WWE Divas walk a fine line. Between the ropes, they sell an illusion of power and grace. They’re supposed to be tough and strong, yet vulnerable and sexy, too. On-screen these women can look and act perfect.
But it’s just an act. They’re not perfect, and we’d do well to remember that. These lovely ladies have extremely troubled pasts, which have sometimes bled over into their futures, as well. Digging into the backgrounds of divas past and present, it was amazing to see the challenges many of these women faced to become superstars in their own right in the WWE. Many of the women on this list have overcome enormous obstacles in order to become stars we think of fondly--or, in the case of Eva Marie, maybe not-so-fondly. Sadly, some of them have also fallen prey to their own impulses, unable to rise again after they fell. This list is a stark reminder of the temptations and challenges that seem to follow all sports entertainers, not just the men. Drug use, alcoholism, domestic violence, eating disorders, sexual and physical abuse--to quote Chris Jericho: It’s on the list.
In many ways it’s more impressive that these women achieved the things they did, despite their challenges. And, I’ll be frank--it’s impressive that the No. 1 person on this list is still alive, despite all of her specific challenges. Let’s dive right in.
15 Alexa Bliss
In any room full of women, the gorgeous Alexa Bliss would stand out. The compact dynamo from Ohio is about as in-shape as it gets. But the Smackdown Women’s champion has beaten tougher foes than the ones with whom she shares the ring.
In high school, Bliss had to overcome a crippling case of anorexia. As a multisport athlete, she was always in shape, but the anorexia gave her a constant need to control what she ate and how much she worked out. It took her some time to overcome. Then in college at the University of Akron, where she was a cheerleader, the constant need to work out and be ever thinner became too much. At one point she dropped nearly 40 pounds in just six weeks. Thankfully, those days are behind her now.
14 Jillian Hall
Former WWE Divas champ Jillian Hall always seemed a little too nice to play the goofy character she portrayed on TV. But the real Jillian has a temper, as an April 2012 arrest proved. Hall got into a physical altercation with her then-husband, and when the cops arrived, it was Jillian who was arrested and charged with battery. The couple subsequently divorced, and was also arrested for DUI followed some time later.
But being arrested was nothing compared to what she’d already been through. In Feb. 2011, Hall and her husband announced they were expecting their first child. Then, scarcely two months later, Hall had to the world she’d miscarried at only 14 weeks. Reports from that time say she was devastated, and that’s easy to believe.
Where to start? Estranged from her family, Chyna, AKA Joanie Laurer, suffered from depression and substance abuse problems--both of which got worse after she got to the WWE. She was arrested for domestic violence after beating up her sex tape co-star, X-Pac (Sean Waltman), and she repeatedly told interviewers that she felt her life was spinning out of control.
And she wasn’t wrong. Chyna went to rehab for depression and substance abuse, and appeared several times on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. But she couldn’t keep her demons at bay. In April 2016, Chyna was found dead in her apartment in Redondo Beach, California. An autopsy report released in December of that year showed that Chyna had overdosed on a cocktail of alcohol, anti-anxiety drugs, painkillers, and sleeping pills. She was 46.
WWE women’s champion Charlotte takes after her father in many ways, and not all of them are good. The Nature Boy’s little girl looks at home with WWE gold strapped around her waist, but her competitive fire can come out unexpectedly. The twice-divorced 30-year-old is one of the most athletic and beautiful women to ever appear in a wrestling ring, but don’t get her angry.
In 2008, long before she signed with WWE, Charlotte was arrested for assaulting a police officer during a physical confrontation that involved her, her then-boyfriend, and her father. Charlotte pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and was sentenced to 45 days in jail. Fortunately for her, the sentence was suspended, so she served supervised probation and paid a $200 fine. Since then, Charlotte has stayed out of trouble in public, saving her altercations for the squared circle.
11 Rosa Mendes
In 2012, Rosa Mendes accused her then-boyfriend of domestic violence, but while many people in the WWE doubted her story, her problems were deeper than a flawed relationship. The following year, the Diva was sent home from a European tour for “personal reasons.” But wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer reported that she was partying too much on the tour, with one company source even referring to her as “a mess.”
