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WWE Diva

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Title: WWE Diva  
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WWE Diva

Divas (with Santino Marella disguised as a Diva "Santina") fighting in a battle royal at WrestleMania 25

Diva is a term used by WWE, an American professional wrestling promotion, to refer to its female performers.[1] The term is applied to women who appear as wrestlers, managers or valets, backstage interviewers, or ring announcers. The slogan of the Divas division is Sexy, Smart and Powerful.

Contents

  • History 1
    • Beginnings: The Moolah Days 1.1
    • The 90's (1993–1997) 1.2
    • Attitude Era (1998–2001) 1.3
    • Golden Era (2002–2008) 1.4
    • Divas Championship and unification (2008–2012) 1.5
    • Total Divas (2013–2015) 1.6
    • Divas Revolution (2015–present) 1.7
  • NXT 2
    • (2010–2011) 2.1
    • (2012–present) 2.2
  • Diva Search (2003–2007, 2015) 3
  • Promotion 4
    • Playboy 4.1
    • Other media 4.2
  • Championships and accomplishments 5
    • Championships 5.1
    • Former championships 5.2
    • Hall of Famers 5.3
    • NXT 5.4
    • Tough Enough 5.5
    • Slammy Awards 5.6
    • Babe of the Year (2001–2004) 5.7
    • Rookie Diva of the Year (2005) 5.8
    • Diva of the Decade 5.9
    • Championships reigns 5.10
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • External links 8

History

Beginnings: The Moolah Days

The Fabulous Moolah (above) wrestling Wendi Richter during the height of her involvement in the "Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection"

After winning the NWA World Women's Championship in 1956 from Judy Grable, The Fabulous Moolah defected to the WWF in 1983. Moolah, who was the NWA World Women's Champion and legal owner of the title, joined the WWF including selling them the rights to the title after they would disaffiliate from the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and recognized her as the first WWF Women's Champion.[2] Additionally, the WWF also recognized Moolah's reign at the time as a continuation of her first NWA World Women's Championship reign, which occurred in 1956, resulting in the promotion not recognizing other reigns or title losses that occurred during the title's existence in the NWA. Thus, The Fabulous Moolah's reign was considered to have lasted 27 years by the promotion.[3] This time period during the early 1980s saw the introduction of many female wrestlers who competed with the promotion. WWF also introduced the WWF Women's Tag Team Championship with Velvet McIntyre and Princess Victoria recognized as the first champions after also defecting from the NWA. The following year, music artist Cyndi Lauper began a verbal feud with manager "Captain" Lou Albano, who long had a reputation of being a villain; this brought professional wrestling into mainstream culture in a storyline that became known as the "Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection". When it was finally time for Lauper and Albano to settle their differences in the ring, a match-up was scheduled with Albano representing Moolah against the challenge of Lauper's protégé, Wendi Richter. This led to Moolah losing the title at The Brawl to End It All, broadcast live on MTV. Richter would then lose the title to Leilani Kai the following year but would win it back at Wrestlemania 1 (March 31, 1985).

Miss Elizabeth played a central role in the storyline between WrestleMania IV and WrestleMania V

In the summer of 1985, the WWF did an in 1986. In the angle, Steele fell in love with Elizabeth, angering Savage and leading to a series of grudge matches between him and Steele. Their feud was one of the WWF's most popular of the 1980s; it carried on for more than a year, thanks to the feral Steele's continued innocent crush on Elizabeth. She also figured prominently in Savage's 1986 heel feuds with Hulk Hogan and Ricky "the Dragon" Steamboat, and his 1987–1989 face feuds with wrestlers such as The Honky Tonk Man, Andre the Giant, Bad News Brown, Big Boss Man and Akeem. When Savage—who had formed an alliance with Hogan—turned on Hogan in early 1989 and became a heel, Elizabeth was a major factor, and she eventually would side with Hogan, the WWF's top face wrestler. Meanwhile, Savage became allied with "Sensational" Sherri, a heel who had success as a wrestler from 1987–1989 and was phased into a role as an ill-tempered, venomous valet.

Sherri Martel debuted on July 24, 1987, defeating The Fabulous Moolah for the WWF Women's Championship.[5] Renaming herself 'Sensational' Sherri, she reigned as WWF Women's Champion for fifteen months before losing it to Rockin' Robin;[6][7] after losing several rematches, Martel took a short leave of absence in early 1989 before being repackaged as Savage's valet. Also in 1987 saw the introduction of Mike McGuirk as the first female ring announcer of the promotion, arriving after former AWA wrestler Jesse Ventura referred her to the WWF.[8] In the fall of 1987, McGuirk provided color commentary for several arena show tapings in the Houston, Texas area, which aired on WWF Prime Time Wrestling.

The first Survivor Series PPV saw the first female elimination match. On February 1989 the WWF Women's Tag Team Championship was deactivated and The Glamour Girls (Leilani Kai and Judy Martin) would be the final title holders. Sapphire would debut in November 1989 on WWF Saturday Night's Main Event as a fan cheering on Dusty Rhodes at ringside in his match against Big Boss Man.[9] Sapphire began to manage Rhodes, who adapted Rhodes' gimmick as she adorned black outfits with yellow polka dots. Sapphire along with Rhodes later on entered into a feud with Randy Savage and Sensational Sherri as Sapphire teamed with Rhodes to take on Savage and Sherri in a tag team match at WrestleMania VI. Sapphire pinned Sherri, with some help from Miss Elizabeth, who had allied herself with Sapphire and Rhodes after a previous incident that precipitated the match.[10][11] Sapphire and Sherri would continue their feud competing against each other in singles and tag team matches up until August 25, where she and Rhodes emerged victorious as a tandem.[11] Rockin' Robin would then be the last WWF Women's Champion in the late 80's.

