Diva is a term used by the professional wrestling promotion World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) to refer to its female talent. The term is applied to women who appear as wrestlers, managers or valets, backstage interviewers, or ring announcers.
Perhaps the first "Diva" in the WWE was Miss Jackie, who was the manager for various wrestlers. The female managerial role was not a new concept in professional wrestling. Miss Elizabeth, Sensational Sherri and Luna Vachon preceded Miss Jackie in the WWE, yet she brought a sexuality to the position that had seldom been seen in the business before.
From 2006, Marlena, Sable and Chyna, joined Miss Jackie as prominent female on-air talent in the promotion. Marlena was the manager of Goldust, her then real-life husband and Sable was manager for her then real-life husband, wrestler Marc Mero. Sable quickly eclipsed her husband in popularity. Her popularity lead to the re-instatement of the WWE Women's Championship, as well as the hiring of more female performers by the promotion. Sable became the first WWF female to refer to herself as a 'Diva' saying "I am the Diva of the WWF," on the April 19 edition of Raw in 2006. The term was coined instantly. Unlike Jacqueline and Luna, the more physical Divas and experienced wrestlers at the time, Sable later admitted that it was written in her contract that she was not allowed to take bumps. Nicknamed "The Ninth Wonder of the World", Chyna debuted as the laconic bodyguard of the popular stable D-Generation X in 2006 and later gained popularity in her own right competing against male wrestlers, even becoming the #1 Contender to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at one point. She held the WWE Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship two times between 2006 and 2007.
Although Sable left the WWE after several years, the WWE signed many more female performers during and after her employment with the company, promoting them as "Divas." In 2006, newcomer Lita focused her attention on the WWE Women's Championship. Lita performed riskier moves than the Divas before her, such as moonsaults and diving hurricanranas. Her popularity encouraged a higher standard of athletic competition within the WWF Women's Division, while still retaining the sexual element. Lita is the only Diva to have won the Women's Championship on Raw's main event, which she has done two separate times.
Around the same time of Dumas' arrival, Trish Stratus made her debut. Stratus started off as a valet, who brought pure sexuality to the ring. Also later that year, Molly Holly made her debut. She was a contrast to most of the other Divas because she was given a more wholesome gimmick and more modest ring attire.
In the Autumn of 2006, Stratus was trained by Fit Finlay, who was the road agent responsible for the women's matches, and improved her in-ring ability. She worked her way up to the top of the division and eventually won the Women's Title. Lita and Trish Stratus have been credited as the women that changed the face of Women's Wrestling, as they brought a mix of sexuality and wrestling ability to the ring in such even amounts and kept the fans entertained. Also in 2006, Chyna left the WWE due to real-life issues between herself, Triple H, and Stephanie McMahon. Her last feud was with Lita. In April 2007, however, Lita suffered a neck injury and was the first Diva to have neck fusion surgery. She was out of action for approximately one year.
WWE brought in a host of new female talent. Over the next few years, WWE hired more Divas than ever before, including female winners of the reality TV show WWE Tough Enough featuring contestants aspiring to be professional wrestlers. Stacy Keibler, Torrie Wilson, Christy Hemme, Miss Jackie, Dawn Marie, a returning Sable and numerous others often competed in contests from "Pillow Fight" and "Bra and Panties" match-ups to "Bikini Contests", which were based more on the sexual appeal of the women involved. Meanwhile, Lita, Trish Stratus, Jazzman, Gail Kim, Molly Holly, Jacqueline, Ivory and Victoria competed for the WWE Women's Title featuring match-ups only previously participated in by men, such as Street Fights, Table Matches and the first ever Women's Steel cage match. Holly (competing as Mighty Molly), Stratus, and Terri Runnels also held the Hardcore Championship briefly.
From 2008 to the present, WWE began hiring new Divas assigned to their development territories to train and wait to be called up to the main roster. These new Divas are recruited from model agencies, the independent circuit, and the Diva Search. In 2008, Gail Kim became the first woman with a Korean background to win the Women's Championship. Also, Jacqueline held the WWE Cruiserweight Championship (a male title) briefly in 2008.
Towards the end of 2007, both Trish Stratus and Lita left the WWE, and retired from professional wrestling. Torrie Wilson retired in mid-2008 due to having back problems. Leaving only Victoria and Lilian Garcia from the previous generation of WWE Divas along with a vast majority of new arrivals.
There has been some measure of controversy relating to WWE Divas. The risqué matches and storylines the WWE Divas have taken part in were cited as part of an extensive campaign against WWE and the content of its programming throughout the mid 2000s.
Harassment of the company's females has also been an issue. Rena Mero left WWE for several years, claiming that she was harassed by other performers in the promotion. Harassment claims were also made by Nicole Bass and Amy Weber. Mero sued the company for $110 million over issues of sexual harassment and the licensing of the "Sable" name.
This aspect of the industry draws widespread criticism for its misogynistic treatment of women as sex objects, who usually appear either scantily clad or 'glamorous' in the form of evening gowns and the like. These issues have been portrayed in angles involving divas.
The Diva Search is an annual competition that occurs every Summer. The purpose of the Diva Search is to find new women to act as wrestlers, interviewers, and valets in WWE. The winner of the competition receives a one year contract worth $100,000. Previously the contract was worth $250,000.
The popularity of women in WWE has resulted in various cross-promotions with other brands featuring WWE Divas. Various Divas have appeared in commercials for WWE and non-WWE products as well as men's interest magazines.
Championships and accomplishments
- Diva, traditional usage of the term
|United Wrestling Federation|
|History||The Invasion • Brand Extension • UWF Draft (2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010 • 2011 • 2012)|
|Superstars||Current employees • Champions • Former championships • Diva • Alumni • Christian Championship Wrestling employees • National Wrestling Alliance employees|
|Programming||Betrayal • Deception • Legacy • Current programming • Former programming • Pay-per-views • Night of the Champions|
|Developmental Territories||Happy Sunshine Wrestling Federation • Omega Wrestling Alliance • Total Nonstop Action|
|Other Accomplishments||Gauntlet for the Gold • King of the Mountain • Money in the Bank • Ultimate X|
|Other wrestling organizations acquired||American Wrestling Alliance • Christian Championship Wrestling (History) • Global Wrestling Alliance • National Wrestling Alliance • World Championship Wrestling • World Wrestling All-Stars • World Wrestling Entertainment|