The WWE’s Attitude Era is usually very fondly remembered by wrestling fans. Especially those fans who just missed the period while it was going on. The Attitude Era was remarkable for its in your face storylines and the WWE’s move from traditional wrestling to employing more Jerry Springer-themed material. Although a lot of it doesn’t hold up today, it is still a time that changed the face of wrestling, and in truth, wrestling is still feeling the effects of the Attitude Era.
One of the main aspects of the time period was the use of women in WWE storylines. No longer were women used as your traditional wrestling valets. The late 1990s was a time where women took in-ring bumps and had to be ready to wrestle. They also had to be ready to strip down to their undergarments as evening gown matches or bra and panty matches become staples of the WWE.
Like all trends, the Attitude Era came to an end. Looking back on the period, the company can be accused of being misogynistic in its portrayal of women. However it is still a time that made a number of female wrestlers and valets household names, with many fans still talking about them today. Which begs the question: what do those beautiful and innovative women of the WWE look like today? Find out with this lift of 15 of our favourites!
15. The Kat
The Kat, or Stacy Carter in her real life, got into the business thanks to her future husband Jerry “The King” Lawler. An icon of Memphis, Tennessee and southern wrestling, Lawler met Carter while playing at a softball game in 1989. Carter was only a teen, but the seeds were sown for the two to have a future together. Like many wrestling spouses of the time, Carter got into the business to be closer to her husband. Debuting in 1999, Carter began her career by being Debra McMichael’s assistant. She would only last until 2001 with the company. According to reports, Carter was let go due to a poor attitude. The move also led Lawler to leave in protest and stand by his wife’s side. However, Carter would split with Lawler just a few months later.
14. Stacy Keibler
Stacy Keibler may be more famous for the man she dated outside of wrestling rather than anything she did in the business. Keibler dated actor George Clooney following her wrestling retirement. It was just another twist in an interesting life that the former Nitro Girl has led. Keibler got her big break by defeating 300 women in a contest to become a Nitro Girl. She then parlayed her work as a dancer into being a valet, which also saw her date David Flair during her time in WCW. She later joined the WWE when Vince McMahon bought the company in 2001. While some of the divas during the era had long careers, Keibler’s was relatively short. She retired from wrestling in 2006 and put wrestling behind her. Keibler used the business as a springboard and has since gone on to other adventures in life.
Ivory spent six years working for the WWE. Unlike many of her diva contemporaries, Ivory had been working in wrestling since the mid-1980s. She debuted in the sport with the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling – GLOW – and later worked for Herb Abrams’ UWF promotion. While many of her fellow WWE divas were recruited after being spotted as models, Ivory was very different. She was a female wrestler with experience in the squared circle, and she could help teach the “green” divas a thing or two inside the ring. After leaving the WWE and sporadically working independent dates, Ivory donated a lot of her spare time to help animal protection organizations. She later opened a dog and cat grooming business in her adopted home of San Juan Island, Washington.
12. Torrie Wilson
Torrie Wilson used a budding career in fitness to land a job working in professional wrestling. Originally with WCW, Wilson joined the WWE after the former’s purchase by Vince McMahon. As both a valet and in-ring performer, Wilson worked for the WWE until 2008 when she was let go by the company. Like former WWE women’s diva Sable, Wilson appeared on the cover of Playboy magazine while working for the company, appearing twice. Most sports fans may know Wilson better for dating former New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez. The two were a well-known couple during the four years they were together. Following the end of Wilson’s wrestling career, she returned to the fitness realm. She currently runs her own website with fitness tips and information for average people.
11. Ryan Shamrock
Alicia Webb was given the gimmick name of Ryan Shamrock during her short WWE stay in 1999. The kayfabe sister of “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” Ken Shamrock, Webb’s role in the company was cut short thanks to a romantic angle with her “brother” being nixed. Webb left the WWE after just seven months and turned up in WCW. She is a relatively forgotten diva of the Attitude Era due to her brief run in the company. For the most part Webb has been off the wrestling radar for the last eight years. She dated wrestler X-Pac during the late 2000s and even managed him during their time working together in Mexico. Webb is credited with saving X-Pac’s life after the latter attempted suicide on top of the couple’s apartment building in Mexico City. Since leaving wrestling, Webb has worked in the fitness industry.
10. Trish Stratus
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Trish Stratus was crowned the Diva of the Decade for the 2000s. There are few women in wrestling who are more identifiable with that time period in the WWE than Stratus. Originally a model, Stratus was spotted by the WWE’s talent scouts. Shortly after signing with the company, Stratus was put in a faction with Test and Prince Albert. Solely a valet in the beginning, Stratus began to slowly take more and more in-ring bumps. It resulted in her becoming a full-time worker for the WWE, and the top women’s wrestler in the company. Stratus would compete in the ring until 2011, when she retired from wrestling. At the time Stratus was only 37, but her small frame had taken a beating in the ring. In 2013, she was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
9. Cynthia Lynch
While many of the divas of the Attitude Era found their way into the business through modelling or other means, Cynthia Lynch worked the indies before she arrived in the WWE. Unfortunately for Lynch the height of her WWE career during the late 1990s wasn’t very impresive. She appeared on RAW as one of the Godfather’s… “women”. Her selection to appear came down to her ability to take a bump, which she did from the 500-pound Viscera. For the most part, Lynch spent her time in development and some believe she didn’t have the “right” look for Vince McMahon to keep her on the main roster. She did win the WWE’s Hardcore Championship, becoming one of only four women to do so. In 2000, Lynch was released by the company and she moved on to work the indies. Nine years after leaving the WWE, Lynch married wrestler Al Snow. However, in 2015 the couple split up.
