stardom in the late '90s. Already an experienced veteran before arriving in WWE, the buxom Texan was not only the perfect sinister counterpart to the beloved Sable, but she took the beauty to new heights in the ring during their rivalry over the Women's Championship. Hugely talented, Jacqueline would also experience success outside of the women's division, capturing the Cruiserweight Championship from Chavo Guerrero in 2004.
To the previous five women: Please excuse Vickie Guerrero, whose wretched shrieks and inexcusable tyranny land her among WWE's top women. Vickie's disdainful grimace and accompanying shriek have been handy assets during her stints as Raw and SmackDown General Manager; a power that corrupted her, turning the sweet wife of Eddie Guerrero into a razor-clawed cougar. Her shameless tryst with Edge forged a memorably repulsive WWE power couple and anointed Vickie an irrefutable queen, well best she rested the more physical crown of "Miss WrestleMania" atop her already swollen head.
Most WWE Divas crave the spotlight, but the talented Molly Holly was a little different. Although beautiful, the Minnesota native wasn't interested in being a sex symbol. Rather, she wanted her accomplishments in the ring to take center stage, especially her two reigns as Women's Champion. It was this drive that turned Molly from The Hurricane's cute sidekick to one of the most vicious Divas of her era. Her commitment to excellence was on full display at WrestleMania XX when she put her hair on the line for an opportunity at the Women's Title. Molly lost the bout, and her locks, but her passion for wrestling couldn't be beat.
Sporting the most famous pair of legs in wrestling history, the gorgeous Stacy Keibler managed to stand out even when surrounded by beautiful women. Starting off her career as one of WCW's Nitro Girls, Keibler soon transitioned to WWE and quickly became one of the top Divas. Both an in-ring competitor and manager, Stacy battled Divas like Gail Kim and Jillian Hall while guiding the careers of Scott Steiner and The Hurricane, amongst others. In 2006, the former cheerleader's enviable stems took her from WWE rings to TV's Dancing with the Stars, breaking the hearts of many in the WWE Universe.
When Beth Phoenix suffered a broken jaw in her Raw debut in 2006, the WWE Universe knew they'd been introduced to a Diva who wasn't afraid to play rough. This setback did not deter Phoenix, however, and she was more powerful than ever when she returned, capturing the Women's Championship on two occasions with dominating victories over the likes of Mickie James. In 2010, The Glamazon achieved another milestone, becoming only the second woman in WWE history to compete in the Royal Rumble and eliminating The Great Khali in the process. If her momentum continues, Phoenix will soon top a list like this.
Luna Vachon never fit the mold of a typical WWE Diva, but that's because she never wanted to. "In a world full of butterflies, it takes guts to be a caterpillar," Vachon told WWE.com in 2007. It was this tough attitude that carried the second-generation competitor from the rough rings of Japan and Extreme Championship Wrestling to the top of WWE Women's Division. A manager, and often times, mixed tag team partner to memorably unique Superstars like Bam Bam Bigelow and Goldust, Vachon would rather cause pain than look pretty. Unfortunate opponents like Sable and Jacqueline have the scars to prove it.
No championships, no revolutionary movements — just class. That’s why Miss Elizabeth was aptly dubbed the first lady of the squared circle. A radiant star in the WWE Universe throughout the 1980s, Liz made her fame beside top-tier champions, most notably as the supportive beauty in the corner of “Macho Man” Randy Savage. WWE fans of all ages warmed while watching the progression of their timeless ring romance through good, bad and ugly (yes, cat-faced Queen Sherri). Some men even melted as their moistened eyes witnessed Elizabeth and Randy fulfill their love in marriage at SummerSlam 1991. An elegant woman taming a Savage. Unforgettable.
No one makes an entrance quite like Melina. During her five years with WWE, the beautiful Diva has gone from the manager of three-time WWE Tag Team Champions MNM to one of the only women to hold both the Divas and Women's Championships. Her success can be attributed to a mix of athleticism and cunning coupled with perhaps the most impressive arsenal of offensive maneuvers in Diva history. From the Extreme Makeover to the Primal Scream, the lovely Latina has countless ways to finish off her opponents. No wonder WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart called her one of the best wrestlers in the world.
When the WWE women's division was reactivated in 1993, Alundra Blayze was the lady to beat. Holding the Women's Championship on three separate occasions, the athletic Blayze reigned supreme over some of the most physically powerful female competitors of all time, including Bull Nakano, Aja Kong and the monstrous Bertha Faye. Blayze's career wasn't without controversy though. After leaving WWE in 1995, she infamously dropped the Women's Title in a garbage can live on WCW's Monday Nitro. The act damaged Blayze's character in the eyes of many, but her impact as a competitor cannot be denied.
Mae Young first set foot in a wrestling ring in 1939. Seventy years later, she was still bumping around with the best of them. The Queen's unbelievable durability can be attributed to a toughness instilled in her during a rough upbringing during the Great Depression. This undying strength would carry her from wrestling in small towns during World War II to performing with WWE well into her 80s. With her appearance on Raw in 2010, the Hall of Famer achieved another career milestone, becoming the first grappler to appear at events in nine different decades. Talk about longevity.