When the WWF phased out its female-talent roster in 1990, Sensational Sherri would remain with the company, joining Sapphire (who would then depart from the company in mid 1990) and Miss Elizabeth focusing on managing male wrestlers. Miss Elizabeth took a leave of absence in 1990, but returned in 1991, and was a key player in Randy Savage's retirement match with The Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VII; Elizabeth was involved in two more feuds with Savage — those with Jake "the Snake" Roberts and Ric Flair — before leaving the company for good in 1992; shortly after her departure, Savage and Elizabeth divorced in real life. At WrestleMania IX, Luna Vachon would debut and initially aligned herself with Shawn Michaels then later on with Bam Bam Bigelow feuded with Sherri and Tatanka; Martel would leave the company in 1993. Although the term 'Diva' did not exist until 1999, WWE acknowledges this time period as the beginning of their women's division.

The 90's (1993–1997)

In 1993, the WWF reinstated its

  • Official website

External links

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Notes

See also

Diva WWF/E Women's Championship WWE Divas Championship WWF Women's Tag Team Championship NXT Women's Championship WWF/E Hardcore Championship WWF Intercontinental Championship WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Leilani Kai NoN
Velvet McIntyre NoN NoN
Chyna NoN NoN
Trish Stratus NoN NoN
Molly Holly NoN NoN
Jacqueline NoN NoN
Mickie James NoN NoN
Melina NoN NoN
Michelle McCool NoN NoN
Beth Phoenix NoN NoN
Layla NoN NoN
Paige NoN NoN
Charlotte NoN NoN

The list is in order of who won the record, the first is Leilani Kai who won the Women's Tag Team Championship and the Women's Championship in 1985, the latter is Charlotte, who won the NXT Women's Championship in 2014 and the Divas Championship in 2015.

This chart lists every Diva who hold more than one title in the company.

Championships reigns

On January 14, 2003, Trish Stratus was named "Diva of the Decade" on a special 10th anniversary episode of Raw. The other nominees were Sable, Sunny, Lita, and Chyna.[241]

Diva of the Decade

The only Rookie Diva Of The Year contest was held at No Way Out in 2005, where Joy Giovanni defeated Michelle McCool, Lauren Jones, and Rochelle Loewen. Giovanni received more than half of the vote, followed by McCool who got just under 20%, Loewen got just over 10% and Jones received just 6%. The competition was hosted by Torrie Wilson and Dawn Marie.

Rookie Diva of the Year (2005)

Babe of the Year contest was a contest where fans voted on who was their favorite Diva for that year. Trish Stratus won the inaugural competition in 2001. Stratus had her own mini-site on WWE.com and her photoshoot of choice was a space-type theme. The corresponding mini-site was fittingly named "The Stratusphere." Stratus retained her title in 2002 and received another mini-site on WWE.com. The 2003 edition was again won by Stratus. Stacy Keibler ended Stratus' reign in 2004 and won the honor, receiving her own mini-site and a photoshoot for every month in the year, sometimes two.

Babe of the Year (2001–2004)

  • A – Award was then known as "Woman of the Year".
  • B – Award was then known as "Miss Slammy".
  • C - Award was then known as "Divalicious Moment of the Year".
  • D – Awarded through WWE.com.
Other awards Winner Date won
Best Buns Sunny March 30, 1996
Manager of the Year Sunny March 30, 1996
Best Dressed Sable March 21, 1997
Couple of the Year Vickie Guerrero (with Edge) December 8, 2008
Best Use of Exercise Equipment[d] Rosa Mendes December 13, 2010
Knucklehead Moment of the Year LayCool (Layla and Michelle McCool) December 13, 2010
Divalicious Moment of the Year Kelly Kelly December 12, 2011
Kiss of the Year AJ Lee (with John Cena) December 18, 2012
Couple of the Year[d] Brie Bella (with Daniel Bryan) December 9, 2013
Best Dance Moves of the Year[d] The Funkadactyls (Naomi and Cameron) December 9, 2013
Insult of the Year Stephanie McMahon December 9, 2013
Couple of the Year[d] Brie Bella (with Daniel Bryan) December 8, 2014
Diva of the Year Date won
Miss Elizabeth[a] December 17, 1987
Sable[b] March 21, 1997
Beth Phoenix December 8, 2008
Maria December 14, 2009
Michelle McCool December 13, 2010
Kelly Kelly[c] December 12, 2011
AJ Lee[d] December 17, 2012
The Bella Twins December 9, 2013
AJ Lee December 8, 2014

Slammy Awards

Season Winner Date won
Nidia Guenard September 27, 2001
Linda Miles and Jackie Gayda May 30, 2002
Sara Lee August 25, 2015

Tough Enough

Rookie Season Winner Date won
Kaitlyn Third season November 30, 2010
Kaitlyn, winner of the third season of NXT

NXT

Legend Year inducted
The Fabulous Moolah 1995
Sensational Sherri 2006
Mae Young 2008
Sunny 2011
Trish Stratus 2013
Lita 2014
Alundra Blayze 2015

Hall of Famers

Championship Last champion(s) Date won Date retired Location Previous champion(s) First champion(s)
WWE Women's Championship Layla May 11, 2010 September 19, 2010 Rosemont, Illinois Beth Phoenix The Fabulous Moolah
WWF Women's Tag Team Championship Leilani Kai and Judy Martin June 8, 1988 February 4, 1989 Omiya, Japan Noriyo Tateno and Itsuki Yamazaki Velvet McIntyre and Princess Victoria

Former championships

Championship Current champion Date won Location Previous champion First champion
WWE Divas Championship Charlotte September 20, 2015 Houston, Texas Nikki Bella Michelle McCool
NXT Women's Championship Bayley August 22, 2015 Brooklyn, New York Sasha Banks Paige

