Women’s wrestling has seen a major renaissance over the last couple of years, especially in WWE. Under Vince McMahon’s banner, women have never been treated equally to men even at the various peaks in the women’s divisions throughout the decades. Sometime around the turn of the century, the word “Diva” started being used to brand any woman who worked for WWE, a condescending and borderline offensive term usually reserved for famous actresses or musicians who are spoiled, mean and cocky. While the men were referred to as “Superstars,” an empowering term and something any child would want to aspire to.
The tide started to turn in early 2015 with the #GiveDivasAChance movement on social media, namely Twitter, following a very short match between the Bella Twins and the team of Paige and Emma which sent fans of women’s wrestling over the edge. WWE’s sexism was being brought to heel in a real way and the company had to respond, and although it took them a little while to figure out how to really treat their female wrestlers properly, they made major strides at WrestleMania 32 when a triple threat show-stealer between Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks signified the end of the Divas division and the beginning of all WWE stars being referred to as “Superstars.”
So, there it is: the modern WWE women’s division of wrestlers has become something respectable. There is work yet to be done, but it’s difficult to not appreciate the renewed focus on athletic ability over looks. However, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a market for the WWE Divas taking it all off in the squared circle. Here are fifteen times WWE’s ladies lost nearly everything they were wearing.
15. Lingerie Battle Royal
Taboo Tuesday was a decent enough concept for a WWE pay-per-view, except for the fact that it took place on a Tuesday and wrestling fans just felt weird watching a pay-per-view on that night. The whole idea was that fans were given options to vote for which had implications on each match, such as choosing a challenger for a Championship or picking the stipulations for the match. The execution of this concept, on the other hand, was completely terrible. Nearly every decision the fans were allowed to vote on was so off-balance that it was clear which option would win out.
At Taboo Tuesday in 2005, Trish Stratus was at the height of her career, reigning as the Women’s Champion in the middle of one of the most popular women’s storylines in WWE history with Mickie James. Trish was set to defend her title in a Six-Diva Battle Royal and fans voted that all women would be wrestling in their lingerie. If there’s ever been a fantasy among straight male wrestling fans, this was it: a battle for the gold among six women dressed only in their underwear.
14. Mae Young Shows Her Puppies
This one is probably not on many people’s bucket lists, but let’s not deny others their fetishes. At the annual Royal Rumble pay-per-view event in 2000, WWE had scheduled a Miss Royal Rumble swimsuit competition, despite it being the dead of winter, between The Kat, Ivory, Jacqueline, Luna Vachon, BB and Terri Runnels. However, there was to be a surprise competitor in the form of a Mae Young who was then in her mid-70s.
The late Mae Young is now a WWE Hall of Famer, honored for all of her wrestling contributions throughout the twentieth century, but around the time of the Miss Royal Rumble swimsuit competition, she always seemed to be on a mission to show her “puppies.” And that, she did! After winning the competition, Mae took it upon herself to finish disrobing in front of a live wrestling audience. Thankfully, Mark Henry came to the rescue.
13. Stinkface Match at SummerSlam 2000
Terri Runnels is the ex-wife of WWE Superstar and future Hall of Famer Goldust, getting her start alongside her then husband as Marlena. Terri was known for showing lots of skin, particularly wearing barely-there tops. The Kat was similarly known, though she got her start in WWE as Miss Kitty alongside Jeff Jarrett and Miss Debra, even spending some time at the side of the late Chyna. With these two catty personalities occupying WWE at the same time, a confrontation was inevitable.
At SummerSlam 2000 Terri and The Kat were all set to settle their differences inside the wrestling ring, but not just in any old fashioned way. The contest was to be a “stinkface” match, and if you’re unfamiliar with that term, it originated with the massive Samoan wrestler Rikishi who would hike up his thong and shove his gargantuan, sweaty, and pimply behind right into the face of his opponents. When applied to this match, however, the stinkface took on a whole new meaning.
12. In Your House: Unforgiven
In 1998 the now legendary Sable was a rising star in the World Wrestling Federation. One of her earlier matches was against Luna Vachon, a rough and dirty enhancement talent and staple in WWE for years. At In Your House: Unforgiven, Sable and Luna did battle in an Evening Gown match, which is won when one competitor forcibly removes the evening gown from her opponent.
Luna, who was then aligned with Goldust (or The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust), managed to strip Sable first and was the winner of the match. However, Sable assaulted Luna after the match and not only stripped off Luna’s evening gown, but also her underwear. There was a lot of skin in this match and it was something of a representation of Sable’s career of letting it all hang out. Of course, Sable would go on later that year to win the Women’s Championship, but she was never known for her wrestling ability.
