To most wrestlers, the WWE Universe is the be all end all of sports entertainment. It’s the one place all aspiring grapplers hope to one day work, at long last giving them the chance to share the craft they’ve trained for their whole lives with all the world. Well, kind of. Up until quite recently, this has pretty much only applied for the male half of the roster. On the plus side, things have finally been coming around for women’s wrestling to an extent female grapplers are almost as respected as the men.
Before this so-called women’s wrestling revolution began, females in WWE were largely hired for two reasons, and neither had anything to do with grappling ability. Granted, from the very beginning, there have been some incredibly talented female wrestlers who became great successes in WWE even when the company was solely focused on hiring ladies for their attractiveness. Of course, these few outliers were generally also beautiful, but that doesn’t in any way diminish the genuinely great in-ring work they offered.
At the same time, however, when a beautiful female wrestler did an awful job and it becomes clear why she was hired, it makes both the sports entertainer and WWE look bad for putting a dud on national television. The worst part is, whenever a pretty but untalented female wrestler appeared on Raw, there was some actually talented grappler out there, maybe even backstage in WWE, who was passed over for no good reason. Keep reading for 8 female wrestlers Vince McMahon completely wasted and 7 he pushed for all the wrong reasons.
15 WASTED: Tiffany
Given the way her career progressed, WWE may well have been entirely reasonable in keeping Tiffany, later known as Taryn Terrell, in the relatively low key authority role she made her debut in. On the other hand, as she made the transformation to Terrell in Total Nonstop Action and turned into one of the most successful Knockouts Champions that company would crown, it started to feel like WWE might have missed out on something pretty great. If not stuff of legends, Terrell/Tiffany was at least capable of far more than confusing segments on a dying C-Show, which was basically all she amounted to as the final General Manager of ECW. Oddly, while Terrell’s talent at grappling would soon make her a star, it was almost immediately after ECW was dissolved and WWE first let Tiffany show her stuff in the ring that they decided to wish her luck on her future endeavors.
14 WRONGLY PUSHED: Kelly Kelly
To many fans, Kelly Kelly was so wooden, free of personality, and devoid of wrestling skills, not to mention hired only for her blonde hair and blue eyes, that she may has well been called by her real name, Barbie Blank. That’s pretty much all she was to Vince McMahon, gorgeous doll he initially booked as an “extreme exhibitionist” who just couldn’t keep her clothes on. That said, blatantly serving as eye candy was a better role for Kelly than when WWE actually started pushing her as a wrestler, at one point even letting her win the Diva’s Championship and win a mixed tag team match with the World Champion, Edge, as her partner. Nowhere in her ascent up the card did Kelly get better at wrestling or giving promos, but she was still very beautiful, and that’s all that mattered to Vince McMahon.
13 WASTED: Gail Kim
In all fairness to WWE, when it comes to Gail Kim, they at least started things off on a pretty good foot. During her initial stint with the company, Gail actually won the WWE Women’s Championship in her first match. The only problem was the match she did so in was entirely random and without any promotion, making it hard for fans to care about this mysterious newcomer. That continues in subsequent weeks, and in fact lasted the whole month she held the title. Gail was never given any interview time, storyline focus, or even an ongoing feud. Instead, she appeared out of nowhere, won the title, and lost it a month later without doing anything of note with the gold, the most literal definition of a transitional champion possible. Seeing the writing on the wall, Gail soon decided to leave WWE, eventually turning into one of the more legendary knockouts in TNA/GFW history.
12 WRONGLY PUSHED: The Fabulous Moolah
By and large, when this list says a wrestler was pushed for all the wrong reasons, we’re talking about the countless ladies who Vince McMahon made stars solely because of their significant T&A. However, this isn’t the only “wrong reason” a pro wrestler can wind up a success. Take for instance the The Fabulous Moolah, who won her last WWE Women’s Championship at 76 years old, a feat that better have a darn good reason justifying it, lest fans find it utterly ridiculous. Unfortunately, the only reason Moolah won the title was that she always had Vince McMahon in her pocket for whatever reason, even well after she became a senior citizen. Moolah used this same vice grip over the McMahon family to remain Women’s Champion for twenty-odd years, a move that not only hurt that title, but also all female wrestlers around the country, who were forced to let the untalented, elderly Moolah stand as their most visible representative.
