Female competitors in WWE have always been a part of the most inconsistent women’s division in all of pro wrestling. The late Hall of Famer The Fabulous Moolah was recognized as the company’s inaugural Women’s Champion and she is officially in the record books as having held that title for nearly thirty years, although there are some technicalities which dispute that fact. Nevertheless, some of WWE’s most famous women’s matches for decades to come would take place in the 1980s involving Moolah, Wendi Richter, Leilani Kai and others.
As WWE entered the 1990s, however, women’s wrestling would fall to the wayside, being featured less and less on television until the Women’s Championship was eventually considered retired. A few years later, women such as Alundra Blayze, Bertha Faye and Bull Nakano would revive the title and the division, but only briefly as the company once again let it die out. In 1998, the title was again reinstated during the rivalry between Jacqueline and Sable and would stay active for over a decade before being dropped in favor of the Divas Championship.
Today, the Divas Championship is also retired and WWE has commissioned two brand new Women’s Championships, one each for Raw and SmackDown Live. Women’s wrestling seems to have a bright future in WWE now, and despite the shaky history of the women’s division the company has seen hundreds of female employees move in and out over the decades. Let’s catch up with 15 of these WWE Divas who have been released in recent years.
15 Veronica Lane
Though you’ve likely never heard of Veronica Lane, she was indeed once under contract with WWE as an NXT Diva. Veronica worked under a developmental contract in 2013 and 2014, wrestling only a handful of matches, but never officially wrestling on television. Her beauty queen gimmick never really took off either, and the only times she actually appeared at TV tapings was as a ring announcer and backstage interviewer. Eventually, Veronica Lane, who now goes by Erika Hammond, asked for her release from the company in order to pursue other goals and opportunities.
Since leaving the world of professional wrestling behind, Hammond has dived head first into a fitness career. She keeps her social media accounts such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, updated regularly with fitness tips in the form of a slew of photos and videos. Many of her posts on these accounts are motivational, encouraging others interested in fitness to push themselves.
14 Kendall Skye
The name Kendall Skye is probably one most wrestling fans don’t recall ever having heard. That’s understandable, as she was only under a developmental contract for a brief couple of years in NXT. Skye competed in a few official matches at house shows with the likes of Sasha Banks, Charlotte and Bayley, and was an occasional ring announcer for the NXT television tapings. Her presence was not felt for long, however, as in 2014 she and WWE would part ways with Kendall stating that she was excited for her future outside of wrestling.
Since leaving WWE, Kendall, now known as Kendra Smith, has been looking at getting into Hollywood and the world of acting. She frequently updates fans through her Twitter account and has recently been promoting her appearance on the television comedy Bajillion Dollar Properties, which spoofs other real estate TV shows. Smith considers herself retired from pro wrestling.
13 Zahra Shreiber
Zahra Shreiber was once an aspiring WWE Diva who signed a developmental contract to train in NXT in 2014. She was only around for a cup of coffee, making a handful of background appearances on television and briefly serving as a ring announcer and a manager to former NXT Superstar Solomon Crowe. Despite her vague presence in the company, however, her name isn’t totally unknown. Shreiber’s name has actually managed to be on the tongues of wrestling fans more than once, but for all the wrong reasons.
Her first mishap came when nude photos of Zahra and her boyfriend Seth Rollins leaked onto the internet, which was luckily forgiven by WWE. But the company could not overlook what came next, when old photos resurfaced of Shreiber’s collection of Nazi memorabilia. WWE was forced to release her from her contract for public image reasons, though she still keeps in touch with fans through social media and occasionally makes public appearances.
12 Sarah Backman
In 2013 news broke that WWE had signed popular arm wrestling competitor Sarah Backman to a developmental contract. Backman won a plethora of championships over the years throughout her arm wrestling career and showed a lot of promise when she decided to retire from the sport to pursue professional wrestling. She had the look of a WWE Diva and obviously packed the strength needed to be an athlete for the company, but she was only around for about a year before deciding that wrestling was not her cup of tea and moving on.
Once WWE released her in 2014, the Swedish would-be Diva, who was set to be known by the ring name Shara, decided to move into real estate as a broker, a path she continues to follow. Months after severing ties with WWE she would go on to marry her fiancé Taylor Rotunda, better known to the WWE Universe as Raw Superstar Bo Dallas.