8. Lilian Garcia
Lilian Garcia was arguably the most visible diva during the Attitude Era. She wasn’t a valet or wrestler though, she was actually the company’s ring announcer. Garcia debuted in 1999 and took over many of the ring announcing duties held by former man on the mic Howard Finkel. Garcia would become an integral part of the company and would even sing the national anthem most nights before shows started. There were times when Garcia got more involved with the wrestling product, unlike most ring announcers. In 2005 Garcia was in a romantic on-screen relationship with Viscera. She continues to work for the WWE sporadically despite her attempts to get a music career off the ground. She currently hosts her own podcast on PodcastOne.
7. Debra McMichael
Debra McMichael had a lot of fans during her time in the wrestling business. One of whom (Tony Schiavone) is still a big fan of the former Mrs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. McMichael was brought into the wrestling industry by her husband Steve “Mongo” McMichael during his stint in WCW during the 1990s. In 1998, the two split up and Debra joined the WWE as Jeff Jarrett’s valet. Unlike other divas of the era, Debra rarely worked as a grappler but still managed to hold the women’s title. Debra and Austin began dating the same year she joined the company. The two got married in 2000, but it wasn’t long until reports of domestic abuse surfaced and the two divorced in 2003. According to Schiavone she has enrolled at the University of Alabama and is seeking a master’s degree in criminal justice.
6. Molly Holly
The Holly cousins (Molly, Crash and Hardcore) appeared to be a takeoff of ECW’s Dudley family. However, it was a way to introduce new characters to the company and to freshen up Bob Holly as a performer. All three would go on to further success in the company, although Crash Holly would take his own life following his time in the WWE. During Molly’s run with the company she had quite the diverse career. She was the girlfriend of Spike Dudley, she donned a cap and became Mighty Molly, and she became a serious heel that completely reinvented the slapstick gimmick she had portrayed. After just five years with the WWE, and disappointed with the direction the company was moving into, Molly retired from full-time wrestling.
5. Jacqueline Moore
Jacqueline Moore became the first African American woman to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2016. Moore spent nearly seven years with the company as a singles wrestler and valet. However, she is most remembered for an incident with the company in which her top was ripped off during a post-match melee. It was a planned spot that saw Jacqueline bare all in front of a live crowd in London, England at the 1998 Capital Carnage pay-per-view. The angle was one of the more infamous the WWE did at the time involving female wrestlers. Compared to today’s more sanitized company in which women’s wrestling is taken more seriously, a female performer having her top ripped off will never happen again.
WWE Hall of Fame inductee Lita had a sensational stint in the company. Along with the Hardy Boyz, Lita formed Team Xtreme and helped make the trio one of the most exciting factions during the Attitude Era. Unfortunately, Lita would go on to have personal and professional issues with boyfriend Matt Hardy. She would become romantically involved with Hardy’s in-ring rival Edge, and the relationship that spawned would cause a number of problems in the locker room. On a January 2006 edition of Raw, Lita and Edge would make headlines for their “romantic celebration” in the middle of the ring. It occurred the night after Edge’s first WWE title win. Since leaving the WWE, Lita has played in a punk rock band, the Luchagors, and worked on the indie wrestling scene. She has since returned to the WWE as a trainer and commentator.
Terri Runnels (aka Marlena) started out as a make-up artist at CNN. She worked with WCW and soon landed a gig with the wrestling company as Alexandra York. During her time with the wrestling company, Runnels met Dustin Rhodes and in 1993 the two were married. When Rhodes was fired from WCW in 1995 for getting colour in a match, the two joined the WWE. As Rhodes took the Goldust gimmick, Runnels was given the role as his director Marlena. Of course, the gimmick ran its course and Runnels would become a part of a variety of storylines. One of the more controversial moments was the Vince Russo inspired pregnancy angle in which Runnels lost the child. After finishing her career as a valet, Runnels worked in other capacities with the WWE before leaving in 2004.
Sable joined the WWE in 1996 as the valet to her then-husband Marc Mero. She had no plans of being in the business and was merely supporting her husband when he met with WWE officials. However, Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn couldn’t get over the way she looked. The problem with Sable and Mero together was it killed the wrestler’s ability to be a babyface. It took the attention off of Mero and put it on Sable. Thanks to her new-found fame, Sable became quite difficult to work with. She had real life heat with fellow diva Sunny and many of the boys in the locker room. Sable’s popularity was so massive that she became the first woman to pose for Playboy twice in one year. In 1999, she left the WWE and sued the company for harassment. She won, but returned to the WWE in 2003. In 2004, she officially divorced Mero, and married WWE superstar Brock Lesnar two years later.
From AOL’s Most Downloaded Woman of the Year to being proclaimed Wrestling’s Most Downtrodden Woman, the fall of former WWE diva Sunny has been painful to watch. Her career in wrestling started innocent enough as the valet of her boyfriend Chris Candido. It was a way for her to make extra money as a college student, but it wasn’t long until she had her own budding career in the business as Jim Cornette gave Sunny (real name Tammy Lynn Sytch) her first job. After her beginnings as a heel valet in Smoky Mountain Wrestling, Sunny joined the WWE, and she was given the gimmick name that has stuck with her. During her time in the WWE, she was everywhere and her stunning looks gave the WWE an appeal it had never had previously. Sunny would go onto have a number of problems in the WWE and move to ECW and WCW before both companies closed. Since then, Sunny has had a variety of legal issues due to addiction and behaviour.
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