11 WASTED: Luna Vachon
One of the most talented, intense, and all around unique pro wrestlers of her day, it’s a true travesty that Luna Vachon never won the WWE Women’s Championship, or any equivalent honor. In many respects, Luna was the first true anti-diva, or at least she would have been, had she not predated the whole “diva” concept altogether. She was around during the Attitude Era as the term came to prominence, far outperforming contemporaries like Sable, Jacqueline, or Tori in the ring, and yet never getting their mainstream spotlight or title shots. Earlier, circa 1993, Luna had been feuding women like Sherri Martel and Alundra Blayze, and though some of her promos during this era were extremely creative and unlike anything else on TV at the time, she was repeatedly ignored. Sadly, the first time around Luna’s own merits had little to do with it, as Vince simply didn’t care about women’s wrestling at all back then. For more proof of that fact, well, keep reading.
10 WRONGLY PUSHED: Debra
Quite frankly, the WWE women’s division was so atrocious at the onset of the Attitude Era that there was really no harm in making Debra the Women’s Champion for a few short weeks in 1999. Sable was on her way out of the company, Ivory had yet to establish herself, Vince McMahon didn’t like Luna Vachon for some reason, and Tori would have been a worse option than all of the above. Debra was certainly the most popular of this batch, and though this popularity was directly linked to one “King” Jerry Lawler constantly fawning over her “puppies,” it doesn’t really matter why the crowd is cheering, so long as it’s reacting at all. On the other hand, Debra was never actually trained as a wrestler, nor did she ever compete in an actual match, winning the belt in a weird, reverse bra & panties match and losing it in a 4-way dance she had very little involvement in. Maybe she deserved some spotlight, but giving her gold was going too far.
9 WASTED: Ivory
The antithesis to the untrained divas populating the Attitude Era, all of whom were clearly hired for the same reason, there was one shining diamond in the rough who actually knew how to wrestle, outclassing her competition in every way. Actually, this gal was less of a diamond and more of an Ivory, the name she used en route to three runs with the WWE Women’s Champions. Now, it would be fair at this point to ask how a celebrated female wrestler with that much gold to her name could be considered “wasted,” as WWE did indeed give Ivory a significant push during her first couple years in the company. However, they pretty much stopped using her entirely around 2001, despite the fact she remained on the roster another three years after that. This was during the rise of women like Trish Stratus and Lita, both of whom Ivory wrestled once or twice, but never had an extended feud against, something all three could have benefitted from.
8 WRONGLY PUSHED: Torrie Wilson
Once again, it’s hard to blame WWE for pushing Torrie Wilson as hard as they did, both due to how the fans reacted to her and how little options they had when she was around. Unlike the Debra scenario, it wasn’t that there weren’t many women in WWE, but rather a lack of prominent females working for WCW around the time Vince McMahon purchased his competition. Along with Stacy Keibler, Torrie was one of literally only women willing to represent WCW during the Invasion, and the popularity her looks awarded her during that era carried over to another seven or eight years in the business. In this time, Torrie suffered through a number of “comically” mismatched romance angles, the weirdest of which didn’t involve her directly, but rather a relationship Torrie’s father Al shared with Dawn Marie. The less said about that the better, though, so we’ll keep it short and simply say it was terrible all around, as was the rest of Torrie’s wrestling career.
7 WASTED: The Glamour Girls
Because there’s a limited amount of room for us to discuss the long history of women in wrestling, there will no doubt be a bunch of great female grapplers we’re guilty of joining WWE in ignoring. There’s also the issue that women in wrestling were so underreported on prior to the 1990s, it’s hard to dig up any information on them at all. The first time it looked like this perception might change was during the 1988 feud between The Glamour Girls, Judy Martin and Leilani Kai, and The Jumping Bomb Angels, Noriyo Tateno and Itsuki Yamazaki. Conveniently, these four women were also the greatest female wrestlers active in America around that era (though there were plenty of others in Japan who could challenge that claim).
The Glamour Girls in particular also had history on their side, having worked for WWE throughout the 1980s and slowly developed small fan bases of their own. Despite this and the fact they were putting on matches light years ahead of their time, Vince McMahon apparently didn’t see much in the Glamour Girls, firing them while they reigned as Women’s Tag Team Champions. To rub salt in the wound, it’s almost three decades later, and the division they dominated has been all but erased from history.
