WWE has a checkered history when it comes to its female division. Right now it is probably in the best place it has ever been, with the women being given the opportunity to main event pay-per-views for the first time.
WWE hasn’t always had this reputation when it came to the female wrestlers, though. WWE Divas were first introduced to the company back in the 1990s and were used as eye candy in order to keep the male demographic occupied throughout the show.
WWE then began putting women in bra and panties matches, evening gown competitions, and even swimsuit angles in order to show that these were some of the best looking women in the world. Obviously, Hugh Hefner agreed and WWE then saw many of its female roster featured on the cover of his magazine. But when WWE went PG and the company decided that it was time to stop sending out the wrong messages about women, the magazine covers stopped and male fans everywhere were left heartbroken.
This means that even though there are just as many attractive women on the WWE roster right now, these women have decided to leave a lot to the imagination, something that is not sitting too well with the WWE Universe.
Even though it’s not likely to happen anytime soon, here is a look at the women who we feel should have appeared in Playboy and the ones who actually did.
15. Did – Maria
Maria Kanellis joined WWE back in 2006 after auditioning for WWE in their annual Diva Search back in 2004. Maria wasn’t a trained wrestler and was instead mostly used as a backstage interviewer while she continued to train behind the scenes.
Sadly, Maria never fully reached the potential that many thought she would and one of the highlights of her short WWE career was when she posed for Playboy back in 2008. This allowed WWE to push Maria and she later won Diva of the Year the following year. Her Playboy cover was one of the worst selling magazines of all time, though. Maria has since gone on to become the first lady of both Ring of Honor and TNA since her WWE departure back in 2010.
14. Didn’t – Melina
Melina is one of the most decorated WWE Divas of all time. As a former WWE Divas and Women’s Champion, she dominated WWE in the years after Trish Stratus and Lita retired and helped bring the Women’s Division into a new era.
Melina feuded with Ashley after it was revealed that she would pose for Playboy and stated throughout that it was beneath her and that she would never appear in a magazine in that way. Melina, instead, was a fan of body paint and preferred to be photographed that way, much to the disappointment to many of the WWE Universe.
13. Did – Chyna
The late Chyna was considered to have been one of the most dominant female wrestlers in the history of WWE. She is the only woman to have won the Intercontinental Championship and the first woman to take part in The Royal Rumble match, but she was definitely ahead of her time back in the late 1990s.
Chyna first appeared on the cover of Playboy back in 2000, whilst she was still with WWE before she then agreed to appear for a second time in 2002, following her release from WWE. Chyna then made herself a career in adult entertainment after she was surprisingly released from WWE back in 2001.
12. Didn’t – Kelly Kelly
It probably comes as a surprise to many of the WWE Universe that Kelly Kelly never actually posed for Playboy, given the things that Kelly did actually do during her time in WWE. Kelly was unveiled on ECW and was part of Kelly’s Expose where she would actually do a striptease for the audience and then later became a part of Extreme Expose.
While Kelly has done some slightly racy photoshoots over the past few years, she has never decided to pose for a magazine like Playboy. Kelly instead focused on her wrestling career and became a Divas Champion before leaving the company back in 2012 after she stated that she needed time to recover from a neck injury.
11. Did – Sunny
Now, Sunny would be one of the odd examples who is considered on both the did and did not pile. She was a woman that many men wanted to pose for Playboy throughout her entire wrestling career, but she did then go on to pursue a career in adult entertainment after her WWE release. Close enough.
Sunny has gotten mixed up in a lot of different things over the past few years, things that even WWE have now refused to comment on. Back in the 1990s, Sunny was considered to be one of the first WWE Divas, and with her “girl next door charm” she became every male wrestling fan’s fantasy for many years.
10. Didn’t – Eve Torres
The 2007 Raw Diva Search winner was the final woman to come to WWE through the annual female competition and she set the bar as she began working hard and putting in the hours to finally become a credible female wrestler.
Eva Torres is a former Divas Champion and was very popular with the WWE Universe, she was also very easy on the eyes, but was never a woman who enjoyed revealing photoshoots. Eve asked for her release from WWE in 2012 so that she could focus on other projects and has since begun an acting career.
9. Did – Torrie Wilson
In the WWE universe, Torrie Wilson is without a doubt one of the most attractive female wrestlers of all time. She joined WWE in the late 1990s after making the switch from WCW and became a firm fan favourite.