NXT has a history of competitors never making it out of the training stage and onto television. For instance, there’s a very good chance you’ve never heard the name Anya. That’s because it was the ring name of Anna Bogomazova, a Russian kickboxer turned pro wrestler who was only under a developmental contract for the span of around a year. Bogomazova, who has a black belt in taekwondo, seemed a natural fit as a WWE Diva, bringing plenty of athleticism, beauty and combat experience to the table. Her resume was impressive, but her time for WWE turned out to be a letdown.
After breaking her arm while training to compete inside the ring, Anna Bogomazova was eventually released from her contract with WWE. She is quite active on social media, frequently posting photos of herself and keeping in touch with fans. Following her injury, she plans on filing a lawsuit against WWE for reasons related to her surgeries.
10 Vickie Guerrero
Though Vickie Guerrero didn’t play a very large role on WWE television initially, she did show up on screen a few times during storylines with her husband, the late WWE Hall of Famer Eddie Guerrero. Following Eddie’s passing in 2005, WWE brought Vickie back to television for further angles and found that she had a knack for inciting negative crowd reactions. This led to Vickie making the transition into a viciously hated heel character who could rile up any crowd just by screaming her “excuse me” catch phrase. Throughout her time in WWE, Vickie often played the role of an authority figure for both Raw and SmackDown, as well as serving as a manager for several wrestlers including current WWE Superstar Dolph Ziggler.
In 2014, Vickie parted ways with WWE, retiring from the business in order to become a medical administrator, a job for which she trained while working on her wrestling career. She married her fiancé, Kris Benson, in 2015.
Ariane Andrew, better known as Cameron to WWE fans, got her start on a season of Tough Enough, a competition show where WWE sought out their next Superstar. Though Cameron didn’t win the competition, she did eventually get a contract with the company and rose to fame alongside Naomi as the Funkadactyls, back up dancers for former WWE Superstar Brodus Clay. After transitioning full time into an in ring role, Cameron found difficulty taking off with the audience and ended up in NXT during her final months under contract.
Cameron was released from WWE in 2016 following her public support for criticisms of the company made by former employee, Ryback, though WWE never officially stated this was the reason for her release. Ariane Andrew stays active on social media and is pursuing a career in acting. She still occasionally makes wrestling related appearances, though hasn’t announced any plans to return to the ring.
Layla El rose to pro wrestling fame when she won one of the earliest WWE Diva Search tournaments, earning herself a WWE contract. Fans voted her as the winner after falling in love with her good looks and infectious energy, but no one expected her to remain a mainstay in the Divas division for nearly a decade. Layla always kept her character fresh, evolving throughout roles such as a dancer alongside Kelly Kelly and forming a dominant team with Michelle McCool known as LayCool. Layla’s solo career was impressive, as she became a multiple time Divas and Women’s Champion during her time between the ropes.
In 2015, Layla had slowly faded into the background and was rarely ever seen on television. She asked for her release from WWE and officially retired from the sport of professional wrestling. She has mostly disappeared from the public eye, but months after her retirement she married fellow wrestler Richard Young.
7 Lilian Garcia
Lilian Garcia could be the most popular ring announcer in WWE history, and that includes Howard Finkel. Garcia started working for the company in the late 1990s during the Attitude era and quickly won over the hearts of WWE fans everywhere. Not only was Lilian excellent at her job, she was approachable and kind to her fans, and she was used several times in storylines on television including a romance with former WWE Superstar Viscera. Except for a couple of years away, Garcia worked for the company for over a decade and a half, leaving WWE in 2016.
When Lilian decided to retire from ring announcing it was because her father, who suffers from two different types of cancer, had fallen ill and needed her to take care of him. Lilian stated that she wanted to find work closer to her father so that she could be at this side when he needed. She stays active on social media and keeps up with her fans.
6 Eve Torres
When Eve Torres won the WWE Diva Search competition in 2007 few people knew she’d go on to be one of the most respected women to ever compete in that tournament. Eve was exactly what WWE was looking for in a Diva at the time; she had looks to kill, wasn’t shy in front of a crowd, and she was athletic enough to make a rather smooth transition into the ring. The Divas at the time were mostly hired as eye candy and the match quality in the women’s division wasn’t at its peak, to say the least, but Eve went the extra mile and became one of the company’s most dependable and versatile female performers.