Championships

Championships and accomplishments

On April 22, 2013, it was announced that the Divas would be getting a show on E! network titled Total Divas. It would follow the lives behind the scenes of select Divas. Natalya, Naomi, Cameron, The Bella Twins, also Eva Marie and JoJo Offerman from developmental territory, WWE NXT were announced as the inaugural cast for the show. The show premiered on July 28. The show was an instant hit, and was renewed for a second season.[237] On January 27, 2014, it was announced that Summer Rae would join the cast of the show in season two, while JoJo left the cast after the first season.[238] Rosa Mendes was later announced to join the show for season three. Alicia Fox and Paige would go on to join in the second part of the third season and JoJo returned as guest star. In the season 4, Summer Rae e Rosa Mendes as guest stars while Cameron was a recurring character for the first time since the first season. On day after announcing that Naomi would not be part of the second part of the fourth season of the Total Divas,[239] the runner-up of WWE Tough Enough 2015, Amanda Saccomanno, was announced as her replacement.[240]

In 2007, Ashley, Torrie Wilson, Maryse, Brooke, Layla, and Kelly Kelly shot a video for music producer and rapper Timbaland.[236] In the same year, Torrie Wilson, Candice Michelle, Michelle McCool, Maria, Layla, and Kristal appeared in an episode of the U.S. reality show Project Runway (season 4), in which designers were asked to design in-ring attire for their designated Diva. In 2008, Layla, Mickie James, Kelly Kelly, and Melina appeared in the U.S. reality show Celebrity Fit Club: Boot Camp to get the celebrities in shape.

From 1999 to 2000, Sable would appear as a guest star on an episode of Pacific Blue in 1999[230] and the following year, Chyna would appear as a guest star on Mad Tv and 3rd Rock from the Sun as Janice, a police officer, as well as several Stacker 2 commercials and was a presenter at the MTV Video Music Awards.[231] In November 2001, Trish Stratus, Lita, and Stephanie McMahon appeared as contestants on The Weakest Link's "WWF Superstars Edition".[232] Lita, Molly Holly, and Jacqueline appeared as contestants on Fear Factor in February 2002.[233] In April 6, 2002 Lita appeared in a small role on Dark Angel.,[234] In March 2004, she appeared on an episode of Headbangers Ball.[235]

In the mid 1980s, an animated version of the Fabulous Moolah and Wendi Richter was included on a CBS Saturday morning cartoon during this lucrative time, titled Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling.[228] In addition, both appeared in two of Cyndi Lauper's music videos, "The Goonies 'R' Good Enough" and "She Bop".[229]

Other media

Actual Playboy playmates such as Carmella DeCesare and Karen McDougal have also appeared in the 2004 Diva Search. Past female talents such as Trish Stratus, Lita, Debra, Sharmell, Stacy Keibler, Michelle McCool, and Melina had said that posing for Playboy magazine is out of the question for them. Stratus appeared on Canadian sports talk show Off The Record and said that she didn't pose because she wanted to be known as "multiple time Women's Champion Trish Stratus" rather than "the girl who posed in Playboy". Stratus also claimed that she refused the shoot because she says she can still be sexy without taking her clothes off.[226] Lita has said that she didn't pose because she felt it was wrong for her (who was known as a role model for young girls at the time) to pose for the magazine.[227] Stacy Keibler refused to pose as she believes it would be better if she "left something for the imagination".

Since 1999, seven WWE Divas have appeared on the cover of Playboy:

Chyna autographing her issue of Playboy, on October 8, 2007

Playboy

The WWE Divas normally went on an annual photoshoot every year, usually to a different location each time. The photoshoot was followed by a magazine featuring photos from the shoot as well as a television special or video release of highlights from the shoot.

The popularity of women in WWE has resulted in various cross-promotions with other brands featuring WWE Divas. Various Divas have posed in Playboy, and others have appeared in commercials for WWE and non-WWE products as well as men's interest magazines.

Promotion

The Diva Search was an annual competition that occurred every summer. The purpose of the Diva Search was to find new women to be wrestlers, interviewers, and/or valets for WWE. The winner of the competition received a one-year contract worth $100,000. Previously the contract was worth $250,000. On March 29, 2015 it was announced by the company that the contest would return in fall of 2015 and would be exclusive on the WWE Network.[225]

Diva Search (2003–2007, 2015)

A new tournament was created in order to determine the new champion.[214] The tournament started in May, which culminated at NXT TakeOver, where Charlotte defeated Natalya to win the vacant NXT Women's Championship.[215] Throughout 2014, the women of NXT, started competing at NXT's live–specials and would be equally used as the male wrestlers, putting up high–quality matches that are unusual for the WWE.[216][217] Emma returned to NXT, this time as a villainess, aligning herself with Dana Brooke and starting a rivalry with Bayley. On February 11, Sasha Banks won the NXT Women's Championship from Charlotte at NXT TakeOver: Rival during a fatal four–way match, also involving Becky Lynch and Bayley.[218] In June, Eva Marie announced she would be competing in NXT, with her debút taking place on July 22, defeating new recruit Cassie.[219] International women's wrestler, Kana, now using a ring name Asuka, would make an appearance at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn, and later would be announced as the newest signing of NXT.[220][221] She made her debut on the September 23 episode of NXT in a contract singing,[222] and later competed against Dana Brooke in her debut match on October 7 at NXT TakeOver: Respect, where she defeated Brooke. The same night, Bayley successfully defended her NXT Women's Championship against Sasha Banks in the first ever women's "30-minute Iron Man match" in WWE history.[223] In October, Nia Jax would make her anticipated debút to NXT defeating Evie.[224]

