- WWE Diva
For list of current WWE Divas, see List of WWE personnel.
Diva is a term used by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), an American professional wrestling promotion, to refer to its female talent. The term is applied to women who appear as wrestlers, managers or valets, backstage interviewers, or ring announcers.
- 1 History
- 2 Diva Search (2003–2007)
- 3 Promotion
- 4 Championships and accomplishments
- 5 See also
- 6 Notes
- 7 External links
Sunny, who debuted in WWE (then known as the World Wrestling Federation, or WWF) in 1995 as the manager of The Bodydonnas (a bodybuilder-themed tag team) and went on to manage several other tag teams and singles wrestlers, has claimed to have been the "Original Diva", although this is widely disputed. 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. Despite Sunny's reinvention of the female role within the company, the term "Diva" was not used to denote females working for the WWF until long after she was released in 1998.
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. 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. In 1998, Debra debuted and shortly thereafter was featured in a Raw Magazine spread in which she shed a series of business suits to reveal lingerie.
Marlena was the manager of Goldust, her then real-life husband, and Sable was manager for her then real-life husband, Marc Mero. Sable, however, quickly eclipsed her husband in popularity, leading to the reinstatement of the WWF Women's Championship as well as the promotion's hiring of more female wrestlers. Sable became the first WWF female to refer to herself as a "Diva" during the April 19 edition of Raw in 1999; the term proved popular and shortly thereafter became the official title for WWF's female performers, be they managers or wrestlers. In February 1999, the WWF also debuted another veteran female wrestler, Ivory.
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 wrestler to be a Playboy cover girl. Unlike Jacqueline, Ivory, Tori, and Luna, the more physical Divas and experienced wrestlers at the time, Sable later admitted that it was written in her contract that she was not allowed to take bumps.
Her success also indirectly led to a push in popularity for Chyna. Her masculine features were de-emphasized and her clothing became more provocative. She was put into competition against male opponents, going on to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship two times. Chyna's popularity quickly grew to match that of Sable's, culminating in Chyna being featured as the centerfold in an issue of Playboy magazine.
February 2000 saw the debut of Lita, who performed higher-risk moves than the Divas before her, such as moonsaults and diving hurricanranas. Her popularity encouraged a higher standard of athletic competition within the WWF Women's Division, while still retaining the sexual element.
The March 30, 2000 edition of SmackDown featured the first Divas match in WWF history to be the main event of any WWF show, a WWF Women's Championship match between defending champion Jacqueline and Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley. The August 21 edition of Raw featured the first match in WWF history to be Raw's main event, a WWF Women's Championship match between defending champion Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley and Lita.
Shortly after Lita's arrival, Trish Stratus made her debut. Stratus started off as a valet who brought pure sexuality to the ring. Also later that year, Molly Holly made her debut. She was a contrast to most of the other Divas because she was given a more wholesome gimmick and more modest ring attire.
In the autumn of 2001, Stratus was trained by Fit Finlay, who was the road agent responsible for the women's matches, and 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. Also that year, Chyna left the WWF due to real-life issues between herself, Triple H, and Stephanie McMahon. Finally, 2001 saw the WWF's purchase of its chief competitor, World Championship Wrestling (WCW), and the consequent entry of former WCW female talent, such as Stacy Keibler and Torrie Wilson, into the WWF. In April 2002, Lita suffered a neck injury and was the first Diva to have neck fusion surgery. She was out of action for almost a year and a half.
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, which featured contestants aspiring to be professional wrestlers. 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 ever Women's steel cage match. Molly Holly (competing as Mighty Molly), Trish Stratus, and Terri also held the Hardcore Championship briefly.
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 model agencies, the independent circuit, and 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.
Also during this period, new Divas such as Beth Phoenix, Mickie James, Jillian Hall, Michelle McCool, Melina, and Candice Michelle made their debuts as more of the previous generation of Divas slowly departed the promotion.
In mid-2006, Stacy Keibler left WWE to pursue an acting career, Trish Stratus retired at Unforgiven, and Lita retired at Survivor Series. 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 TNA Knockout under the ring name Tara. 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. In November 2008, however, Gail Kim returned to WWE after working for TNA as a Knockout.