But Mendes, real name Melina Roucka, took the opportunity to enter rehab for substance abuse, and it’s apparently worked. The former manager of Primo and Epico is in a new relationship and still with the WWE, albeit on maternity leave after giving birth to a daughter in February 2016.
10 Luna Vachon
There was always something sad about the wild, out-of-control character that Luna Vachon portrayed in WWE. Sporting a partially shaved head, colorful tattoos, and a muscular frame, Vachon was basically the anti-Diva. Born out of wedlock and adopted by Mad Dog Vachon when he married her mother, Luna was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Married three times, Vachon also reportedly dealt with substance abuse, as well as domestic violence from at least one of her lovers, ‘Dirty’ Dick Slater. In the late 2000s, she converted to Christianity, but her luck remained hard. A fire destroyed her home and all of her wrestling memorabilia. She died less than a year later, overdosing on oxycodone and benzodiazepene. She was only 48 years old.
9 Mickie James
The 2017 return of Mickie James to WWE rings has been a personal triumph for her--but to be honest, most of her life has been a triumph after overcoming years of sexual assault by a member of her own family. Over a period of six years, from the ages of 9 to 15, James and her sister were abused by their step-grandfather. She’s been remarkably open about the incident, telling interviewers that she no longer has trouble talking about that time in her life because she knows she didn’t do anything wrong.
James has also opened up to interviewers about how going through something that traumatic as a young person affected her decision-making process, sometimes in negative ways. But, she says, it has also made her stronger and more willing to fight for what she believes in.
8 Stephanie McMahon
Rumors and innuendo--that’s all it comes down to. But one of the most unshakeable rumors in WWE history is that Macho Man Randy Savage had sex with Stephanie McMahon in 1994, when she was just 17, and Savage was 40. Wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer is on record saying that he believes something sexual happened between the two, and that--along with Savage defecting to WCW--is why the Macho Man was persona non grata for years in the WWE.
But again--it’s all rumor. Stephanie has never addressed the Macho Man situation (if there was one). What we do know for certain is that Steph did end up having a thing for wrestlers, starting a relationship with Triple H while he was still dating Chyna. If she ever pens a tell-all memoir, maybe we’ll finally get an answer to the most Savage of rumors.
7 The Fabulous Moolah
There was a time when women who wanted to be professional wrestlers couldn’t be trained by anyone except Mary Lillian Ellison--otherwise known as the Fabulous Moolah. But unfettered access to young and attractive women led to a dark path, as many of her proteges have documented.
Multiple female wrestlers trained by Moolah have come forward to say that her ‘training’ and booking service was nothing more than a way to pimp out unsuspecting young women for sex with promoters or wrestlers. Moolah is also accused of having sex with many of her female trainees. And even more wrestlers have credible stories of Moolah skimming their paychecks or even withholding funds completely in order to keep her stranglehold on women’s wrestling. For people who only saw Moolah and Mae Young as a comedy act in the 1990s and 2000s, the real-life thuggishness of Moolah can be something of a surprise. Some still give Moolah the benefit of the doubt because she was physically abused by male wrestlers (including her husband) while she was trying to break into the business, but as her actions come to light, more and more people are turned off by what they see.
6 Eva Marie
The hate is strong with this one. The WWE was banking on Eva Marie’s incredibly good looks to endear her to fans worldwide. Instead, her initial signing was a misstep, as the WWE Universe had come to expect more than just a pretty face when it came to its female competitors. Eva Marie had no idea what she was doing in a wrestling ring, and was quickly cut from television.
But she didn’t stay gone long. Eva Marie worked hard to overcome her liabilities, and was once again featured on WWE TV--this time on Total Divas, where Cameron (you’ll see her momentarily) outed that the red-haired beauty had once posed for nude photographs. Eva Marie also revealed she’s a recovering alcoholic, which is no day at the beach for anyone who’s been through that struggle.
