WWE hasn't always done a great job making sure they hang onto top level female wrestlers. Up until the so-called "Women's Revolution", WWE's roster was drastically male-centric, meaning many talented women were let go before even being given a chance to succeed.
Similarly some women wrestlers saw that being a female in WWE was a dead-end. For decades female performers had a lower ceiling than the men. They also had a shorter window of time to work with. A solid male worker in the WWE can continue working well into his 40s these days, but a female worker in WWE lasting until that age is extremely rare.
The women on this list were once members of the WWE roster, only you might have forgotten. That is because they made more of a name for themselves in other promotions or other industries. In some cases however, you may have just forgotten about the performer altogether.
Many of the women on this list were underrated in WWE. Almost all of them could have accomplished more than they did. There are some very talented names in this article, names who, had they been active in WWE during the women's revolution, would have accomplished more with their careers than they did. There are also some women on this list that could contribute to WWE's current program, but for whatever reason aren't being given the opportunity.
15 Christy Hemme
It's easy to forget Christy Hemme was once in WWE, considering her tenure there was so short. Hemme is far better known for the decade she spent in various roles with TNA Wrestling.
Hemme was discovered in WWE's 2004 Diva Search. She was announced as the winner of the competition that September. She would be gone from the company 15 months later. After winning the competition she was immediately placed on the main roster. Come the fall of 2005 however, WWE changed their mind and sent her to a developmental. Just one week after having been sent to the territory however, the company released her altogether.
She quickly caught on with Impact Wrestling, however, and from 2006 to 2016 played various roles with the company on-screen and off. Hemme had been a ring announcer and was involved in creative for Impact before leaving the company last summer.
14 Taryn Terrell
You might not remember Taryn Terrell's time with WWE, but she was actually under contract to the promotion from 2007 to 2010. She made her main roster debut in the summer of 2008 as Teddy Long's assistant. Long was the GM of the ECW brand at the time. Tiffany, as she went by, was eventually promoted as ECW's full-time GM in 2009.
She made her debut on SmackDown in 2010, but would be let go by the company just a few months later. Her release came shortly aafter an incident in which she was arrested following a domestic abuse case where she allegedly attacked then-husband Drew McIntyre.
Terrell landed in TNA where she made a far bigger name for herself than she did in WWE. She's a former Knockouts champion and in 2015 was the #10 ranked woman wrestler according to Pro Wrestling Illustrated.
13 Velvet Sky
A lot of people don't know this but Velvet Sky worked for WWE before. Why the WWE opted to pass on this bombshell is anyone's guess. At the time she was trying out for them however, WWE wasn't really making women wrestlers a priority.
In 2005, Sky wrestled on Sunday Night Heat in a losing effort to Victoria. She had been wrestling on the independent scene for about a year and a half at that point. Vince opted not to sign the then 24-year-old, however, so instead she created a name for herself in TNA.
Sky, whose real name is Jamie Lynn Szantyr, became a two-time Knockouts champion in TNA, and played a key role in the Dollhouse faction. She is currently romantically linked to Bubba Ray Dudley, however that wasn't enough for her to earn a WWE contract during his stint there from 2015-16.
12 Shelly Martinez (Ariel)
Unfortunately, when Impact Wrestling fans think of Shelly Martinez, the image that comes to mind is the world's worst ever suicide dive she executed in a match with Rebel in 2016. The two were performing on one of TNA's one-night only PPVs, that fortunately for Shelly, few people actually watched. The match earned "Worst Match of the Year" honours by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
Martinez also had a short stint in the LAX faction, when the group consisted of herself, Konnan, Homicide and Hernandez.
WWE fans have to go all the way back to the relaunched version of ECW to remember Shelly's time in the promotion. Then known as Ariel, Martinez was a vampire character linked to Kevin Thorne. The character was interesting enough, but the brand it was on was maligned by fans for being too different from the original ECW.
11 Tessa Blanchard
WWE gave Tessa Blanchard three matches on NXT, but opted not to sign her, so she's made a name for herself on the independents instead.