6 WRONGLY PUSHED: The Bella Twins
Serving as a historical counter point to the Glamour Girls, modern day WWE has presented fans with the next great female tag team in The Bella Twins, Nikki and Brie. The differences are many, most notably that the Bellas are more traditionally attractive, albeit far less talented in the way of actual wrestling talent. This dichotomy makes it pretty easy to see why they were hired. The fact WWE have never hired or established any other prominent female tag teams to feud with the Twins and re-build a genuine division further cemented they were simply their for their looks and gimmicks. Such an endeavor would have required actual wrestling matches, something they were never all that good at. Of course, that’s not what they were hired for, so a severe lack of talent didn’t stop Nikki from becoming the longest reigning Divas Champion.
5 WASTED: Alundra Blayze
All right, so we fully admit that it’s a little hard to argue a wrestler who reigned as WWE Women’s Champion three times, the first such instance almost lasting a full year, was in any way underutilized. That is, unless you watched any WWE programming from 1993 to 1995 and happened to notice Alundra Blayze and all other women hired by the company in that time frame rarely if ever were given any actual TV time. When it came to Pay-Per-Views, Alundra was lucky to get a quickie title defense with maybe one or two interviews worth of promotion. It’s no wonder she had trouble turning this into a full fledged women’s division despite her considerable talents in the industry. Luckily, she did get to experience one great program against Bull Nakano, wrestling a few great matches on Raw and at SummerSlam 1994, yet this handful of moments hardly makes up for the months she sat on the sidelines as champion.
4 WRONGLY PUSHED: Sable
Far more so than Debra, Torrie Wilson, or any other wrestler, male or female, who have been pushed for all the wrong reasons, WWE really had no choice when it came to giving Sable a whole lot of spotlight. While claims she was as popular as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin or any other top WWE Championship are exaggerations to say the least, Sable truly was the most popular female wrestler in the world during the Attitude Era, and in some respects, this alone granted her a reign or two with the WWE Women’s Championship. The only issue was that she had never been trained as a wrestler and had almost no interest in fixing that problem, making every Women’s Championship match during her reign a total dud from the start. Sable also refused to drop the title on several occasions, preventing any other woman from undoing her wrongs until she finally got fired for her prima donna behavior.
3 WASTED: Aja Kong
Of all the women on this list, Aja Kong was truly given the least chance at success in the WWE Universe. As if being overlooked wasn’t bad enough, looking at the full story, it’s really hard to wonder why Vince McMahon even bothered hanging the Japanese legend in the first place. He did so in late 1995, allegedly as a future rival to Alundra Blayze, a fact that certainly tracks with her initial treatment in the company. In short, Kong was the most monstrous woman American wrestling had seen up to that point, dominating four opponents in a Survivor Series match and then leaving two bloody messes on subsequent episodes of Raw. And then, she just disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again. Well, in WWE anyway, as Kong soon returned to Japan and went back to wrestling incredible matches even the females revolutionizing the company today could learn a thing or two by watching.
2 WRONGLY PUSHED: Eva Marie
Historically, when WWE hired a beautiful woman for the sake of putting a beautiful woman on TV and then pushes her all the way to the Women’s Championship, the truth is, fans don’t seem to mind all that much. This isn’t that surprising, as most of the sports entertainment audience consists of young males, who see any excuse to look at a beautiful woman as completely acceptable. Recently, however, this trend appears to be shifting, as even the once chauvinistic WWE crowds waste no time in calling the company on their nonsense when a gorgeous woman is clearly hired exclusively for her looks. Case in point, Eva Marie, an actress with no actual in-ring training who WWE hired to star on Total Divas first, and actually get in the ring second. Before long, crowds realized this fact based on her performances and began to chant “you can’t wrestle” to make sure she knew about it. WWE kept pushing her anyway, though, until someone finally came to their senses and the two parties severed their relationship.
1 WASTED: Bertha Faye
All of the women on this half of the list were pretty unlucky, professionally speaking, having received a chance at international wrestling stardom that ultimately went to waste due to an out of touch old man failing to recognize their talents. That said, none had it nearly as bad as Bertha Faye, previously known as Monster Ripper. Though Bertha at least stuck around long enough to make an impact and win the Women’s Championship for a brief spell, she was forced to do so using a gimmick she called “restrictive and reductive,” and we’ll throw in “insulting and degrading” on her behalf. Under the Monster Ripper name, Faye had wrestled incredible matches in Japan and her native Canada, and likely could have kept doing so in WWE, only for Vince McMahon to turn her into the “Queen of the Trailer Park” and make fun of her weight at every opportunity. To say this affected the amount of respect fans gave her puts it lightly, as in many respects, getting hired by WWE was the death knell for her career.