Female wrestlers have always faced a huge challenge. Even back in the Golden Age, they were treated as a novelty act despite their fantastic success, Mildred Burke among their biggest stars. It continued through the ‘80s as the WWE had a push for them (even a Women’s Tag Team title) but that soon faded to the wayside. While a brief return in the ‘90s came out, it took the later part of the decade and the rise of the “Divas” to give female workers more of a spotlight and their fame today thanks to “Total Divas” making them more relatable. From Playboy shoots to actual matches, the Divas of wrestling are notable, WWE getting the most attention but TNA also having their Knockouts and ROH offering stuff with Shimmer and other indies. They have combined to give women a good shot in wrestling but sadly, a lot of bad to go with the good.
It’s not helped that so many writers/bookers go for the lowest common denominator and treat women as just eye candy (which, to be fair, happens on regular TV shows as well). It’s not just the skimpy outfits and mud battles or bikini contests, women have come to accept that. It’s also downright degrading moments that drive fans of both sexes crazy, totally beneath those involved and making them, and women’s wrestling itself, look completely idiotic. It goes from big stars to lesser knowns but it still happens all over. WWE are the main culprits but TNA have offered more than their own horrible stuff as well. Here are 15 times women have been degraded in this business and makes you realize we still have a long way to go before things can be seen as equal.
15 Stephanie vs. Vince
Some may run Stephanie McMahon down a lot for her ego and pushing herself a lot but the gal does have some smarts and skills. She also didn’t deserve to be dragged into the insane storyline in 2003 where she took exception to Vince carrying on with Sable. It soon built to an “I Quit” match and a funny bit that this was just days before Stephanie’s real wedding to HHH. Linda warned Vince about leaving her with any marks for the wedding photos. The bout was as ugly as you’d expect and truly disturbing to see a father beat on his own daughter like this. It ended with Vince choking Stephanie with a pipe so Linda had to throw in the towel and Vince crowing over beating his daughter up. It really makes you wonder about what goes on in McMahon’s mind…
14 Kharma Crying
It’s argued how much of this was real and how much pushed by WWE but the results were still bad. For years, Awesome Kong had been set up as a truly amazing worker who could crush anyone in TNA. When she was signed to WWE as Kharma, hopes were high that she could continue that run by dominating all the Divas and she was set up with nice promos and beating down some gals. On RAW, she showed up for a six-woman tag team match…and suddenly started crying. It was just strange, this monster breaking into tears and the other Divas looking at each other in confusion. The next week, Kharma would break character to announce she was pregnant and some speculate that WWE wasn’t happy about it and had pushed her into the crying bit. That was followed by her being mocked by the Bellas and promising payback but her return a year later would be brief and not at all notable. The whole thing ruined Kharma’s appeal to the fans and a seeming low shot on a good gal and thus rather petty for WWE.
13 Throw Mickie In Front of a Train
Professional wrestling, the only sport where attempted murder is answered by “payback in the ring.” TNA has done some pretty dumb stuff over the years but they really stretched it with the program as James Storm began stalking Mickie James as a way to get at Magnus. A truly fantastic star who’d been a standout for TNA, Mickie was now made into a damsel in distress in this mess and dumb to boot to fall for some tricks. That included Storm luring her to a train station in Nashville and TNA showing “security cam footage” of the two arguing on the platform before Storm threw her in front of an oncoming train.
The reaction was bad to say the least with TNA having to quickly say Mickie was not murdered, just “emotionally disturbed.” What was disturbing was TNA thinking seeing this popular gal nearly crushed would be a good idea for viewers.
12 Terri Miscarriage
Pregnancy-themed storylines rarely work out well in wrestling and here’s a prime example. Terri Runnels had teamed with Jacqueline to become Pretty Mean Sisters and working with Mark Henry and D’Lo Brown. Terri claimed to be pregnant by Val Venis but he said he had a vasectomy so it wasn’t his and dumped her. During a match, D'Lo accidentally knocked Terri off the apron and she claimed to have suffered a miscarriage.
