It’s no secret that women in pro wrestling have had a hard time getting ahead. In the “Golden Age,” they were literally used by promoters and sadly accepted it in order to try and get ahead. While it shifted up over the years, women were mostly used as valets and other distractions. Even as women’s wrestling boosted up more in the 1990s and 2000s, promoters clearly were going for looks more than real talent and how hot a lady could be rather than her in-ring abilities.
Some are able to overcome that. Trish Stratus is the perfect example as she started just as eye candy and turned into a fantastic female worker. She may have been hired primarily for her looks, but she earned everybody's respect by improving in the ring and cutting good promos. Others have gotten the same way as Candice Michelle was just around for her looks but turned into a good champion herself and a few others are the same. However, the fact remains that far too many women in wrestling only got over because of their looks, not their in-ring abilities. Here are 15 of the biggest example of ladies who used their looks to get famous and show how hard it is for women to fight for respect.
15 Candice Michelle
To be fair, she would turn into an actually decent worker, improving nicely as she held the Women’s title. But clearly, Michelle’s looks were what got her ahead. A star of the Go Daddy commercials, she showed off with a ring entrance that included tearing off her top and tight outfits to enhance her curves, offset by long dark hair and a killer smile. She worked with Vince’s Devils alongside Victoria and Torrie and her great Playboy spread got fans going and seemed to be a great case of a Diva whose looks were her main attribute.
Michelle would have injuries and training would turn her into a good worker and champion. However, her looks are what she’s better remembered for, great ones at that and she got fans going no matter what role she played on TV.
14 Ashley Massaro
A swimsuit contestant, Ashley got into the second Divas Search, standing out with her streetwise attitude, dark blonde hair, and outfits showing off her body. Winning, she was given a “punk” character, beaten down by Vince’s Devils but coming back to attack. WWE had big plans for her with a Playboy spread and pushing her for WrestleMania. However, despite their efforts, Massaro just couldn’t grasp the basics of ring work and her matches were pretty bad.
She was more over by her looks and her attitude but actual matches seemed to sink her and she was lost amid the other Divas even after a run on “Survivor.” Released in 2008, Massaro is back in the news alleging she was sexually abused while on a WWE tour, showing how rough ladies can have it in the business after all.
In so many ways, Tammy Sytch was the first “Diva” of modern times. Sure, female valets had been around before; but she was different, starting as the manager of Skip (husband Chris Candido) and looking fantastic in tight spandex. From there, she went on to manage various other tag teams like the Smoking Gunns, the Godwinns, and the LOD. She also became famous for her gorgeous looks, one of the first major downloaded celebrities on the internet as her bikini shots were magnificent.
While she had jobs as a commentator and hostess, her amazing beauty was the reason she was over more than anything. Sadly, her personal addictions drove her down and to a harsh level. But in her prime, no one could match Sunny’s heat and it paved the way for many to follow.
12 The Bella Twins
True, Nikki would turn into a fair worker with a record reign as Divas champion. But from the beginning, it’s clear the Bellas have used their looks and being twins as the key reason they got ahead. To be certain, two incredibly gorgeous women who look exactly alike is alluring and they’ve used it to their advantage. From tag matches to dressing up in matching costumes, it's helped them get over.
Their fame grew thanks to “Total Divas,” as it introduced “Brie Mode,” with her hard-partying antics on full display although she does seem to have grown out of that. Of course, their feud with each other is cited as one of the absolute worst of the last several years but the Bellas have achieved stardom and show that twice really can be nice with hot ladies.
11 Torrie Wilson
A fitness instructor, Wilson got attention in WCW in programs with David Flair, as her blonde hair and fantastic body put her over even when the company was in rough shape. In WWE, she became even bigger with a “Playboy” spread, and she became a must-see at Halloween time with her various sexy costumes. Her bikini shoots were always a big deal and she was involved in the nutty storyline when her “father” was seduced by Dawn Marie that went on for months.
Another “Playboy” spread involved a feud with Sable and Wilson truly was one of the hotter Divas of her time. Whether alone or part of “Vince’s Devils” with Victoria and Candice Michelle, she was always in a prominent spot on television. Still looking fantastic, Wilson may have been known off her looks but in a great way for the 2000s.
10 Jackie Gayda
Her looks starting out were good, as she had a pretty face, nice curves, blonde hair and looked good in tight dresses. Gayda was a co-winner of “Tough Enough” and pushed up because of it as WWE hoped to make her a good worker. It failed, as proven by the now-infamous 2002 RAW tag team match with Trish, Bradshaw and Chris Nowinski where Gayda botching literally every move she tried and Jim Ross actually apologized to the fans for it. Even further training wasn’t enough as she really remained due to her marriage to Charlie Haas.
She left for a brief and rather bad TNA run, the indies and today runs a nutritional shop in California. It’s a bit bad that Gayda is famous for an atrocious match more than anything else as her looks couldn’t make up for lack of ring skills.
9 Stacy Keibler
Ah, those legs. If ever a woman got ahead for one body part, it’s Stacy Kiebler and those epic 42-inch legs. A skilled dancer, Kiebler had gotten her break as Miss Hancock in WCW, a reason to watch in its last days. She was pushed more in WWE in various programs, as she went from managing the Dudley Boyz to working with Test and Scott Steiner. She had some wrestling matches using legs for kicks and such but clearly was a bit fragile; it was her looks that made her a star. That paved the way for further success from “Dancing With the Stars” to dating George Clooney, and Keibler even proved to have strong acting talent. Sure, she got over because of her looks but she did it damn well too.
