The “Divas Revolution” movement by WWE to push women’s wrestling as a credible and equal art form in wrestling has been met with early struggles. The booking, the performers and the crowd all seem to be having difficulty trying to understand how to process the change. For years, the women in WWE have been eye candy and the concept of them having great matches was not something that many expected could come in our lifetime. Triple H’s philosophy in NXT of giving the better female performers a chance to succeed for their talent has caused fans to change their ideas about women’s wrestling.
WWE has tried to implement changes on the main roster to carry over the magic. This may have been unheard of a few years ago, but the women are getting matches that occasionally go into two segments and we’re frequently seeing multiple matches featuring female talent on a single episode of WWE television. These are great strides but they’ve yet to create a big change that they’re hoping to move forward with. Women’s wrestling in WWE has a sad and controversial history. There have been a few greats like Trish Stratus, Lita, Mickie James and Melina but very few others have been put in a position to have great title reigns.
Both the Women’s Championship and the Divas Championship have been the victims of unworthy candidates and very little momentum. Between the era of gimmick matches meant to show skin in the Attitude Era and the time of Diva Search models getting all of the spots in the mid-2000s, the Divas division has rarely been a place you could expect good matches and memorable characters from. This list will take a look through the last twenty years of women’s wrestling in WWE and pick out the female wrestlers to have the worst title reigns in the history of the company.
Jazz was an overrated wrestler that benefited from an intimidating look and WWE’s need for a heel to wrestle Trish Stratus. Most of her matches were forgettable and she never stepped up in a big spot like Molly Holly, Gail Kim or Victoria could. Jazz was a two-time Women’s Champion but failed to deliver entertaining reigns. Similar to the way WWE built up tough heels as credible challengers to Hulk Hogan, Jazz was used in the same form to create a rival for Trish. The company found good use for her in their attempts to build a female wrestling division but she was a below average champion.
19 Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley
Stephanie McMahon was one of the most entertaining characters of the McMahon-Helmsley Era. She played the petulant bratty heel character perfectly but would face overexposure after a while, like most of the McMahon family. Stephanie won the Women’s Championship by defeating Jacqueline by having her heel allies take out her opponent. The work she did wasn’t the problem, but she wasn’t a wrestler. The fact that she couldn’t perform in the ring made the belt a prop and hurt the overall perception of the division. Lita defeating her for the title was a great moment, so some good came out of it. but overall Stephanie should not have been the champ.
Don’t get me wrong. Charlotte is obviously athletic and having someone fresh hold the championship is great, but her title reign has been a bust so far. The five month run of Charlotte has made her look like the weakest member of “The Four Horsewomen” after Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Bayley. Charlotte’s matches have all been disappointing and her promo work has been absolutely atrocious. Tip for all wrestlers: please don’t randomly yell out of nowhere to get your point across. It doesn’t work. On top of that, WWE isn’t helping her with her character development by constantly flaunting the fact that she's Ric Flair’s daughter. Charlotte has the potential to turn it around but she’s currently having a terrible title reign.
Okay, this is a choice with a loophole but not without justification. Terri Runnels never won the Women’s Championship but she had a very short stint as Hardcore Champion. She was the champion for literally a few seconds as she took advantage of the “24/7 rule,” where the title was on the line at all times. Terri pinned Steven Richards to become the champion after someone else attacked him and lost it back to him shortly after. The moment was funny enough but it was around the point when the title jumped the shark. Considering wrestlers were brutally harming each other with weapons in matches for the title, having a non-wrestler there for eye candy win the title may have been too much.
16 Candice Michelle
Candice Michelle evolved into a fine wrestler with hard work and determination, but her representation hurt the women’s division. Michelle was one of the first Diva Search contestants to achieve success in the ring. She became a Women’s Champion and gave the company enough proof to continue going with the game plan of hiring models. Michelle also participated in matches involving shooting each other with water guns and fighting in chocolate pudding. The current core of female talent is still working hard in attempts to reprogram the audience from expecting the “Candice Michelle matches" into appreciating good talent.
