In recent years, WWE has been attempting to make their female superstars equal to the men, going so far as to claim they are revolutionizing women’s wrestling. The truth is, few companies have as poor of a track record with women’s rights as Vince McMahon’s sports entertainment enterprise and the proof has been proudly promoted on screen for decades. Only due to prominence of women’s wrestling in NXT have the females truly started to get a chance, although that hardly takes back the downright torture some former female superstars were forced to suffer during their time in the WWE Universe.
Every individual has a different story and a few of these women were treated horribly in the same way. There are certainly patterns to the abuse female WWE superstars have endured throughout time, but the unfortunate truth is that the offenses are wide and varied, not conforming to any specific area or coming from only one place. While misogyny has simply been a harsh reality of the wrestling business since before WWE was even founded, Vince McMahon and his executives still could have done something to help curb the problem. Instead, they continued the trend of mistreating women, sometimes in bizarre and shocking ways. Keep reading to learn which 20 women were treated the absolute worst by WWE.
20. The Kat
Most of Stacy Carter’s claims to fame make it pretty obvious why she isn’t mentioned terribly often now that WWE has gone PG. Carter came to fame in WWE as Miss Kitty, and then The Kat, a manager turned wrestler most notable for the fact she was the first woman to intentionally go topless on a WWE Pay-Per-View. The Kat gimmick in general was of the exhibitionist variety and her final storyline in WWE was appropriately related to that character trait. The Kat began a long feud with Right to Censor, which ultimately saw her forced to put aside her free thinking ways and don a suit and tie to fight for censorship. The angle never quite happened, though, because The Kat was suddenly fired without warning seemingly because Vince McMahon was getting bored with the storyline. Jerry Lawler, The Kat’s husband at the time, quit the company in protest at how the treated his wife, although he would return later that year when the marriage went south.
19. Molly Holly
The women’s wrestling revolution might be a new thing in WWE, but it isn’t due to a lack of women trying to get taken seriously. Molly Holly is one female superstar who wanted women’s wrestling to be viewed on equal footing to men’s wrestling since the day she debuted in WCW, at which point she was basically the only full-time female wrestler working for that company. That drive continued when Molly jumped to WWE and the company paid her back by giving her increasingly offensive and reductive gimmicks that undercut her talent and mocked her for daring to be different. Molly was regularly bullied and body-shamed onscreen by the other female superstars, who mocked her “big butt” and conservative style of dress and ignored whatever considerable talents she had in the ring.
“Obscene, titillating, vulgar, and unsafe”—these are the words Sable used in 1999 to describe her experience as a woman working for WWE. Sable used these terms when filing her infamous $110 million lawsuit against the company, in which she also claimed the company demanded she participate in a lesbian angle and perform in a variety of other stories she found sexually degrading. Prior to her suing the company, Sable was the most popular female superstar in wrestling and a former WWE Women’s Champion. Despite this, Sable was so unpopular backstage that X-Pac has since admitted to defecating in her bag on her last night with WWE. Amazingly, Sable returned to the company in 2003 and things seemed to go much better for her that time around. Regardless, her first stint with the company was unforgettable horrible to a litigious degree.
17. Mad Maxine
It might be fair to ask how exactly WWE treated a woman who barely worked for them particularly poorly, although the fact Mad Maxine’s tenure was so short in the first place could be a start to finding the answer to the question. Mad Maxine only wrestled two matches for WWE in the mid-1980s, but anyone who looked at her could probably tell she had the potential to be a much bigger star than she was. Standing 6’2″ with a wild green mohawk, Maxine looked unlike anyone the women’s division had seen to this day and was a perfect fit for the Rock and Wrestling era, not to mention the Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling cartoon. Rumors have it Maxine was originally supposed to play a big role in the cartoon, only for The Fabulous Moolah to have her iced out of the company so she could take Maxine’s spot. Decades later, the full story remains unclear. Whatever the case, hiring a woman destined to be a big star and firing her a few weeks later hardly counts as good treatment, and Maxine deserved better than she got based on her look alone.
