The role of women in wrestling has changed drastically over the course of the last few decades and if you don’t believe that, then you must be in denial. From being considered the drinks break match to becoming one of the high points on any given card, it’s somewhat bizarre to see how far they’ve come.
Of course, over time one of the main attributes for these girls has been their appearance – as evidenced by their glory days in the Attitude Era. The majority of them could also wrestle, but WWE often didn’t want us to remember that, despite the fact that they were all working tooth-and-nail in order to get better behind the scenes.
Now when it comes to this article the term "childhood" can vary from reader to reader, which is why you’re going to see a vast array of stars from different time periods popping up in the next 15 entries.
But rest assured, all of them have made their own impact in one way or another, and it’s fascinating to see what they’re getting up to in the present day.
15 Michelle McCool
Michelle McCool was one of the standout performers in an era which, for lack of a better term, was awful. McCool carried the torch for the rest of the division alongside Layla, which led to many title reigns and many headline-making moments. Of course, she wasn’t fully appreciated for everything that she did, and that’s something that needs to be rectified.
Much like some of the other women on this list Michelle keeps her cards relatively close to her chest, and whenever we see her in any wrestling-based news it’s usually when she’s being pictured alongside her husband, The Undertaker. She actually did show up during the main event of WrestleMania 33, but unfortunately, it was to help console her aforementioned husband as he made the walk up the ramp, presumably one last time.
14 Eve Torres
If you’re a fan of women breaking the mould, then Eve Torres is certainly the woman for you. The former multi-time Divas Champion revolutionised what it meant to be a female superstar in the last few years, with her storylines going above and beyond the call of duty in comparison to what some of the women were doing back in the day.
Alas, her desire to have a family meant that she left WWE, and to be fair to her she’s been quite successful away from the ring. In addition to working at the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy where she continues to empower women on a daily basis, she’s also enjoying being a mother as well as managing to fit in some film work. Not too shabby.
13 Torrie Wilson
#NationalSmileDay 😀 - A #Smile can soften a hardened heart, ease tension in a room, make someone’s entire day, make someone feel seen.. Nothing makes me happier than seeing someone I love walk into a room with a big ole smile. May every single day of your life be filled with the toothiest, most authentic smiles..on your own face. 💜 __________________________________________________ 📷 @lee_lhgfx ____________________________________________ #Smile #GiveLove #SmilesChangeAttitudes
For many years Torrie Wilson was considered to be the poster girl for WWE, both in the ring and outside of it. After transitioning from being a model into becoming a professional wrestler it seemed as if she was the perfect fit for Vince McMahon’s vision of what a "Diva" was supposed to be, and in a lot of ways, she fulfilled her duties admirably.
Since leaving, however, she’s been able to delve back into something that she’s always been particularly passionate about – fitness. Wilson began the Torrie Wilson Fit programme which includes an app among other things, which assists in helping both men and women get fit and healthy. In addition to this she’s also got her own blog, and from where we’re sitting, it seems as if she’s doing pretty well for herself.
12 Stacy Keibler
You can’t have Torrie without Stacy, and in a lot of ways, their careers mirrored each other both in terms of their in-ring abilities and their character work. Keibler’s sex appeal was always there for all to see and because of that, she was often able to worm her way into the hearts of many male superstars – in storyline terms, of course.
In her time away from WWE she made some serious waves within the world of pop culture, with her relationship alongside George Clooney making all the headlines. She also had a small yet successful venture into Hollywood and television, and yet, in the last few years, we haven’t heard a peep from the woman with the never-ending legs.
Perhaps she’ll re-emerge one day.
11 AJ Lee
You can take much of what we said about Eve and translate it into AJ Lee because, to be honest, she changed the game in a lot of ways. Sure, she may not have been the world’s best in-ring performer but her character work was on par with anybody in the company, and yes, that goes for the men too.
After following in her husband CM Punk’s footsteps out the exit door, Lee focused her attention on releasing her own book. Crazy Is My Superpower wound up being an almighty success and while a return isn’t totally off the cards, AJ appears to be thriving away from WWE.
Hopefully, a dream match can lure her back in the not so distant future, but we aren’t holding our breath.
From CM Punk’s wife to his former girlfriend, we arrive at Lita. The Attitude Era star was the definition of an icon for many female fans, and ironically enough, several of them have wound up actually performing in a WWE ring. From AJ to Bayley to Sasha Banks, the list of women who have been inspired by Lita is endless.
For a while, we didn’t hear much from the former Women’s Champion, as she appeared to distance herself from the spotlight. In years gone by, however, Lita made several appearances on pre-show panels and things of that nature and she was more than able to hold her own.
For whatever reason, she seems to have drifted back into the shadows, and we aren’t sure when she’s going to pop back up again.
9 Trish Stratus
When I talk about beauty, it's not about makeup and hair, it's how your soul shines and what the light in your heart brings forward. It's how your spirit touches others and how much love you have for yourself ... but in this particular case, when you have makeup done by @byvalerianova, beauty is about makeup and hair 😜💄 - This moment captured by the lovely and talented @dave_laus & styled by @milayudinadesign
Alongside Lita, Trish Stratus made history over a decade ago when she took part in the first-ever women’s match that headlined Monday Night Raw. That, in itself, is a testament to the kind of performer Stratus was because when she was at the peak of her abilities there was arguably nobody in the locker room that could touch her.
