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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
9 Stacy Keibler
8 Summer Rae
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
2 Christy Hemme
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.
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