Bayley, the current NXT Women's Champion

Summer Rae made her debút on the main roster on the April 22, 2013 episode of Raw, as Fandango's dance partner and valet.[206] During the May 30, tapings of NXT, Stephanie McMahon announced a tournament, featuring four developmental divas and four divas from the main roster competing for the vacant NXT Women's Championship, which was firstly introduced during WrestleMania Axxess in April. On the June 20 tapings of NXT, Paige defeated Emma in the finals of the tournament to become the first NXT Women's Champion.[207] In August, AJ Lee defeated Bayley to retain the Divas Championship, making Bayley the first NXT Diva to challenge for the championship.[208] On the January 13, 2014 episode of Raw, Emma made her first appearance on the main roster when WWE acknowledged her appearing amongst the live audience.[209] Alexa Bliss, Charlotte and Sasha Banks made their first televised appearance on the main roster at WrestleMania XXX on April 6, when they played a part in Triple H's entrance.[210][211] On the post–Wrestlemania episode of Raw, Paige defeated AJ Lee to win the Divas Championship for the first time in her career, also becoming the youngest champion in the title's history and the only woman in history to hold both WWE Divas and NXT Women's championships simultaneously.[212] Few weeks later, Paige was stripped of the NXT Women's Championship by John Bradshaw Layfield because of her move to the main roster.[213]

On July 9, 2012, it was reported that world–renowned wrestler, Sara Del Rey had signed a contract with WWE, and would start working for the company's developmental territory NXT, based at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida as the first female coach.[204][205]

In August 2012, WWE ceased operating Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW), its developmental promotion in Tampa, Florida, deactivating FCW titles, and began running all of its developmental events and operations at Full Sail University under the "WWE NXT" banner. WWE had been using the NXT name for a television program featuring rookies from FCW competing to become WWE main roster members, though the "reality television" aspects of the show had been dropped earlier in 2012; WWE NXT now serves as the primary television program for the promotion. NXT has received praise for the opportunities they afford female wrestlers as opposed to on the main roster, which has led to a change on how women's wrestling is portrayed on WWE's main roster.

Paige, the first, longest-reigning and youngest NXT Women's Champion

(2012–present)

The fourth season of NXT, which was won by Johnny Curtis, started on December 7 and ended on March 1, 2011. In the fifth edition of the program on March 8, 2011,[200] Maryse became co-host of the show until August 24 when she took time off due to personal injury; however, she would later depart from the company on October 28 and never make an appearance.[201] During her time, Maryse was involved in storylines and angles with Yoshi Tatsu, Lucky Cannon and Hornswoggle.[202][203]

The cast of season two was revealed on the first season finale on June 1, 2010,[193] and started a week later.[194][195] LayCool (Michelle McCool and Layla) were the first female talents featured on the show as 'mentors' and their male talent 'rookie' was Kaval, who would go on to win the second season on August 31.[196][197][198] The third season of NXT, which started in September and ended on November 30, was exclusive only for Divas, with the winner being Vickie Guerrero's rookie – Kaitlyn.[199]

WWE NXT was a professional wrestling television program that was produced by WWE and is broadcast on the WWE Network. Since June 2012, it has served as the flagship television show of WWE's developmental system. Prior to this, NXT existed as a seasonal show which was presented as a hybrid between reality television and WWE's scripted live event shows, in which they acquired any select talent contracted from WWE's then-developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) as the Developmental subsidiary of NXT to participated in a competition to become WWE's next "breakout star" with the help of select main roster talents. Five seasons of this version of NXT were broadcast from February 23, 2010[190] to June 13, 2012,[190][191][192]

(2010–2011)

NXT

On the July 13 episode of Raw, Stephanie McMahon called for a "revolution" in the Divas Division and introduced Charlotte, Becky Lynch and NXT Women's Champion Sasha Banks. While Lynch and Charlotte allied with Paige, later dubbed as Team PCB,[171] who was feuding with Team Bella (The Bella Twins and Alicia Fox),[172][173] Banks would ally with Naomi and Tamina, later dubbed as Team B.A.D. (Beautiful and Dangerous),[174] leading to a brawl between the three teams.[175][176] This led to a lot of different comments and reviews, both negative and positive, from various critics[176][177][178][179][179][180][181][182] and the feud between the three teams escalated in a three team elimination match at SummerSlam, which Team PCB won.[183] On July 29, WWE announced that Layla would depart from the company and retire.[184] On the August 31 episode of Raw, Charlotte won the first ever "Divas Beat the Clock challenge" and received a future title shot.[185][186] On the September 14 episode of Raw, Charlotte, granted by The Authority, received her championship match with Nikki Bella right before Night of Champions, as advertised, in order to stop Nikki from becoming the longest–reigning Divas Champion in WWE history.[187] Nikki, however, switched places with Brie and Charlotte was awarded the victory by disqualification.[188] Few days later, on September 20 at Night of Champions, Charlotte defeated Nikki and won the Divas Championship, ending Nikki's reign at 301 days, the new longest–reign in WWE history.[189]

On the February 23, 2015 episode of Raw, The Bella Twins faced Paige and Emma in a widely criticized match that lasted around 30 seconds. After the match, a hashtag on Twitter trended worldwide for one and a half day, named #GiveDivasAChance, and would bring attention to various multi–media outlets over the long–tenured controversy over the company's treatment of their women's division, including AJ Lee who publicly criticized Stephanie McMahon over the issue.[164][165][166] On April 3, WWE announced Lee's retirement from in–ring competition[167] right after her tag team match with Paige against The Bella Twins at WrestleMania 31.[168] Paige, Renee Young and Lita were landed different possitions in the returning Tough Enough reality series, which started in mid-June.[169][170]

Divas Revolution (2015–present)