The division continued to grow as the Divas began to compete in different types of matches. 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 women from theWWE Diva Search to become a The WWE Women's Champion, Let alone a WWE Champion(WWE Womens Championship or WWE Divas Championship), Paving a path for Divas like Michelle McCool and Layla. At One Night Stand 2008, Beth Phoenix and Melina competed in the first "I Quit" Match to be contested between Divas. At Extreme Rules Michelle McCool and Beth Phoenix competed in an Extreme Makeover Match for the Women's Championship.
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. On the June 6, 2008 edition of SmackDown, the then SmackDown General Manager Vickie Guerrero announced the creation of WWE Divas Championship, a SmackDown Diva exclusive title. Natalya and Michelle McCool became the first two contenders for the new championship, and, at The Great American Bash, McCool defeated Natalya to become the inaugural champion. At Wrestlemania 25, former WWE Divas Sunny, Victoria, Molly Holly, Torrie Wilson, Miss Jackie, and Joy Giovanni returned to WWE for a one night special appearance in the 25 Divas Battle Royal match to crown Miss Wrestlemania. During the 2009 WWE Draft, then Women's Champion Melina was drafted to the SmackDown brand, making the Women's title exclusive to SmackDown. Later that same night, then Divas Champion Maryse was drafted to the Raw brand, making the Divas title exclusive to Raw, effectively switching both female champions and championships between brands for the first time in history. At The Bash in 2009, Michelle McCool defeated Melina to capture the Women's title, and became the first Diva to have ever held both the Women's Championship and the Divas Championship.
At the 2010 Royal Rumble event, Beth Phoenix competed in the Royal Rumble match, making her one of only two women to have competed in that particular match, the other being Chyna. On the April 12, 2010 episode of Raw, Eve Torres won the WWE Divas Championship by defeating Maryse thus becoming the first WWE Diva Search winner to win the Divas Championship. Mickie James was released from WWE on April 22nd, causing a lot of controversy. Her final match in WWE was a tag team bout, teaming with Beth Phoenix against LayCool on Smackdown. She was later signed to rival promotion Total Nonstop Action Wrestling on September 22, 2010. On the May 14, 2010 episode of SmackDown, Layla won the WWE Women's Championship by defeating Beth Phoenix in a two on one Handicap match with Michelle McCool. At WWE Fatal 4 Way, Alicia Fox became the first African-American and the youngest Divas Champion.
At Night of Champions 2010, the WWE Divas Championship was unified with the WWE Women's Championship as then-WWE Divas Champion Melina faced then-self professed co-WWE Women's Champion Michelle McCool in a Lumberjill Match. McCool won the match to unify the two titles due to interference from Layla, thus creating the WWE Unified Divas Championship following the lineage and history of the Divas Championship. This also made the WWE Women's Championship defunct after 54 years, which made Layla the final title holder. At TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, Natalya and Beth Phoenix defeated Team LayCool (Michelle McCool and Layla) in the first ever Diva tag team Table match.
Despite not being what WWE typically views as a WWE Diva; on August 31st, WWE signed 6'9 female wrestler Isis the Amazon who was set to compete under the ring name Aloisia. She appeared on the 3rd season of NXT but would then be released 2 weeks later, due to the company allegedly finding adult photos, and was replaced by Kaitlyn on the show. In late December 2010, WWE signed world renowned wrestler, Kharma, formerly known as Amazing/Awesome Kong. The company proceeded to air disturbing video packages of her flicking off heads of female dolls and laughing maniacally building towards her tentative arrival. She debuted at the 2011 Extreme Rules PPV event attacking Michelle McCool and making a huge impact through the course of a couple weeks on RAW and Smackdown. She was later granted a maternity leave due to real life pregnancy.  Michelle McCool would then leave WWE in April 2011 after competing against Layla at the 2011 Extreme Rules PPV event in a Loser Leaves WWE match due to wanting to retire. Melina was also released in early August. Gail Kim resigned from the WWE on August 5th, 2011 due to frustration with WWE's lack of focus on the women's division. She would officially be released, for the 2nd time, on September 30, 2011, leaving behind a brand new generation of WWE Divas.
In late Summer 2011, the controversial issue of what makes a "true" WWE Diva was largely disputed, stemming from an article posted on WWE.com and the high-profile feud between Kelly Kelly and the Divas of Doom; Beth Phoenix and Natalya. 
Diva Search (2003–2007)Main article: WWE Diva Search
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 in WWE. The winner of the competition received a one year contract worth $100,000. Previously the contract was worth $250,000.