It’s about as bad a way to end the angle as you can imagine and in very poor taste. She used that to basically turn D'Lo into her slave for a while to attack D’Lo until a doctor checking them out revealed Terri had never been pregnant. Hardly the best way to sell her as a heel and how babies and wrestling never mix well.
11 Dawn Marie and Al Wilson
WWE spent NINE months on this. Nine months of fans forced to watch a storyline that got more insane with every week. In 2002, Dawn Marie and Torrie Wilson got into a feud that started fine, but then we got the segments of Dawn Marie seducing Torrie’s father, Al, and soon fans were treated to video of them together in bed and other places and soon kissing Torrie as well. This was a true low time for WWE, pushing the idea of two women being together over wrestling, which may have seemed hot but still came off rather poor.
This then led to the wedding and Al dying of a heart attack from sex which just became fodder for the feud. Yes, two hot ladies pulled into a feud over a dying dad, a “highlight” of a really rough period for WWE.
10 Molly Holly
A truly talented worker, Molly was put through various gimmicks like “cousin” to the Hollys then “Mighty Molly” before settling into just a regular wrestler. She had the angle of trying to be all business, not into showing her body off like other Divas and putting them down in promos. Trish interrupted her in a promo to say Molly was just jealous because she “had a big ass.”
That led to her put down in promos and commentary, her pants stripped off to show granny panties and fans laughing. Of course, the big deal is that Molly’s rear isn’t bad at all and trying to say it was was just stupid. It followed her through her career (which also involved her being shaved bald) and marred an otherwise great worker with a bad insult.
9 Mae Young Gives Birth
You knew this was coming. Yes, Mae was fun with the bit of her as a randy old lady going for younger guys and still some skills in the ring for her age. The bit with her and Mark Henry was wild and soon led to her pregnancy and then the most infamous moment of the Attitude Era: Mae giving birth to a hand. It was completely stupid on every level and totally underserving of a veteran like Mae. But dammit, she somehow made it fun to watch so it wasn't as totally insulting and the fact WWE played with it over the years redeemed it a bit despite how degrading it was at the time.
8 Farting Natalya
You have to wonder sometimes what goes through the minds of WWE writers. It started with Natalya and Beth Phoenix set up as a “power duo” when Nattie accidentally passed gas during a promo. Somehow, for some reason, the writers thought this was an absolute genius idea and soon we were shown Natalya farting either doing stretches, insulting others, making Hornswoggle pass out from such a shot and more. It’s as horrible as it sounds, utterly wasted for such a talented worker and Natalya was public backstage on hating every minute of it. It was dropped but still a bit that left a bad stench on a great worker.
7 Christy Hemme vs. Fat Oily Guy
While not a great worker, Christy Hemme was still quite the looker and popular in TNA. She was pushed with a strange angle involving Kip James putting her down and somehow becoming a wrestler would solve that. Jim Cornette agreed and put her in a tuxedo match against the Big Fat Oily Guy who was famous for…well, see the name. Mike Tenay and Don West both moaned on commentary over hoping BFOG would win as they went at it, a messy battle with Christy eventually tearing off BFOG’s clothes to leave him in a red thong.
As he walked off (“Fire that cameraman!” West shouted as he was shown from the back) Christy got on the mic to demand more which led to Kip James coming out and putting her down again. Instead of coming off strong, Christy was made the butt of a bad joke and would only become an announcer after that mess which had more than a few fans wanting to pour oil in their eyes rather than watch.
6 Trish Barking
Before she was a fantastic worker, Trish was eye candy, albeit the talented kind. She was put into a long program where she took up with Vince McMahon while Linda was “comatose,” the two making out in front of the wheelchair-bound Linda and more. Disturbing but still a bit fun to watch in a twisted way. However, things got bad as Vince became paranoid and turned on Trish, having her dumped in raw sewage and standing over her, making her bark like “a dog.”
That was followed by Vince forcing her to strip to her underwear in the middle of the ring. That might not sound a bad thing but then he had Trish crawl on her hands and knees and bark like a dog, which was really rough to watch. Trish would get revenge by slapping Vince at Mania and soon embarking on her rise to serious wrestler but it showcases how much garbage she had to go through to reach the top.
