From the mid 1980s and throughout most of the 1990s, the women’s division in the WWE was used very inconsistently, with the Women’s Title being retired on a couple of separate occasions. When the division permanently returned in the Attitude Era, women were used for years as a side show and, except for one period of a few years when women like Trish Stratus, Lita, Victoria and others helped bring women’s wrestling to prominence, that’s how the division remained until recently.
We’re now in the middle of what is being referred to as a “women’s revolution” in professional wrestling, as the term “Diva” has been retired in favor of referring to both male and female wrestlers in WWE as “Superstars.” It’s easy for fans of this new era to dismiss most of the company’s past female employees as speed bumps on the road to equality, but they’ve all been critical parts of the journey. While most Divas have been given forgetful gimmicks in past years, the majority of the female wrestling community has begun to create their own air of individuality. Many have come and gone, but let’s catch up with some of the more recent departures from WWE’s Divas division.
Second workout this month hahaha. I totally fell off the wagon for the first time in about 15 years. The good thing about muscle memory is that my body picks up right where it left off. For me and most of the people I surround myself with, the gym is a form of therapy and time for clarity (but also time for the gun show. Pwew pwew ???? (My attempt at finger guns via emoji)). Annyways, heading to #AFTERSHOCK in Sacramento today. Not my scene necessarily but I do dress like I like Metal…. Plus I'm a supportive wife ? Sports bra and #scrunch shorts by @celestialbodiez #celestialbodiez #scrunchbutt #bootyscrunch #scrunchqueen
Kaitlyn, whose real name is Celeste Bonin, joined WWE as a part of an all female season of NXT. At the time, NXT wasn’t the WWE Network monster it is today, instead being used as an elimination style competition which Kaitlyn won to become WWE’s “Breakout Diva.” She became quite popular during her time on WWE’s main roster, once teaming with her real life friend AJ Lee to form The Chickbusters and eventually wrestled against Lee, who had become her arch rival on screen, after she won her first and only Divas Championship.
While Kaitlyn was the quintessential WWE Diva, carrying her combination of strength and beauty with confidence, she quickly fell into the background as WWE stopped utilizing her following her program with AJ. Kaitlyn asked for her release from the company in 2014 and it was granted, but she’s remained active in the fitness industry. She opened her own fitness clothing line called Celestial Bodiez and owns a smoothie bar in Florida with her husband.
14. Veronica Lane
Chances are you’ve never heard of Veronica Lane. That would be perfectly understandable, because she only made a handful of appearances on camera for WWE’s developmental show NXT, where she was signed on to learn her craft in the ring. Though she wrestled a few matches, it seems WWE saw fit to use her in a ring announcer and backstage interviewer role and her in ring career never really panned out. As it turned out, her ring announcer gig didn’t fit either, because she was released from her NXT contract in 2014 as she looked to move on to other opportunities.
And Lane, now going by her real name, Erika Hammond, hasn’t slowed down. Upon leaving WWE, Hammond moved into the fitness world and regularly keeps fans updated through social media. One look at her Twitter and Facebook accounts shows how heavily involved she is, as she frequently posts workout videos and fitness tips.
13. Kendall Skye
In another case of a name you probably don’t remember, Kendall Skye was at one time a developmental Diva with NXT. However, she never got very far, mostly participating in non-televised six person tag team matches with the likes of Paige, Sasha Banks, Bayley and Charlotte. The leggy blonde only wrestled a few official matches before deciding to move on from WWE, reportedly after making slow progress in the growth of her wrestling skills. She was also used briefly as a ring announcer while sidelined with an injury.
As for her life after professional wrestling, Kendall Skye now uses her real name, which is Kendra Smith. Smith still keeps in touch with all of her fans by being very active on social media, especially Twitter. She has apparently taken up acting and has recently been busy promoting her upcoming appearance in a property show spoof series called Bajillion Dollar Properties.
12. Beth Phoenix
It’s been a few years since we last saw Beth Phoenix, but she remains in the hearts and minds of the WWE Universe. During perhaps the lowest point in WWE women’s wrestling, when the Divas were getting next to nothing in the way of time on television, Beth Phoenix was a beacon of hope. She was perhaps the most solid worker of her era, bringing the muscle and in ring talent expected of a professional wrestler, but also the striking beauty of a WWE Diva.
