Fans of WWE constantly see the company celebrating the fact they are in the midst of a Diva’s Revolution. Young women are allegedly finally receiving opportunities like never before in WWE or wrestling history, and by and large they are looking fantastic while turning those opportunities into unbridled successes. However, despite what WWE is claiming, this is hardly a brand new revolution in the wrestling world. There may be more of a focus on the in-ring aspect of women’s wrestling these days, but countless women have been involved in wrestling for the past several decades.
This is the third time we’ve drawn from this well, and the depths are still quite deep. Sometimes there’s a reason and sometimes there isn’t; sometimes it’s fair and sometimes it’s not. Regardless of the circumstances, WWE simply has not done a good job of honoring the women who were huge parts of their programming as recently as just a few years ago. This year Jacqueline is being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, despite the fact she’s only as relevant as at least half the women on this list. They might not all be future Hall of Famers, but they all looked great and were forgotten, so read on to remember 15 more gorgeous divas WWE history likes to forget.
15 Maria Kanellis - The Final Diva to Pose For Playboy
Maria Kanellis debuted along with a cadre of other women during the first televised WWE Diva Search in 2004. Although she lost, she was eventually hired to play a ditzy, airheaded backstage interviewer, who occasionally proved she was a secret genius whenever it made comedic or storyline sense. Maria was great in her role, and her natural good looks made fans fall in love with her, gradually raising her profile over the next few years through increasingly high profile pairings with major wrestlers. Maria’s star seemed to be shining as bright as ever when she won the Diva of the Year Slammy in 2009, but she was fired in 2010 for reasons still vague to this day. Maria was the final active WWE diva to pose for Playboy, which we assume had something to do with it. Although WWE hasn’t mentioned her in years, she has made recent appearances for Ring of Honor, TNA, and NJPW, usually managing her real life husband, Mike Bennett.
14 Lauren Mayhew - Busy With A Varied Entertainment Career
Lauren Mayhew may not be a familiar name to many wrestling fans, but they may have seen her pop up on their TV screens in more places than once. She briefly worked as a backstage interviewer ECW on Syfy in 2009, but lasted all of two months before she decided to spread her wings elsewhere. Mayhew is also a singer, songwriter, and actress, and by the looks of it she was probably too successful in her other ventures to commit to a longtime deal with WWE. Her songs have featured in a variety of huge TV shows, including The Voice and The Hills, and she’s made minor acting appearances on shows like CSI and Dexter. Although not exactly a major star, Mayhew simply seemed to have too much on her plate to take time out of her day to interview Tommy Dreamer.
13 Heidi Lee Morgan - Exemplary of a Forgotten Era
Alundra Blayze was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2015. Fans remember her as a 3-time WWE Women’s Champion who feuded with Bull Nakano and Bertha Faye. Somehow it’s been forgotten that the women’s division actually included quite a few more than just three competitors, and the most unfairly forgotten was Heidi Lee Morgan. It was Morgan who Blayze last defeated in the tournament where she won her first title, and Morgan who was the only other woman in division to actually earn any significant wins until Nakano was brought in. Morgan’s career is exemplary of just how poorly women were treated during this era. She was almost immediately cast off to ensure no more than two women would ever have focus at the same time.
12 Sara Calaway - Married To A Dead Man
Sara Calaway is quite unique in this list, in that it could probably be argued she was never really a WWE Diva. She did appear on a significant amount of WWE television around the year 2001 and she appeared in several WWE magazines celebrating the divas, but in all actuality, she was simply the real life wife of The Undertaker at the time. Sara started her tenure in WWE as part of the much-maligned angle wherein she found herself being stalked by a mysterious man who would eventually reveal himself to be Diamond Dallas Page. Sara was wooden as an actress, and the angle itself felt way beneath both DDP and the Undertaker. Sara and ‘Taker divorced in 2007, before the Dead Man married Michelle McCool in 2010.
