Professional wrestling certainly has its ups and downs, but something that has always seemed to remain the same, at least for the majority of male fans, is the appeal of the women. While they may be getting more opportunities from a wrestling standpoint right now, it’s always been their physical appearance that has often had people talking.
That may be unfair and a little bit rude in some ways, because after all, they deserve to be appreciated for their skill sets as opposed to being objectified for their looks. With that being said, it’s a business model that always seemed to work for Vince McMahon, and that's allowed us to compile a list of 20 such women who were around the business 10 short years ago.
Many of them have moved on from the squared circle but a few are still hanging around, and trust us when we say that they haven’t missed a beat. Sure, some of them have aged better than others, but at the end of the day, we should be appreciating these women for their beauty on the inside just as much as their beauty on the outside.
20 Michelle McCool
She’s coming back for the Rumble, guys. She teased it on Twitter and she’s teasing it in our hearts – and we just need to see it. After all, we’re not just talking about any other performer here, we’re talking about Michelle McCool – a woman who single-handedly managed to keep the women’s division interesting back in 2009 and 2010.
She was a woman who just had the whole package and despite being forced to come through during the "Divas" era, that doesn’t take away from what she’s actually been able to accomplish in this business. McCool may be more well known for being The Undertaker’s wife, but it would be a damn shame if that wound up being her legacy after everything she’s done. Period.
19 Stephanie McMahon
The problems that we, as fans, have with Stephanie McMahon are well documented. Her presence during important segments and moments on Monday Night Raw has hampered many storylines, with the spotlight often being placed firmly on her as opposed to where it should be – on the actual in-ring performers who put their lives on the line night after night.
Still, you can’t deny that Steph is a strong and sexy businesswoman, as evidenced by how many admirers she’s always had. You may love her or you may more likely hate her, but Steph has clearly done something right over the years in order for her to be in the position that she’s currently in.
Just get rid of that horrendous theme song, for the good of everyone involved.
18 Candice Michelle
There’s no hiding the fact that Candice Michelle was probably hired for her looks, and why should we even want to hide it? She was and still is a beautiful woman who WWE saw value in, and over time, she also grew into a capable in-ring performer. She was hardly a mat technician, but at the same time, she certainly knew how to work.
It’s clear to us that she hasn’t lost her spark, with many teenage boys from the noughties fondly remembering her escapades on Monday Night Raw. Michelle recently retired from professional wrestling after sporadic appearances on the independent scene, and all we can really say as a follow up to that is thank you.
Still, an appearance in next month’s Royal Rumble wouldn’t go amiss...
17 Jillian Hall
Once we got through the ridiculous "I have a mole on my face" storyline, Jillian Hall’s character actually started to become quite interesting. While she was limited in terms of what she could actually produce as a wrestler, that didn’t prevent her from becoming one of the best talkers on the mic in the women’s division.
Some will say that the competition was hardly fierce for that kind of position, but at the same time, you can only beat what is put in front of you. Jillian hasn’t really entertained the idea of a comeback to WWE and at this stage, she’d probably end up as a lower midcarder in the same vein as someone like Alicia Fox.
Then again, perhaps there’s a valet role still out there for her.
16 Torrie Wilson
If you didn’t have a crush on Torrie Wilson back in the day then you’re lying to yourself, and that goes for men and women of all ages. Torrie was the ultimate girl next door and despite finding most of her success during photo shoots and gimmick matches, that doesn’t mean that she wasn’t willing to get down and dirty in the ring. No, we don’t mean in a gross way.
In the present day, Wilson has managed to reinvent herself through her fitness work as well as her blog, which seems to keep her fairly occupied. It’s no secret that people would love to see her come back even if it’s just for one night only, and with the first ever women’s Rumble being right around the corner, that dream could soon become a reality.
15 Beth Phoenix
When you’re talking dominant women in professional wrestling, Beth Phoenix needs to be placed towards the top of the list. Whether it be as a heel or a babyface she was always known for being an extremely credible force at the top of the division, and that includes AS a champion in addition to chasing the championship.
Nowadays, alongside husband Edge, Beth is enjoying a quieter life as a mother back home. It may not provide the same kind of thrills and spills as life on the road with WWE, but in a lot of ways, that kind of transition is what keeps many pro wrestlers from staying on past their prime. With that being said, we’d still love to see Phoenix make a short and sweet comeback one day.
