Finding a woman in the WWE Hall of Fame is no easy task, but it does stand to reason. Even in late 2016/early 2017, it’s still rare to see more than two women’s matches in a three-hour episode of Monday Night Raw. Simple math shows there are just so many fewer opportunities for women, which in turns leads to fewer all-time greats.
As of Jacqueline’s induction in 2016, there are currently nine women in the main section of the Hall of Fame, one in the legacy section (Mildred Burke) and one recipient of the Warrior Award (Joan Lunden). In the 20+ year existence of this Hall of Fame that lives only in Vince McMahon’s mind and as a vehicle to sell tickets to a Wrestlemania weekend event, that breaks down to one woman every two years. Compare that to the well over 100 men who are inductees and you’ll see why a woman in the Hall is a rare thing.
We can’t blame the women. There have been long stretches in WWE/F history when women’s wrestling hasn’t been part of the landscape and long stretches where it was simply Current Champion vs. Newest Contender. Having a division of over a dozen women like today is the first time that many women have been employed by the company simultaneously. Maybe that means in 20 years, we’ll see more than one inductee per year. Now, it’s treated almost like a novelty, put in the same box as inducting one foreign legend or one deceased legend.
Some of the inductees have been absolutely beautiful creatures. Others are there more for their role as pioneers than as lookers. This doesn’t demean their value, it just points out that it hasn’t always been about looks in the women’s division – and yes, a big piece of it is still about looks. For those like Fabulous Moolah or Sensational Sherri Martel, we tip our caps, but we also aren’t going to pretend they were hot, when they were not. Thankfully for us there were a lot of stunning women who rose to the top of their field, and to celebrate them we present 15 Hottest Photos of WWE’s Female Hall of Fame Members…and a couple we know are HOF-bound.
15. Trish Stratus defies stereotypes
When Trish Stratus first appeared in the WWE, most people probably thought the same thing: “Oh, great. Here’s another Attitude Era piece of eye candy.” She had the large chest, the bleached blonde hair and no apparent ability so there was no reason to expect this woman was going to be anything special when she made her first appearance, as manager for Test and Albert. While the T&A (wink, wink) tag team didn’t last long, Stratus, a former fitness model, showed she wasn’t your typical diva of the era and started working hard to learn her craft. While her first matches weren’t exactly classics, Stratus evolved into the kind of wrestler who served as an inspiration and influence for the women’s wrestlers you see in the ring today. She showed that regardless of how you look, if you want to be taken seriously, you have to deliver between those ropes. Thankfully, she had Lita, who could keep up with her and who could help Stratus shine.
14. The very first: Mildred Burke
Mildred Burke (also known as Mildred Bliss) was the WWE’s first legacy inductee into the Hall of Fame when that section was introduced in 2016. Is she the most gorgeous woman inductee? Not by today’s standards, but you’ve got to remember that she would now be over 100 years old and began her career in the mid-1930s. Back in those very conservative times, it was rare for a woman to: 1) Have a job, 2) Be a professional athlete, 3) Wear revealing clothing and 4) Fight for what was hers. Burke did all of these things and the entire women’s industry can be traced back to her. There’s a great story of her seeking out trainer Billy Wolfe to give her wrestling lessons. He instructed one of his male wrestlers to body slam Burke, but she turned the tables, slamming the guy. Wolfe went on to train, and later marry, Burke. She’s got one heck of a story about how a woman was treated in a man world’s that should be turned into a movie. The fact that she was considered a gorgeous pin-up 70 years ago only adds to her legacy.
13. Sunny shines bright in the beginning
The WWE hired Chris Candido and Tammy Sytch (Then known as Tamara Fytch for whatever reason) away from Jim Cornette’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling indy just after WrestleMania XI. The then-WWF repackaged the duo as fitness-freak couple Skip and Sunny, The BodyDonnas. The gimmick never really caught on because it was clear Candido viewed himself as a serious, old-school wrestler. Sytch, however, embraced the act and became the first beautiful, non-wrestling woman who was great on a microphone, easy on the eyes and willing to bounce around in a sports bra. Her timing was great as the WWE began programming more to the 16-year-old boys than entire families, and Sytch had no trouble donning a thong for the job. In fact, she was the most downloaded woman on America Online for a stretch in the mid-1990s. Aside from a tag team run with Tom Pritchard (as Zip), Candido’s career fizzled in WWE, but Sytch went on to be recognized as WWE’s first-ever diva.
