The WWE Divas Championship turned 5 years old on Saturday, and has evolved from the secondary title on the SmackDown brand to being the top belt in the promotion. Some would argue that in that time, the prestige of the primary women’s title in the biggest wrestling promotion in the world has dropped for various reasons, but it’s what we’re being presented, and it would be worth a look to see what state the title and the division itself is in right now.
Announced on June 6, 2008 by then-GM Vickie Guerrero so the women on her roster would have their own title, with the inaugural champion being Michelle McCool, who made Natalya tap out at that year’s Great American Bash. At the time, McCool was the pet project for WWE’s future, having been in the original Diva Search in 2004 and floating around for a long while before hitting a groove as a wrestler. However, she was a pretty unexciting one – and despite defeating Maryse a number of times over the course of the next month, it was the French Canadian who wrested the title from her in December of that year, which saw McCool turn heel on friend and special ref Maria Kanellis after the contest’s conclusion.
Maryse embarked on what is still the longest Divas Championship reign in the title’s history at 216 days, but her matches were pretty poor, and could not compare to the Raw brand’s women’s roster which was seeing the likes of Melina, Mickie James and Beth Phoenix competing over the Women’s Championship. However, during Maryse’s reign, she was drafted from SmackDown to Raw and took the belt with her, while Women’s Champion Melina went in the other direction.
The summer of 2009 saw things getting flip-flopped around with James taking the Divas Championship while McCool won the Women’s Title, starting a blurring of the two belts. It was possibly as part of a move to bring the upstart championship up to an even footing with the more prestigious Women’s Championship – which also boasted a lineage dating back to 1998 in its most modern incarnation, and can trace it’s roots back to 1956. Having the butterfly belt on the primary TV show also helped things along.
Over the next year, the likes of Eve Torres, Alicia Fox and Maryse held the championship before being part of a unification match at Night Of Champions on September 19, 2010. However, it would be the Women’s Championship which would be deactivated because while it had the lineage, the actual moniker of the title didn’t fit with the focus of the division, and was arguably less marketable. In addition, the Women’s Title belt had been around for 12 years and with its spiky look and not exactly as blingy as the Divas belt, it was a relic from the Attitude Era and was showing its age.
In the end, it was inaugural Divas Champion McCool who was the one who unified the titles by defeating then-titleholder Melina while Michelle and her buddy Layla were co-holders of the Women’s Title, cutting the belt in half in the process. From there, the Lay-Cool machine surged forward, showing up on both Raw and SmackDown with Divas belts in tow, though they were never as over as WWE thought or hoped they would be. Fans didn’t want to see a babyface take them down, and instead just wished for them to be gone.
A few title changes here and there saw the title land in the lap of Kelly Kelly, who was given the chance to make herself the new megastar of the Divas division, but she just didn’t have it – and as we now know, was suffering from pain in her neck from bumping which was affecting her entire performance for the worse. It meant that the title went to Phoenix as part of her Pin-Up Strong partnership with Natalya, though it never really got going and was arguably a bigger disappointment than anything else in the title’s existence because of being off TV for huge periods of time and having no real feuds to solidify her position as champion. Mercifully, after 204 days, her run ended with a whimper when she was beaten on Raw in April 2012 by Nikki Bella as part of an injury angle, with Bella dropping the belt to a returning babyface Layla six days later, which launched another flat run with the title.
In a similar way to McCool’s original run, Layla just wasn’t that interesting as champion and lost the title in the same way as she won it – by the titleholder being beaten by an unscheduled opponent, in this case, Eve Torres. She was defeated as she headed out of the door by Kaitlyn in January of this year, and recently lost the title to AJ Lee having experienced another damp squib of a reign.
Looking back, it’s hugely disappointing to see how many women ascended to the top of the ladder only to do nothing to any real note after becoming the champion. McCool, Maryse, Kelly, Phoenix, Layla and Kaitlyn have all lost out because of a lack of engaging angles and storylines or a lack of skill, while AJ Lee is in dangerous waters right now in that she has no real challenger following the conclusion of the Kaitlyn storyline and more focus being put on Total Divas. This should be AJ’s shining moment, but she and the belt are being thrown into the shadows in favour of a fluffy TV show.
