A recent change in philosophy has given us one of the better women’s wrestling divisions possibly of all time in WWE. NXT’s buzz of creating female wrestling stars that fans want to see compete made the company move forward by showcasing their women’s wrestling division in a new light. Their credible matches and displays of athleticism are new territory for the WWE, as their past history with female performers focused more on showing off their bodies and selling sex appeal. WWE hired mostly attractive women that they would parade around in scantily clad outfits to bring in viewers that wanted that come from the ladies rather than actual wrestling.
There’s a plethora of beloved women in the history of WWE that have left the company over the years due to their time being up or no longer fitting in with the new direction. These women were the attractive performers that couldn’t necessarily get the work done in the ring. They relied on the antics like bra & panties matches or bikini matches. Unlike the current top stars being pushed due to their in-ring talent, these ladies made their name due to their looks. We’ll look at their journeys to discover what they’re doing today and where they are now.
15 Ashley Massaro: Volunteer Work
The days of the Diva Search were probably rock bottom for the women in the WWE. Models were competing in a contest that saw them participate in silly antics each week for a chance at a WWE contract. Ashley Massaro connected with the wrestling fan base during the second competition and it saw her easily win the fan vote to earn a contract. WWE tried to help progress her in-ring career, but she always lacked wrestling talent and experience.
14 Kaitlyn: Fitness Industry
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WWE’s old concept of NXT featured developmental wrestlers battling it out in competitions on a weekly basis hoping to land a main roster deal. The all-women season saw Kaitlyn pull off the win by defeating AJ Lee and Naomi to get her spot on television. Kaitlyn had a history in the fitness modeling world which is where WWE looked for their women’s wrestling prospects. Fans got behind Kaitlyn due to her genuinely likable personality. Sadly, her wrestling skills couldn’t match her looks or charisma during her run.
13 The Kat: Volunteer Work
The Attitude Era basically started the era of half-naked women being put in tawdry gimmick matches on a weekly basis. Stacy “The Kat” Carter became one of the top female faces in the company wearing very little each week on television. Jerry Lawler married her and sold the WWE on bringing her in as one of the Divas. Carter actually had one of the most controversial moments in WWE history showing her bare chest on television during a live PPV as part of a publicity stunt.
12 Shelly Martinez: Wrestling & Modelling
WWE used Shelly Martinez primarily on the ECW brand as Ariel. The vampire gimmick saw her paired with Kevin Thorn as one of the new acts the company hoped would get over enough on ECW and eventually bring that over to Raw or SmackDown. Martinez found herself in backstage drama when she turned down the advances of Batista. The negative interaction with one of the top stars in the company ultimately (allegedly) culminated in her getting released by the company.
Martinez continued her career in TNA and with various other wrestling promotions but failed to improve in the ring. Still, her good looks land her bookings consistently enough to keep her wrestling career going. Martinez spends more time modeling and that’s where she makes most of her money these days.
11 Dawn Marie: Nursing School
Paul Heyman’s ECW didn't have many female performers, though the ones that were selected got picked solely for their looks. Dawn Marie is arguably the best in the history of the program and it showed with her transitioning her career into a successful run with the WWE.
The brand split in WWE saw Dawn become one of the most utilized women on the SmackDown brand as the heel rival to top female babyface star Torrie Wilson. Dawn was never known for her wrestling and primarily competed in bikini contests or other segments of the ilk.
10 Sable: Stay At Home Mom
Sable completely changed the landscape of the WWE and may be the most important story in causing the company to book attractive women consistently on television. The popularity of Sable ascended as fans gravitated towards her when she came to the ring as the manager of then-husband Marc Mero. Sable received ovations as big as anyone on the roster and drew a lot of money for the WWE. Her ego then grew out of control and she split from WWE during the height of her popularity.
9 Maryse: WWE Manager
WWE hired Maryse after a successful modeling career and saw great potential in her all the way back in 2006. Maryse would be positioned as one of the top heel female wrestlers in the company soon after. Her great charisma and character work made her a very efficient heel, but she couldn’t compete in the ring at the level of the highly respected workers. Despite that, the great looks of Maryse stood out in a way that made her connect with the fan base as the arrogant heel until she left the company looking to find a new career.
8 Terri Runnels: Stay At Home Mom/Charity Work
Terri Runnels found her way into the WWE working alongside her husband Goldust at the time serving as his manager. The work of Terri was so impressive that WWE kept her in the company for many years in various roles. One role that Terri couldn’t succeed in was the in-ring aspect of pro wrestling. She instead reached her highest popularity in the bikini contests and did her best work as a backstage interviewer.