Wrestling fans can joke all they want about the disproportionate looks of real life married couple Lana and Rusev, but the fact remains, the two are actually married and so are their characters. Despite this reality, rumors indicate Vince McMahon has never quite been able to understand what the blonde bombshell Lana sees in her larger, hairier companion, and has attempted multiple times to break them up on screen as a result. First, McMahon had Lana break up with Rusev in character and begin seeing rival wrestler Dolph Ziggler. When that failed to break up their relationship in real life, McMahon and WWE writers had The Rock insinuate a sexual relationship with Lana, as well. Especially during the second incident, WWE fans had trouble seeing the point to what the company was doing to Lana’s character and began assuming the whole thing was a petty way at getting back at her for daring to stay with the man she loves while at the same time ‘s*** shaming’ females everywhere.
15. Nicole Bass
To say Nicole Bass didn’t look like the other women in WWE would be an understatement to the highest variety. Even when compared to bodybuilder types like Chyna or Tamina Snuka, Nicole is a hulking and gargantuan woman who dominated the ranks of WWE and ECW, amongst dozens of independents. Her size was such that she rarely competed in matches and usually served as a bodyguard figure, considering it wouldn’t be believable for her to lose were she a regular competitor. Despite Nicole’s unique look making her a standout wherever she went, it hardly freed her from any potential harassment, which she claimed to have suffered at the hands of longtime WWE executive Steve Lombardi, a.k.a. The Brooklyn Brawler. WWE attorneys and a jury agreed that Bass was lying about her claims, but she would nevertheless stick to her guns and insist that the harassment took place.
14. Ryan Shamrock
Lawsuits typically involve more than one person and Nicole Bass wasn’t alone when she sued WWE alleging misconduct by Steve Lombardi. In fact, Lombardi wasn’t the only defendant in the trial, as Bass also implicated future WWE COO Triple H in the mix by claiming HHH regularly walked into the women’s locker room or even bathrooms pretending to do so on accident. When Bass took WWE to court, Ryan Shamrock would go on the record to confirm what Nicole had claimed, stating that Triple H had once “surprised” her in the bathroom. Triple H heavily denied the claim and argued it would be disrespectful to women to do so, and that he always knocked and made sure “everyone was decent” before entering the women’s room. Shamrock has also been outspoken about how Chyna was consistently rude to her during their time together, which she believed contributed to Triple H’s icy feelings.
13. AJ Lee
While there is value in explaining the individual stories to elaborate on the specifics, the fact of the matter is that WWE and the wrestling industry in general have been treating women poorly for decades. AJ Lee, who at one point was the longest reigning WWE Divas Champions and was one of the superstars to start the current revolution in women’s wrestling, blew the whistle on Twitter in a series of messages to Stephanie McMahon that proved just how poorly the women were still being treated in WWE. According to AJ, she and her female coworkers were being paid fractions of what the male talent received, were given less onscreen opportunities, and were regularly ignored and mistreated by the writers who were supposed to make them stars. Stephanie barely responded to AJ’s comments and AJ retired from wrestling to focus on outside endeavors shortly after coming public with her complaints.
Gimmick infringement isn’t something that gets brought up often in the wrestling industry, although it is a shockingly common concept in both the minor and major leagues. Recently, former NXT superstar Maxine alleged that WWE stole a gimmick she contrived and gave it to Aksana. Maxine’s idea was to take a role she originated in FCW to SmackDown, that of a seductive and power-hungry woman who would seduce General Manager Teddy Long in an attempt at stealing his job. Days after she pitched the character, WWE officials told Maxine to switch up her look because they wanted to give it to Aksana instead. Rumors at the time indicated Aksana was friends with Triple H, who discovered and hired her. Luckily, Maxine is clearly a creative person and was able to redefine herself yet again in Lucha Underground as Catrina.