11. Kelly’s Exposé
The former WWE Diva known as Kelly Kelly has now moved on from wrestling and is involved in a reality television program named WAGS on the E! Network. During her WWE tenure, however, she certainly made a splash. WWE hired her right out of modeling and trained her in the art of wrestling, and although she wasn’t a natural, the process went a whole lot smoother than it’s gone for current WWE Superstar Eva Marie. Little by little, Kelly was allowed to participate in matches on television until she eventually impressed enough people to capture the Divas Championship.
In her very early days on WWE television, Kelly was on the roster of the company’s newly revived (and ultimately ill-fated) ECW brand, playing the role of an “exhibitionist.” She got her own special segment, called “Kelly’s Exposé,” in which she would remove her clothing in front of the live audience and the cameras filming for people at home. During Kelly’s first outing, she had a mishap with her bra, which wouldn’t detach as planned and she was forced to lift it up and hold her breasts in her hands.
10. Mud Match
As a member of the WWE Hall of Fame, Trish Stratus is an icon revered for her wrestling career. Today, Trish is outspoken in support of WWE’s move away from the idea that women are just a side show, but she had her share of scantily clad moments during her WWE stay. To her credit, Trish says now that she rarely referred to herself as a “Diva,” but she certainly participated in the festivities.
Stacy Keibler moved on from pro wrestling a decade ago and aside from an appearance on Tough Enough in 2011, she’s never looked back. Getting her start in WCW, her primary role was being a manager to other wrestlers or just generally being an on-air personality. Stacy was never exactly known as a wrestler, although she did compete in her fair share of matches. One of those was against Trish Stratus in a mud match in which Stacy threw Trish, clad in only her underwear, off the stage and into a pool of mud.
9. Lingerie Match at No Mercy 2001
When Stacy Keibler left wrestling in 2006 after a stint on Dancing With the Stars, she went on to branch out in the entertainment world. She left behind a career as a WWE Diva, where she was frequently involved in silly catfights with other women who were usually dressed in next to nothing. In the early 2000s, this sort of thing was at its peak in WWE as the company essentially marketed its women as sex symbols above all else, and it was on proud display at No Mercy in 2001.
At this event, Stacy was set to go up against fellow World Championship Wrestling alumni, Torrie Wilson, who was associated with the World Wrestling Federation at this particular point in the Invasion storyline while Stacy was representing WCW. This wasn’t to be a simple one-on-one match for team dominance, though as Stacy and Torrie would go to war wearing nothing but their lingerie.
8. Sable’s Potato Sack
It’s a testament to Sable’s sex appeal that she will come to practically dominate a list like this one. Plenty of women have been brought into WWE based solely on their body, but few have delivered the number of memorable moments as Sable herself. In her early days, she was associated with the up and coming WWE Superstar known as “Marvelous” Marc Mero, who at the time was her real life husband. Mero rescued Sable from the abusive clutches of the man she originally managed, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, who fans know now as Triple H.
But things eventually turned sour in the relationship between Sable and Marc Mero, too. As Mero grew increasingly jealous that Sable was getting all the fan attention he felt should be directed at himself, he began to mistreat her and even forced her to dress in a potato sack in order to cover up her body. When Mero turned around and ordered Sable to remove his robe from his shoulders, she instead took the opportunity to remove her potato sack, revealing one of the smallest bikinis known to man.
7. Rock Bottom: In Your House
Debra Marshall is one of the most popular WWE Divas of all time. For years she accompanied Jeff Jarrett to the ring as Miss Debra and the two were involved in many high profile storylines, usually involving the Intercontinental Championship. Perhaps their most popular angle came at a time when Jarrett began assaulting helpless women, including Debra herself, which led to Jarrett being defeated by Chyna for the Intercontinental Title. Later, Debra would accompany her then-husband “Stone Cold” Steve Austin to the ring during his heel run in the early 2000s.
Miss Debra always wore relatively revealing outfits and often ended up in even less, but in 1998 fans got one of their first very revealing looks at everything Debra had to offer when Jeff Jarrett wrestled Goldust at the Rock Bottom: In Your House pay-per-view. The stipulation was that if Jarrett lost, Debra would strip to her lingerie and if Goldust lost, Goldust himself would strip down to his lingerie. It was obvious which end result the audience wanted, and they got it – at least until Jarrett and Owen Hart came to the ring to cover her up.
6. Jacqueline Loses Her Top
Jackie Moore, or Jacqueline to most wrestling fans, is one of the pillars of women’s wrestling. There’s a reason she was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as Jacqueline could reportedly wrestle circles around most men and she looked good doing it. She was at the center of one of the Attitude Era’s most popular rivalries involving wrestlers of any gender when she feuded with the wildly popular Sable. That angle was responsible for the reinstatement of the Women’s Championship, which had previously been inactive for years due to a lack of interest in women’s wrestling.