8 Summer Rae
When you start off in lingerie football, it’s no surprise you get ahead on your looks. Summer Rae was hired by WWE in 2011 for FCW and NXT. She was okay but it was her blonde hair and great body that got her more ahead than any ring work. Pushed up to RAW, she became Fandango’s dance partner, using her skills there well before breaking into a feud. She moved on to other programs like feuding with Layla and the wild feud of imitating Lana as part of the program with Rusev and Dolph Ziggler. She was named part of the worst match of 2013 as part of the Divas battle at the Survivor Series and while looking great in dance moves, her wrestling skills aren’t what she’s known best for.
7 Rosa Mendes
Part of the first Divas Search, Mendes got her break as a “fan” of Beth Phoenix who would leap out to attack her opponents and soon becoming part of Beth and Santino Marella’s posse. For the next few years, she bounced around in various feuds and had her biggest success managing Primo and Epico to the tag titles. With her hot Latin looks, dark hair and very nice curves, Mendes is terrific on the eyes, especially in various costumes and enjoys showing it off.
Her time on “Total Divas” has enhanced her profile as well, getting her more over for her looks. She has been on a break from WWE due to motherhood but if she returns, she'll likely to continue to be a hot face to enjoy if not good in the ring.
It’s true, Rena Lesnar basically began the modern Diva era with her amazing presence and drive. It’s also true that her push and success were off her looks. Sure, she had some matches, as she was even Women’s Champion, but while she had an okay skill set, fans didn’t care about the wrestling; it was how she looked in any outfit. With an incredible body and lush blonde hair, Sable had the crowds in the palm of her hand, rocking the leather outfits and showing off skin more daring than anyone else before. She was the first to do Playboy and that memorable spread helped forge the “Attitude Era.”
Sable has admitted to letting her ego get the best of her and leaving in a cloud but she came back and is happier now in retirement. She paved the way for many Divas to follow her, although it’s obvious her looks were the key reason why.
5 Kelly Kelly
When one starts off as a Hawaiian Tropic model, looks are always a key to getting ahead. With her lush blonde hair and great charm, Kelly was a good pick for WWE although her stuff in OVW showed that she was pretty raw. Hired to ECW, she did a striptease and that basically became her character for a while. Needless to say, showing off as an exhibitionist was a pretty good way to get male fans watching and Kelly did well by it to make it work.
She would get more of a push as an actual worker, feuding with LayCool and others and even holding the Divas Championship. However, it’s obvious that the looks were what got Kelly her job, especially in the early going and maintaining it for her career.
Rising up as part of the Divas Search, Maria was a notable lovely gal who earned a job with WWE. She soon latched onto the character of a dim-witted backstage interviewer whose funny lines got folks laughing. A great twist every now and then, was when she would launch into a truly brilliant summation of something to surprise everyone. Her few matches were terrible as WWE wisely banked on her looks with her hair growing redder, skirts shorter and showing off nicely in a Playboy spread. She was loveable in a lot of ways but it was clearly just her looks pushing her.
It was in ROH that Maria got more personality, hotter and more wicked and carried that over to her current run in TNA with a title. But her own theme song noted how her looks were key to her rise and still what’s best remembered about her.
3 Shelly Martinez
Her looks were clearly her push. The feisty Latina got her start in the indies under a variety of names, notable for her sizeable bust and alluring eyes. In WWE’s take on ECW, she was named Ariel with the idea of her as a fortuneteller behind the scenes. That was soon shifted with her aiding Kevin Thorn as his valet. Her fantastic black outfits were terrific to look at and the vampire-like motif added something special too. However, her ring work wasn’t shown off as it could have been and thus she was just noticed for her looks.
With the ECW brand faltering fast, her time was limited as after a year, she was let go by WWE. She popped up in TNA with the Latin American Exchange before going back to the indies, a lady much better to look at outside the ring than in it.
2 Christy Hemme
The first ever Diva Search winner sure looked like a great pick. With her lush red hair and amazing body, Christy had what it took to rise up big in the business, topped with a killer smile. However, it soon became obvious no amount of training was going to make her a decent worker, as her few matches were total embarrassments. Even a Playboy spread couldn’t do anything to improve her push and so WWE eventually let her go. Her TNA run also had some bad attempts at wrestling before simply becoming a ring announcer as her looks are her best talent. It’s a shame such a hot redhead couldn’t rise up more but her looks weren’t enough to get her too far ahead in wrestling as more than just a hot body.
1 Eva Marie
A pretty obvious top pick. From her debut in NXT, Eva has been regularly mocked for her utterly atrocious ring work, as the videos of her constant botches have become popular online videos. That’s not to mention her equally bad promos that mess up lines and don’t make her intimidating at all. Clearly, the only way she’s over is because of her looks, which are great. Her gorgeous red hair helps her stand out as does her outfits and her antics on “Total Divas” are a key reason the show is a success. However, Eva just can’t back it up in the ring, still a total mess and her recent suspension shows there are more issues going around. Fans just laugh at her more than cheer or boo and it showcases how the woman’s looks are the only reason she’s employed, more than anyone else on this list.