Maryse is, was and likely always will be a breathtaking individual, and we should all just stop and take a minute to appreciate that. The former Divas Champion probably could’ve got away with just appearing in photoshoot after photoshoot for WWE, much like many of the women did for the company back in the noughties.
But Maryse wanted more than that and she worked hard to get it, which is something that she should be proud of. Right now she’s awaiting her first child with husband The Miz, but you can rest assured that she’ll likely be back by his side once the first few months of maternity leave are out of the way.
Sure, that may sound a little mean, but goddammit we need her back in our lives.
If you’re a fan of English wrestlers breaking out and defying all expectations, then you’ll love Layla. The former Diva Search contestant had a career that few could’ve anticipated, as she managed to combine her addictive personality with some great in-ring abilities. She may not have been the most technically sound in-ring competitor, but she certainly gave it her all night in and night out.
She tends to keep more of a low profile these days, which is fine, but we feel as if she’d be a great addition to the roster once again – and it doesn’t need to be in a wrestling capacity. There are plenty of roles which she’d thrive in and to be honest, she could probably outshine the majority of the roster on the mic if given the chance.
12 Brie Bella
Brie Bella isn’t exactly Daniel Bryan in the ring, and in a lot of ways, she was never supposed to be. Sure, she got much better which was probably due to her husband’s influence, but it was Brie’s character work that made her really stand out. After all, she did manage to get a on- on-one match with Stephanie McMahon at SummerSlam a few years back.
But regardless of what you think of her as a performer, her personal accomplishments have been making the headlines as of late – mainly due to the birth of her first child Birdie. Thanks to Total Divas and Total Bellas, we’ll be able to see the full journey of both Brie and her child as she continues to campaign for a return to in-ring action.
When it comes to being "difficult," Melina is known for having an edge to her, which lasted throughout the majority of her WWE tenure. Unfortunately, this is something that she’s just never managed to shake and despite it being quite a harsh label, we’re still choosing to remember her more fondly for her days as an actual wrestler and high-quality valet.
Melina tends to make the occasional appearance at wrestling conventions and things of that nature, but to be honest, she was never able to fulfil her overwhelming potential with WWE. A lot of fans may argue that her title runs ensured she would forever be remembered as one of the greats, but in our mind, it takes much more than that to leave a permanent impression.
10 Brooke Tessmacher
What do you get when you combine looks with personality and skill? Brooke Tessmacher. Back in the day Brooke certainly wasn’t the world-class performer that she eventually grew to become, but she was definitely someone who was willing to learn. When you fast forward to the present day, it’s clear that she’s been able to leave a solid mark on the industry – even if it was predominantly with Impact Wrestling.
Tessmacher is now a mother, which is a lifestyle that suits her down to a tee, and as you can probably tell by her Instagram comments, fans aren’t afraid to point out her new title of hot mom. While that kind of crude label isn’t something we want to promote, you can’t fault Brooke for her phenomenal work when it comes to regaining the figure she once had prior to giving birth.
9 Nikki Bella
Out of the two Bella Twins, Nikki Bella should almost certainly be seen as the superior competitor of the duo. She’s more physically imposing, had a far more impressive reign with the title, and she just seems to possess a more likeable personality in every single way imaginable.
Still, that won’t stop fans from labelling her a "gold digger," as her relationship with fiancé John Cena continues to be scrutinised at every possible turn. Thankfully Nikki doesn’t tend to take much notice of that, and it seems as if her personal growth is going as well as her professional growth.
After all, just look at what a massive difference ten years has made to her career. Say what you will about her, but she’s certainly got the determination to succeed in any walk of life.
8 Mickie James
Mickie James is a tenured veteran around these parts, and her influence within the women’s division as a whole cannot be understated. You could argue that she’s actually done it all, and that kind of portfolio doesn’t come overnight – it comes through years of hard work and dedication, with arguably her crowning moment coming when she dethroned Trish Stratus at WrestleMania.
In the present day, she’s back with the WWE, in a move that pleased virtually 99% of the WWE Universe. While she may not be getting the kind of reactions she deserves, which is clearly down to booking choices as opposed to her actual talents, she’s certainly making a strong impression and at this stage of her career, that’s all you can really ask for.