During this rivalry, Sable, who shows up quite a few times on this list, and Jacqueline had run-ins of every type, ranging from the actual wrestling match to the bikini contest. During one encounter, as Jacqueline managed to get herself hoisted up onto the shoulders of a referee, Stable tugged at her rival’s shirt from behind, exposing Jackie’s bare chest to the entire world.
These days, WWE seems to shoot for picking at least one woman per year to enter into its illustrious Hall of Fame. That might seem like slow progress, but until recently the company never showed any sort of initiative to make nearly as many big female stars as male stars. Few women have been more deserving of an induction than Amy Dumas, better known as Lita, who was welcomed into the 2014 class. Lita broke so much ground it would take all day to cover it; from all her Women’s Championships to the times she wrestled men or her legendary rivalry with real life best friend Trish Stratus, Lita is an undeniable icon.
One of her least iconic moments, though certainly no less memorable, was the time she and on-screen boyfriend Edge held a “live sex celebration” after Edge won the WWE Championship. After several uncomfortable minutes of the two disrobing and climbing into a bed in the middle of the ring to disrobe even further, the cameras got a clear shot of something Lita undoubtedly didn’t intend to be seen when the sheets were tugged and her chest was exposed.
4. Bikini Contest at Judgment Day 2003
Sable is one of the most iconic sex symbols in the history of WWE. She helped put WWE on the map in the late 1990s during the Attitude era using her looks and charisma as one of the most popular acts on a revolutionary wrestling show aimed at a predominately straight male audience. When she eventually left the company it was under bad terms, but she returned in the early 2000s after the two parties mended fences. As it turned out, during Sable’s absence a new resident sex symbol was crowned in Torrie Wilson and Sable would not go down without a fight.
So Sable and Torrie feuded for a while based solely on who would get the bragging rights as WWE’s hottest Diva. There wasn’t a lot of nuanced storytelling here, but plenty of eye candy to drag in the ratings. Eventually, Sable and Torrie would share a spread in Playboy together, but not before their bikini contest at Judgment Day in 2003. Torrie won that contest and left everyone with the memory of a kiss she delivered right to Sable’s lips.
3. The Kat
Whether you know her as The Kat, Miss Kitty or by her real name, Stacy Carter, during her short time with WWE she left a slew of memories behind for the wrestling audience. As Miss Kitty, she started out as the assistant to Miss Debra, who herself was the manager for WWE Superstar Jeff Jarrett. Once Jarrett started mistreating both of them, they bailed, and Miss Kitty ended up at the side of the legendary Chyna. Once changing her name to The Kat, she enjoyed a run as the Women’s Champion and was involved in plenty of the most scandalous moments of the Attitude era.
On the night she won the Women’s Title in an evening gown swimming pool match, The Kat would have one of WWE’s most notoriously revealing moments in history when she voluntarily removed her top, letting everything hang out for a very brief moment on live pay-per-view before she was quickly covered and escorted away.
2. Trish Stratus Barks Like a Dog
Today, Trish Stratus is hailed as one of the most legendary pioneers for modern women’s wrestling. As a seven-time Women’s Champion, Trish paved the way for Charlotte and Sasha Banks with classic matches, a rabid fan following and a big Women’s Title main event on Raw opposite her arch rival and real life best friend Lita. It’s easy to forget, though, that Trish, like every other Diva of her early years, was subjected to some of the raunchiest segments ever produced for WWE television.
One night while heavily involved in a storyline with the McMahon family, Trish would suffer the ultimate humiliation when Vince McMahon would force her to get down on her hands and knees and bark like a dog. Before the scene was over, McMahon had ordered her out of her clothing until Trish stood in front of the live audience in nothing more than very revealing underwear.
1. Sable’s Handprint Bikini
It probably shouldn’t be at all a surprise that the number one item on this particular list involves Sable herself. Sable was never the best wrestler, but she had charisma. Even that charisma, though, was overshadowed by the sheer number of times Sable’s body was used to garner major ratings for WWE. To this day, Sable’s moments are still played on highlight reels of WWE’s wildest moments. One moment in particular, would become the one thing she’d ultimately be remembered for above all else, even taking into consideration the empowering storyline that saw her beat up the man who was mistreating her.
The painted handprint bikini is apparently the stuff of wrestling greatness, as it’s one of the most infamous moments in the history of professional wrestling. One night when Sable’s star one on the rise, she revealed a bikini that was not so much a bikini as it was two handprints painted directly over her bare breasts, and from the waist up that’s all she wore. Just as iconic as the image of Sable in all her barely-covered glory is the image of Jerry “The King” Lawler’s reaction, as he stood in the background completely losing his mind.