A picture speaks a thousand words, they say. And it is a concept that the WWE is well-acquainted with.
So many iconic pictures associated with the company have stood the test of time and painted a popular narrative for the audience to perceive the WWE around. The image of Hulk Hogan bodyslamming Andre the Giant, Austin holding a toy gun to the head of a petrified Vince McMahon or Triple H and Undertaker standing toe to toe, silently staring down the WrestleMania sign...I could go on.
But as much as they lend perspective and help in creating a buzz around the product, pictures clicked at the wrong time, in the wrong place or with the wrong people can just as easily destroy the aura around WWE Superstars.
And it is something that the WWE has to be acutely aware of, especially when it comes to the Women's roster. The Women's Revolution is at a sensitive stage right now and the last thing that its protagonists need is negative publicity to curb their growth. Paige could attest to that.
Thankfully for the WWE though, there are as many pictures circulating the internet that depict their women in a positive slant as there are damning ones, leaving us to pick out 10 of them that the WWE absolutely want you to see and 10 that they rather wish you never did.
20 Does: Charlotte - Muscle and Fitness photo shoot
Charlotte Flair is the undisputed face of the Women’s Revolution in the WWE today, and with good reason.
She is a four-time Raw Women’s Champion, one-time Divas Champion, one-time NXT Women’s Champion, the first woman to main event a pay-per-view and the first woman to wrestle a match inside the Hell in the Cell steel structure.
Her ring work is nothing short of spectacular and her mic work is getting more believable by the day.
And she’s barely been in the industry for five years.
As such, it comes as no surprise that the WWE is only too happy for her to garner all the mainstream attention that she can with photo shoots like these. If you’re genetically superior, might as well showcase it to the world right?
19 Doesn't: Charlotte married to TNA Star Bram
Notice how the commentary team plugs NJPW as AJ Styles’ previous port of call before he shook up the foundations of the WWE, but glaringly omits to mention his years of service to TNA?
As bullish as Vince McMahon may be about TNA not qualifying as competition, he keeps betraying the fact that he just doesn’t like them.
Imagine what he would feel, then, if it comes to light that Charlotte Flair was married to Bram, an Impact Wrestling star who constantly had his troubles with the law, cheated on her with another woman and was also arrested for physically assaulting said woman.
Of course, what WWE Superstars do with their personal lives is of no concern to the establishment...but we bet Vince would much rather keep it hush-hush that the poster girl of his Women’s division was married to a TNA star in the first place.
18 Does: Nikki Bella grants her first Wish!
Being the fiancee of the franchise player in the WWE comes with certain benefits.
You’re assured of being in and around the title picture (well, mostly), you’re pretty much locked on to the upper echelons of the wrestler hierarchy and you may just end up getting proposed to in front of 75,000 raucous fans on the grandest stage of the year.
But it also comes with certain expectations, especially if your beau is John Cena. Apart from legitimately being one of the biggest stars in WWE history, what earmarks John Cena as a truly special person is how much he gives back to society, namely through the Make a Wish foundation.
It’s pretty well known by now that he holds the record for most number of wishes granted by any human walking this earth, and it fits right into the narrative that the WWE culture promotes amazing looking couples who are also upstanding Samaritans that give back to the community, when Nikki Bella follows in his footsteps.
17 Doesn't: Nikki in a relationship with Dolph Ziggler
Nikki Bella’s relationship with John Cena has been so overexposed, thanks largely to Total Bellas and the Miz’s innovative parody skits, that the couple has been entrenched as an inseparable entity in most fans’ minds.
For their part, the WWE is quite happy to run with it too because it makes for good PR. Let’s face it – he’s the man and she’s drop dead gorgeous.
But what they don’t want bandied about are pictures from the time she dated Dolph Ziggler, before she and Cena were an item.
Not that Ziggler isn’t one of their own, but when you’re dealing with a situation where John Cena/Nikki Bella gives Triple H/Stephanie McMahon a run for its money as the premier power couple in the WWE today, why would you want to rock the boat?
16 Does: Brie with Birdie Joe
The greatest pure babyface of our era has retirement forced upon him due to an accumulation of injuries and is shortly followed by his wife, Brie Bella, who willingly gives up on her wrestling dream so that she can finally start a family with him.
Is there anything not heart-warming about the way this narrative panned out?