Phoenix wrestled her way to several Women’s and Divas Championships and played a massive role in moving what it meant to be a Diva closer to what it is in 2016. As one of the most popular female wrestlers of all time, she obviously still has a huge fan following and she stays in touch with them through Twitter. Today, she’s happily married to WWE Hall of Famer Adam “Edge” Copeland, with whom she has two children.
11. Raquel Diaz
As the daughter of Vickie Guerrero and the late WWE Hall of Famer Eddie Guerrero, Raquel Diaz had a family name that could take her far in the wrestling industry. Diaz, whose real name is Shaul Guerrero, served two stints under a developmental contract with WWE and during her first she won the Florida Championship Wrestling Divas Championship. Her second time around, this time with NXT, was less lucrative as she failed to ever make her television debut with the brand. When she was released from her contract in 2014, it was due to an ongoing eating disorder.
Guerrero entered rehabilitation for the disease upon leaving the company, but remained involved with the wrestling business, at least for a time. In January of 2016, Shaul was married to her fiancé, Matt Rehwoldt, a man otherwise known to current members of the WWE Universe as one half of The Vaudevillains, Aiden English. Last we heard, she was trying to veterinarian.
10. Sara Lee
In 2015, WWE announced they would be resurrecting their old reality show tournament, Tough Enough, in order to find the next WWE Superstar or Diva. Sara Lee was one of the winners of that contest, earning herself a developmental contract with the company and reporting to the WWE Performance Center for training. Sara showed promise, gaining a following thanks to her time on Tough Enough. She was athletic and had the right look, but unfortunately it never blossomed into a fully developed wrestling career.
In 2016, it was announced that WWE and Sara Lee had decided to part ways. The news took everyone by surprise, as Lee hadn’t been under contract very long and fans assumed she’d rubbed someone the wrong way or otherwise decided not to move forward with wrestling. However, soon after her release, she and real life boyfriend Cory Weston, known to WWE fans as Wesley Blake of NXT fame, announced they were expecting their first child. It would appear this is the reason for her sudden departure.
9. Brie Bella
Brie Bella is one of the most popular acts in the history of women’s wrestling, hands down. She and her twin sister Nikki have received a lot of criticism from hardcore women’s wrestling fans over the years for being the face of a Divas division that seemed determined to throw women under the bus as a side show, but it can never be denied that Brie and Nikki worked hard to learn their craft and can be credited as playing a major role in bringing about the women’s revolution in WWE.
Though Brie is technically still working for WWE via her roles on the reality shows Total Divas and Total Bellas, she retired from the ring in 2016 in order to start a family with her husband and fellow retired WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan. Indeed she has, as it was announced months later that the couple were expecting their first child together.
Former WWE Diva Cameron came into the company as a competitor on the 2011 version of the Tough Enough tournament to crown a new WWE Superstar. She later rose to fame alongside Naomi as the tandem known as The Funkadactyls, a dance crew for fellow WWE Superstar Brodus Clay. Eventually, Cameron and Naomi split and Cameron embarked upon a solo career that never really took off. She wound up in NXT before being released in 2016 after publicly supporting some controversial words spoken by the also soon to be released Ryback.
Having also spent some time on WWE’s reality show Total Divas, Cameron, also known as Ariane Andrew, did manage to rack up somewhat of a following. She still makes wrestling related appearances, released some music, is involved in the fight against bullying and has also been looking to get into acting. She remains very active on social media and stays in touch with her fans.
7. Devin Taylor
Of the more recently released women who only made it to NXT, Devin Taylor is one of the more well known among wrestling fans. Taylor was under contract with WWE for two years, serving as a backstage interviewer for some time on NXT television tapings while she trained to wrestle inside the ring. She never made the transition, however, and was eventually released in 2015. Her release was taped for a reality show on the WWE Network called Breaking Ground, which followed several aspiring WWE Superstars on their journey through NXT and the training process.
It was likely Breaking Ground that gave Devin Taylor her most exposure during her wrestling career and she has retained some of that following after her WWE exit. As evidenced by her frequent Instagram updates, Taylor, whose real name is Brittany Fetkin, stays in touch with some of her former WWE colleagues, even being invited to Lana and Rusev’s wedding. She’s also appeared on The Bachelor, though she was eliminated early.
