Not only have the men of the professional wrestling world grown to great success, but so have the women of the industry over the past 20 years. There was a time when female wrestlers weren’t exactly lookers. Now female wrestlers, better known as WWE Divas, enjoy great success both in and out of the squared circle. In-ring careers are usually short for the divas, but their exposure (no pun intended) on WWE television has led to many pursuing outside projects once their wrestling careers are over. Whether it be through movies, television or magazine covers, these women have gathered up quite a nest egg. Not all their money was earned in professional wrestling, but their careers in the WWE are what led them to their fame.
The use of women in the WWE has been controversial at times, with some people questionning if they are valuable to the wrestling business at all. These ladies have shown that whether your greatest achievement comes in wrestling or not, it can undoubtedly be used as a platform to gain some form of fame. Some of these women accomplished more in the ring than others, but the mainstream crossover has proven to be possible. Sometimes divas have been accused of merely joining the WWE to move on to mainstream success. But the shelf life of divas is usually short in WWE. Think about this for a second. Trish Stratus is thought to be the best diva of all time, yet her career lasted just six years. Even the most successful divas don’t get much time on top. A lot of the women on this list have done a good job setting themselves up for life once their wrestling careers inevitably ended, often at an age well under 35.
Stephanie McMahon is the most powerful woman in the business, and its most valuable woman with a net-worth of $25 million, but she won’t be included on this list because her salary has come exclusively from her work behind-the-scenes in the WWE.
10) Sable (Rena Marlette Lesnar) – Net Worth: $1.5 million
Sable was part of the wave of women that turned female wrestlers into sex symbols and shocked many in the process. Rena Marlette is currently married to Brock Lesnar, who is worth $15 million himself and has achieved fame beyond the wrestling business. Wrestling fans will always remember Sable exposing herself, with nothing more than black handprints on her breasts during the WWE’s edgy and controversial Attitude Era.
Her catchphrase included “this is for all the women who want to be me, and for the men who come to see me.” Sable followed that up with a grind. Lewd, yes. Gratuitous, yes. But it resonated with the male demographic quite well, as much as that may surprise you.
Sable went on to pose in Playboy in April 1999. The magazine was one of the highest-selling of all time. She posed for the magazine again in September of that year, following her departure from the WWE, and again in 2004 alongside Torrie Wilson during her second run in the WWE.
Marlette is now living comfortably outside of the pro wrestling world, raising her two sons with Lesnar, as well as her stepdaughter (Lesnar’s daughter from a previous relationship). At 46 years old, she’s enjoying life and her wrestling career is far behind her.
9. Nikki Bella – Net Worth: $1.5 million
Nikki Bella, (Stephanie Nicole Garcia-Colace) has built quite a name for herself alongside her twin sister Brie. Together, the Bella Twins have built a brand for themselves, gracing magazine covers and starring in WWE’s reality show on E! called ‘Total Divas’. WWE makes it a priority for the Bellas to be featured heavily on television.
Nikki is currently dating WWE’s most wealthy active wrestler, John Cena. As seen on ‘Total Divas’, the couple live together in Tampa, Florida. Nikki has battled injury problems this past year, having broken her shin-bone, but the Bellas have only gotten more famous, as they seem to be made for reality TV.
8. Brie Bella – Net Worth: $1.7 million
Brie Bella (Brianna Garcia-Colace) is the other half of the Bella twins. Her networth comes in just above her sister’s at $1.7 million. That could be accounted for by the fact that she hasn’t had the injury problems her sister has been forced to deal with.
Brie is also engaged to wrestler Daniel Bryan, and the two are expected to be married in April. Her relationship with Bryan (Bryan Danielson) has been another story arc in Total Divas on E!, as the proposal and engagement party were both featured on the show. Having just completed its first season in December, the show regularly has over 1 million viewers and has been renewed for a second season, which will start in 2014. It’s a show many wrestling fans feel they shouldn’t like, but they just do. In fact, it has been the most entertaining show WWE has put forth in certain weeks.
The Bellas’ original run went from 2008-2012. They were brought back in 2013 primarily for the reason of being featured on TV more, and with WWE launching their own network in February, who knows what other plans they have in mind for the twins.
7. Natalya – Net Worth: $2.2 million
Natalya (Nattie Neidhart) is the daughter of former WWE tag team champion Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart and the niece of Bret Hart. Trained in Calgary, Natalya is the first third-generation female pro wrestler. She has wrestling in her blood and it shows on a weekly basis. When given the chance, she puts on amazing performances and should be featured more heavily on TV.
Neidhart is also featured on Total Divas and she married her longtime boyfriend, fellow pro wrestler Tyson Kidd (TJ Wilson) in June, which was also featured on the show.
She has been wrestling in the WWE since 2008 and is a former Divas champion, a title she most definitely deserves another shot at. Canada can be proud of another member of the Hart family achieving greatness in the wrestling business.
6. AJ Lee – Net Worth: $2.3 million
AJ Lee (April Jeanette Mendez) has been the most compelling WWE Diva for the past two years. In storylines, she has had romantic flings with Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Kane and John Cena. Her crazy character has been an interesting component to WWE television.