Thankfully, the despair that descended upon the WWE Universe was dispelled when the beloved couple announced that they were expecting a child in the near future, and Birdie Joe was duly born on May 9th this year, gladdening the hearts of WWE fans over the world.
This motherly picture of Brie with her baby, cradled to her bosom, is a far cry from all the promiscuity and jazz that women in the WWE used to represent in eras past. And it’s something that the WWE would want circulated far and wide, as a testament to how conducive it is for their employees to be family-oriented people.
15 Doesn't: Brie and Nikki both courting Daniel Bryan
Before they branched out as singles competitors, the Bella twins were practically interchangeable on WWE television (remember twin magic?). And at a point in time, their interests also converged in men....well, at least on one man in particular.
Unbeknownst to everyone that one day Brie and him would be married, the Bella Twins were once vying between themselves for the on-screen attentions of a certain Daniel Bryan. While the storyline started off as a pretty straightforward, romantic angle between Brie and Bryan, it didn’t take long until Nikki got involved as well.
Of course, the WWE can always claim that it was a pretty harmless storyline that segued into Nikki’s heel turn eventually, but this picture really does make it seem like he was in the middle of a tug of war between the twins.
14 Does: Paige Becoming the Divas Champion in debut
Christened the ‘Anti-Diva’ it was widely expected that Paige would be front and center in leading the Women’s Revolution in the WWE.
Instead, a serious neck injury, affiliation with one of the most anti-WWE wrestlers today in Alberto Del Rio and the emergence of damning videos on the internet may have permanently waylaid her career with the company.
But it wasn’t always doom and gloom for the British bombshell.
In fact, the WWE was once so high on her that she won the Divas Championship from AJ Lee on her very first main roster appearance, becoming the youngest woman to win the the Title, the first to win it on her debut and the only woman to have held both the NXT Women’s Title and the Divas Championship simultaneously.
Her standing with the WWE may have been sullied to the point of no return today...but there is no doubt how they would want her to be remembered by the fans.
13 Doesn't: Paige's wild party life
Part of Paige’s allure is that she’s always been a bit of the wild type who disregards common sense. Now, that may involve engaging in intercourse with multiple co-workers, dating a man who is sixteen years her senior or just flat out being a party animal.
After all, this was the woman who licked Natalya on national television deliberately because she knew it gave her the jeepers.
Either way, we can concur that she’s a colourful-enough character with a compelling-enough story to have been made the subject of a biopic film by The Rock’s production house. Sometimes we forget that she’s still just 24.
And while there is no way to tell as of now if the WWE is invested in her future, we can be pretty sure that they would want us to forget this photograph of her kissing another girl in a party.
Not a chance this one shows up in the movie.
12 Does: Sasha's Match at NXT Takeover Brooklyn
It was the mother of all Women’s matches, and in many ways, the torchbearer for change in the WWE. It would also confirm, beyond doubt, the massive potential that the women’s roster held for the future.
When Sasha Banks and Bayley put on that instant match-of-the-year candidate at NXT Takeover:Brooklyn, their fellow Horsewomen were moved to come out and congratulate them publicly after its completion. Needless to say, the audience was absolutely lit.
It’s was a match that pretty much went on to fuel the rise of both women in the company.
Women’s wrestling had been called to arms, and these two had answered it emphatically. Now, if only Vince McMahon would let Sasha and Bayley replicate this feud on the main roster. Both seem to be in limbo right now.
11 Doesn't: Sasha with her husband, Sarath Ton
Rather than claim that the WWE wouldn’t want you to see this, it would make more sense to say that Sasha Banks would rather this picture of her with her husband Sarath Ton (or Kid Mikaze during his wrestling days), didn’t come to your attention.
Sasha has gone on record that she prefers keeping her marriage secret because fans have the nasty habit of hating on her husband who they think, for some reason, isn’t good enough for her.
She’s spoken about the torrents of abuse he gets on social media because of their marriage and said that it tickles her to think that these ‘fans’ who are complaining about her being off the market would have had a shot at marrying her in the first place.
Overall, not a very savoury situation at all.
