Despite what has, at times, appeared to be an attempt on the part of World Wrestling Entertainment to keep the female presence in professional wrestling to a minimum, the history books will show that women have played nearly as big of a role in the success of Vince McMahon’s corporate giant as men. Today the Raw and SmackDown Live Women’s Championships are almost like World Championships themselves and women often compete in the main event; 2017 even saw the introduction of a women’s Money in the Bank ladder match. But even when WWE was trying to oppress the feminine impact on its product years ago, the women of the company – known then as WWE Divas – were finding other ways to contribute.
Whether you choose to see it as degrading or empowering, in the days when women in wrestling weren’t being taken at all seriously they used their physical assets to their advantage and managed to use their skin to get ahead. Of course, there have always been those who remained vigilant and refused to show too much. They counted on the hopes that, one day, their physical ability would see them through. Let’s take a look into eight WWE Divas who wouldn’t drop their clothes for any amount of money and eight others who decided to use sex appeal to their advantage.
16 Dropped Her Clothes: Ashley Massaro
Ashley Massaro was one of the earliest winners of the WWE Diva Search, winning that competition thanks in large part to fan voting when she appealed to them as a sort of anti-Diva of the times. Ashley didn’t look like other women in WWE; she had piercings, tattoos and wore dark clothes and makeup along with a trucker hat. She was certainly sporting a unique look not seen by many WWE Divas up to that point and, at least as far as aesthetics go, had all the assets a woman needed to be successful in wrestling at the time.
She was never the world’s best wrestler, though, nor was she all that interesting a character. As a last grasp at WWE glory, Ashley posed nude in Playboy in 2007.
15 Wouldn’t Do It: Victoria
Lisa Marie Varon wrestled with WWE as Victoria throughout the 2000’s and became one of the most respected female grapplers of all time. With two memorable runs with the Women’s Championship she was one of the star members of WWE’s “golden era” of women’s wrestling which also featured the likes of Trish Stratus, Molly Holly, Jazz and Lita. Victoria retired from WWE in 2009 but continued to compete in TNA Wrestling and some independent promotions like Ring of Honor.
Throughout her wrestling career Victoria did some pretty revealing photo shoots, but never did she take it all off for the cameras. She was always careful to not give away too much and has managed to be remembered almost solely for her amazing accomplishments inside a wrestling ring.
14 Dropped Her Clothes: Sable
The term sex symbol is sometimes thrown around pretty freely, especially as it pertains to WWE Divas, but the term has never been more appropriate than when referring to the amazing Sable. There were very few women who could say that they played nearly as big a role in the success of the Attitude era as the male stars of the time, but of those few Sable might have the most solid hold on the claim.
Sex was selling at a high price during the late ‘90s in pro wrestling, and no one was striking rich like Sable. Now the long retired real life wife of Brock Lesnar, Sable couldn’t keep her clothes on in her prime and before it was all said and done she had posed nude for Playboy three times and gone nearly nude in a WWE ring on countless other occasions.
13 Wouldn’t Do It: AJ Lee
You’re not going to find a single current or former WWE Diva who has been more adamant about keeping her clothes on than the ever popular AJ Lee. During her time with WWE, AJ won the Divas Championship on three separate occasions and was one of the company’s most popular female competitors in history. She transcended the Divas division and was involved in high profile storylines with the biggest male stars of her era, including John Cena, Kane, Daniel Bryan and her future real life husband CM Punk.
She was an outspoken employee, publicly criticizing the company for the low pay women received compared to the men despite the same amount of hard work and became even more of an icon after leaving the company in 2015. It's clear that absence made everyone grow fonder.
12 Dropped Her Clothes: Christy Hemme
Ashley Massaro was one of the earliest winners of the WWE Diva Search competition, but Christy Hemme is the original. The first televised Diva Search was won by Hemme and for good reason. Out of the entire crop of women, Hemme stood head and shoulders above the rest in terms of charisma and her commitment to being a compelling TV personality. She would train to learn the physical side of the business after becoming an official WWE Diva, but her strong points were always her body and her winning smile.
Since leaving WWE Christy has built a successful career for herself with TNA Wrestling as an on air personality and writer, though she has now retired. During her time under contract with Vince McMahon Hemme posed nude for Playboy, putting her in an elite class of WWE women who have posed for the magazine.
11 Wouldn’t Do It: Michelle McCool
Right off the bat it was obvious Michelle McCool was set to be a wholesome and athletics focused WWE Diva. Her promotional material upon her official debut as a full-time competitor featured McCool as an all American girl who was “loving life.” That cheesy garbage didn’t last forever as Michelle went on to become one-half of the very successful “LayCool” heel tandem with Layla El but never did Michelle let her guard down and rely on her looks to do the work for her.
McCool worked hard to become one of the company’s best female competitors and she built a reputation as one of the quintessential Divas Champions, even being the first woman to hold that title and she never exposed herself to get there.
10 Dropped Her Clothes: Maria Kanellis
Yet another of the many former Diva Search competitors, Maria didn’t actually win that competition but certainly became one of the most successful women to be featured in it. After a few successful years as an interviewer and occasional wrestler, Maria would leave the company and build up her stock on the independent circuit with her real life husband Mike Bennett. The two are now signed to WWE and perform with the SmackDown Live brand, though the company’s current PG status would not have suited Maria’s original run with them.
Though she certainly didn’t need it to have a successful career, before leaving WWE the first time Maria Kanellis actually posed nude in Playboy, which may be a bit of a running theme on this list.