12. Lita redefines what a women’s wrestler should be
Amy Dumas has had the kind of career that is worthy of her Hall of Fame induction and we know that Trish Stratus, who inducted her, is her best friend, but inviting the prom queen to your party simply invites people to compare you to the prom queen. We’re so happy that Trish had a dance partner for her years in the ring like Lita. It was always exciting when the female member of Team Xtreme got in the ring because you never knew what you’d get. She could execute a hurricanrana just as easily as slip into sexy lingerie for the requisite bra and panties match that were popular during the Attitude Era. The issue is that she was always second-best. While she had superior high-flying abilities to Trish, Lita was not as good a ground grappler. She was not as good on the microphone and while still tremendously hot, was not as hot as Trish. It’s better to place second than not to place, and Lita is proof of that.
11. A head too big for Wendi Richter
Wendi Richter did more to advance, and more to stunt, the growth of women’s wrestling in the 1980s than anyone else. Vince McMahon rationalized he had done great business with Hulk Hogan, if he could only find a female who could be a similar hero, he’d have both genders covered. Enter Wendi Richter, a charismatic cutie who was in the right place at the right time. They gave her pop singer Cyndi Lauper as a manager, put her on MTV and let her capture the women’s title at the first WrestleMania. She believed the hype and began making contract demands that only Hulk Hogan had any right to make. McMahon knew he built Richter (and Hogan for that matter) and he could squash her, too. In a precursor to the Montreal Screwjob, Moolah pinned Richter while under a mask and she was not re-signed. A few indie appearances aside, Richter faded into oblivion until her Hall of Fame induction.
10. Jacqueline and her top are soon departed
When you point to a handful of moments that defined the Attitude Era, people will often point to D-X invading Monday Nitro with a tank, Mick Foley’s mega-bump off the Hell in a Cell cage and Stacy “The Kat” Carter peeling off her bra on a live pay-per-view as three of the biggest moments. When it comes to that final category of showing skin, we admit The Kat’s antics probably had the widest audience, but it was Jacqueline’s topless shoulder ride atop referee Tim White that we think exemplifies the crude silliness of that era. Having lost a mixed tag-team match with Marc Mero, Sable ripped off Jacqueline’s T-shirt, revealing her ample bosom to a United Kingdom crowd. Maybe the WWE was testing to see if this kind of thing could be done regularly in the US, but decided something like this was just too over-the-top. We’ll give Jacquline some credit. At least she was game to give it a whirl. We wonder how many people bring that moment up to her now, almost 20 years later.
9. Lita and her man problems
Lita was a bit of a study in extremes when it came to the way her character’s relationship with men was handled. Who knows exactly what Amy Dumas is like in real life, but it is well-known she had relationships with Matt Hardy, Edge and CM Punk. WWE never addressed the Punk stuff because Lita had retired, but it put her love triangle with Edge and Hardy into the center of a storyline after she cheated on Hardy with Edge in real life! If she were portrayed as a black widow, or as a subservient woman, that would be one thing, but she just continued on as the otherwise fiercely independent tomboy character. It’s a bit of a conflict when you’re trying to tell us she doesn’t listen to anybody and goes her own way…as long as a boy isn’t involved. It’s not the best message to send to girls, but then again, with the divas of that day, it was about as good a message as you were going to get.
8. Mae Young delivered more than a rubber hand
Before she was the Fabulous Moolah’s sidekick and one of the best comic props the WWE had during the attitude era, Mae Young was probably the most famous women’s wrestler bridging the gap between the eras of Mildred Burke, who helped train her and the Fabulous Moolah, whom she helped train. Depending on which resource you use, her career likely started in 1939, which meant she participated in wrestling matches in seven decades, tieing Lou Thesz’s record. Most fans will only remember her for delivering a snot-covered hand as the payoff to a storyline as Mark Henry’s love interest or getting powerbombed through tables by Bubba Ray Dudley as she approached 80 years old, but her Hall of Fame career was so much more. Her biggest contribution to women’s wrestling is probably increasing the visibility of it during the 1940s when many male wrestlers went to fight in World War II. The fact she was a great looking lady at the time couldn’t have hurt either.
7. Obvious Future HOFer: Ivory
We think Ivory is one of the surest locks for a spot in the WWE Hall of Fame in the next few years if they continue the trend of inducting one woman every year. She was one of the key divas who could both wrestle and look great in a bra and panties during the Attitude Era. She was always either overshined in the looks department by people like Sable and Torrie Wilson or in the wrestling department by people like Lita and Trish Stratus, but few women could put it all together – and play a character – as well as Ivory. Despite the disappointment of not seeing her in skimpy thongs, her transformation to a member of Right to Censor showed just how much range she had as a performer. Ivory is also the only woman to come out of the Gorgeous Ladies of Professional Wrestling with an actual wrestling career.