On June 1, at Payback, Brie Bella would get involved in her husband — Daniel Bryan's storyline with Stephanie McMahon, where McMahon threatened to fire Bella if an injured Bryan did not relinquish the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, which forced Brie to "quit" before slapping McMahon in the face.[158] Later in June, Vickie Guerrero departed from WWE, after losing to Stephanie McMahon in a pudding match[159] and AJ Lee returned, after losing the Divas Championship to Paige, regaining the championship in an impromptu match.[160] At SummerSlam, Stephanie McMahon wrestled for the first time in her career after ten years, defeating Brie Bella, after her sister, Nikki, turned on her and attacked her.[161] AJ and Paige competed in the next months and traded the championship between each other at SummerSlam and Night of Champions[162] before AJ ultimately lost the title to Nikki Bella on November 23 at Survivor Series.[163]

On the April 7 episode of Raw, Paige made her surprise debút on the main roster and would defeat AJ Lee for the Divas Championship, becoming the first NXT Diva to hold both the NXT Women's and Divas Championships simultaneously, as well as becoming the youngest Divas Champion in WWE history at the age of 21.[154] During her reign, Paige provoked envy in Cameron,[155][156] leading her tag team partner Naomi to disapprove with Cameron's new behavior, and the two, known together as The Funkadactyls would officially split in July.[157]

Paige after winning the Divas Championship on her main roster debut in April 2014

In July 2013, the first season of the Total Divas reality television show starring WWE Divas premiered.[146] On the August 21 episode of NXT, Bayley challenged AJ Lee for the WWE Divas Championship, which AJ won, making Bayley the first NXT Diva to wrestle for the championship.[147] On the August 26 episode of Raw, AJ Lee cut a worked shoot promo on the cast of Total Divas, stemming again but partially from the controversial issue of what makes a "true" WWE Diva and the theme of the show leading towards a feud between AJ and the cast.[148] In December, during the Slammy Awards show, The Bella Twins went on to win the slammy for "Diva of the Year".[149] On January 8, 2014, Kaitlyn decided to depart from WWE to pursue other endeavors, losing to her former best friend and tag team partner, AJ.[150] In mid–January, AJ Lee became the longest reigning Divas Champion in history, surpassing Maryse's previous record of 216 days.[151] On the March 12 episode of Main Event, Lee successfully defended the Divas Championship against Natalya, in a match that lasted fourteen minutes – the longest women's championship match in WWE since 1987.[152] On the March 24 episode of Raw, it was announced by Vickie Guerrero that Lee would defend her Divas Championship against the entire Divas roster at WrestleMania XXX, making it the first time the title would be defended at WrestleMania.[153]

Record tying three-time Divas Champion AJ Lee – who was also the longest-reigning champion in the title's history in her first reign

On January 14, 2013, at the Raw 20th anniversary special, Kaitlyn defeated Eve Torres to win the Divas Championship and became the first NXT winner to win a championship.[141] Eve departed with the company later that night after her contract expired.[142] The Bella Twins returned to WWE on the March 11 episode of Raw, after a one year absence.[143] After Kaitlyn lost the Divas Championship to AJ Lee at Payback[144] the two participated in the first–ever in–ring Divas Championship contract signing for their rematch at Money in the Bank.[145]

Total Divas (2013–2015)

At the Royal Rumble pay-per-view, Kharma returned to the WWE and competed in the Royal Rumble match, becoming the third woman in WWE history to compete in this match.[123] Layla returned to WWE from her injury on April 29, at Extreme Rules, winning the Divas Championship from Nikki Bella.[124] The Bella Twins were "fired" by Eve Torres, in a storyline, after their contracts expired.[125][126] Wendi Richter made a cameo appearance on the June 18 episode of Raw.[127] In July, Kharma was released from WWE.[128] On July 9, AJ Lee, who teamed with CM Punk, and Eve Torres, who teamed with Daniel Bryan, became the first Divas to main event Raw since Trish Stratus and Lita in 2004.[129] On July 23, at the 1000th episode of Raw, Trish Stratus and Lita made cameo appearances and AJ Lee became the new General Manager of Raw.[130] On September 16, Eve Torres defeated Layla to win the Divas Championship for the record-setting third time.[131] On September 28, Kelly Kelly was released from her WWE contract due to her absence from the company.[132] On October 29, Beth Phoenix left WWE after her contract expired.[133] Throughout the year, AJ Lee continued to take major part in storylines with wrestlers such as CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Kane, John Cena and Dolph Ziggler.[134][135][136][137][138][139][140]

Beth Phoenix and Eve Torres posing before their match against Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounos at WrestleMania XXVIII

On January 30, 2011, at the Royal Rumble, Kelly Kelly started a storlyline with Vickie Guerrero — the then SmackDown General Manager[110] which led to a three–on–two handicap match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, with Kelly and Edge facing LayCool and Dolph Ziggler, where Kelly scored the pinfall, but was "fired" by Guerrero afterwards.[111] At Elimination Chamber, Kelly was re–hired by SmackDown General Manager Teddy Long and Trish Stratus announced she'd be one of the trainers for the newly relaunched Tough Enough reality series.[112] Kharma debúted in April, at Extreme Rules, attacking Michelle McCool, who lost to Layla in a Loser Leaves WWE match, leaving the WWE in the process.[113] On May 23, Kharma announced she was granted a maternity leave due to her real life pregnancy.[114][115] Melina was released in early August[116] and Gail Kim resigned, due to frustration with WWE's lack of focus on their women's division; she was officially released on September 30.[117][118] Maryse was released from her contract on October 28.[119] After retiring in September 2009, Lilian Garcia returned to WWE on December 5, making her the last remnant of the previous generation of Divas, alongside the new generation.[120] Lita returned at the Slammy Awards show in December as an award presenter.[121][122]

On September 19, at the Night of Champions event, the Divas and Women's championships were unified when Melina (Divas) faced Michelle McCool (co–Women's Champion) in a Lumberjill match. McCool won the match, defuncting the Women's Championship after 54 years, and making her tag team partnerLayla, the last recognized WWE Women's Champion.[104] On November 30, Kaitlyn won the third season of NXT.[105] In December, at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, Beth Phoenix and Natalya defeated LayCool in the first ever "Divas tables match"[106][107] and WWE signed world–renowned wrestler, Kharma, formerly known by her ring name's Amazing/Awesome Kong.[108][109]