It makes a wrestling fan wonder about whether reaching the pinnacle of the Divas division in WWE is really all that it is cracked up to be. Once reaching the top, it seems that you are likely to be forgotten about, pushed to one side and just trotted out when the title needs to change hands. In essence, a woman seemingly wins the title only to be used when she needs to lose it – no building up the champion by having some great matches or storylines, but only to bounce the belt to someone else for a new photoshoot.
It’s a sad position to be in if you’re a WWE Diva who’s into the wrestling aspect of the job – and I mean that in the all-encompassing way which includes the in-ring aspect, characters, angles, storylines, selling matches and putting arses in seats. I would hasten to say that in the whole lifespan of the title, the time when it meant the most was when Kelly defended the title against Phoenix at SummerSlam last year in a match where most thought that Beth was going to win and she ended up being defeated, killing her heel turn even before she snared the belt. It seems that when it comes to the Divas Championship belt, it is not much more valuable now than it was on July 20, 2008.
And it’s ugly.
The release of Tara by TNA last Tuesday evening was half a surprise and half not. One one side, you are looking at a 42-year old woman who may not have that many years left before wanting to wind down. She has also shifted her focus to her Squared Circle restaurant in Chicago and is also visually showing support to indie groups like Ring Of Honor, AAW and SHIMMER by wearing their merchandise and showcasing their shows in her restaurant. She was also reportedly on a pretty sweet deal (for her) and was pulling in a fair wedge of money which the promotion may argue on which it wasn’t likely to see a return. On the flip side, she is hugely experienced, a great mentor for the younger members of the roster, is a former WWE name (which is something TNA loves) and could have been a great Knockouts road agent or trainer in the future for Ohio Valley Wrestling – similar to the role Sara Del Rey plays in NXT.
It comes off the back of TNA releasing Madison Rayne and Taeler Hendrix earlier this month as part of the promotion making cuts to balance its budget. As pointed out with the release of Hendrix, it seems to be a short-sighted move by the promotion, but for differing reasons. With Hendrix, she was a viable prospect for the future who has been working on being a marketable character. However, with Tara, she is a hugely experienced competitor with tons of ring and TV time under her belt, has worked with some of the best minds and talent in the big two in the last decade and could easily make positive contributions to others to get the next generation ready.
The thing is, there is now the wondering of who is next. When you factor in who is regularly on TV, who is being pushed and who is doing fine in the promotion, there is one name that sticks out as being in a shaky situation.
Don’t be shocked to if it’s announced that Miss Tessmacher is moving on. The 28-year old hasn’t wrestled on TV since April (and has only wrestled one match since then), and has racked up fewer than a dozen matches this year. It’s a massive descend for someone who was Knockouts Champion at the start of this year and has seen her profile nosedive since then.
Also on the site in the last week, we’ve posted a Retro featuring Tara’s days in WWE as Victoria – in particular, the match where she won her first Women’s Championship from Trish Stratus – as well as a video of Kirsty Love taking on Jigsaw. Rhi Lockwood has also posted her latest Wrestling… Yay! article, where she talks about how she discovered SHIMMER.
Got any news, results or upcoming events that you want to tell everyone about? Are you a female wrestler looking to tell us about upcoming bookings? Are you a fan who went to a show and saw a match, and would like to tell others about it – what you liked, what you didn’t and would like to encourage others to check it out for themselves? Send us an email!
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The best of the rest
Charlotte made her NXT TV in-ring debut on last Wednesday’s show, defeating Bayley. She was very athletic but you could tell she was pea-green – which is fully understandable. She may have been watching some Global Green Gangsters matches though, as she used the 120% Schoolboy (a Tomoka Nakagawa move) and finished Bayley off with a version of Kellie Skater’s Skate and Destroy… Jim Ross has been defending his stance that Paige is not ready to go out on the road with the main roster due to her age – she’s 20, and turns 21 next month – saying “For those obsessing w/ it, Paige is one of NXT’s top prospects. She’s young. She’s exactly where she needs to be right now & doing great”… The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer mentioned in passing that Paige did herself “a disservice” last week and now doubts when she will be called up to the main roster, though did not elaborate in any way… NXT trainee Brittany Fetkin dislocated her left kneecap. She says she’ll be fine… After the whole rigmarole of Vickie Guerrero being sacked as Raw Managing Supervisor, she was installed as SmackDown General Manager last Friday, a mere 11 days after getting her Monday night pink slip. What a farce… Not much to tell you about on Raw, apart from Eva Marie positioned herself as a heel on Raw by slapping Jerry Lawler, while Brie Bella was also made to apologise by WWE for a nipple slip during the broadcast… Michelle McCool was also in attendance.
