Back in 2003, it was announced that the WWE would be looking for their next women’s competitor, hosting an online competition known as WWE Diva Search. The initial contest wasn’t aired on television at all, but that would change the next year. The 2004 contest had a lot of publicity and a massive grand prize of a quarter million dollars, as well as a guaranteed one-year contract with the WWE.
While most of the women that appeared as contestants on the WWE Diva Search never worked in the ring either before or after the competition, it was a good way of at least getting some talent from the modeling world. Only one of the winners would never make an appearance as a wrestler, and some that didn’t even finish in the top five won multiple women’s titles.
We haven’t seen a WWE Diva Search since 2007 when the competition bombed, though there has been plenty of speculation to bring it back before the “Diva” moniker was abandoned. Will we ever see another one? It’s highly unlikely, but it’s always fun to look back and remember some of the participants. As it stands, there are only two former Diva Search contestants that are still active in the WWE, and they just happen to be facing each other (Nikki Bella and Maryse) at WrestleMania 33. As for the others, let’s take a look back and see what they are up to these days.
15 Leyla Milani
We start the list with Leyla Milani, who was the runner-up from Toronto, Ontario in the 2005 WWE Diva Search. Milani lost out to Ashley Massaro, having a “wardrobe malfunction” in the process. Milani didn’t work with the WWE much after the Diva Search ended, appearing mainly in a couple of commercials. She mainly went to modeling, appearing on the game show “Deal or No Deal” as one of the briefcase holders.
After leaving the show in 2009, Milani went back into wrestling part-time by co-hosting a promotion called “Wrestlicious TakeDown,” but that only lasted for a month. Milani has popped up on television in one capacity or another quite a few times since then, but has mainly been focusing on her haircare company called Milani Hair, which she is heavily advertising on social media.
14 Camille Anderson
In the WWE Diva Search back in 2004, Camille Anderson made it past the first 28 contestants to make it into the top 10. She wouldn’t last long, however, as she finished in ninth place in the competition. Anderson had worked as an actress and model before the Diva Search, and would continue that career afterward. Her most notable appearances come from the hit 2005 movie “Wedding Crashers," and she also appeared on the show “Las Vegas.”
Anderson hasn’t been on television much as an actress in the past eight years, as she has actually turned her attention to real estate. Anderson runs her own realty company, and has been running her own fashion blog online. Now 40 years old, Anderson is mostly focused on her career and family, as she has a six year old daughter.
13 Candice Michelle
I can't believe my baby is 1 already! pic.twitter.com/8bKpnUcxy0— CANDICE MICHELLE (@DIVACANDICEM) July 20, 2016
Candice Michelle was one of the 28 women selected to participate in the Diva Search in 2004, but didn’t make the top 10. Still, she would be hired by the WWE after the competition, and had a wrestling career in addition to modeling for GoDaddy and Playboy. Michelle won a single WWE Women’s Championship during her run in the WWE, and was even named the Most Improved Wrestler of the Year in 2007 by Pro Wrestling Illustrated.
Michelle left the WWE during the summer of 2009, and turned her attention to raising a family. Since leaving wrestling, Michelle has had three children with a chiropractor named Ken Gee Ehrlich. We haven’t seen much of her on television in the past few years, but she certainly seems to be happy away from the ring.
12 Gabrielle Tuite
Just like Candice Michelle, Gabrielle Tuite was one of the 28 women selected for the WWE Diva Search in 2004. And also like Michelle, she was not selected as a finalist for the competition. Tuite would go back to the modeling world after not making it to the WWE, and she appeared in films such as “Iron Man”, “Cabin Fever 2” and “Stiletto” in very minor roles.
The 39 year old has appeared in plenty of magazine shoots since her brief stint in the WWE, though her most notable gig came as one of the models on the game show “The Price is Right.” Tuite even got into the producing game by forming a company named MIlestone Media, though we haven’t heard much from them.
11 Karen McDougal
Karen McDougal had the distinction of being the oldest contestant in the 2004 WWE Diva Search at 33 years old. McDougal had already made a name for herself before the Diva Search through her modeling career, as she was named the 1998 Playboy Playmate of the Year. McDougal would not be named to the top 10 of the initial Diva Search, but had other opportunities to fall back on.
McDougal continued her modeling career and made plenty of television appearances in the years since. Some of her notable cameo appearances include “Charlie’s Angels” and even “Joe Dirt.” McDougal ran into some health struggles in 2017, unfortunately, and had surgery to remove her breast implants as a result. McDougal also made the news recently as she sold her story about an affair that never went to print. McDougal was paid six figures for the story, and it’s believed that the subject was none other than President Donald Trump.
10 Maria Kanellis
Another contestant from the first WWE Diva Search, Maria Kanellis would make the top 10 as a finalist, but ultimately finished fifth. Still, Kanellis would be signed to a WWE contract, and started getting involved in the ring. Kanellis would never win a title while in WWE, but did receive a Slammy Award for Diva of the Year in 2009. She would ultimately leave the WWE in 2010, though she has been busy since.
Kanellis took a job with Ring of Honor in 2011, and stuck around for several years where she was alongside her boyfriend (and now husband) Mike Bennett. She has also appeared in New Japan Pro Wrestling, and more recently TNA. Kanellis and Bennett would leave TNA in March 2017, though it doesn’t appear her wrestling career is ultimately over.
9 Michelle McCool
Michelle McCool and Maria Kanellis were both brought in from the 2004 WWE Diva Search and made the top 10 without winning it all. Another thing that they have in common is that they would both still manage to be signed by WWE and have lengthy in-ring careers. McCool was mostly known for her tag team with Layla El (more on her later), and she won two Divas Championships and two Women’s Championships.