An entire generation of female superstars looked up to and idolised Lita, and why wouldn’t they? Every single thing she did turned to gold, and while there were obviously some bumps along the way, most notably the whole Edge and Matt Hardy situation, the positives of her many world-class performances far outweigh the negatives.
Despite being heavily featured on kickoff panels in the last few years, we’ve been left to wonder where Lita has been over the last few months after she was seemingly ousted from her role with WWE altogether. Still, it seems as if there couldn’t be a more perfect opportunity for her to return than – you guessed it – at the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble.
We promise to stop bringing it up soon.
6 Kelly Kelly
You may choose to ridicule Kelly Kelly and you may even choose to just focus solely on her looks, but you’d be doing yourself a massive disservice. Kelly was the ultimate company woman for a good few years and despite the fact that she was never REALLY worthy of holding onto the Divas Championship, she definitely earned a lot of people’s respect.
As fans, we don’t tend to see the hard work that these performers put into their craft behind the scenes, and that’s always a bit of a shame. Thankfully Kelly has managed to land on her feet after leaving WWE, as most women tend to do, and she’s still considered to be one of the biggest success stories post-wrestling given her high profile in the reality television world.
5 Lilian Garcia
From ring announcer to podcast guru, Lilian Garcia goes under the radar as being one of the most important women of the last few decades in World Wrestling Entertainment. Garcia has, in some ways, been the standard bearer for many other ring announcers that have come and gone – and let’s not forget some of her legendary segments with The Rock.
A few of Garcia’s recent podcasts, most notably with Alexa Bliss and Paige, have caused a great deal of buzz in the WWE Universe given some of the subject matter. She seems to have a natural talent when it comes to getting to the core of an issue, and her calm demeanour makes her all the more likeable from a fan’s perspective.
Give us more Lilian, WWE.
4 Eve Torres
The Eve Torres of ten years ago is unrecognisable to the one of today, and that’s an interesting thing to unpackage. In many ways, it’s neither a good nor a bad thing because both incarnations of Eve were fantastic in every single way imaginable, but in the end, you’ve got to look at the evidence on the table – and in this instance, the evidence suggests that Eve just keeps getting better and better.
As assistant to Big Johnny and then as the world champion she was unstoppable, and she’s managed to successfully carry that kind of momentum through to her post-wrestling career too. Torres was someone who, arguably, did a better job of being a Stephanie McMahon type character than Stephanie did herself. Fair play.
3 Ashley Massaro
Ashley Massaro is often swept under the ring when discussing influential female performers, and while that’s a fair assessment, she definitely had some quirks. As WWE’s answer to Avril Lavigne, she seemed to have a certain spark about her that made her incredibly accessible. Then again, maybe her lack of success means that it was just us that felt that way.
Massaro definitely still has a relatively large following but it’s not the kind of following that you’d expect for a former professional wrestler, and there’s a reason why many fans don’t tend to ask whether or not she’ll be returning anytime soon. Massaro served a purpose and she did a fine job, but when lined up against any one of these other 19 women, her credibility falls a little bit short.
From an outsider’s perspective looking in, Victoria’s style isn’t something that would naturally capture your attention. From her walk down to the ring to her actual abilities inside of it, she was a very unassuming figure – which is something that probably wouldn’t translate all too well if you were to place her in today’s era of women’s wrestling.
Still, what she managed to accomplish during her time in the business is no small feat, and despite being in her mid-40s she certainly still has that twinkle in her eye and a spring in her step. The only challenge now is to try and convince her to make one last run which ends up with a big WrestleMania payday in New Orleans. It shouldn’t be too hard, right?
Maria, or Maria Kanellis as some people now know her to be, has been able to successfully complete one of the most remarkable transitions in all of professional wrestling over the last decade or so. After being known for being a brainless bimbo who just liked to cause chaos and giggle backstage, she did a complete 180 upon leaving WWE.
Her time in Japan and Ring of Honor allowed her to become the well-rounded performer that she always knew she could be, with her stunning looks combining nicely with her great character work. She should’ve come back through the WWE's doors much sooner than she did, but we digress, because we shouldn’t be focusing on the negatives when she has oh so many positives to her name.
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