The dynamics of professional wrestling has changed a lot in the recent times. World Wrestling Entertainment’s top babyface in Hulk Hogan was cheered on wherever he went back in the day. WWE’s biggest babyface today, Roman Reigns, however, is booed like no other wrestler has been booed ever before.
The women’s division has also undergone numerous changes. The name itself has undergone a change, with WWE scrapping the Divas division in favour of forming today’s women’s division in mid-2016. With the scrapping of Divas division, WWE’s attitude toward female talents and how they portray them on WWE television has also changed big-time.
WWE’s Heads of Talent Relation used to identify future Playboy models while signing female talents back in the day, but today’s landscape sees the women make their way to WWE just like their male counterparts do: grinding on the indie circuit before impressing in WWE try-outs. Thus, the difference between the working style and appearance of the female talents of yesteryear and today’s talents is stark.
The following article looks at eight former female talents (divas) who put some today’s talents’ looks to shame. We'll also look at today's female Superstars who have clearly surpassed the women of the past in terms of wrestling ability.
15 Looks: Stacy Keibler
During her seven years with WWE and WCW, the only accolade Stacy Keibler collected was the Babe of the Year award in 2004. With WWE then putting the Women’s Championship title on anyone who could perform an Irish whip, her empty trophy cabinet underlines her poor wrestling ability. That said, she was one of the major players during the Invasion angle and thereafter until her release in 2005. She wrestled numerous racy matches, including WWE’s first-ever bra and panties match, first-ever lingerie match and first-ever mud match.
Plus, WWE had her work as Scott Steiner’s servant, perform a memorable table dance for Vince McMahon on live television and do a strip tease in front of a live audience. She’s now branched out into acting and modelling and, even at 38, she would still pass as the most stunning women in WWE were she to return.
14 Talent: Sasha Banks
To be the only female talent to be featured heavily on the WWE 2K18 advertisement is a huge achievement in itself, but her in-ring accomplishments mean she’s meant to be there. She’s main-evented numerous WWE Pay-Per-Views, with her 30-minute first-ever women’s Iron Man match against Bayley at NXT TakeOver: Respect being the first instance. In October 2016, she and Charlotte Flair main-evented Hell in a Cell in the first-ever women’s HIAC match, weeks after becoming the first women to be on Raw’s main event in 13 years.
To achieve what’s she’s managed to achieve at the tender age of 25 highlights her incredible wrestling ability. The Boss has surely changed the landscape of women’s wrestling, with the aid of the other three Four Horsewomen, Emma, Paige, and Asuka.
13 Looks: Kelly Kelly
When a wrestler does a weekly striptease segment on live television, you know why the company has hired them. WWE fast-tracked her to the main roster after just a month with Ohio Valley Wrestling, and all she’s asked to do at the age of 19 was to perform a striptease for the crowd. She had her own segment titled Kelly’s Expose, which was later repackaged as Extreme Expose with El Layla and Brooke Adams joining her. As she learned the craft, though, WWE began promoting her as a credible talent and even put the Divas Championship on her once. That said, she’s hands-down the sexiest women from the late Ruthless Aggression Era and early PG Era.
Thanks to a serious neck injury, she had to cut her wrestling career short and, unsurprisingly, she began pursuing modelling. She now works as a model and reality TV star, under pseudonym Barbie Blank.
12 Talent: Becky Lynch
Before Women’s Revolution, the road to WWE was different for either gender. Becky Lynch and the Four Horsewomen have now changed the dynamics of women’s wrestling for the better, as they’ve proven that women can also make it to WWE through sheer hard work on the indie circuit. Wrestling in North America, Europe and Asia on her way to gaining an NXT contract, she’s had a career trajectory similar to that of Daniel Bryan or AJ Styles. WWE showed their faith in her when they made her SmackDown Live’s first female draft pick in WWE Draft 2016, ahead of former world champions Chris Jericho, Kevin Owens, The Miz and Sheamus. Although she hasn’t had as many title reigns as she deserves, she, a 15-year veteran, is a crucial cog in the machine, definitely.