6. Trish Stratus: The hottest WWE lady ever?
Obviously, beauty is subjective. Look back to Renaissance era artists and it’s not hard to see that what we consider overweight women were objects of beauty since that’s what appears in art. Different cultures value different standards for beauty, so claiming any one thing is the “most beautiful” is largely just welcoming debate. Bring it on, because we are willing to stake our claim that Trish Stratus is the most beautiful woman to ever compete in a WWE ring. We’re curious to see what becomes of NXT’s Mandy Rose, because she’s the only person currently employed who might be able to give Stratus a long-term run for her money. Stratus is smart, funny, good on a microphone, a heck of a wrestler and stunningly gorgeous, either as a bleached blonde or as a natural brunette. It is going to take a long time and somebody very special before Trish Stratus is replaced as the diva upon which all others are judged.
5. Alundra Blayze takes out the trash
If somebody came to your house, stole your stuff and then went on the TV show Pawn Stars, sold it for next to nothing and laughed while they did it, would you invite them back to your house to celebrate their career of thievery? Of course not, but a parallel can be drawn when Vince McMahon invited Alundra (Madusa Miceli) Blayze into the Hall of Fame a few years back. Blayze, now a monster truck car driver, will always be best known not for anything amazing she did in the ring, but rather for throwing away the WWE Women’s Championship on an episode of Monday Nitro. It is considered one of the biggest shots fired in the Monday Night War. She tried to make up for the transgression at her Hall of Fame induction when she took a trashcan, pulled the same title out of it and said she was returning it to her rightful owner. Too little, too late. One very bad choice in her career led to her being remembered less for anything she did in the squared circle and more for the controversy she stirred out of it.
4. Jacqueline is an iffy Hall of Fame inductee at best
We’re just going to come out and say it and you can either agree or disagree: Jacqueline does not belong in the WWE Hall of Fame and the only reason she was inducted was because WrestleMania in 2016 was held in Texas and more than any other retired female wrestler, Jacqueline is associated with Texas. After all, one of her first character names was Miss Texas. We’re not going to take anything away from Jacqueline Moore as a performer. She was probably the toughest lady of her time in the WWE, but also one of the most beautiful. She could wrestle a mixed-tag hardcore match alongside the Dudley Boyz as easily as she could be involved in a Swimming Pool Evening Gown Match for the women’s title. But, she wasn’t Trish or Lita and those two are the gold standard of their time. There were also women, like Molly Holly and Victoria, who arguably deserved an induction before her. We always enjoyed her work and we don’t want her to ever be forgotten, but Jacqueline should be thanking God she has an HOF ring.
3. The sun sets on Sunny’s career
It’s ironic that somebody who was presented as a Wellesley College graduate in Smoky Mountain Wrestling and a fitness guru in WWE has evolved into nothing close to either in her real life. Tammy Sytch is an example of the higher you rise, the harder you fall. She’s in the category of wrestlers like Chyna and Jake “The Snake” Roberts who once had the world, but discovered the darker side of chemicals – had a heap of bad luck thrown at them in the process – and descended into a pathetic story. After her WWE run, she bounced around WCW, ECW and other indies until Candido died. She stuck with wrestling, but things only went downhill with severe weight gain, multiple driving while intoxicated convictions, stints in jail and becoming the only person WWE ever stopped sending to rehab. Here’s to hoping the end of her story is one of recovery, like Roberts and not like isolation and eventually death, like Chyna. The first diva deserves better.
2. Even More Obvious Future HOFers: The Bella Twins
One down, one to go. Brie Bella decided to retire and head home to make babies with Daniel Bryan in early 2016 and sister Nikki has returned after neck surgery that almost put her out of the ring permanently. With the move toward younger women, her boyfriend John Cena getting involved in more activities outside of wrestling and the average lifespan of a woman in WWE, we think the time is running out on Nikki Bella’s career. The moment she hangs it up, these groundbreaking twins are as good as gold to be in the Hall of Fame the next year. They bridged the gap between the last gasps of the Attitude Era and the new women’s revolution. They also became good (Brie) or great (Nikki) wrestlers in the process.
1. Trish Stratus has the career upon which all future WWE women will be judged
While most wrestling fans point to the fact Stratus and Lita were the first women to headline an episode of Monday Night Raw as the biggest point in her career, few seem to remember the end of Stratus’ career. She didn’t keep her retirement a secret, letting people know a month in advance she’d be retiring after the 2006 Unforgiven pay-per-view. At that show, she defeated Lita with a Sharpshooter to win her historic seventh, and final, women’s championship. She returned to Raw for the Christmas episode in 2008 and wrestled a mixed-tag match with John Cena against Santino Marella and Beth Phoenix. On a March 2011 episode of Raw she returned, but lost to Vickie Guerrero after interference from LayCool and Dolph Ziggler. John Morrison and WWE Guest host Snooki came to her aid setting up a mixed tag-team match involving the six at WrestleMania 27. That was her official last match to this point and in 2013 she made her well-deserved way into the Hall of Fame.