This past June, Lee won the Divas Championship at WWE’s Payback pay-per-view and has held onto it since. She has grown as both a character and an in-ring performer and as champion is currently the highest-paid diva. At 26 years old, her best work may still be ahead of her, and in an era where many believe all it takes to make it in WWE as a diva is looks, AJ brings the full package.
5. Lita – Net Worth: $2.5 million
Lita (Amy Dumas) is a four-time WWE Women’s Champion and enjoyed a fantastic career spanning seven years in the WWE. Her feuds with Trish Stratus were incredible and brought a whole new standard to the Divas division. She also helped prove that the pretty ones can be the toughest ones, too.
Lita performed moves never before seen in the divas division, including her signature Litasault (moonsault) and hurricanranas. She began as the Hardy Boyz manager, but eventually moved off on her own to enjoy success as an in-ring competitor. Dumas also formed her own band, the ‘Luchagors’ in 2006 and has enjoyed success there as well. She’s been retired since 2006 and while she makes the occasional appearance on WWE television, her days as a wrestler appear to be over, as she is enjoying a career outside of the ring.
4. Trish Stratus – Net Worth: $3 million
Dubbed Canada’s greatest export, Trish Stratus was everything one could want in a diva. She is gorgeous, charismatic and was arguably the greatest in-ring performer in the history of the divas division. She is a seven-time Women’s champion, having won her seventh title in her last match at Unforgiven 2006 in her hometown of Toronto.
When she first arrived in the WWE, Trish was just eye candy. She was the manager of Test and Albert, better known as T & A, and eventually got involved with Vince McMahon in a storyline that culminated with her slapping the chairman at WrestleMania X7. Her career took off from there. She began wrestling more and more and won her first women’s title at Survivor Series 2001. She constantly headlined the division until her 2006 retirement, her most notable rivalry being with Lita. I like to call their in-ring rivalry the Stone Cold/Rock feud of the divas.
Stratus has since married and had her first child in September. She has also opened Stratusphere Yoga in Toronto. She often credited yoga to her improving as a wrestler and she’s now made it her new career. She was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame at WrestleMania 29 and is simply the greatest WWE diva of all time.
3. Mickie James – Net Worth: $4 million
Mickie James has been wrestling since 1999. She has enjoyed a successful career in the business, even after her release from WWE in 2010, as she’s had two runs with TNA wrestling.
Fans who remember her days in WWE will most remember her feud with Trish Stratus which culminated with Mickie defeating her idol at WrestleMania 22 for the Womens Championship. Mickie played a psychotic Trish Stratus fan on tv and once she began wrestling on television, fans were able to see her real talent. She wound up winning the Women’s Championship five times, with only Stratus having more reigns.
James has also pursued a music career, releasing her first country album Strangers and Angels on itunes in 2010. She has since toured the United States, which has helped her wallet tremendously. At 34 years old, she may not have many years in wrestling left. Fortunately, she has wisely set herself up for a career outside of the industry.
2. Stacy Keibler – Net Worth: $4.5 million
Stacy Keibler started her wrestling career at the age of 19, as a Nitro Girl in WCW while attending school full-time. She was also a Baltimore Ravens cheerleader and she continued to find success as a valet in WCW under the name Miss Hancock. When WCW was sold to the WWE, she jumped ship and continued primarily as a valet, while wrestling the occasional match, usually involving some form of lingerie.
Keibler wasn’t known for her in-ring skills. She was known for her long legs that went for miles and became the valet for the Dudley Boyz, known as the Dutchess of Dudleyville. She also feuded with Torrie Wilson for most of her WWE career.
Keibler eventually left WWE in 2006 to pursue outside endeavours. Ultimately it has proven to be a good decision for her. She has had a successful acting/modelling career and has regularly been included on Maxim’s Hot 100 list, ranking as high as number 5 in 2005. However, she has declined offers to pose for Playboy. She’s been on Dancing with the Stars, How I Met Your Mother and George Lopez and also recently dated George Clooney. At 34 years old, she has done an awful lot outside of the pro wrestling industry.
1. Torrie Wilson – Net Worth: $18 million
The classic, all-American blonde bombshell, Torrie Wilson has reached heights far beyond the professional wrestling world. It started before her wrestling career even began as she won Miss Galaxy 1998. Her wrestling career started the year after and never seemed to be far removed from her close friend Stacy Keibler. In 2001, they both jumped ship to the WWE together.
In 2003 Wilson was on the cover of Playboy magazine, alongside Sable in the March 2004 edition. Typically, she was used in bikini contests, lingerie pillow fights and anything else the WWE was able to come up with to capitalize on her looks. She was also featured in FHM magazine, voted number 43 on FHM’s 100 Sexiest Women in the World list in 2007. Wilson has also been on AskMen.com’s list of the Most Desirable Women in the World twice: she was number twenty-two in 2006 and number sixty-five in 2007.
Since her WWE release in 2008, Wilson has continued to enjoy a successful modelling career. She has been dating Yankees third-baseman Alex Rodriguez since December 2011.