11 Cherry - Came And Went Faster Than Greased Lightning
Cherry played a pretty minor role in WWE, and unfortunately for her and the men they managed, that role took place just a few years before it could’ve been something a lot bigger than it was. Cherry managed Deuce ‘n Domino, former WWE World Tag Team Champions with the throwback gimmick of two 1950s greasers. Naturally, Cherry was their valet, dressed like she was perpetually on her way to spend her afternoon at a malt shop. The team quickly rose to the top and won the belts in 2008, with Cherry looking cute as a button in their corner while they did it. Unfortunately, they weren’t long for the company, as the team broke up and all three of them were fired within the year. Given the success of this year’s Grease: Live, we feel the gimmick could’ve been much more successful just a few years down the line.
10 Tygress - Nitro Girl Turned Filthy Animal
Like most of the Nitro Girls, Tygress got her start as a professional dancer before entering the world of wrestling. She appeared in a music video for R. Kelly before becoming part of WCW in 1997. While her first few years were simply as an additional member of wrestling’s most famous dance troupe, she eventually began playing a role in major storylines when she became one of the valets of The Filthy Animals. Like most people in the dying days of WCW, Tygress didn’t make much of an impact on the wrestling world, but she remains noteworthy for being a part of one of the few important stables in the dying WCW.
9 Nidia - Not Tough Enough?
Less than one year ago, WWE named Sara Lee the female winner of the sixth season of Tough Enough. While we’re happy for Sara and hope the win turns into great things for her, fans don’t need to look too far back into history to see winning that contest doesn’t destine a wrestler for greatness. Jackie Gayda and Linda Miles co-won the competition in 2002, and we covered them in our last go around on this subject. Nidia was the female winner of the first Tough Enough, and like Gayda and Miles the next year, Nidia only lasted a short time in WWE before being fired in 2004. Nidia barely even got a chance to step into the ring, instead spending most of her time playing the “trashy” girlfriend of Jamie Noble.
8 Midajah - The Number One Scott Steiner Freak
Midajah is a personal trainer and fitness model who briefly gained a great deal of prominence during the dying days of WCW, by being the valet of WCW World Champion Scott Steiner. Known as Steiner’s “Head Freak,” Midajah didn’t really say or do anything other than look great and carry around Steiner’s title belts, but simply by having a woman with her exotic looks by his side, Steiner’s egomaniac persona was supplemented enough to make him a true main eventer. She continued making appearances with Steiner in independent promotions around the world after WCW went out of business, but retired from the industry shortly thereafter. Although she played a huge role in WCW, she never stepped foot in WWE, so its unlikely she’ll ever be remembered by them.
7 Rockin' Robin - Serious Problems With Her Famous Family
Rockin’ Robin is significant in the wrestling industry for quite a few reasons. She is the lone female member of a legendary wrestling family, with her father Grizzly Smith and her brothers Sam Houston and Jake “The Snake” Roberts. She held the WWE Women’s Title for two years in the late 1980s until the title was retired due to a lack of competition. More horrifically, she has publicly come forward with the fact she was a repeated victim of childhood sexual abuse by her father, who many in the wrestling world still view as a legend. While big brother Jake has been open about his many problems with their father, too, it’s a lot easier to mention him without exposing one of the darkest crimes in wrestling history, so we worry his sister probably won’t be joining him in the Hall of Fame anytime soon.
6 Aksana - Involved In Potential Gimmick Infringement Scandal
European beauty Aksana didn’t last long in WWE, but she played a pretty big role while she was there, and the full story gives a great deal of insight into how WWE talent are treated. Aksana spent a few years in FCW followed by developing a weird relationship with Goldust in NXT, but burst onto the scene in 2010 by becoming General Manager Theodore Long’s assistant on SmackDown. Aksana was released in 2014 with the explanation that WWE producer Kevin Dunn was a huge fan of hers, but few others in the company were as supportive. This came as a particular shock to fans of another ignored diva, who alleged her creative ideas were stolen from her specifically for Aksana to use, because someone in the company was so high up on her. Who did she allegedly steal from?