Gail Kim and Miss Tessmacher were among a number of TNA wrestlers who were banned from competing on the promotion’s card in Cape Girardeau, MO on Saturday night as they did not have active licences to wrestle in the state. A number of states still require licences to wrestle – Kentucky is another, which means all who feature in Ohio Valley Wrestling need to be licensed. It’s a hugely embarrassing situation for the promotion – fans were offered refunds and they were given the chance to meet all the names who weren’t allowed to step in the ring… Mickie James revealed to Sky News Radio that WWE still didn’t know what they were going to call her as she was called up to the main roster in 2005. They had dismissed her character name Alexis Laree as they didn’t think it was realistic enough. Mickie suggested her own name and admitted that she wasn’t sure if WWE knew that it was her real name… Mickie and Gail Kim had a set-to on last week’s Impact Wrestling to hype their impending Knockouts Championship match this Thursday.
Women Superstars Uncensored is holding a show on August 9 – the day before the Uncensored Rumble – in Blackwood, NJ… Speaking of the Rumble, Canadians Xandra Bale and Jodi D’Milo and Portugal’s Shanna will debut on the show, joining Santana Garrett. Also, as we predicted last week in the Roundup, Taeler Hendrix will also debut there… SHINE released a video insinuating that Saraya Knight was paid off by Rain to take Jessicka Havok out of the SHINE Title tournament… On the subject of Taeler, she returns to Absolute Intense Wrestling in October for the Girls Night Out 9/10 shows… Ohio Valley Wrestling regular Epiphany has retired from the ring. The 31-year old has been wrestling for 5 years and has spent the bulk of her career in OVW. Despite being in TNA’s feeder system, it didn’t look likely that she was going to be called up, especially considering the cuts it’s making… Because of TNA being in town, ODB dropped by OVW’s TV tapings last Wednesday. She fell in a 3-way between she, Women’s Champion Trina Thompson and Lei’D Tapa. Tapa pinned Thompson, which must put her in line for a title shot. Meanwhile, Taeler Hendrix seems to have latched onto Aussie redhead Envy… Addy Starr is moving to the UK in September… Nicole Matthews will challenge El Phantasmo for the Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling Title on August 24… Veda Scott takes on Kimber Lee in Absolute Intense Wrestling on August 30… Tammy Lynn Sytch was asked on Hater Nation about Rena “Sable” Lesnar again, and that’s like showing a red rag to a bull. Among the gems were “She had her character and her role. I had my character and my role. They were completely different. I was like the all American girl next door that you wanted to bring home to mom and marry. She was like that racy, risqué kind of a girl that you wanted to bring to a hotel room for an hour and leave her on the curb”, and “She used to bring her eight year old daughter Mariah on the road. I knew that Marc Mero wasn’t Mariah’s dad. So I asked her one day in the locker room in front of Terri Runnels, where’s her real dad? She said ‘oh, you know. He died when she was an infant. He was in a car accident’. I said ‘oh my God, I’m so sorry to hear that’. This was her reply and this is why I lost all respect for her. She says ‘no, it was the best thing that ever happened to me, because if he never would have died, I never would have met Marc'”… Brittney Savage has backed out of retiring at the end of the year due to “something big” happening to her. She announced her intentions to walk away last month… Speaking of Savage, she and Solo Darling became the first Battling Bombshells Tag Team Champions by beating Luscious Latasha & Renee Michelle on Saturday. Also on the card, Su Yung become the number one contender to the singles title, which was retained by La Rosa Negra in the main event. She defeated Angelina Love… When asked by the Art Of Wrestling website about if female wrestlers are treated differently to men, Katarina Leigh replied: “I don’t think that a show that was 50% women’s matches would do as well in a mainstream capacity. So there are less women’s matches which is fine, but sometimes people equate that with ‘less important’, which is a mistake”… LuFisto challenges Christina Von Eerie for the Alternative Wrestling Show Women’s Championship on September 28 in South Gate, CA. It’s the main event of a show which will also feature a 16 woman tournament featuring Candice LeRae, Katarina Leigh, Hudson Envy, Claudia del Solis, Lacey Ryan, Mariah Moreno, Marti Daniels, Michelle Morgan, Tab Jackson, Kitana Vera, Raze & Kurai Hime. It will also have a 10 person tag which will pit 5 men against 5 women. That will be a long card… Jewells Malone has revealed that she will be part of Absolute Intense Wrestling’s Girls Night Out 9 & 10 shows on October 6, and the promotion also revealed that Nikki Storm will make her US debut there.