Perhaps WWE was put off by her being a young and attractive version of her father Tully Blanchard. It's like, here is this really attractive woman, but she'll always remind you of Arn Anderson's tag team partner in the Brain Busters.
In 2016 she lost to Nia Jax, Carmella and Alexa Bliss on episodes of NXT, but WWE had nothing for her after that. She's better known for her success in organizations such as Shine Wrestling and Women Superstars Uncensored however. She's currently 1/2 of the Shine tag team champions.
Tessa is currently living in Orlando with her boyfriend Ricochet and Raw superstar Apollo Crews.
10 Eve Torres
Fans of mixed martial arts and Brazilian jiu-jitsu know Eve Torres as the talented wife of Rener Gracie. A member of the famed Gracie family, Rener is the head instructor at Gracie jiu-jitsu and the co-founder of the Gracie Academy. Eve and Rener married in 2014 and welcomed their first child, Raeven (all Gracies have to have "R" first names for some reason) in 2014.
Eve herself is the head instructor for the Gracie Women Empowerment self-defence program. She often appears on instructional videos posted by the Gracie family.
While the BJJ purple-belt has now made a name for herself in a different community, non-MMA fans will remember her purely for her time in WWE from 2008 to 2013. Eve was a former three-time Divas champion before leaving the company.
9 Jade (Mia Yim)
Mia Yim, aka Jade, is an incredibly talented performer. The 27 year-old who now lives in Orlando seems like a perfect addition to WWE's current roster. Many will be surprised to learn that Yim has wrestled on a WWE produced show before. In fact, Yim appeared on the WWE network during an episode of NXT, losing a match to Charlotte Flair.
Yim's appearance on NXT aired on April 12th, 2014, and is on the WWE Network. She was fodder to Charlotte and nothing more. Their match lasted a mere 50 seconds. Afterwards WWE neglected to sign Yim and bring her talents to their company. What exactly WWE is not seeing in her remains a mystery.
Under the name Jade, Yim made her full-time debut with Impact Wrestlinge in 2015 as an original member of the Dollhouse. Prior to that, she had wrestled a dark match and on a one-night PPV for the company.
8 Zahra Schreiber
Zahra Schreiber was fired from WWE in 2015 under controversial circumstances. The ex-girlfriend of Seth Rollins had been with the company for a year when some old Instagram posts of hers were noticed and her time with company ended abruptly.
Schreiber seems to take an interest in WWII. She says a family member was involved with the German White Rose movement in Munich to protest the Nazis, and that is what kickstarted her interest in the Holocaust.
On the other hand, some of her Instagram posts were less than clear that she is against what the Nazis did, including a picture she posted of a smiling unicorn with a Hitler moustache and Nazi arm band. She's always maintained she is not racist, but it's hard to tell that based on some of her old posts.
She has since apologized and been taking bookings on the indie scene.
7 Angelina Love
Impact Wrestling fans will be shocked to learn that bombshell Angelina Love was under contract to WWE for three years. Not only did the company fail to capitalize on the attractive and talented Love, they never even brought her up to the main roster.
The Toronto native spent her early-to-mid 20s trying to crack WWE's main roster, but never made it. She signed with the company in 2004 and spent most of her time in Deep South Wrestling until it was shut down in 2007. After wrestling just one match in WWE's other developmental territory at the time, Ohio Valley Wrestling, Love was released from her contract.
Love was picked up by Impact and has gone on to have a career worthy of their Hall of Fame. She's won the Knockouts title on 6 occasions, and can currently be seen on Impact making out regularly with her new husband Davey Richards.
6 Gail Kim
It's a shame WWE took so long to take women's wrestling seriously. If they had done so while Gail Kim was on their roster, it's entirely possible she would have had a Hall of Fame caliber career with the company.
The 40-year-old Canadian worked for WWE on two occassions, from 2002-2004 and again from 2008-2011. She worked for TNA from 2005-2008 and again from 2011-2017. The difference in how she was portrayed by each company is significant.