When Mr. McMahon was turning WWE into a national powerhouse in the early '80s, Wendi Richter was one of his shining stars. With her natural charisma and rock star looks, the sexy Texan was the female answer to Hulk Hogan and had the following to prove it. This popularity was on full display in 1984 when she defeated The Fabulous Moolah live on MTV for the Women's Title, ending Moolah's 28-year reign as champion and drawing one of the largest ratings in cable television history. Richter parted ways with WWE in 1988, but her stellar achievements would be matched by few.
Michelle McCool didn't get to where she is by being nice. One of the most cutthroat competitors in WWE, McCool became the first women to capture both the Divas Championship and the Women's Championship by doing whatever it takes to win. A shortlist of McCool's crimes includes brutalizing Maria and Eve outside of the ring and smashing a cake on Mickie James after giving her the nickname "Piggie" James. Hard to believe a Diva as devious as this used to be a middle school teacher.
In the eyes of many in the WWE Universe, Sunny is the first true Diva. Beginning her WWE career in 1994 as the manager of the fitness freaks known as The Bodydonnas, the gorgeous blonde soon blossomed into one of the most loved Divas in history. With a mix of sex appeal and ring smarts, Sunny led a long line of tandems to the World Tag Team Champions, including The Godwinns, The Smoking Gunns and Legion of Doom. As her success grew, so did her popularity and by 1996 Sunny was AOL's most downloaded woman on the Internet.
It's hard to believe that Lita was once one of the most popular competitors in WWE. As a member of Team Xtreme with The Hardy Boyz, the high-flying Diva was loved for her wild style and her gravity-defying maneuvers. And then she met Edge. Leaving her boyfriend Matt Hardy for the Rated-R Superstar in 2006, Lita quickly became, perhaps, the most despised Diva of all time. Still, the WWE Universe's hatred couldn't deter her success and by the time she left the ring in 2007, Lita was a four-time Women's Champion. Even her infamous bedroom romp with Edge can't take that away from her.
While some Divas have had the good fortune of entering WWE with little experience in the ring, Mickie James fought and clawed her way from the rough and tumble world of independent wrestling to the very top of WWE. The gorgeous Virginia native's unmatched drive netted her four Women's Championship and a Divas Championship in five years time, but it was her awesome attitude that captured the WWE Universe's attention. Perhaps the most popular Diva of the modern era, Mickie's natural beauty and impressive work ethic is setting the standard for women in wrestling today.
If one Diva defines WWE's "Attitude Era" it is Sable. Starting out as a valet to competitors like Marc Mero, the blonde bombshell's popularity quickly outshined the men she managed and sent her skyrocketing to the top of WWE. Appearing on bestselling covers of TV Guide and Playboy and on television shows like Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Sable's beauty, and body, garnered the kind of mainstream attention never before experienced by a WWE Diva. The beautiful Floridian could mix it up the ring as well, winning the Women's Championship on one occasion, and looking good while doing it.
From T-shirt model in early WWE Shop catalogs to savvy WWE executive, Stephanie McMahon's passion for power has taken her a very long way. The daughter of the WWE Chairman, she may've been christened "Billion Dollar Princess" but the former Women's Champion is just as bold and enterprising as her dad. Steph's betrothal to Triple H birthed the infamous McMahon-Helmsley Era, while the Invasion she pioneered in 2001 nearly drove her father out of business. But familial strife aside, none can disagree that daddy's little girl has grown up to become one of the most influential women of the squared circle.
Sherri Martel could do it all. As a competitor, the vicious Martel defeated her mentor, The Fabulous Moolah, for the Women's Championship in her WWE debut and would go on to hold the title for more than a year. As a manager, she guided legends like Shawn Michaels, The Million Dollar Man and "Macho Man" Randy Savage to main events and championship glory. A key figure in nearly every major North American promotion at some point, the late Martel has been noted as a major influence by nearly ever Diva performing today. How's that for impact?
The Ninth Wonder of the World can lay claim to many accomplishments that no other Diva can touch. A two-time Intercontinental Champion, Chyna was the first woman to compete in the Royal Rumble and the first woman to be considered the No. 1 contender to the WWE Championship. After holding her own with the likes of Chris Jericho and Eddie Guerrero, Chyna simply destroyed every Diva she faced and won the Women's Championship at WrestleMania X-Seven. She held the title until she left WWE in 2001, leaving behind a lasting legacy as the most dominant female competitor of all time.
No athlete has ever held a championship for as long as The Fabulous Moolah. From Sept. 18, 1956 until July 23, 1984, the ferocious Moolah carried the Women's Championship with a steely grasp, defeating every competitor that was placed in front of her for nearly 30 years. Perhaps the most influential female wrestler of all time (she trained many of the women on this list), Moolah was a hated villain for decades, but in later years, she became a hilarious and beloved fixture on WWE television. Moolah was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1995: the first woman to receive this honor.
The three words that define a WWE Diva are "sexy, smart and powerful" and no one woman fits this description better than Trish Stratus. A former fitness model, the stunning Canadian started off in WWE as a manager before bringing her natural athletic ability to the ring. Quickly, Stratus would become the best Diva to ever do it, winning the Women's Championship a record seven times and netting other honors like a Hardcore Championship and the honor of "Diva of the Decade" in 2003. Stratus retired from wrestling in 2006, leaving the WWE as the Women's Champion and the greatest Diva of all time.
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