When Eve wasn’t winning Divas Championships with her impressive in ring skills, she was playing other on air roles such as that of an authority figure or a manager for other wrestlers. She retired from professional wrestling in 2013 and is now teaching a women’s self defense class. Since leaving WWE Eve has given birth to a child with her husband, Rener Gracie.
5 Brandi Rhodes
Brandi Rhodes spent several years training to compete between the ropes as a WWE Superstar, but never competed in an official televised match. Instead, she became a ring announcer and instantly became a hit with the WWE Universe. Her style of work was popular, especially her unique way of announcing WWE Superstar Kevin Owens to the ring, and she racked up a huge following. Though this is largely due to her ring announcing, it didn’t hurt that she married one of WWE’s most popular Superstars for many years, Cody Rhodes.
But once Cody Rhodes decided to leave WWE in 2016 following creative differences with the company, Brandi, who went by Eden on TV, decided to join him. She soon was given her release, too, and she followed Cody to the independent scene. Both of them signed deals with TNA Wrestling and Brandi now competes in the ring as a TNA Knockout.
The years leading up to the all female season of the NXT competition program saw WWE focus more on the aesthetic aspect of their Divas than true athleticism and strength. That’s why fans of women’s wrestling were so excited when Kaitlyn, a beautiful woman who also happened to be ripped and powerful, won the competition and was named WWE’s Breakout Diva. With one or two exceptions, a woman like Kaitlyn hadn’t been seen in the Divas division for a while and fans had high hopes she would change the game.
Kaitlyn did capture the Divas Championship and embark upon a somewhat memorable feud with her former tag team partner AJ Lee, but once that program had run its course WWE started using Kaitlyn less on television and she was eventually rarely heard from. Kaitlyn asked for her release in 2014 and moved on to focus on her fitness career. She now owns her own fitness clothing line called Celestial Bodiez and runs a smoothie shop in Florida with her husband.
3 Beth Phoenix
When Beth Phoenix made her WWE debut in the mid 2000s, few knew she would go on to become one of the most popular WWE Divas of all time. She was beautiful, which was the only true trait that qualified a Diva for many years, but she was also strong, athletic and charismatic. Her matches with fellow Divas such as Melina and Mickie James were some of the best in WWE’s women’s division for years and Phoenix was one of the few women who saved the Divas from being made up exclusively of models who had little talent in the ring.
Beth gave the WWE Universe plenty of memories, but all good things must come to an end. In 2012 she decided to retire from professional wrestling and focus on her family life. She has given birth to two children with her husband and WWE Hall of Famer Adam “Edge” Copeland.
2 AJ Lee
There’s simply no way to oversell AJ Lee’s contributions to women’s professional wrestling. In the era of barely trained models pulling hair over a silver and pink belt emblazoned with a butterfly, AJ stood out in the crowd as a savior of sorts. She was a tomboy who unabashedly tossed everything a Diva was supposed to be out the window and even made waves with a promo during which she verbally destroyed all the women on the reality show Total Divas, bashing them for their superficial interests.
AJ Lee became a three-time Divas Champion and helped bring credibility to a quite lacklustre women’s division. Much like her husband CM Punk, she was very outspoken, famously calling out Stephanie McMahon on Twitter over the low-pay women wrestlers receive in WWE. In 2015, AJ retired from the ring and has become an animal activist. She is releasing an autobiography titled, “Crazy Is My Superpower.”
1 Brie Bella
They’ve received a lot of criticism from wrestling fans over the years, but there’s no denying that the Bella Twins are one of the most successful acts in the history of women’s wrestling. The internet wrestling fans have long claimed that Nikki and Brie are not talented wrestlers, but the two have improved immensely over the past decade and their accomplishments are nothing to sneeze at. While Nikki is the longest reigning Divas Champion of all time, Brie has also held that title and competed against Stephanie McMahon on the grand stage of SummerSlam.
Together, the Bellas have held up the women’s division in WWE for the better part of ten years. While Nikki Bella still performs on SmackDown Live, her twin sister Brie retired earlier this year in order to start a family with her husband and fellow retired WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan. The couple recently announced that they will soon give birth to a daughter and Brie still appears on WWE’s reality shows Total Divas and Total Bellas.
Sources: CagesideSeats.com, TMZ.com, WWE.com, WrestlingInc.com
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