The roster definitely needed Jacqueline in the late 90s and early 2000s but she wasn’t particularly interesting. Aside from being tough, there was rarely anything established about Jacqueline’s character during her tenure in WWE. Her two reigns as Women’s Champion felt like she was just a placeholder to hold it before losing to someone else in a bigger storyline. Jacquline’s first title reign was meant to set up her in losing to Sable and the second reign ended with Stephanie McMahon defeating her. While she should be respected and appreciated for the work she gave to the company, Jacqueline’s champion reigns were weak.
14 Jillian Hall
Jillian Hall served as a bit of a rotation player on the roster. While she had a few storylines and character changes, Jillian was never an important part of the Divas division. Her win over Mickie James on Raw to capture the Divas Championship was shocking until Melina returned to defeat her and end the title reign in minutes. Hall was obviously only champion to set up Melina’s return because they needed a heel for her to defeat but it was embarrassing to see her sole title reign end that way. Well, maybe not too embarrassing considering her other WWE memorable moments are impersonating Britney Spears and having The Boogeyman eat a mole off her face.
The character work from Maryse as the French bombshell that would use her looks and athleticism to win titles and express arrogance was on point. Maryse could have been a bigger star as a personality but her wrestling talent was sadly subpar. Despite being a two-time Divas Champion with the third most combined days as champion behind AJ Lee and Nikki Bella, Maryse contributed to the female division being looked at as an afterthought. No one wanted to watch Maryse wrestle and that has been the biggest problem with the division for years. Maryse was one of many forgettable champions in the Divas division.
12 Alicia Fox
Despite having talent and deserving a role on the roster, Alicia Fox had one of the least memorable runs as Divas Champion. It’s hard to recall anything from Fox’s two-month reign because it made little impact on wrestling fans. The only time Fox has been given a memorable push was when she would pour soda everywhere and shout but this was before that. Fox defeated Eve Torres in 2010 to win the title but would lose it back to Melina just a couple of months later. She’s a successful member of the roster that adds great depth but Fox may just not be championship-worthy.
This may be a harsh ranking but Paige entered the main roster with unparalleled hype and a world of potential. Many hoped that Paige would become one of the greatest female wrestlers of all time. She has not lived up to hype and has faded on the roster. Her two title reigns in her first year with the big brand were severely disappointing. Many expected stellar matches with fellow fan-favorite AJ Lee but the two would deliver average bouts at best. Paige was quite young and the pressure of being champ at her age may have been too much for her. She still has worlds of potential, but currently she goes down among the worst Divas Champions.
10 Brie Bella
The story of the Bella Twins is fascinating. Nikki and Brie have been a part of both sides of the female wrestling movements in WWE. They were models with minimal skill and now they’re taking part in better matches with talented female wrestlers. Nikki’s recent reign as Divas Champion was impressive but Brie’s reign back in 2011 was not as memorable. It was during a time before the Bellas started to show improvement and, sadly, she was a bad champion. Brie would likely do a significantly better job now due to her character development on Total Divas and in-ring improvements, but her past reign wasn't great.
Back when NXT was a competition show with developmental stars trying to win a main roster contract, Kaitlyn won a season featuring all female talent. AJ Lee and Naomi went on to achieve more success on the main roster but Kaitlyn didn’t do too bad herself. She held the Divas Championship for over five months and had a memorable feud with AJ Lee. The problem is her loss to Lee was the only memorable thing about her title reign. Despite having the reputation for actually being funny in real life, Kaitlyn was unable to showcase any presence and her title reign suffered from it.