It’s not like she’s the first celebrity to get a push at WrestleMania but still, having Snooki, the “star” of “Jersey Shore” on the program of Mania 27 was a bit much. After a “feud” that made little sense and a build that went nowhere, Snooki teamed with John Morrison and Trish Stratus against Dolph Ziggler and LayCool. Yes, one of the greatest female wrestlers ever had to team with Snooki. The bout was a mess that barely went over three minutes with Trish not even breaking out most of her best moves.
Snooki was only in for ten seconds, doing a cartwheel into a terrible splash on McCool to win the match. Short but not sweet by any means as you’d think Trish and LayCool could have put on a decent battle alone rather than be saddled by Snooki.
4 Piggy James
On the one hand, you can see the logic. LayCool were heels, after all, whose act was running down all the various Divas as losers and thus it made sense to target Mickie James that way. They took shots on her as being overweight and then the “Piggy James” nickname that was aided by an animation bit for the TitanTron and James seen in tears. The fact Mickie isn’t even that chubby doesn’t seem to enter into things but the truly insulting bit is that this was pushed by WWE because of concerns of Mickie branching out into music and were thus sending her a message to “know her place.” Publically embarrassing someone just to show their weight never goes over well and this didn’t at all and backfired with Mickie leaving for TNA which actually did much better by her. A clear bit of how bad WWE can get when they go too far.
3 Lockbox Challenge
Many believe Vince Russo was the downfall of the Knockouts, turning a strong division into nothing but T&A and lame jokes. It’s hard to argue when you have something like this. Eight Knockouts went at it (including Hamada, a terrific Japanese worker given nothing to do in TNA) with the idea to beat your opponent so you’d get a key but both competitors getting eliminated anyway. Even by Russo standards, the rules were a mess.
Eventually, the four “winners” got to open a briefcase on stage. Tara (the defending champion), found her pet tarantula. Velvet Sky won a shot in a match of her choosing. Angelina Love opened to find the Knockouts title. And Daffney was forced to go into the ring to do a strip tease, about as degrading a “prize” as you can imagine. It ended with a big brawl of all the ladies and the fans were the losers in this mess that proved once more Russo’s terrible mentality at work.
2 Santino Wins Divas Battle Royal
On paper, it sounded terrific. For WrestleMania 25, WWE put out the word to get numerous past Divas to take part with current ones in a 25-lady battle royal. The participants included Molly Holly, Sunny, Torrie Wilson, Gail Kim and Victoria along with Melina, the Bellas, Natalya and Beth Phoenix and numerous others. It had to be something good, right? Well, giving it only about seven minutes wasn’t nice and neither was the fact that most of the ladies barely got a decent intro before the fight began.
The match itself was muddled with various poor spots and the women just not getting the opportunity to shine. But what was truly insulting was the ending as the match was won by…Santino Marella during his time posing as his “twin sister” Santina. WWE probably thought it’d be a great joke but the fans did not agree as having him crowned “Miss WrestleMania” was utterly horrible and to have him beat all these true ladies was a slap in the face for the entire Diva division.
1 Sharmell vs. Jenna
Not just the worst major women’s match ever but one of the worst bouts in PPV history. In one of the most idiotic moves ever, TNA decided to hire Jenna Morasca, whose claim to fame was winning a season of “Survivor” years ago. This at a time when their own Knockouts were having to take second jobs to make ends meet. She was set into a feud with Booker T’s wife, Sharmell, at Victory Road 2009 and to call it horrible is being polite. The two did moves that could barely be called wrestling, just hair pulling and some rolling around while Awesome Kong just stood outside watching.
It was a total joke and not a funny one either as it dragged on before Jenna got the “pin” and then was laid out by Kong afterward. Sharmell may not be a top wrestler but being put through this atrocity was undeserving of her or anyone as it ruined the Knockouts massively and just another sign of TNA’s obsession with celebrities ruining so much.