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.
The WWE Divas normally go on an annual photoshoot every year, usually to a different location each time. The photoshoot is followed by a magazine featuring photos from the shoot as well as a television special or video release of highlights from the shoot.
Since 1999, seven WWE Divas have appeared on the cover of Playboy:
- 1999: Sable
- 2000: Chyna
- 2003: Torrie Wilson
- 2004: Torrie Wilson and Sable
- 2005: Christy Hemme
- 2006: Candice Michelle
- 2007: Ashley
- 2008: Maria
It has become a WWE tradition for any Diva who appears on the front cover of Playboy to have a match at WrestleMania. Commonly, these matches would have the term 'Playboy' included in its name. For example, at WrestleMania XX in 2004, Torrie Wilson and Sable competed as a 'Playboy' tag team against Stacy Keibler and Miss Jackie. At WrestleMania 22, Torrie Wilson and Candice Michelle competed in a Playboy Pillow Fight. This tradition has since been discontinued after WWE made its content TV-PG in 2008; with Maria being the final diva to pose for the magazine. Former ECW general manager Tiffany posed for the magazine, but this was before she joined the WWE. Maryse Ouellet has also appeared in Playboy before her tenure in WWE.
Actual Playboy playmates, such as Carmella Decesare and Karen McDougal have also appeared in Diva Search in 2004. Some former and current Divas such as Trish Stratus, Lita, Debra, Sharmell, Stacy Keibler, Michelle McCool, and Melina have indicated that posing for Playboy magazine is out of the question for them. Trish Stratus has 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." Trish Stratus also claims that she refused the shoot because she says she can still be sexy without taking her clothes off. 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. Stacy Keibler refused to pose as she believes it would be better if she "left something for the imagination."
Sunny claimed to have refused an offer by Playboy to pose for the magazine. Sable later claimed, however, that Playboy had actually never approached Sunny, and that Sunny had fabricated the whole story. However, Sunny was not the first to report that she had turned down an offer.Now Playboy was replaced by Maxim and Kelly Kelly posed for the cover.
In 2007, Ashley, Torrie Wilson, Maryse, Brooke, Layla, and Kelly Kelly shot a video for music producer and rapper Timbaland. 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. Later the same year, Mickie James appeared on the USA Network show Psych, playing a roller derby girl.
Championships and accomplishments
ChampionshipsSee also: List of current champions in WWE
Championship Current champion Date won Location Previous champion Dual-branded Divas Championship Beth Phoenix October 2, 2011 Hell in a Cell (2011) Kelly Kelly
Former championshipsSee also: List of former championships in WWE
Championship Last champion Date won Location Previous champion First champion Women's Championship Layla May 11, 2010 WWE Smackdown Beth Phoenix The Fabulous Moolah Women's Tag Team Championship Leilani Kai and Judy Martin June 8, 1988 Omiya, Japan Noriyo Tateno and Itsuki Yamazaki Velvet McIntyre and Princess Victoria
Hall of Famers
Legend Date Fabulous Moolah 1995 Sensational Sherri 2006 Mae Young 2008 Wendi Richter 2010 Sunny 2011
Rookie Diva Date won Kaitlyn November 30, 2010
Woman Of The Year Date Miss Elizabeth December 17, 1987 Best Buns Date Sunny March 30, 1996 Minds of the Mayhem for the Manager of Year Date Sunny March 30, 1996 Miss Slammy Date Sable March 21, 1997 Diva Of The Year Date Beth Phoenix December 8, 2008 Maria December 14, 2009 Michelle McCool December 13, 2010
Babe of the Year (2001–2004)
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. She also won the 'Diva Of The Decade' award for Raw's 10th anniversary special. Stacy Keibler ended Stratus's reign in 2005 and won the honor, receiving her own mini-site and a photoshoot for every month in the year, sometimes two. In 2008, WWE Magazine then declared Beth Phoenix as the 'Diva of the Year' which earned her a Slammy Award for that title.
Rookie Diva of the Year (2005)
The first and only Rookie Diva Of The Year contest was held at No Way Out in 2005, where former Diva 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 former Divas Torrie Wilson and Dawn Marie.
- Diva, traditional usage of the term
- TNA Knockout
- Nitro Girls
- Ring girl
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