7 Debra: University of Alabama
The wrestling career of Debra started when she joined WCW alongside her ex-husband Steve “Mongo” McMichael. With her stunning good looks, Debra actually found more success in the business than her ex-husband ever did. Debra eventually split with Mongo and ditched WCW for a career in the WWE as Jeff Jarrett’s manager. She never wrestled due to the lack of athletic talent hwoever.
The backstage relationship carousel saw Debra marry Steve Austin during her WWE stint. Their relationship endured a very ugly breakup that basically ended Debra’s wrestling career.
6 Christy Hemme: Writer
Christy Hemme secured a spot on the WWE roster by winning the first ever Diva Search competition. Fans took a liking to her and greeted her with warm responses through the entirety of her short-lived WWE career. There’s still mystery surrounding Hemme’s release from WWE, as she was gone in a year. At the end of the day, Hemme was one of the best looking women in the industry, but never had the tools to become a great in-ring performer.
TNA employed Hemme for nearly a decade, as she spent time in just about every role inside of the company. Christy didn’t shine as a wrestler or manager, so it made perfect sense when she transitioned into a full-time ring announcer. TNA would have her ring announce most of the matches over her final seven years in the company. Hemme joined the writing staff for a short time period and has continued this passion outside of the company.
5 Stacy Keibler: Stay At Home Mom
The career of Stacy Keibler saw her become one of the most popular female wrestling personalities in the history of the industry despite not being able to wrestle. Keibler had a look that would make her stand out in a room full of people.
Her career started in WCW and she showed enough to get a full-time spot in the WWE when Vince McMahon purchased WCW. Keibler’s popularity made her a massive star but her strengths did not help when it came to wrestling matches inside of the squared circle.
The crossover appeal of Keibler made her brand grow following a successful stint on the Dancing with Stars reality show competition. This caused her to leave the WWE and chase a career in the acting world. Keibler received a few noteworthy roles guest starring on television shows, but it was not meant to be.
4 Maria Kanellis: TNA Wrestling
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WWE saw something special in Maria Kanellis as a runner-up in the original Diva Search competition. They signed her to a developmental deal and it landed her a new career that would survive to this very day.
Maria was one of the best looking women in the WWE, but sadly lacked the ability to bring the in-ring skills expected from the division at the time. WWE eventually let her go and she found a different way to continue her career in pro wrestling.
Kanellis started dating wrestler Mike Bennett and worked in Ring of Honor for many years as his manager. She thrived in her new role as a heel and her promo skills made the former WWE star one of the more popular women on the independent wrestling scene.
3 Sunny: Adult Entertainment
Tammy “Sunny” Sytch has been dubbed the original diva for her work in the 90s, where she found popularity as one of the first female stars to get spotlighted in the WWE. Fans appreciated the beauty and charisma of Sunny, which made her stand out above all of the wrestlers she managed. Sytch would become the most downloaded celebrity on AOL in 1996 beating out all other famous women in the entertainment industry. Sadly, the personal demons would ruin her career and life.
Following her WWE career ending, everything went downhill for Sytch with various issues involving her addiction to drugs and alcohol. Sytch has been arrested numerous times over the years and was recently brought in for violating her probation agreement.
2 Kelly Kelly: Reality Television
WWE made Kelly Kelly one of the youngest signings in company history at the young age of 19 following her days as a model. The unbelievable looks of Kelly made the WWE take notice and put her on television at such a young age, putting her on the ECW brand.
Kelly’s looks got her more opportunities than just about every other female talent in the company at the time. While she definitely stood out and had a presence in the company, no one took her seriously as an actual wrestler.
1 Torrie Wilson: Fitness Industry
Torrie Wilson had one of the most successful wrestling careers of any woman in wrestling but she never enjoyed the actual wrestling aspect. The beauty and likable personality of Torrie saw her gain huge popularity in both WCW and WWE. The latter run in the WWE landed her roles in Playboy magazine and other platforms to expand her popularity. Torrie has admitted she hated the physical part of the job and preferred to not wrestle knowing she just wasn’t good at it.
Wilson suffered a back injury towards the end of her wrestling career and left the company to recover from it. Her wrestling career ended there and she moved on to other things in life. Many remember her romantic relationship with MLB star Alex Rodriguez keeping her in the public spotlight, but that has ended.
Torrie now focuses on her new career as a fitness expert passing along workout tips and food recipes to improve healthy living.
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