10 Does: Nia Jax Instagram post for body positivity
Posting a picture of myself in a bathing suit is VERY hard for me. I have never been one to show off too much skin, and it's not just because I'm a larger woman. After this amazing #Wrestlemania weekend I had a chance to speak to a bunch of young women & men. Most, if not all of them, mentioned that my #BodyPositive mindset had helped them to be able to find confidence within themselves, which really touched me and even brought me to tears numerous times. Thankfully I have always had a family that has supported me and has always reminded me that my beauty comes from within, especially my mother. She constantly reminded me that "no matter how beautiful you are on the outside, if you're insides are ugly, that will be what everyone sees & feels." Don't get me wrong, there have been many occasions where I wished I could be thinner or have a different nose or hairline to fit in, but I realized that fitting in is not always as important as it seems; I realized that I love standing out in positive ways! • I love sending a message of self-confidence and getting to share that with people. Self-confidence also goes along with being healthy! I work out all the time, I eat healthy & try (emphasis on TRY) to get as much sleep as I can. There are obviously times where I love to pig out and enjoy myself, but I always make sure to never lose my focus on being healthy, because no matter what, your health is the number one most important thing in life. We aren't meant to look the same, but we are all meant to be healthy. We are all beautiful in different ways. Staying healthy adds to beauty. Even more importantly, it will increase your self-confidence. That's been my experience at least ?. #JaxJungle #NotLikeMost #PowerOfBeingYou
Nia Jax plays an imposing monster heel on WWE programming but we’re right smack in the middle of an era where everyone knows that the characterization is only relevant when the cameras are rolling.
Outside of the squared circle, however, Jax is a plus sized model and someone who has stood up repeatedly against body shaming. This Instagram picture, accompanied by an emotional and hard-hitting message, confirmed that.
Likely someone who has been affected by body discrimination in the past, Jax’s courageous message was both heart warming and affirming in equal measure to those who may be facing the same kind of issues in their lives.
Definitely good PR for the WWE on this one.
9 Doesn't: Nia Dancing with the heels
Although kayfabe isn’t quite what it used to be a few years back, the WWE still expects its employees to adhere to some measure of integrity in preserving their characters outside of television programming as well.
This capture from the video, however, of Nia Jax, Titus O’Neil, Miz, Maryse and Alexa Bliss dancing for the Tight Pants song doesn’t exactly fit in with those requirements. To compound matters, all these Superstars are also heels on WWE programming, especially Nia who’s being pushed as an unconquerable behemoth in the Women’s division.
As it turns out, though, it wasn’t as serious a transgression as we made it out to be given that the WWE themselves promoted the video on social media.
But you can be sure that the lingering image of Nia dancing isn’t what they want the fans to remember, when she’s pulverizing other women on Raw.
8 Does: Mickie James as TNA Knockouts Champion
The recently returned Mickie James provides a great deal of legitimacy to the SmackDown Live! women’s roster, if by nothing else, then at least through putting over young and upcoming talent.
After all, she is the first and only woman to win the WWE Women’s Championship, the WWE Diva’s Championship and the TNA Knockout’s Title.
Even though the WWE aren’t likely to plug this achievement on live television (because TNA, duh), they would secretly want everyone to know about it all the same. When she returned to WWE she was touted as a former WWE Women's Champion and it was well documented she had found success elsewhere.
Besides, who’s to say she wouldn’t end up winning the Women’s Championship in the future anyway?
Never say never, especially in the WWE right?
7 Doesn't: Mickie James with John Cena
The WWE doesn’t want you to see this picture of Mickie James getting cozy with John Cena for a number of reasons.
It reflects terribly on their biggest star, who just got engaged on live television in front of millions watching worldwide. It reminds everyone of the fact that Mickie broke up with poor Kenny Doane of the Spirit Squad to get with Cena, in the first place. And it also reminds everyone just how big a political maneuver Cena was behind the scenes, practically killing off Doane’s WWE career after stealing his girlfriend.
Oh, and it might also have you remember how Mickie James' initial WWE run was buried by the infamous Piggy James angle once he was done with her too. Or how about the fact that his affair with her came back to bit him in the ass, allegedly breaking up his marriage in the end?
Do you need any more reasons?
6 Does: New dancer gimmick For Lana
The WWE has always been big on recycling gimmicks.
For instance, John Cena is practically Hulk Hogan version 2.0. Limited move set, great charisma, incredible feats of strength and a penchant for putting for going over everyone else in the roster.
But it does beguile when rumors leak out that the WWE are attempting to have Lana follow in the footsteps of Eva Marie.
Apparently they feel that the I’m-too-hot-to-compete gimmick is a sure-shot way to get heat and want the Ravishing Russian to succeed where All Red Everything failed. They want all eyes to be strained on Lana’s new avatar, while they tease and goad the WWE Universe by witholding her from in-ring competition.