Hailey Hatred announced at last weekend’s Ice Ribbon show that she is leaving Japan on August 3 for extended period of time – possibly up to a year… Zeuxis & Vaquerita will head from Mexico to Japan to wrestling for Reina Joshi Puroresu in August. Mia Yim will be back there for the September 20 card… Takumi Iroha, Kairi Hojo & Act Yasukawa all qualified for the Stardom 5STAR GP by scoring pinfalls in a Stardom Rumble on Saturday… Command Bolshoi won the CMLL-Reina International Championship on JWP’s Saturday show in Itabashi by beating Leon in the opening match of the card… Allysin Kay and Crazy Mary Dobson challenge Yumiko Hotta & Keiko Aono for the Diana Tag Team Championship in Kawasaki, Japan on August 4.
Another women’s wrestling promotion for the UK, anybody? This one is in Birmingham, England, and is an offshoot of Pro Wrestling Kingdom. Women of the Kingdom presents its first show, Us Against the World, on September 29, with Shanna being the first name announced… Liberty won the IPW:UK Ferocious Females Round Robin on Saturday which also featured Rhia O’Reilly and Penelope. Saraya Knight also beat Sakura Lily – who defeated Heidi, Dragonita & Olivia in a 4-way to earn the right to challenge the former SHIMMER Champion… Mickie James defeated Nikki Storm on Saturday’s Pro Wrestling Elite show with the Mickie-DT… Pro Wrestling: EVE’s show which was set for the end of August has been removed from the promotion’s website. At the moment, the site’s events page is empty.
Drago and Faby Apache won the AAA Mixed Tag Team Championship from Halloween & Mary Apache on Saturday. That means Faby holds both titles that a woman can hold in the promotion, with the other being the Reina de Reinas Championship.
Australia & New Zealand
Evie, Britenay and Olivia Shaw will battle in a triple threat to see who will win the vacant Impact Pro Wrestling New Zealand Women’s Championship. The belt was held up when the promotion acquired new financial backers… Perth’s Explosive Pro Wrestling is beginning to hold training classes exclusively for women.
July 13: Legends of the Squared Circle (Middletown, OH) – Heather Owens b Trash Cassidy; Cameron Star b Mary Kelly; KC Lofton b Miss Rachel; Kaela b Natasha Rivers; Heather Owens b KC Lofton; Cameron Star b Kaela; Trash Cassidy b Moonshine Fugly; Heather Owens b Cameron Star
July 17: WWE Main Event (Providence, RI) – Layla & Natalya b Alicia Fox & Aksana
July 17: WWE NXT (Winter Park, FL) – Charlotte b Bayley
July 17: Ohio Valley Wrestling (Louisville, KY) – Lei’D Tapa b ODB & Trina Thompson in a 3-way; Heidi Lovelace, Hannah & Holly Blossom b Taeler Hendrix, Envy & Lylah Lodge
July 18: WWE NXT (Tampa, FL) – Paige, Kendall Skye & Sasha Banks b Emma, Bayley & Charlotte
July 19: TNA (Danville, IL) – Gail Kim b Miss Tessmacher
July 19: AAA (Veracruz, Mexico) – Drago & Fabi Apache b Halloween & Mari Apache to win the Mixed Tag Team Championship
July 19: CMLL (Mexico City, Mexico) – Dalis la Caribeña, Goya Kong & Marcela b Princesa Blanca, Princesa Sugheit & Tiffany
July 19: WWE NXT (Jacksonville, FL) – Paige, Kendall Skye & Sasha Banks b Emma, Bayley & Charlotte
