The WWE women’s division is currently the strongest it has ever been.
Across Raw, Smackdown, and NXT we often see match of the night contenders, high profile rivalries, and in the case of WrestleMania 35 and Hell in a Cell 2016 pay per view main event title matches featuring the crème de la crème of WWE’s fighting females.
It hasn’t always been this way though. Years of diminished booking, people in management who simply didn’t care and skewed hiring practices meant that the WWE’s women were an afterthought at best, and practically irrelevant at worst.
WWE’s women’s division dates back to 1984, when Vince McMahon was on the verge of completely rebuilding the wrestling industry in his image. Signing NWA Women’s Champion The Fabulous Moolah and renaming the title the WWF Women’s Title, the long storied road to the diva’s revolution started.
Times of highs and lows, relevancy and apathy, competition and exploitation, and several dissolutions of the division occurred from 1984 until the Divas Revolution began in 2015, but female performers have always been a vital cog in the WWE machine.
Even in times of inactivity, the WWE Women’s Title was the high watermark for women’s wrestling in America, and saw 29 different champs hold the strap between 1984 and 2010, when it was unified with the Divas Title, and the title belt was retired in favour of that God-awful butterfly belt.
But before that dark, dark day, who were the ten best WWE Women’s Champions?
10. Michelle McCool
The first woman to hold the Divas Title and the Women’s Title, Michelle McCool was also the first undisputed Women’s Champion when she unified the two titles in 2010.
The first ever Diva’s Champion went after Women’s Champion Melina in the summer of 2009, winning the gold at The Bash. As champion, McCool started an alliance with Layla, and thus LayCool was born.
LayCool soon engaged in the frankly awful Piggy James storyline where they bullied Mickie James over her weight. McCool, of course, won the first singles match between herself and Mickie, because bullies prospering was clearly the moral of the story.
Thankfully, Mickie did eventually beat McCool for the belt, but only held it for two weeks before dropping it back to McCool. Their feud continued, but when Beth Phoenix got involved, Michelle switched her attention to The Glamazon, her second reign with the title ending in an ‘extreme makeover’ match at Extreme Rules 2010 - aka; a hardcore match featuring loads of beauty equipment.
Phoenix quickly dropped the title to Layla, and because LayCool were BFFs, the two co-reigned as champion.
Despite what McCool achieved in the ring there were always accusations of nepotism due to her relationship with locker-room leader The Undertaker.
The fact McCool unified the Women’s and Diva’s titles even though she wasn’t legally the Women’s Champion lends some credence to this claim, never mind when McCool came out of retirement for a one-off appearance in the first Women’s Royal Rumble and absolutely cleaned house.