During her peak, Sable was one of the hottest acts in pro wrestling in multiple ways. She was the first WWE woman to rock the cover of Playboy and fans were reacting to her as loudly as they did for most of the top male stars. Sable was understandably given the Women’s Championship after her Playboy spread but her wrestling was less desirable than her looks. The Sable match would go in the same routine every time. She did “the grind” dance before the match, delivered a couple of kicks, hit the SableBomb (powerbomb) and did “the grind” once again to celebrate. The days of the Attitude Era were the worst for most female wrestling performers, but Sable was one star to benefit.
7 Eve Torres
Eve Torres was extremely athletic and one of the best spokespersons for the WWE. The company loved sending Eve out to media appearances because she was a great representative in that way but her wrestling wasn't as good. Eve is tied with AJ Lee for the most Divas Championships reigns of all time with three. Her first two title runs were incredibly boring due to her bland personality. The third title win and tenure was more interesting due to her heel character change and post-match antics, but the matches still flopped. Eve was given more opportunities to run with the ball than most female performers in WWE can dream of, but she couldn’t take it very far.
6 Kelly Kelly
WWE loved Kelly Kelly for her incredible looks and marketable face, but she was unfortunately abysmal as a wrestler. Can you remember a good Kelly Kelly match or promo? She was employed for years and showed little to no improvement. In her final years with the company, Kelly still struggled to run the ropes in a competent manner and looked like a fish out of water. Her Divas Championship reign lasted almost four months and the work did not get any better. Kelly was one of the worst champions of any title or gender in the PG-era and is deserving of a high spot on this list.
Despite her long career in WWE, Layla only had one title reign with a championship and it was the Divas Title in 2012. The win felt like a reward for her service with the company and she was given a long reign with the title. Layla was champion for just short of five months and had most one of the most forgettable title runs in the history of WWE. Between her lack of a personality on television and her matches failing to showcase anything special, Layla was just another Divas Champion that most people won’t remember ever holding the belt.
Yes, you already can tell how bad this was. Hervina was longtime WWE employee Harvey Wippleman dressed as a woman. Hervina defeated The Kat on an episode of Raw to become the Women’s Champion. Things were horrible for female wrestlers during The Attitude Era and this was a perfect example of it. Hervina would lose the title one day later on SmackDown but the fact that this gimmick was even attempted and was somehow given the Women’s Title was a disgrace. Hervina may not live long in our memories, but it will live on when discussing the worst moments in WWE and the low points in women’s wrestling.
3 The Kat
The late 90s and early 2000s were all about exploiting half-naked women for a cheap pop. Society was different at the time. Shock jock radio, edgy television and risqué wrestling were all the rage of what the people wanted to consume. The Kat was known for being one of the stars of the female roster at the time for her ability to participate in gimmick matches that would involve getting half naked. Stacy Carter had little to no ability in the traditional wrestling sense but she is a former Women’s Champion. Sadly enough, she won the title in an “Evening Gown Pool Match” and legitimately flashed the PPV audience for a moment with shock factor.
Chyna became one of the most popular performers in WWE during The Attitude Era after her work in D-Generation-X. After becoming a singles face performer, her popularity rose and she was pushed as the Intercontinental Champion, the only woman in WWE history to achieve that. Chyna was one of the worst IC champions of all time and her weaknesses were exposed. Her look and presence provided the star power but her matches were poor and sloppy. Chyna had one run as Women’s Champion and it ended when she left the company after holding it for seven months. She failed to generate any momentum with either championship and both started to showcase the flaws in her game.
There are a few reasons Debra receives the cruel distinction of being the worst female wrestling champion of all time. She had her strengths as a serviceable manager and personality but she had no business actually wrestling in a wrestling ring. However, the way she won the Women’s Championship is the main rational here. Debra lost an Evening Gown to Sable in a title match. Sexist but simple enough, right? Incorrect. Commissioner Shawn Michaels awarded Debra the title because she was stripped and looked great half-naked. Debra technically won the Divas Championship by losing a match that was solely about objectifying both competitors. That has to be among the lowest moments for women’s wrestling in WWE history.