9 Wouldn’t Do It: Ivory
Lisa Moretti got her start back in the ‘80s with GLOW, or Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, a company which has recently come back into the wrestling discussion with the new Netflix original series based on the promotion. When she joined WWE in the late ‘90s as Ivory she was a no nonsense sort of gal right from the get go. Ivory was almost exclusively used as a heel and was so focused on her opinion that women should not be using their bodies to get ahead that it was actually written into her character.
A consistent part of Ivory’s persona was her complaint that she was sick of seeing WWE Divas take off their clothes and she hated being forced to participate in “bra and panties” matches. She would eventually become a vital part of Right to Censor, a stable of wrestlers hell bent on cleaning up the “smut” in wrestling.
8 Dropped Her Clothes: Torrie Wilson
As a World Championship Wrestling original, Torrie Wilson was brought over to WWE when Vince McMahon bought out Ted Turner’s attempt at wrestling glory. Though she may never have found her way to WWE had this not happened, Torrie would then go on to become one of the most beloved Divas of all time. She frequently wrestled in the typical gimmick matches of the era, such as bra and panties matches and other confrontations that saw Divas wrestle in mud, and it was always her stunning good looks that made her stand out among the crowd.
Torrie posed nude for Playboy on multiple occasions, blowing the minds of straight men everywhere and is only getting better with age. One look at her social media accounts shows she’s as gorgeous as she ever was.
7 Wouldn’t Do It: Beth Phoenix
2017 proved to be the year that Beth Phoenix was appreciated for her contributions to women’s professional wrestling. That might seem a bit soon considering she only retired a few short years ago, but it’s perfectly fitting when you think about the impact she had on the business. Phoenix was stealthily fighting the battle for equality during her WWE days and was sowing the seeds of the women’s revolution years before they’d come to harvest.
In one of the lowest points in history for women in WWE, the Divas division was barely hanging on by a thread and women were featured for mere minutes every week, but Beth Phoenix carried the division on her back proudly as one of the most skilled female workers in the company’s history, and she never once took off her clothes to build her Hall of Fame career.
6 Dropped Her Clothes: Kelly Kelly
Barbie Blank is now seen on the E! reality series WAGS and is the wife of former ice hockey player Sheldon Souray, but she will always be fondly remembered by wrestling fans as Kelly Kelly. She is the prime example of a woman who took a women’s division that was horrendously booked in wrestling terms and worked it to her advantage as one of the hottest WWE Divas in history. She became a sex symbol even as the PG era was being ushered in and was one of the most popular women to ever hold the Divas Championship.
Before the PG era actually got officially started, Kelly’s debut came in the WWE reboot of ECW as an “exhibitionist” where she would dance for the camera and take off her clothes, barely hiding anything from fans.
5 Wouldn’t Do It: Stacy Keibler
Every now and then WWE will run across a gem of a Diva and no one exemplifies that more than Stacy Keibler. She was probably the last woman who should have been competing as a wrestler, so she didn’t do it all that often. Stacy’s strengths liked in her charisma and her looks, but somehow she managed to never fully undress and still be a sex symbol all at the same time.
Some of Keibler’s most memorable WWE moments are indeed pretty adult themed, such as lingerie pillow fights and that time she did a lap dance for Vince McMahon in the middle of the ring, but she refused to ever reveal too much, and perhaps it is this which kept the audience so intrigued by her.
4 Dropped Her Clothes: The Kat
No one could have known how big of a star Stacy Carter would be for the Attitude era when she debuted as Miss Kitty alongside Miss Debra and Jeff Jarrett. She was a backup performer, for lack of a better term, with little in the way of anything resembling star power. But perhaps that was by design, as she seemingly saved up all that charisma for the moment she began competing as a singles wrestler for the Women’s Championship.
She will go down as one of the least skilled Women’s Champions of all time, but she’ll also go down as one of the least clothed. Upon winning the title, Miss Kitty redubbed herself The Kat and removed her top on live pay-per-view, exposing her chest to the world and setting the tone for the rest of her WWE stay.
3 Wouldn’t Do It: Molly Holly
If you were to make a list of the most underrated performers of any gender from WWE’s past, Molly Holly would have to be a part of that discussion. She led the charge for the Divas division at the peak of women’s wrestling in WWE, at least before the more recent women’s revolution. In an era with big names like Trish Stratus and Lita, Molly Holly held up the technical, mat based side of things as perhaps the most skilled female grappler of her time.
Molly never undressed for the cameras and was all business, something that was frequently made fun of on television as she was teased for wearing “granny panties” and even had her head shaved bald after losing to Victoria at WrestleMania XX.
2 Dropped Her Clothes: Candice Michelle
The women of the WWE Diva Search competitions every year frequently went on to become mostly eye candy for WWE with a few exceptions. Candice Michelle trained in wrestling and even had a run with the Women’s Championship, but there was never any doubt that her true power lied in her ability to sell tickets using pure sex appeal.
Candice was a big star for WWE as far as Divas went and became a huge sex symbol. At this time the company was selling that sex appeal as strongly as it ever had before, and there was no one better to stand at the front of that line than Candice. She was already a success before she posed nude for Playboy, which really put her over the edge as a potential future WWE Hall of Famer.
1 Wouldn’t Do It: Lilian Garcia
If it weren’t for the immortal Howard Finkel, Lilian Garcia would probably go down as the greatest ring announcer in the history of WWE. That’s a pretty huge deal that many take for granted with Garcia being a female in a man’s world, but there are few who have ever done the announcing gig better than Lilian herself. She’s been a WWE mainstay for over fifteen years and despite the fact that she’s technically not under contract now, her ties to the company remain close.
She’s a bit of an anomaly, too, as she started her career at the height of the Attitude era when every female on air personality was taking off their clothes, but she remained steadfast and never revealed herself in all her years as a WWE Diva.