In early 2010, a tournament was held for the newly vacated Divas Championship, because of Melina's knee injury,[99] with the finals taking place on the February 22 episode of Raw, where Maryse defeated Gail Kim to win the Divas Championship for a second time.[100] Beth Phoenix made history at the Royal Rumble event by becoming the second woman to compete in the Royal Rumble match, but she was shortly eliminated by CM Punk.[101] On the April 12 episode of Raw, Eve Torres won the Divas Championship by defeating Maryse and became the first WWE Diva Search winner to win the championship.[102] Mickie James was released from WWE on April 22.[103]

Maryse, second champion and first two times Divas Champion

On March 27, 2009, Gail Kim made her surprise return to the WWE after six years, attacking Michelle McCool and Maryse.[90] At Wrestlemania 25, former Divas Sunny, Victoria, Molly Holly, Torrie Wilson, Miss Jackie, and Joy Giovanni returned to WWE for a one night special appearance in the first and only "Miss WrestleMania" 25 Divas Battle royal match to crown Miss Wrestlemania, which was won by Santino Marella's drag persona.[91][92] During the 2009 WWE Draft, Melina, the then WWE Women's Champion, was drafted to the SmackDown brand, making the Women's Championship exclusive to SmackDown. Later that same night, Maryse, the then WWE Divas Champion was drafted to the Raw brand, making the championship exclusive to Raw, effectively switching both female champions and championships between brands for the first time in history.[93] On June 28, at The Bash, Michelle McCool defeated Melina to win the Women's Championship for the first time in her career, becoming the first woman to have held both the Women's and Divas championships.[94] Mickie James became the second woman to have won the two titles, after defeating Maryse at Night Of Champions, on July 26, ending her reign at 216 days, which became the longest.[95] James dropped the championship to Jillian Hall, on October 12,[96] who lost the title to Melina four minutes later, making Hall's reign the shortest in the Divas title's history.[97][98]

On the June 6, 2008 episode of SmackDown, then SmackDown General Manager Vickie Guerrero announced the creation of WWE Divas Championship, a title exclusive to the Divas on the roster.[85] Natalya and Michelle McCool[86] became the first two contenders for the new championship, and, on July 20, at the The Great American Bash, McCool defeated Natalya to become the inaugural champion.[87] On August 17, at SummerSlam, Beth Phoenix and Santino Marella defeated Mickie James and Kofi Kingston in a "Winner Takes All Intergender tag team match", in which Phoenix won the Women's Championship and Marella won the Intercontinental Championship.[88] On November 23, at the Survivor Series pay–per–view, Divas competed in the first ever "Raw vs. Smackdown" five–on–five Divas elimination match, which was won by the Raw Divas. [89]

Divas Championship and unification (2008–2012)

On the March 5, 2007 edition of Raw, Mickie James and Melina competed in the first falls count anywhere match to be contested between Divas. It was also the first time that the Women's Championship was contested in this type of match. At Vengeance: Night of Champions in 2007, Candice Michelle became the first woman from the WWE Diva Search contest to become the WWE Women's Champion.[83] In December 2007, Trish Stratus, Lita, Molly Holly, and Sunny returned to WWE for a one night special appearance on an episode of Raw due to the show's 15-year anniversary.[84] At One Night Stand 2008, Beth Phoenix and Melina competed in the first "I Quit" Match to be contested between Divas.

In mid-2006, Lita retired at Survivor Series. Jazz returned to WWE due to the relaunch of the ECW brand, though her second run was short lived. Torrie Wilson retired in mid-2008 due to back problems and Victoria left in January 2009 after a nine-year career with WWE; she subsequently signed a contract with rival Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) in April 2009 as a Knockout under the ring name Tara. In November 2008, however, Gail Kim returned to WWE after working for TNA as a Knockout.[82] Lilian Garcia, the promotion's long-time ring announcer, retired in September 2009 when she made her final WWE appearance on the September 21 edition of WWE Raw.

Layla made her first "official" WWE appearance at the 2006 SummerSlam pay-per-view in a backstage segment with several other divas as a form of initiation.[78][79] The week after SummerSlam, she made her debut as a member of the SmackDown! brand in a in-ring segment with Mike "The Miz" Mizanin although he did not allow her the chance to say much, spending most of the time talking about himself.[80] Subsequently, she did not appear on WWE television for almost a month, reappearing on the September 22 episode of SmackDown! and getting into a confrontation with both Kristal and Jillian Hall.[81]

Stratus celebrating after wrestling her final match

The climax of the storyline lead to James and Stratus wrestling each other at WrestleMania 22 for the Women's Championship, where James won the match, and became the new champion.[72] Her angle with Stratus continued into Backlash during a rematch after Stratus legitimately dislocated her shoulder when James threw her out of the ring.[73][74] Beth Phoenix then debuted on the May 8, 2006 episode of Raw as a fan favorite by attacking Mickie James while James was assaulting Trish Stratus. After this incident, James berated Phoenix for "ruining everything" and questioned why she even showed up in the first place.[75][76] A week later, Phoenix was formally introduced by Stratus and then attacked a distracted James on Stratus's behalf. When James finally escaped, Phoenix claimed that James had ruined her life and would not let her get away with it, before calling her a "psycho".[77]