Whether it be as a babyface or a heel she was loved by all, and not just for the reasons you may think. Nowadays she is one of many former superstars who enjoys life as a mother, and she also enjoys her yoga as well as doing a lot of charity work. Sure, we’d love to see her compete again, but we also don’t want to ruin the memories.
Nobody can deny that Sunny was the original diva back in the '90s, and in that respect, she should be proud of her accomplishments. Now, if only we could all erase the last 2-3 years or so from our memories, then everything would be fine – because Tammy Sytch has been on something of a downward spiral for quite some time.
Thankfully, through the power of rehab, she appears to slowly be getting her life back on track. Sunny continues to make the odd public appearance here and there but for the most part, she’s focused on turning things around and that can only be a good thing. Who knows, maybe a one-off appearance inside of a WWE ring is on the cards one day for the Hall of Famer.
Maria Kanellis had a lot to say about WWE when she left, and to be honest, most of her best work was done in Ring of Honour and over in Japan. That kind of work ethic came as a surprise to many, especially given that when she was a part of the WWE family she was treated as nothing more than a piece of eye candy.
In the present day, she’s signed to a deal with WWE alongside her husband Mike Kanellis, but their time on the main roster was cut short due to both Mike’s personal issues and Maria’s pregnancy. The 35-year-old will be welcoming her first child into the world in the not so distant future, and we couldn’t be happier for the couple.
Sable was the definition of "risqué" during her time with WWE, and to be honest, why shouldn’t she have been? She knew that was one of the things that was going to get her over, she knew she was a hot commodity, and when given the chance she was more than capable of holding her own in a legitimate one on one match.
Her Playboy covers alone can justify her usual position on the card, and it’s a shame that we don’t see more of her nowadays. She’s probably most well known in 2017 for being Brock Lesnar’s wife, as she tends to keep herself away from the spotlight. That makes sense, but selfishly, we want to see her make one or two more appearances to appease nostalgic fans around the globe.
Victoria was stunning, great in the ring, and was visually striking as a professional wrestler. Logically speaking all of this should have added up to her being on par with the likes of Chyna in terms of star power, but for some reason, her abilities never quite turned her into the global superstar that many thought she was capable of being.
Outside of the squared circle she still harboured a great passion for the industry, as evidenced by the fact she quite literally opened a wrestling-themed restaurant called The Squared Circle. She still makes appearances at conventions and things of that nature from time to time, and in our minds, she deserves to have one last run at the top.
At this rate, we’ll be fantasy booking the entire division.
4 Mickie James
Crazy Mickie James was a joy to behold in 2005, with her blockbuster match against Trish Stratus at WrestleMania being one of the most talked about female bouts in years. Her skill set combined brilliantly with her character work, and it was disappointing to see how far down the card she wound up falling as the "cheesy babyface."
Nowadays things are looking much more promising, as Mickie is back on Monday Night Raw in one of the show’s featured spots. After a short run on SmackDown Live, which included another title match at Mania, she has been able to continually prove that despite her age she can still go with the best of them in WWE.
Oh, and she’s also married to none other than former TNA world champion Magnus.
In the present day, people probably know Maryse for her current role alongside husband The Miz, when in reality, she once spent years honing her craft in WWE and she actually wound up being Divas Champion. Sure, she’s a great valet, but people need to recognise that she’s much more than just "Miz’s wife."
As we previously mentioned, Maryse has been able to thrive under the spotlight once more with Miz by her side, but now, she’s turning her attention towards becoming a mother. She is expected to welcome her baby girl into the world sometime in 2018, and yes, we’ll probably end up seeing the whole thing play out on Total Divas for the WWE Universe to see.
That’s not a bad thing in our books, though.
2 Bella Twins
We’ve crammed two women into one entry here, and we feel as if it’s warranted given how much of their careers have been spent by each other’s side. Nikki and Brie are the definition of hard-working performers, having risen up through the ranks in order to become two of the biggest female names in WWE history. No, we aren’t exaggerating that.
Through Total Divas and Total Bellas alone, they’ve been able to do some extraordinary things, and while you may not like them as human beings, they’re certainly doing things that nobody has before. They’ve also got their successful YouTube channel and Birdiebee clothing line, but above all that, a future return to WWE for the duo seems like it may well be imminent.
1 Christy Hemme
Christy Hemme is often known as the girl who replaced Lita in what would’ve been a dream match between her and Trish Stratus at WrestleMania, but that isn’t really very fair. After all, Hemme worked hard to get better in the ring and although she was hardly Shawn Michaels between the ropes, she deserves some kind of credit.
Lately she’s spent a great deal of time in Impact Wrestling as a ring announcer, and to be honest, she’s pretty damn good at it.
Her time in the ring is probably over for now though, with Christy expecting quadruplets in the New Year alongside her husband. But hey, if anyone can endure that kind of pain, it’s a former WWE superstar – and Hemme has proven that she’s no quitter.