Being the member of a famous family has countless perks in the wrestling industry, as Natalya Neidhart is certainly aware. The daughter of former WWE World Tag Team Champion Jim Neidhart and by extension a relative of Hall of Famer Bret “The Hitman” Hart made Natalya standout from day one as a potential highlight of the women’s division, and her considerable in-ring skills solidified her chances as a long-term superstar. Unfortunately, WWE decided the best way to keep Natalya’s momentum going was to give her one of the dumbest and most offensive gimmicks in company history, that being Natalya suffered from particularly horrendous suffering flatulence. Natalya lost matches because referees couldn’t handle the smell and other superstars regularly embarrassed her with disgusted looks and clenched noses. The only solace to the gimmick is that it didn’t last long and Natalya somehow recovered to enjoy a relatively normal career since her problem went away.
10. Wendi Richter
Decades before the more recent women’s wrestling revolution, Wendi Richter caused a revolution of her own when she was arguably the second most popular wrestler in the world at the peak of the Rock and Wrestling Connection. Granted, Richter achieved this notoriety due to her link with Cyndi Lauper, but it nonetheless was undeniable just how popular Richter was. Richter rode her fame to two reigns with the WWE Women’s Championship and it was during her second stint with the belt that WWE would reveal their true feelings about Richter, thus changing the nature of their relationship for decades. Richter was having financial disagreements with the company, so WWE perpetrated the original screwjob and instructed The Fabulous Moolah to legitimately pin Wendi without her knowledge during a match at Madison Square Garden. Wendi was more furious with Moolah than WWE in general, never again speaking to her former teacher. On the other hand, one can presume Richter eventually forgave WWE when she was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010.
9. Rochelle Loewen
One might assume the longer a woman worked for WWE, the more likely that woman was to face some sort of discrimination by the male talent she worked with. No so, according to Rochelle Loewen, one of the shortest tenured WWE Divas in history, due directly to the way she was treated by men in the locker room. From day one, Randy Orton specifically targeted Loewen and harassed her, and perhaps even worse is the fact Orton was apparently never punished for what he did to her. The offense consisted of pouring baby lotion all over Loewen’s belongings and it came as a result of her not knowing Orton’s name the day they met. Orton’s reputation as a spoiled pretentious child only grew worse after this incident and Loewen left the company in disgust.
Spousal abuse is a subject that should always be taken seriously and yet, unfortunately, the most common response seems to be to sweep it under the rug and act like nothing was wrong. Debra Marshall famously broke this trend in 2002 when she called the police on her husband “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, who had just assaulted her in their Texas home. According to Debra, this was the third time Austin had assaulted her and the first two times, WWE begged her not to go public with his attacks. Debra allegedly even showed up to work with bruises, raising suspicion of her co-workers, albeit not because they wanted to protect her—Debra felt the other superstars were merely worried that if she talked, WWE would lose their top star. As it would turn out, despite Debra having gone public, Austin’s career has barely been damaged, largely due to WWE having covered up his crimes for so long.
7. Vickie Guerrero
In certain respects, few women have actually been treated better than Vickie Guerrero. The wrestling industry has a terrible penchant for superstars dying young and WWE most certainly took care of Vickie in every way possible after the tragic and early death of her husband Eddie. The mistreatment started a few years later, when Vickie was turning into one of the biggest heels in WWE and the most popular babyface stars in the company started to focus their issues with her solely on her larger than average (for a women in WWE) weight. Jerry Lawler’s incessant fat jokes were bad enough, but it was John Cena joining in on the insults that really brought the body shaming to another level and made Vickie deserving of mention on this list. Luckily, Vickie was able to look past the insults and achieve a career outside of wrestling and free of mockery by her coworkers.
6. Mickie James
Ten years before the current WWE women’s revolution, Mickie James was the center of one of the most exciting feuds women’s wrestling had ever witnessed. Mickie played a Single White Female inspired stalker/lover/crazed fan of Trish Stratus and quickly stood out due to the fact her in-ring skills were as noteworthy as her unique manic persona. WWE rewarded Mickie with an angle a few years later where she was the subject of severe bullying by Michelle McCool and Layla El, who renamed the multi-time WWE Women’s Champion as “Piggy James.” Laycool repeatedly and harshly mocked Mickie for an imagined weight problem and though the insults were unwarranted, they nevertheless cut deep enough that Mickie shed real tears in the ring more than once as a result of the bullying. Worst of all, once the bullying was all said and done, the company fired Mickie in April 2010 without any warning or justification, with her last match being a definitive loss to women who made her cry.