Kim was a former onetime women's champion in WWE, but the company failed to feature female performers prominently during either of her stints there. In Impact, however, they always made sure to emphasis how good of a pure wrestler Kim is. She was the first female inductee into the TNA Hall of Fame in 2016.
It's easy to forget Gail Kim worked for WWE, as she will always be more closely associated with TNA/Impact.
5 Maria Kanellis
35-year-old Maria Kanellis had a solid run in WWE from 2004 to 2010, but she really started to come into her own as a performer after she left the company.
Kanellis was discovered through WWE's 2004 Diva Search, and became a popular personality on their programming. She never did win the Women's or Diva's championship for the promotion, however. But Maria did manage to get a Playboy modelling gig out of it.
It was only when Maria left WWE and started managing her current husband Michael Bennett that she sort of came into her own as a character. After re-inventing herself as a more outspoken heel in ROH and NJPW, she signed with Impact Wrestling in 2016.
Shortly after Anthem took over Impact Wrestling, Maria and Bennett announced their departures from the company.
Fans of Lucha Underground might be surprised to learn that Ivelisse was once under contract to WWE. It seems bizarre that such a talented and aesthetically pleasing woman was ever let go by the company. The baffling release comes with much controversy, however.
Ivelisse participated in the revamped Tough Enough in 2010, and then worked her way through developmental. She was in NXT in 2012, when she announced that summer she had been released. Ivelisse would later reveal on Vince Russo's podcast that she believes she was fired for reporting inappropriate conduct on behalf of NXT trainer Bill DeMott. Years later DeMott would be released from WWE due to similar complaints.
WWE's loss is Lucha Underground's gain, however, as she has played an important role in the company's first three seasons.
3 Serena Deeb
Serena debuted on SmackDown in 2010 as a member of CM Punk's Straight Edge Society. She was a planted fan who volunteered to have her head shaved by Punk in order to "cleanse" her. She continued with the faction until she was abruptly fired after it was revealed she was not living up to her straight edge gimmick on the road. That's right, the company fired her for literally having a few drinks at a bar when she was portraying a straight edge character on TV. She started on TV in January of 2010, and was fired that August, never to return.
She went back to the indies and wrestled mainly for Shimmer. Her hair grew back in and fans forgot all about her short-lived stint on SmackDown. Serena retired in 2015 and now works as a Yoga instructor in Los Angeles.
2 Brandi Rhodes
Brandi Rhodes signed with WWE in 2011 and was sent to Florida to develop her wrestling skills. But WWE showed little interest in turning her into a worker. Instead they put a microphone and script in her hand and made her an announcer. Then they up and fired her that summer.
She was rehired by the company in 2013, but only as an announcer. She married Cody Rhodes that same year. They dubbed her "Eden Stiles" and eventually she made the main roster as a ring announcer and backstage interviewer. She was easily unnoticeable in the role.
It was only after she left WWE with Cody in 2016 that she has made a name for herself. Now Brandi Rhodes, "the daughter-in-law of a son of a son of a plumber", is tearing it up as a wrestler in Impact's Knockouts division, and people are forgetting all about "Eden Stiles."
WWE and Impact failed to capitalize on Karlee Perez, better known to wrestling fans as Catrina from Lucha Underground or Maxine from WWE.
She was signed by WWE in 2009 and sent to their old developmental territory, Florida Championship Wrestling. She was given the name "The Candy Girl" before taking part in Season 3 of NXT, back when the show was more of a reality TV show competition. On NXT she was known as Maxine, and she bounced around the brand until 2012 when she asked for her release from the company. After being in developmental for three years and not sniffing the main roster, Perez may have felt there were more opportunities for her elsewhere. If that is what she was thinking, she was right.
She took part in a one-night-only role on a TNA PPV, but the company neglected to bring her on full-time. Then she signed with Lucha Underground and morphed into the supernatural character of Catrina. A character with deep mythological underpinnings, she has become one of the show's most noteworthy characters.