Torrie was signed to WCW after she was seen backstage, and never possessed a lot of wrestling talent, but over the years she began to learn. Torrie was in WWE for almost a decade and never lifted a female title, instead, she was one of the women who was always relegated to being the eye candy part of the show. She did pose for Playboy Magazine twice in her early career back in 2003 and again alongside Sable in 2004.
8. Didn’t – Beth Phoenix
Beth Phoenix is a former WWE Divas and Women’s Champion and was only the second woman to appear in the Royal Rumble match during her time in WWE. She was seen as a powerhouse and one of the most dominant females on the roster, but she was also beautiful.
Beth was another female wrestler who was not interested in being a diva, she was passionate about wrestling and what went on in the ring, not outside of it. She was quite successful in doing this and after leaving WWE, she married Hall of Famer Edge and the couple now has two daughters.
7. Did – Candice Michelle
Candice Michelle came to WWE through the Diva Search and looked to be another model who was signed to the company because of her looks. In 2006, she posed for Playboy and this allowed her to be part of a Playboy pillow fight at WrestleMania 22 alongside Torrie Wilson.
Candice went on to train hard and receive a push that saw her become the first Diva Search contestant to win a WWE Championship. This then allowed her to be looked at much more seriously by the WWE Universe. Candice left the company back in 2009 and has gone on to marry and have three daughters.
6. Didn’t – Lita
Lita was one of the first female wrestlers to show a character that was about more than what she looked like. Lita was already a talented wrestler by the time she joined WWE and her feud with Trish Stratus finally put women’s wrestling on the map.
So many women who are in WWE today were inspired by Lita, and so many men were attracted to her throughout her career. While Lita did some racy photo shoots during her time in WWE, she never needed the boost that posing for Playboy gave the other female wrestlers and she hasn’t needed it since she left the company either.
5. Did – Ashley
Ashley Massaro was the 2005 Raw Diva Search winner. There was always something different about Ashley, from her crazy dress sense to the fact that she gave out her phone number to the WWE Universe as a way to get them to vote for her.
Even though her career was cut short by her sick daughter, Ashley did pose for Playboy back in 2007 and this began a feud with Melina that took both women to WrestleMania 23, where they fought over the Women’s Championship. Ashley’s Playboy cover ended up being one of the biggest things that she achieved in her WWE career.
4. Didn’t – AJ Lee
At one time, AJ Lee was the longest reigning Divas Champion. She was the most popular WWE Diva on the roster at that time and she was main eventing WWE pay-per-views as part of the male storylines.
AJ was beautiful and she was talented, she was the exact thing that WWE’s women’s division needed at that time and she played the role very well. AJ was never a fan of normal things, she was a self-confessed nerd and wasn’t used to much male attention, so Playboy was never something that she wanted to do. She retired from wrestling back in 2015 so that she could settle down with husband CM Punk.
3. Did – Christy Hemme
Christy Hemme was the first Diva Search winner to be given a WWE contract and she actually had some wrestling talent. Hemme was added to the women’s division and even given a match against Trish Stratus at WrestleMania 21, but it seems that backstage issues were the reason WWE released her not long after.
Hemme posed for Playboy back in 2005, at the height of her fame in WWE, but she left the company just four months after the magazine was released and went on to make a name for herself in TNA. Christy is now a former Knockouts Champion and left TNA in April 2016 after more than a decade with the company.
2. Didn’t – Nikki Bella
Nikki Bella is the most popular female wrestler in WWE currently, she is the longest reigning Divas Champion, and the main star of both Total Divas and Total Bellas, so she has never needed the boost that posing for Playboy gave many other female superstars.
Nikki is also in a relationship with 16 time WWE Champion John Cena, who would definitely not be too pleased with his girlfriend posing for the famous magazine. Nikki has instead focused on wrestling and put her modeling career behind her. She has improved so much in the ring and has gained millions of fans all over the world. There is talk that due to her on-going neck problems, Nikki could be forced to retire at this year’s WrestleMania event.
1. Did – Sable
The wife of Brock Lesnar and the former Women’s Champion, Sable set the bar for many of the women who followed her, and as a former two-time Playboy cover girl, she was aware of the direction the Women’s Division was going in at that time.
Sable wasn’t the best wrestler, but she had the confidence to pull off whatever it was WWE wanted her to do. She knew that the WWE Universe came to see her because of her looks and famously unveiled her hand printed chest during a bikini contest on SmackDown. These may now be the moments from women’s wrestling that WWE would prefer to forget, but this is what female wrestling was back then and Sable was simply giving the crowd what they wanted.