McCool retired from in-ring action in 2011, though she has popped up in the WWE from time to time. McCool has mainly been modeling and acting since then, but hardcore wrestling fans probably already know that she is married to Mark Calaway, AKA The Undertaker. McCool and Taker have been married since 2010, and had her first child in 2012.
8 Rosa Mendes
In the 2006 WWE Diva Search, the top 10 featured a few names that remained with WWE for several years. Among them was Milena Roucka, who would go on to be known as Rosa Mendes. Mendes started out her career as an “intern” for Beth Phoenix, eventually managing Primo and Epico before getting more involved in a solo career.
Mendes remained with WWE as in-ring performer until announcing that she was pregnant, giving birth to her first child on February 13, 2016. One year to the day, Mendes announced that she was leaving the WWE. It has only been a short time since Mendes left, and has been taking some time off. With a one year old child running around the house, we can’t say that we blame her.
7 Taryn Terrell
The final WWE Diva Search (for now) took place in 2007, and featured 21 year old Taryn Terrell. Terrell finished in fourth place, and went to train in Florida Championship Wrestling (now NXT) and also served as the General Manager of the ECW Brand. Terrell would then move to SmackDown for a brief period in 2010 before leaving the WWE and getting involved with TNA.
Terrell won a single Knockouts Championship during her time in TNA, and was considered one of the better female wrestlers out there. Toward the end of her run, Terrell got married to stunt man Joseph Dryden and announced that she was pregnant. In late 2016, Terrell retired from wrestling to focus on her family, giving birth just after Christmas 2016 and is currently taking time off.
6 Lena Yada
After girls night out, come home and squeeze dog. Check! ✔️ pic.twitter.com/ztdCgIB6hy— lena yada (@lenayada) January 20, 2017
Finishing just ahead of Taryn Terrell with a third place finish in the 2007 WWE Diva Search, Lena Yada had an extensive modeling career before the WWE. Yada continued to work with the WWE as a media personality for a little while, and eventually made her in-ring debut in November 2008. Just one week after making her in-ring debut, Yada was let go, and never actually entered her only match.
Yada went onto the independent circuit, and has been making appearances in promotions such as Pro Wrestling Revolution since then. She has also made brief cameos in films like “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.” Yada has mainly been quiet, however, and actually has a famous spouse. She has been married to Disturbed lead singer David Draiman since late 2011, and the couple has one child together.
5 Eve Torres
While the multiple years of the WWE Diva Search didn’t really create that many memorable in-ring performers, Eve Torres was certainly a success story. Torres was the final winner of the competition, taking the crown in 2007. Torres, who was simply known as Eve for most of her WWE run, was involved in several major storyline and won the Divas Championship on three occasions.
Torres started to get away from professional wrestling in 2012, and ultimately left late in the year to focus on being a self-defense trainer. Still working part-time for WWE as an ambassador, Torres has been involved with multiple television shows and movies. In 2014, Torres married Rener Gracie (owner of the famous Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy). A little more than a year later, the couple welcomed their first child.
4 Christy Hemme
The WWE Diva Search in 2004 had a large grand prize of $250,000. Christy Hemme would end up taking that prize by beating out Carmella DeCesare in the finals. Hemme did not stick around in the WWE for long, and wound up getting released in late 2005. Just a few months later, Hemme continued her wrestling career by signing on with TNA, having gigs as both a wrestler and ring announcer.
Hemme never won a title while with the company, but she did remain for several years before ultimately leaving in April 2016. Toward the end of the run, Hemme married Charley Patterson and gave birth to her first child. Hemme has been mostly quiet since then, but does still continue to make appearances for smaller promotions around the United States.
3 Layla El
England native Layla El was the only non-American winner of the WWE Diva Search, having taken the title in 2006. El would have a successful wrestling career, especially when teaming up with fellow Diva Search contestant Michelle McCool. El would win a Divas Championship and a Women’s Championship during her run. In the summer of 2015, El left unexpectedly and it was announced that she had retired from professional wrestling.
Shortly after retiring, she announced that she was engaged to wrestler Ricky Ortiz, and the two would be married later in the year. To say that El has been quiet since retiring and getting married would be an understatement. There has been no real news, she hasn’t made any wrestling appearances and hasn’t updated her Twitter account since getting married.
2 Ashley Massaro
Out of all of the WWE Diva Search competitions, 2005 had to have been the biggest backfire in terms of in-ring talent. New York native Ashley Massaro would end up winning the title, beating out Leyla Milani. Massaro would be the only one that really ever had a memorable wrestling career, having stuck around for nearly three years and being featured as one of “Vince’s Devils” in 2005.
Massaro never won any gold while with the WWE, and was eventually released in the summer of 2008 in what was a pretty controversial decision since she claims to have asked for time off to take care of her sick daughter. Massaro has mainly been showing up at meet-and-greet events since leaving wrestling. She would pop up in the news in late 2016 as part of the class action lawsuit against involving concealing brain injuries.
1 Jaime Koeppe
We now go all the way back to 2003 for the first ever WWE Diva Search that didn’t have the fanfare and hullabaloo that the other ones did. Jaime Koeppe was a fitness model at the time, and ended up winning the competition thanks to her large online presence. Koeppe would end up getting a photoshoot for WWE Magazine as a result of her win, but didn’t get a contract to become a competitor.
Now 38 years old, Koeppe never appeared on a WWE show, and would continue to model for a couple of years before retiring in 2005. Koeppe has been working full-time as a personal trainer since then, but has lived a life completely off the radar. If rumors are to be believed, it’s that she was hard to work with and broke contracts constantly, leading her into a forced retirement. Good luck finding any recent updates, though a quick Google search has some...well, interesting restults.
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