WWE Diva Cameron started as a Funkadactyl (remember them?) and moved on to have a respectable--although short--career as a superstar in her own right, teaming with Naomi before the pair split and feuded with one another. But the Los Angeles native made a tough mistake that nearly cost her more than just her career.
Cameron (real name Ariane Andrew) was arrested by police officers in Tampa Bay, Florida, in 2012 for driving under the influence. According to police reports at the time, she blew a .20 on the Breathalyzer during the traffic stop, more than twice the legal limit. Cameron compounded this problem by allegedly offering the arresting officers a bribe of $10,000, because she was concerned about losing her job over the incident. But she needn’t have worried. After serving a two-week suspension, Cameron was back on TV for the WWE.
4 Molly Holly
Wait--why in the world is the wholesome, good-natured, incredibly thoughtful Molly Holly on this list? The real-life Nora Greenwald is renowned for her Christian faith, for her kindness and for her generosity. But she’s had her struggles, too. Plagued by an eating disorder, Molly overcame that and had a successful WWE career before making the choice to leave the squared circle to pursue other interests, including pursuing a serious romantic relationship.
But Molly’s life was torn apart when her recovering-addict husband, Geno Benshoof, was arrested on drug-related charges. Geno is currently serving a sentence of 75 months in prison. In a tearful interview, Molly discussed how her husband’s slip back into drugs and alcohol caused her to question her faith. But like her sunny onscreen persona, Molly hasn’t given up on Geno. She remains married to Benshoof, despite his incarceration.
3 Carmella DeCesare
Carmella is one of the forgotten WWE Divas, and with good reason: She really didn’t do a whole lot during her career in sports entertainment. In fact, when researching this article, I couldn’t remember who she was. I kept thinking she was Candice Michelle. I’m not saying the mid-2000s Divas were pretty interchangeable, but you can draw your own conclusions.
Carmella was hired by WWE after appearing in the 2004 Diva Search (and after appearing in Playboy and becoming Playmate of the Year). But her big secret is her temper. Carmella pleaded not guilty to assault in September 2004, stemming from a bar fight with a woman a month before. Carmella was accused of attacking a woman named Kristen Hine after discovering that her future husband, Cleveland Browns quarterback Jeff Garcia, was cheating on her with Hine. DeCesare was acquitted, and she and Garcia went on to get married and begin a family together.
2 Ashley Massaro
Ashley Massaro was on a hot streak. She’d won a couple of Miss Hawaiian Tropic pageants, appeared as a model in FHM, Stuff, and Maxim, as well as appearing as a contestant on Survivor: China prior to ever setting foot in a wrestling ring. But Massaro, who joined the WWE by winning the 2005 Diva Search, was hiding something.
A 2008 Rolling Stone story alleged that then-Diva and Playboy model Ashley Massaro had worked as a high-priced call girl prior to being signed by the WWE. Massaro was one of many women from across the country who supposedly worked for Michelle Braun, AKA ‘Nici,’ a notorious Los Angeles madam and was outed--by name--during an FBI investigation. While Massaro didn’t address the allegations, and the WWE had no official comment on the matter, she parted ways with the leader in sports entertainment just a couple of months later, citing her daughter’s illness.
Oh, come on. You knew Sunny was gonna be ranked at the top of this list, didn’t you? As the first real WWE ‘Diva’, Sunny was magnetic on the screen. She was absolutely beautiful, and far worse in real life than the scheming vixen she played on TV. Stories about Tammy ‘Sunny’ Sytch abound, from allegedly trading sexual acts for Somas to cheating on hubby Chris Candido with multiple superstars like HBK (who accused Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart of having an affair with her, as well).
Many of Sytch’s problems unfortunately appear to stem from substance abuse. She was arrested four times in a period of four weeks in 2012, charged with multiple offenses, and served 114 days in jail as a result. That wasn’t Sytch’s last brush with the law, either, as she was arrested three times in May and June of 2015, and sentenced to jail time, which she avoided by going to rehab. Sytch has since starred in an adult movie and released a tell-all memoir.
That’s the list. Did I miss one? Find me on Twitter: @bobbymathews and tell me about it.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!