July 20: JWP (Itabashi, Japan) – Command Bolshoi b Leon to win the CMLL-REINA International Championship; Rabbit Mito b Rydeen Hagane; Arisa Nakajima & Eri Susa b Manami Katsu & Sareee; Kayoko Haruyama & Tsubasa Kuragaki b Sachie Abe & KAZUKI and Hanako Nakamori & Morley in a 3-way
July 20: Ice Ribbon (Saitama, Japan) – Tsukasa Fujimoto b Kasey Owens; Hamuko Hoshi b Hailey Hatred & Kurumi in a 3-way; Aoi Kizuki & Tsukushi b Risa Sera & Hikaru Shida
July 20: WAVE (Osaka, Japan) – GAMI, Ryo Mizunami & Sawako Shimono b Moeka Haruhi, Fairy Nipponbashi & Cherry; Megumi Yabushita v Yuu Yamagata went to a time limit draw; Tomoka Nakagawa b Ranmaru; Shu Shibutani b Ayumi Kurihara; Kana b Aya Yuki; Yumi Ohka & Ayako Hamada v Misaki Ohata & Mio Shirai went to a time limit
July 20: Riot City Wrestling (North Adeleide, Australia) – Demi Barnett b Harley Wonderland; Eliza Sway b Isabelle Shaw
July 20: Pro Wrestling Elite (Ayr, Scotland) – Mickie James b Nikki Storm; El Ligero, Kay Lee Ray, Kris Travis & Martin Kirby b Mikey Whiplash, Wolfgang, Kid Fite & Carmel Jacob
July 20: IPW:UK Ferocious Females (Swanley, England) – Rhia O’Reilly b Penelope; Sakura Lily b Olivia, Heidi & Dragonita in a 4-way, Liberty b Penelope; Saraya Knight b Sakura Lily; Liberty b Rhia O’Reilly
July 20: Pro Wrestling Xperience (Concord, NC) – Worst Case Scenario & Amber O’Neal b Zane Riley, Marcellus King & Amanda Rodriguez
July 20: IWA: Mid South (Clarksville, IN) – Randi West b Thunderkitty
July 20: Ring Wars Carolina (Lumberton, NC) – Mia Svensson b D’Arcy Dixon
July 20: Battling Bombshells: Stars, Stripes & Bombshells (Hollywood, FL) – Calypso b Aaron Agony; Mercedes Justine b Cherry Layne; Solo Darling & Brittney Savage b Luscious Latasha & Renee Michelle to win the Battling Bombshells Tag Team Championship; Su Yung b Santana Garrett, Silvie Silver & Melissa Coates in a 4-way; La Rosa Negra b Angelina Love
July 21: Stardom (Tokyo, Japan) – Takumi Iroha, Kairi Hojo & Act Yasukawa won entries to the Stardom 5STAR GP in a Stardom Rumble; Natsuki*Taiyo & Yoshiko v DASH Chisako & Yuhi went to a time limit draw; Kyoko Kimura & Hailey Hatred b Io Shirai & Nanae Takahashi
July 21: Kiwi Pro Wrestling (Upper Hutt, New Zealand) – Angel b Krystal Kayne; Scarlett b JpE
July 21: Squared Circle Wrestling (Scarborough, ON, Canada) – Xandra Bale b Alexia Gomez
July 21: Anarchy Championship Wrestling (Austin, TX) – Athena b Leva Bates
July 22: CMLL (Puebla, Mexico) – Dalis la Caribeña, Dark Angel & Estrellita b La Vaquerita, Princesa Blanca & Zeuxis
July 24: WWE NXT (Winter Park, FL) – Paige v Emma
July 25: Premier Promotions (Worthing, England) – Rhia O’Reilly v Erin Angel
July 26: New Horizons Pro Wrestling (Perth, Australia) – Eliza Sway v Portia Perez; Kellie Skater v Nikita Naridian; Storm v Saraya Knight; Tomoka Nakagawa v Miami
July 26: Universal Ladies Wrestling (Union City, TN) – Felony Foxx v Miss Rachel; LaNina & Pandora v Jess Justing & Devyn Nicole; Heather Owens v Lil Naughty; Lil Bit & Jessie Belle v Destiny & Million Dollar Baby
July 26: Bombshell Ladies Of Wrestling (Iselin, NJ) – Cheerleader Melissa v La Rosa Negra; Angelina Love v Shelly Martinez; Annie Social & Missy Sampson v Amber Rodriguez & Jennifer Cruz; Sumie Sakai v Jessie Kaye; Alicia v Alexxis Nevaeh; Craig Steele & Amber O’Neal v Johnny Silver & Silvie Silver