Mickie James debuted in WWE on the October 10, 2005 episode of Raw, under her real name, as an obsessed fan of Trish Stratus.[60][61][62] The storyline had James and Stratus competing together in tag team matches, with James' character becoming increasingly infatuated with Stratus.[63][64][65] This would lead to various angles including a Halloween Costume Contest in which James was dressed like Stratus and helped Stratus retain the Women's Championship in a Fulfill Your Fantasy Battle Royal at Taboo Tuesday by eliminating herself and Victoria at the same time to even utilizing Stratus' signature finishing moves as her own during matches.[60][66][67][68][69] Subsequently, the storyline between Mickie and Trish also developed into a lesbian angle after Mickie had a kiss with Trish under a sprig of mistletoe. In the championship match at the pay-per-view, James lost to Stratus but continued to be enamored of her the next night on Raw, and she confessed her love for Stratus at the Royal Rumble.[68][70] On March 6, 2006, the storyline had Stratus confronting James, telling her that they needed time apart from each other.[60][68][71]

Melina made her debut part of the tag team trio as MNM in WWE on the April 14, 2005, episode of SmackDown!.[56] While managing the Tag Team Champions, Melina's character was developed to be more egotistical as she declared herself "the most-dominant Diva in WWE".[35] She made her official WWE in-ring debut on June 30 against Michelle McCool and had her first pay-per-view match against Torrie Wilson at The Great American Bash, winning both matches.[57][58] Trish Stratus returned from a legitimate injury to help Ashley Massaro against Candice Michelle, Torrie Wilson, and Victoria who Massaro was feuding at that time.[59]

Melina as MNM manager in 2006

Lita and Stratus faced each other again at the New Years Revolution 2005 pay-per-view event, in which Lita suffered another injury by tearing her ACL, however kept herself visible in Christy Hemme's feud with Trish Stratus before transitioning into Edge's valet. Sensational Sherri made a cameo appearance on the March 25, 2005 episode of SmackDown! in Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle's feud, where Sherri and Angle sang a parody of Michaels' entrance theme.[7] Molly Holly departed mutually from the company in April 2005,[53] and Jackie Gayda and Dawn Marie departed from the company entering July 2005 as part of talent releases.[54] Later on, Ivory also departed mutually from the company towards the end of July.[55]

Beginning in 2002, WWE began hiring new Divas and assigned them to their development territories to train and wait to be called up to the main roster. These new Divas were recruited from the independent circuit and modeling agencies including previously the Diva Search. In 2003, Gail Kim became the first woman with a Korean background to win the Women's Championship. Also, Jacqueline held the WWE Cruiserweight Championship briefly in 2004. WWE then introduced the Diva Search, in which Christy Hemme became the inaugural winner. Within mid-to-late 2004, Terri Runnels, Jacqueline, Sable, Gail Kim, Nidia, and Jazz all departed from the company mutually or due to budget cuts.[49][50][51][52] In December 2004, Lita and Trish Stratus main evented Raw for the Women's Championship, making it the 3rd time in history for Divas to main event one of WWE's main shows.

Christy Hemme inaugural Diva Search winner in 2002

Sable returned to World Wrestling Entertainment on the April 3, 2003 episode of SmackDown! for the first time since controversially departing from the company in late 1999. Sable continued to be a heel (villain) and spent several months in a storyline with new Playboy covergirl Torrie Wilson. Numerous Divas competed in contests ranging from "Pillow Fights" and "Bra and Panties" match-ups to "Bikini Contests", which were based more on the sexual appeal of the women involved. Meanwhile, Trish Stratus, Lita, Jazz, Gail Kim, Molly Holly, Jacqueline, Ivory and Victoria competed for the WWE Women's Title in match-ups previously contested only by men, such as; street fights, hardcore matches, and the first Women's steel cage match.[48] Molly Holly (competing as Mighty Molly), Trish Stratus, and Terri also held the Hardcore Championship briefly.

Sable in 2003

On May 5, 2002, the WWF officially changed its name to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Over the next few years, WWE hired more Divas than ever before, including female winners of the reality television show WWE Tough Enough (Nidia in 2001, Linda Miles and Jackie Gayda in 2002), which featured contestants aspiring to be professional wrestlers.

Much of entering the year of 2002 saw Trish Stratus continuing her feud with Jazz over the Women's Championship, where she was retained the championship at the Royal Rumble but lost the championship to her two weeks later on the February 4, 2002 episode of Raw.[45][46][47] In April 2002, Lita suffered a neck injury and was the first Diva to have neck fusion surgery.[31] She was out of action for almost a year and a half.[31] As she rehabilitated, she kept herself visible by co-hosting Sunday Night Heat on MTV.[35]

Golden Era (2002–2008)

Finally, 2001 saw the WWF's purchase of its chief competitors, World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), and the consequent entry of former WCW and ECW female talent, such as Stacy Keibler, Torrie Wilson, and Jazz, into the WWF. Also later in the year, Chyna left the WWF due to real-life issues between herself, Triple H, and Stephanie McMahon.[41] In the autumn of 2001, Stratus was trained by Fit Finlay, who was the road agent responsible for the women's matches, and drastically improved her in-ring ability. She worked her way up to the top of the division and eventually won the Women's Championship at Survivor Series. Stratus would then enter in a prominent feud with Jazz who debuted at Survivor Series[34][42][43][44]

In early 2001, Stratus became involved in a storyline with WWF Chairman Vince McMahon, the premise of the storyline would be when McMahon's wife Linda was kayfabe institutionalized following a demand Vince had made for a divorce during an episode of SmackDown! on December 7, 2000.[33] Vince and Stratus' relationship increasingly angered the boss' daughter, then-heel, Stephanie McMahon.[34][35] At No Way Out on February 25, Stratus and Stephanie squared off, with Stephanie scoring the victory after interference by William Regal.[36] Later on it was revealed that Stratus was the victim of a set-up by Vince, Stephanie and Regal.[37] The angle continued the next week on Raw with Vince forcing Stratus to strip down to her black underwear in the ring and bark like a dog.[38] The storyline came to an end at WrestleMania X-Seven when Stratus slapped Vince during his match against his son Shane McMahon,[34] becoming a fan favorite in the process.[39][40]

During 2000, the Women's Championship was defended in the main event on two occasions; on the March 30 episode of SmackDown! ,defending champion Jacqueline wrestled Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley; on the August 21 episode of Raw Is War, defending champion Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley wrestled Lita.