5 Maxine - Open Allegations of Gimmick Infringement
Wrestling fans probably recognize Karlee Perez as Catrina, the manager of Lucha Underground performer Mil Muertes. For a few years prior to that, she appeared on NXT and even earlier in FCW as Maxine, wrestling in black cat suits under the gimmick of a manipulative seductress, seeking political power in the wrestling world. She devised an angle to bring her gimmick to the main roster as the assistant of SmackDown’s General Manager Theodore Long, and if it feels like you just read something very similar to that about a minute ago in the entry for Aksana, it’s because Maxine alleges they took her idea and gave it to Aksana instead. Maxine claims the "higher up person" protecting Aksana and giving her the gimmick Maxine created was Triple H, contradicting the reports which named Kevin Dunn, but either way this is a pretty blatant example of favoritism. Whether true or not, even after Aksana was released, it's extremely unlikely Maxine will be welcomed back in WWE. Interestingly, she’s not the only Maxine who has been screwed over by the McMahon family…
4 Mad Maxine - Faded Away Before She Could Change Women's Wrestling
Mad Maxine may not be as traditionally gorgeous as some of the other women on this list, but beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and her distinctive look and story are far too interesting to be ignored for that minor of a reason. Mad Maxine made two appearances for WWE in the mid 1980s, managed by The Fabulous Moolah. She was intended to be a major presence in the wrestling world, and if her industrial punk rock inspired look made her look like a cartoon character, that’s because she was supposed to play a huge role in Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling.
Maxine’s look and attitude were unlike anything women’s wrestling, and possibly even wrestling in general, had seen up to that point, and she easily could have been a huge star. Unfortunately, one of two things happened. Either the Fabulous Moolah was up to her usual controlling tricks and essentially manipulated her way into replacing Maxine in the cartoon and on television, or Maxine simply didn’t like working for Moolah that much and decided to return to her previous career in journalism. Considering Maxine continued wrestling in other companies for the next year before permanently retiring, we feel like Moolah probably played a pretty big part.
3 Jaime Koeppe - Mysterious First Diva Search Winner
Jaime Koeppe is an extremely special WWE Diva, in that she’s probably the only woman ever to officially be called a WWE Diva despite never appearing on television. In 2003, Koeppe was the winner of the first ever Diva’s Search. The 2004 Diva Search was the first to be televised, but one-year prior, a contest was held exclusively on WWE.com, and Koeppe found herself the winner. Looking at pictures of her, it’s extremely evident how she placed at the top of the contest, but there’s no real insight towards why she never appeared on television after her big win. Reports indicate she retired from modeling in 2005 and disappeared from the public life shortly thereafter, so it's unlikely any answers will be found.
2 Kimona Wanalaya - Too Controversial For PG
Kimona Wanalaya had one of the most high profile debuts a valet could possibly have. After Beulah McGillicutty revealed she was cheating on Raven with Tommy Dreamer, Raven introduced Kimona as his new girlfriend on the same night he won the ECW World Heavyweight title. Kimona continued to play a huge role in ECW, as one of the main figures in arguably the promotion’s most famous angle. It would gradually be revealed Beulah wasn’t only cheating on Raven, but Tommy as well, and she was doing so by having a lesbian relationship with Kimona the entire time she was dating both men. Although groundbreaking, it’s pretty obvious the angle wouldn’t fly in today’s PG environment, especially given Tommy Dreamer’s reaction that since he was hardcore he wasn’t hurt; he’d just take them both. Kimona later appeared in WCW as Leia Meow, but was significantly less memorable in that role.
1 Dawn Marie - Fired While Pregnant
Dawn Marie first made her name in the wrestling world in ECW as a ditzy “valley girl” in a relationship with Lance Storm in 1998. The two had a great comedic chemistry together, and Dawn continued to be a major part of ECW until the company closed in 2001. Dawn switched gears to a more conniving and manipulative character when she debuted in WWE in 2002. Her time in WWE is much less fondly remembered outside of her beauty. Dawn was the focal point of one of the most maligned angles in WWE history, in which she seduced Torrie Wilson’s father Al, and then literally had sex with him until he died.
The ridiculous feud isn’t very fondly remembered, but it’s not nearly as awful as the real life reason she won’t appear in WWE ever again. In 2006, Dawn Marie was fired because she was pregnant, with WWE citing a clause in her contract stating changes in her appearance were grounds for being let go. Dawn sued the company for wrongful dismissal, and though the full details of the case were never made public, it’s pretty unlikely there was a clause stating all is forgiven, so she probably won’t be back on Raw ever again.