6. Vickie Guerrero
— Vickie Guerrero (@VickieGuerrero) March 12, 2016
In the mid-2000s, WWE fans were introduced to Vickie, the soft-spoken, innocent and defenseless wife of the late, great WWE Hall of Famer Eddie Guerrero. That would not be the Vickie Guerrero fans would come to know, however. After Eddie’s passing, Vickie began being used in WWE storylines and the company quickly discovered she had a knack for inciting extremely negative crowd reactions. Vickie ran with it, adopting the infamous “excuse me” catch phrase that could make even the most jaded fan stand up and boo. Throughout her career she was usually an authority figure, being the general manager for both Raw and SmackDown at different times, but she also competed in the ring on a few occasions.
Vickie retired from WWE in 2014 and embarked upon a career in medical administration, something she still practices today. She was remarried in 2015 to a man named Kris Benson and made a return appearance on a 2016 episode of WWE Raw.
5. Eve Torres
It can’t be said about a lot of the women who came out of WWE’s old Diva Search competition that they went on to a meaningful wrestling career with the company, but Eve Torres is one of the few exceptions. After winning the competition in 2007, she went on to become one of the company’s most skilled in ring female performers, winning numerous Divas Championships. Torres had many memorable moments as an on-air authority personality and left the company in late 2012, ready to move on to other ventures.
Since retiring from the ring, she has given birth to a child with her husband Rener Gracie. Eve is also involved in the Gracie Women Empowered self defense program, which is associated with her husband Rener’s gym. Eve made a special appearance for WWE in 2013 and remains on good working terms with the company, though she has indicated she is likely done with wrestling for good. She also gave birth to her first kid in 2015, Raeven Gracie. Congrats!
Another of the few Diva Search contestants to go on to a successful wrestling career was Layla El, who won the competition in 2006. Layla’s good looks and infectious energy got enough fans behind her to earn the victory and a contract as a WWE Diva and she initially was used as more of an on air personality than a wrestler. That changed, however, with Layla eventually becoming a frequent competitor in the Divas division. Her biggest success came as a member of LayCool with Michelle McCool, a popular tandem that feuded with Natalya and Beth Phoenix. After McCool’s retirement, Layla slowly began fading into the background.
In 2015, the former Divas and Women’s Champion decided to retire from her pro wrestling career and has since largely disappeared from the spotlight, rarely updating her social media accounts. She married her fiancé Richard Young, better known as fellow former WWE Superstar Ricky Ortiz, in 2015.
3. Lilian Garcia
Having gotten a start to her career as a ring announcer in 1999 at the height of the Attitude era, Lilian Garcia has been one of WWE’s most loyal female employees. Aside from a couple of years off, she remained with the company until her 2016 departure and became one of the most beloved personalities in all of wrestling. She was known for her exceptional announcing and her beautiful singing voice, which she frequently used in singing the United States national anthem before WWE shows. Garcia has always been known to be very friendly with her fans.
Her release came as a result of her need to take care of her father. She announced on social media that she was making the decision to no longer travel weekly with WWE so that she could take up work closer to home and spend time with her father, who was suffering from two different types of cancer. Garcia remains active on social media and likely plans to continue her music career.
Eden, also known as Brandi, spent several years under contract with WWE and training to wrestle inside the ring. However, she never got the opportunity to show that hard work between the ropes, instead becoming one of the company’s top ring announcers. Her announcing style helped her build up a large following of WWE fans and her marriage to Cody Rhodes, the son of the “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, didn’t hurt her case either. Soon after her husband Cody left WWE due to creative frustrations in 2016, Brandi herself left the company to pursue other opportunities.
Since leaving WWE, Brandi Rhodes has modeled and remained very active on her blog and social media. More notably to wrestling fans, though, is her involvement in the continued wrestling career of her husband. The pair recently joined TNA Wrestling, where Brandi competes in the Knockouts division and hopes to finally make a name for herself as a professional wrestler.
1. AJ Lee
— AJ Mendez Brooks (@AJBrooks) September 19, 2016
In the era of three minute Divas matches, AJ Lee managed to captivate the WWE Universe and become something of a modern Trish Stratus or Lita. In fact, her popularity grew so large that she was often involved in storylines with many of WWE’s top male professional wrestlers including Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Dolph Ziggler, Kane and John Cena. Lee won the Divas Championship on three occasions and was very outspoken, often credited for helping move along the modern women’s wrestling movement by publicly calling out Stephanie McMahon on Twitter over the low pay WWE’s female employees receive.
AJ retired from WWE in 2015 and is married to fellow former WWE Superstar CM Punk. Since leaving the company, Lee has been heavily involved in animal rights charities and is releasing her own autobiography titled Crazy is My Superpower.
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