It might be a little bit vague and generalizing of us to be claiming these women were treated poorly by WWE, so let’s put a face on this one: Chyna was treated terribly by Triple H. As most wrestling fans are aware, Triple H had been dating Chyna for some time when he began cheating on her with his future wife Stephanie McMahon and all reports indicate the affair is what lead to Chyna’s life completely falling to pieces. Things weren’t good for her on screen, either, as she was quickly taken off television once Triple H and Stephanie’s relationship went public and then fired a few months later for highly disputed reasons. Granted, the reason for the dispute is mostly Chyna herself, who had a history of drug problems extending long before her time in WWE. How badly the company exactly impacted her may be up for debate, but one thing that’s clear is Triple H cheated on her and basically got her fired a few months later.
4. Trish Stratus
Trish Stratus didn’t suffer quite as harshly as most of the other women on this list and she herself would probably have nothing but good things to say about her time in WWE. However, the unavoidable reality is that Stratus was the centerpiece to what was almost certainly the single most misogynistic and blatantly offensive moment in WWE history. In March of 2001, Vince McMahon forced Trish to strip to her underwear, get down on all fours, and crawl around the ring while barking like a dog. The angle mercifully ended shortly after Trish started crying, although the damage had been done and it was pretty evident what the real McMahon thought about women while writing the segment. Stratus, McMahon, and others have long defended the episode as being part of wrestling’s long tradition of good and evil and it’s true that good eventually triumphed over the evil McMahon in this particular case. Unfortunately, the implications are too strong to be ignored and the moment will go down in WWE history as one of their most shameful.
3. Dawn Marie
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 included the lesser known Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which forbade discrimination against pregnant employees. WWE fired Dawn Marie while she was pregnant in 2005, so she filed a suit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that resulted in an undisclosed out-of-court settlement two years later. WWE never exactly treated Dawn well when she was on camera, either, considering her most memorable feud saw her strip to her underwear to wed an elderly man who couldn’t act. Not only were the things they made her do terrible, they rejected her own actually good idea, which was to reunite her ECW team with Lance Storm. Dawn’s career never recovered since she left WWE and, if anything, she’s practically been blackballed from the industry due to the lawsuit. WWE reportedly promised Dawn she wouldn’t be fired at the onset of her pregnancy, making matters much worse for the company all around and making it pretty clear what the reason for her firing was when they changed their minds a few months later.
2. Alundra Blayze
For many years, Alundra Blayze was blacklisted from WWE due to the infamous incident in which she threw the WWE Women’s Championship in the trash on WCW Monday Nitro. What WWE left out of that story was the fact they fired Alundra while she was still champion a few days before she did this and it was due to their decision to end the women’s division that Alundra felt WWE clearly didn’t have any respect for the belt or women’s wrestling in general. While performing as Madusa, Alundra Blayze had been such a stand-out talent that WWE specifically recreated their long-dormant women’s division solely to highlight her talents, only to apparently get bored with the concept less than two years later and fire her without any warning. Thankfully, Alundra’s place in history was finally restored decades later in 2015, when she was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
1. Bertha Faye
Male or female, few wrestlers were treated as poorly in public by WWE as Rhonda Sing, better known as Bertha Faye by WWE fans. That moniker alone shows exactly what Vince McMahon thought about the woman revered around the world as the feared Monster Ripper, one of the most talented female wrestlers of her day. Vince took a unique and popular gimmick and turned her into Bertha Faye, “The Queen of the Trailer Park” and a comic love interest for manager Harvey Wippleman. Faye managed to briefly hold the WWE Women’s Championship when she defeated Alundra Blayze at SummerSlam 1995, but wasn’t able to enjoy the success, feeling her character was reductive and restrictive. The main focus of her gimmick had nothing to do with her in-ring skills and mostly served as foil for Jerry Lawler to make rude and demeaning jokes about Singh’s appearance rather than comment on her singular skill set. Rhonda’s career never quite recovered after what WWE put her through and she sadly passed away in 2001.
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