In February 2000, Lita debuted; she performed higher-risk moves than the Divas before her, such as moonsaults and diving hurricanranas.[31] Shortly thereafter, Trish Stratus made her debut. Stratus started off as a valet who brought pure sexuality to the ring. Also, later that year, Molly Holly was added to the roster. She was a contrast to most of the other Divas because she was given a more wholesome gimmick and more modest ring attire.[32]

Sable became the first WWF female talent to refer to herself as a "Diva" during the April 19 edpisode of Raw Is War in 1999; the term shortly thereafter became the official title for WWF's female performers. In February 1999, the WWF also debuted another veteran female wrestler, Ivory. In August 1999, Lilian Garcia joined the promotion as the 2nd official female ring announcer. The September 6 edition of Raw saw the first Hardcore match contested for the Women's Championship. The match was between Ivory and Tori. The Fabulous Moolah returned to the WWF along with Mae Young the following week on the September 9, 1999 episode of SmackDown!, Jeff Jarrett invited Moolah, into the ring and smashed a guitar over her head.[29] Moolah and Young then started taking part in various storylines and angles including comedic roles. Moolah returned to the ring teaming with Mae Young on the September 27, 1999 edition of Monday Night Raw, defeating Ivory who was the Women's Champion in a Handicapped Evening Gown match, which led to a title match at No Mercy on October 17, 1999. The match saw 76-year-old Moolah defeat Ivory to win the WWF Women's Championship, thus becoming the oldest WWF Women's Champion ever, though she lost the title to Ivory eight days later.[30][1]

Chyna debuted at WWF as a masculine-woman version wrestling male competitors

Sable's eclipsed popularity and her feud with Marc Mero and his new manager, Jacqueline[24] lead to the reinstatement of the WWF Women's Championship as well as the promotion's hiring of more female wrestlers. Sable's popularity led to a shift in the role of women in the WWF, as the promotion began to rely less on its female performers as simply eye candy and placed a greater emphasis on female athletes who actually competed in matches. She was one of the first females to compete in such specialty matches as evening gown matches, inter-gender tag team matches, and strap matches, competed in the first-ever WWF bikini contest against Jacqueline, and was also the first female talent to be a Playboy cover girl. Unlike Jacqueline, Ivory, Tori, and Luna Vachon, the more physical and experienced wrestlers at the time, Sable later admitted that it was written in her contract that she was not allowed to take bumps.[28]

In 1998, Debra debuted and shortly thereafter was featured in a Raw Magazine spread. At the beginning of her WWF career, she played the part of a shrewd businesswoman, wearing business suits.[25] and Jeff Jarrett's girlfriend.[26] Debra, however, began utilizing a new strategy during Jarrett's matches, distracting his opponents by unbuttoning her blouse.[25][26] She would willingly take off her blouse to show the crowd her "puppies", a nickname originally bestowed upon her chest by wrestler Road Dogg and later utilized by commentator Jerry Lawler.[27]

Debra as the Women's Champion in May 1999

Attitude Era (1998–2001)

Between 1996 and 1997, Marlena, Sable, and Chyna joined Sunny as prominent female on-air talent in the promotion. Marlena and Sable were just as sexualized as Sunny, with Marlena suggestively smoking cigars at ringside during matches and Sable coming to the ring in form-fitting leather catsuits. Marlena was the manager of Goldust, her then real-life husband,[23] and Sable was manager for her then real-life husband, Marc Mero. Sable, however, quickly eclipsed her husband in popularity[24] Chyna was offered as an antithesis to the rest of the Divas, a masculine bodybuilder whose sexual identity was the subject of early storylines. Sunny, Sable, and Marlena were further marketed as sex symbols through WWF's Raw Magazine, which featured monthly spreads of the women in suggestive poses either semi-nude or wearing provocative clothing. Luna Vachon would return towards the end of 1997 as the manager of Goldust.

Sunny (Tammy Sytch) debuted in 1995 as the manager of The Bodydonnas. Sunny's character was at first a continuation of the female manager that had been popular throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. Over time, the character was significantly sexualized, whereas prior female managers, such as Miss Elizabeth, were depicted as being involved in either platonic or romantic storylines.

After the tournament, Miceli asked WWF management to bring in new women for her to wrestle.[13] Former champion Leilani Kai briefly returned to the company at Wrestlemania X facing Blayze for the Women's title.[16] In mid-1994, Bull Nakano joined the WWF roster and began feuding with Miceli, who was also feuding with Luna Vachon. Blayze defeated Nakano at SummerSlam, but lost the belt to her on November 20, 1994 in Japan at the Big Egg Wrestling Universe event.[17] Five months later on April 3, 1995, Blayze regained the title from Nakano on an edition of Monday Night Raw.[18] As part of the storyline, immediately following the win, she was attacked by Bertha Faye, who broke her nose.[19] In reality, the storyline was written so Miceli could take time off to get breast implants and a nose job.[19] She returned to the ring in August 1995, losing the Women's Championship to Faye at SummerSlam on August 27.[18] Two months later, she won the title a third time, defeating Faye on October 23.[20] Later on as part of a short talent exchange with All Japan Women's Pro Wrestling, various Japanese female wrestlers including Aja Kong debuted leading to the second elimination match at the Survivor Series 1995 event.[21] In December, due to financial troubles the WWF was having at the time,[22] Blayze was released from her contract and was stripped of the title following her jump to rival company World Championship Wrestling (WCW), and the WWF Women's Championship remained vacant until 1998.[20]

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