11 Looks: Trish Stratus
Trish Stratus is everyone’s favourite Attitude Era diva and rightfully so. She essentially embodied a quintessential WWE diva. She often wore bikini to the ring. She acted in numerous racy segments (which would make today’s audience uncomfortable), including the one in which she behaves like a dog after stripping down to her underwear. She wrestled numerous bra and panties matches and played up her sex appeal greatly, earning herself a huge following in the teenage community then.
She even went as far as going under the knife to enhance her assets, and WWE rewarded her commitment by making her the poster girl of the women’s division. She wasn’t just eye candy, though, as she was good enough in the ring to main-event Raw with Lita in July 2004. Despite being 41 and the wear and tear she’d sustained, she remains in perfect shape with the aid of yoga.
10 Talent: Bayley
We did an article on the women wrestlers who were never signed for their looks in March 2016, and it’s only fitting that Bayley, who ranked second in that, makes this list as well. She grew up watching wrestling and wanting to be a wrestler, so she naturally did what most wrestlers she adored did: learning the art through hours of training with hopes of being scouted by WWE. She’s hardly relied on her looks and banks heavily on her superb wrestling ability to be as great a wrestler as she can be. In an era when someone as good as Emma has no place in WWE, Bayley’s being one of the top five wrestlers bears testimony to her talent. It’s a fact that she hasn’t been able to show what’s she’s capable on the main roster, and here’s hoping the creative writers watch the classics she’d had under Triple H at NXT.
9 Looks: Candice Michelle
One of the hottest Ruthless Aggression Era divas who were signed without any previous experience as a wrestler, Candice Michelle went on to have a five-year stint with WWE. Persistent injuries in 2008-09 meant the one-time Women’s Championship holder didn’t try her hand at indie wrestling, like her former colleagues Mickie James or Melina Perez did. Both WWE – and the California resident herself – however, milked her appearance as much they could during her time there, as they brokered a Playboy deal for her, made her wrestle in a Bra and Panties Gauntlet match and Playboy Pillow Fight, be Vince McMahon’s on-screen mistress and the WWE made her seduce Kelly Kelly after partnering her in a Kelly Expose segment. Also a model and actor, she’d always be one of the hottest WWE divas of all time.
8 Talent: Paige
Paige has had a horrible couple of years, receiving two Wellness Policy violations, sustaining a serious injury to the neck, making poor personal decisions such as inking a tattoo she regrets and having her private media leaked. Despite these, she’s only days away from making her huge WWE return, and WWE, who made her the first NXT Champion and the youngest Divas Champion on her main roster debut, haven’t lost faith in her. Dwayne Johnson’s making a movie based on her real life is a crucial reason why she’s still on WWE’s payroll, but the fact that she’s had a career – at the age of 25 – that has inspired Stephen Merchant and The Rock to make a full-length movie on makes her a huge figure in the history of women’s wrestling.
7 Looks: Maryse Ouellet
While today’s wrestlers are brought in after intense scouting and rigorous try-outs, women talents in the early noughties earned WWE contracts by entering competitions that saw them diss each other, bicker, seduce male wrestlers and do other suggestive acts in front of cameras. A talent who was unearthed from this show would probably not be brought upon for their in-ring ability, and Maryse Ouellet, who finished seventh in Divas Search 2006, was no different. Her stunning looks and remarkable poise meant male fans fell in love with her looks, and WWE, recognizing the reaction she’s receiving, put her in swimsuit competitions, Wet and Wild matches and other sensual segments before making her a two-time Divas Champion.
With her looking better than almost every other female talent on the roster, WWE brought the skimpy outfit-wearing Maryse back to manage her husband in 2016 and feature in WWE-produced movies and TV shows.
6 Talent: Asuka
Asuka is an attractive woman; however, her appearance is the last thing that comes to a hardcore wrestling fan’s mind when discussing her. She’s what WWE women’s division has never seen before, as even Beth Phoenix, Chyna and Nia Jax don’t measure up to the Japanese sensation. Her strikes look natural – and only Dana Brooke knows how real her strikes are – and she’s excellent at ring psychology despite the language barrier between her and the referee and opposing wrestler. WWE have shown that they recognize her talent by letting her go on a winning run that surpasses Goldberg’s legendary WCW winning streak. WWE drops the ball when they bring in NXT favourites, but the amount of care they put in to protect her on the main roster underlines her credentials.