July 27: Impact Pro Wrestling New Zealand (Auckland, New Zealand) – Evie v Olivia Shaw v Britenay
August 3: Pro Women’s Wrestling Alliance (Parramatta, Australia) – Evie v Madison Eagles
August 3: Ring Wars Carolina (Fayetteville, NC) – Mia Svensson v Amanda Rodriguez
August 9: Ayako Hamada 15th Anniversary (Tokyo, Japan) – Ayako Hamada v Kojiki; Sakura Hirota v Masaaki Mochizuki; Zap I & Zap T v Ayako Hamada & Yuu Yamagata; Ryo Mizunami, Kaji Tomato & Super Fly v Tomoka Nakagawa, K-ness & Jimmy Susumu; Kana v Gran Hamada; GAMI, AKINO & Leon v Aja Kong, Ayako Hamada & Yuu Yamagata
August 9: Women Superstars Uncensored (Blackwood, NJ)
August 10: World Xtreme Wrestling (Minneola, FL) – Kimberly v Mercedes Martinez v Solo Darling
August 10: Women Superstars Uncensored’s Uncensored Rumble (Voorhees, NJ) – Jessicka Havok v Athena; Nevaeh v Lexxus; Annie Social & Kimber Lee v Veda Scott & Jessie Brooks; Jenny Rose v Christina Von Eerie
August 10: River City Wrestling (San Antonio, TX) – Alissa Flash v Angelina Love
August 16: Squared Circle Wrestling (Boonville, NY) – Jessicka Havok v Mickie James
August 16: Big West Wrestling (Kelowna, BC) – Riea Von Slasher v Kc Spinelli
August 17: Wrestling Cares (Los Angeles, CA) – Katarina Leigh v Candice LeRae
August 17: Wrestling Is Intense (Metropolis, IL) – Heidi Lovelace v Angelus Layne
August 23: SHINE 12 (Ybor City, FL)
August 24: Alternative Wrestling Show (South Gate, CA) – Candice LeRae v Hudson Envy
August 24: Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling (Vancouver, BC, Canada) – El Phantasmo v Nicole Matthews
August 24: Xtreme Bombshells of Wrestling (Kimball, MI)
August 25: Ice Ribbon (Tokyo, Japan) – Tsukasa Fujimoto v Manami Toyota
August 25: Insane Championship Wrestling (Edinburgh, Scotland) – Kay Lee Ray v Carmel Jacob; Leah Owens v Nikki Storm
August 30: Absolute Intense Wrestling (Cleveland, OH) – Veda Scott v Kimber Lee
August 31: Pro Wrestling Alliance (Casula, Australia) – Robbie Eagles v Madison Eagles
September 14: UK Main Event Wrestling (Maidstone, England) – Sakura Lily v Bacardi
September 14: Herts And Essex Wrestling (Braintree, England) – Saraya Knight v Skarlett
September 22: Insane Championship Wrestling: Fierce Females (Glasgow, Scotland)
September 28: Alternative Wrestling Show (South Gate, CA) – Christina Von Eerie v LuFisto
October 6: Bellatrix 7 (Norwich, England)
October 6: Absolute Intense Wrestling Girls Night Out 9/10 (Cleveland, OH) – Allysin Kay v Veda Scott
October 19-20: SHIMMER: Women Athletes (Berwyn, IL)
October 26: NCW: Femmes Fatales XIII (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) – Mercedes Martinez & Saraya Knight v LuFisto & Sweet Cherrie; Cheerleader Melissa v Courtney Rush; Pink Flash Kira v Portia Perez
– Lee Burton
– Photos by WWE, TNA, Brittany Fetkin, World Women Pro Wrestling Diana, Riot City Wrestling, Tabercil
– Data collated from (but not limited to) Cagematch, joshifans.com, PuroLove, Dramatic DDT, Luchablog, Lords Of Pain, Wrestling Observer, Open The Puroresu Gate, PWInsider, NHB Girls