You have to admit though, the seductive dancing certainly helps.
5 Doesn't: Lana's Engagement picture with Rusev
This picture of Lana happily showcasing her engagement ring lying beside Handsome Rusev, sent shockwaves through the WWE Universe.
Not only were Rusev and Lana romantically involved in an on-screen angle with people other than each other at the time, causing the whole storyline to be scrapped (thank god), but it was also perceived as a direct challenge to the establishment.
As a result, Vince called upon The Rock to basically slut shame Lana on national television, while passing the whole situation off as the Great One just doing his thing.
It may have come across as a comedic segment to many viewers, but the WWE were no doubt extremely displeased that the picture had forced them to resort to drastic measures to get her back in line.
The less said about the whole episode, the better.
4 Does: Maryse vacationing with her husband Miz
Unlike many other couples in the WWE like John Cena and Nikki Bella, Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella, Dean Ambrose and Renee Young, Naomi and Jimmy Uso to name a few, the Miz and Maryse are also an on-screen couple.
They share screen space, work off each other fluidly and by now, have become an inextricable part of each other’s gimmick. The Miz is in the midst of his most impressive run in the WWE and Maryse has been pivotal in ensuring that his character shines through.
There is no disputing that they are the “It” couple in the company today and pictures like these that affirm the notion in real life, are definitely “must-see” according to the WWE.
After all, as the saying goes, there is a woman behind every successful man.
3 Doesn't: Maryse Doing commentary for Family Wrestling Entertainment
Despite becoming the first woman to hold the WWE Diva’s Championship twice, the first leg of Maryse’s WWE career soon petered out. After her main roster run, she was paired with Ted Dibiase in NXT for a bit but ended up parting ways with the company, late in 2011.
It was then that things begun to get interesting as she found work as a commentator at Family Wrestling Entertainment (FWE), an independent promotion.
It is well known by now the contempt that the Miz holds for the indies. It is obvious in the way he goads Daniel Bryan, during those heated exchanges on Talking Smack, to embrace the ‘bingo halls’ again in order to resuscitate his wrestling career.
Perhaps it stems from his resentment at always being given stick for not paying his dues or coming up the hard way in the industry, but the Miz doesn’t miss a chance to disparage Bryan’s infatuation with the independent circuit.
Given his stance on the Indies, however, one can imagine that it wouldn’t sit well with his character if this picture of his wife Maryse, commentating at FWE, was leaked out.
2 Does: Stephanie Leading the Be a Star campaign
A big part of the WWE’s expansion plans has been to change the public’s perception towards pro wrestling.
And they have succeeded, considering what was once viewed as a cesspool of drugs, alcohol and loose morality is now a publicly traded company, a global powerhouse in sports entertainment and a giant in mainstream media.
Offering backing and support to various campaigns like Be a Star, Connor’s Cure or the Susan G. Komen foundation has also been pivotal in bringing about this paradigm shift.
It definitely bodes well for the WWE’s future that the heir-apparent to Vince McMahon, his daughter Stephanie McMahon, is leading the charge on their social outreach front by spearheading these initiatives.
For instance, this picture of her promoting the Be a Star campaign is a telling advertisement that the WWE is indeed in good hands in the days to come. Definitely the kind of message that the company wants to be spreading to the world.
1 Doesn't: Kissing Kurt Angle
The story of Chyna’s tryst with the WWE and Triple H, especially, is a sad one. Cut from the company and dumped unceremoniously, only to realise that everyone else knew about his relationship with Stephanie McMahon other than her, Chyna’s life quickly spiralled out of control.
Even years later, when she campaigned extensively to be inducted in the Hall of Fame, the WWE still remained unmoved.
It taught all of us an important lesson that when it concerns Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, the WWE is extremely stringent about avoiding sticky situations. After all, the couple do have three little daughters to whom they’re answerable.
Well, we can safely concur then that this picture of Stephanie McMahon almost kissing Kurt Angle also belongs to the same category – it’s a skeleton that best remains locked in the closet.
Despite it being part of a storyline, it’s clearly not something that the WWE wants you to remember (perhaps explaining why there isn’t a single decent picture of it on the internet) and now more so than ever, given that it is only a matter of time before Kurt Angle’s path crosses with that of the Authority’s, on RAW.