5 Looks: Layla
As discussed above, most Divas Search talents hardly boast the ability required to be impressive in the ring, but Layla has often held her own when she’s in the ring. Although many fans don’t seem to rate her beauty, she’s easily one of the loveliest women WWE have ever signed, and how WWE used her during her nine-year run with the company tells us how the higher ups viewed her. The London-born diva won Divas Search 2006 before going on to be on Extreme Expose with fellow bombshell Kelly Kelly. She, much like other Divas Search talents, learned the nuances of professional wrestling as time went by and, by the time she decided to hang her wrestling boots, she had known how to put on a compelling match. Outside wrestling, she’s had a decent modelling and acting career, as she’s been featured on King, Smooth, Liquid, FHM and Flex Magazine.
4 Talent: Ember Moon
Ember Moon might have been a multiple-time NXT Women’s Champion if Asuka hadn’t not had great matches under Triple H. She’d essentially been the second-best wrestler in NXT for a long time, with other female wrestlers largely languishing in Asuka’s shadow for a long time. Asuka’s being called up to the main roster must now see her become a dominant figure on NXT, as she remains the only wrestler who really looked a major threat to Asuka’s glorious reign. The 29-year-old Texan-born talent is a 10-year veteran, who had wrestled for Shimmer Women Athletes, Women Superstars Uncensored and Ring of Honor before being signing for WWE.
Although she hasn’t had much success in WWE besides her maiden NXT Women’s Championship win, she would easily school many multiple-time champions from the past.
3 Looks: Taryn Terrell
Only a handful of female talents look as hot as Taryn Terrell does, and it’s a shame that WWE Universe didn’t get to watch her in action much. Thanks to a plethora of personal issues, though, she has left wrestling for the second time recently, but the fans she’d made during her three-year stint with WWE would always love to welcome her back. Working as Tiffany, she boasted the looks to be the next Kelly Kelly at the very least, but she didn’t have the right frame of mind and ended up being released in 2010 after a public altercation with then-husband Drew McIntyre. She now has 10 years of top-level wrestling experience and one TNA Knockouts Championship and one OVW Women’s Championship reign under her belt, but she’ll only be remembered her for being ridiculously sexy by wrestling fans.
2 Talent: Charlotte Flair
Charlotte Flair initially didn’t look good in the ring, but she now looks the most legitimate female talent in WWE thanks to her superior athleticism, size and in-ring ability. It’s amazing how she’s become as good as she’s in a short period of time. Vince McMahon’s decision to hastily end Natalya’s SmackDown Women’s Championship reign to make her be the Women’s Champion at Survivor Series confirms how great a talent and how big a draw she is, and her being the daughter of Ric Flair only gives her an edge over the other talents. While she’s considered one of the best talents in a period that also has Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Bayley wrestling at the top level, she’d have no problem being better than almost every diva from the past inside the squared circle.
1 Looks: Torrie Wilson
The best accessory anyone can have is a good attitude. I don’t care how nice your car is, how badass your job is, who you can introduce me to..if the attitude reads bad please step aside. - That attitude has probably kept me from certain opportunities throughout life, but that’s fine by me! It only takes 1 toxic seed in your garden to begin spreading and killing those beautiful flowers. PROTECT your garden & keep blooming sunshine. :) - TYPE YES IF YOU AGREE! 🙌🏼 - #AttitudeIsEverything #PositiveEnergy #KeepItReal #PeaceOfMind #FitMind #FitBody #FitSoul #StayHappy
She never had the tools to put on a wrestling spectacle, but WWE themselves didn’t need their women to do that back in the day. She did what she was asked to do impeccably: mesmerize the adult fans. She wrestled numerous bra and panties match and featured in many hot segments that made huge Torrie Wilson marks out of male viewers. Unsurprisingly, she has never won a wrestling title in her nine-year career, and she was featured only in Playboy-themed storylines. If one shows a wrestling fan who hasn’t watched since Attitude Era her Instagram pictures, they’ll likely flip out. While most other divas from that era have let it go, she, at the age of 42, continues to look as terrific as she used to do during her wrestling days.