It's no secret that the WWE Divas division is neglected.
It's neglected by the fans as a result of being neglected by WWE brass. It's neglected by WWE brass because they both improperly use the talent that they do have and don't grant the Divas enough screen time to showcase that talent in the first place.
For those of us who would like to see good women's wrestling on WWE TV again, this is understandably frustrating.
A lot of fans believe that the only fix for the Divas would be a complete overhaul of the division. Many are of the opinion that it has no talent at all, or an immense lack of it.
This, however, is not the case. As stated above, the talent they do have just isn't being used properly.
Rosa Mendes is a great example of this fact. She's not so hot as a wrestler; however, she makes a pretty hot manager, and thanks to that realization, she's finally being used rather than pointlessly wasting away until inevitable "future endeavors" come calling.
Of course, if the Divas division is ever going to improve, it certainly won't be instantaneous. But the future does look hopeful, and there is some promising, already-signed talent waiting in the wings.
Here are 10 up-and-coming Divas whose names you will need to know.
Sofia Cortez is probably better known as Ivelisse Velez, the most promising female competitor on the most recent edition of Tough Enough. She likely would have stood a decent chance of making it to the final had she not been eliminated due to injury—but thankfully, WWE recognized her talent and signed her to a developmental contract in November 2011.
Ivelisse has far more wrestling experience than the great majority of the current FCW Divas roster. She began her training in Puerto Rico at the young age of 15, where she wrestled for the renowned promotions World Wrestling Council and International Wrestling Association under the tutelage of legends Carlos Colon and Savio Vega, respectively.
From there, she made her way to the states and landed in Chicago, where she spent several years on the indy scene before being picked up by WWE for Tough Enough.
With her extensive experience and demonstrated skill, Ivelisse would be a welcome addition to the Divas roster—given, as always, that WWE affords her the proper opportunities.
Shaul Guerrero (ring name: Raquel Diaz) has some huge shoes to fill on both sides of the gene pool.
Not only is her father the late great and beloved "Latino Heat" Eddie Guerrero, but mom Vickie is arguably the biggest heat magnet in the WWE today and among the best heel managers in company history.
Before embarking on her pro wrestling career, Shaul was a college student, singer and model in her home state of Texas. She signed a developmental contract with WWE in October 2010, and she must have at least some of her father's wrestling ability—her debut match received positive reviews from colleagues—and she is the reigning FCW Divas Champion.
Given more time to develop her skills, it seems that Shaul could very well have a bright future as a WWE Diva. However, once she does have enough experience to be called up to the main roster, hopefully WWE will allow her to use her birth name.
Being a Guerrero, it would make absolutely no sense not to use it.
Do not mistake this slide for approval of Aksana's current role as Teddy Long's perennial seducer—rather, it is approval of Aksana's current gimmick.
One thing that would certainly immediately improve the Divas division would be to distinguish the women who can actually put on a decent match from the women who would be better off left as valets.
As it stands right now, Aksana's gimmick could make for a great valet.
What with her jet black hair, evil Bond girl outfits and Lithuanian accent, Aksana is perfectly poised to become a classic femme fatale, a black widow who uses her feminine charms to weaken her client's opponents.
When she first set her sights on Teddy Long, there was speculation among fans about the possibility that she could be working for someone else with the goal of usurping Teddy's position as SmackDown general manager.
Unfortunately, months into the angle, it seems to serve no other purpose than to work bad innuendos into the show.
Had Aksana been working under the direction of someone else, it could have made for an interesting storyline. If Creative has any sense at all, they'll nix the angle with Teddy and give Aksana's character something far more sinister and productive to do with her time.
Saraya—more widely known as Britani Knight—is a second generation wrestler and WWE's latest acquirement. Already many fans are hoping that she will bring a much-needed boost to the Divas division—and for good reason.
As a member of the British wrestling family the Knight Dynasty, Saraya has been wrestling since she was just 13 years old. She has held 10 separate wrestling titles across Europe, including the Pro Wrestling: EVE Championship, and she recently competed in Shimmer before reporting to FCW at the end of last year.
With her unique look and talent to boot, there is no doubt that Saraya has all the potential for a bright future in WWE, and many supporters of women's wrestling are excited to see her in the ring. However, as she is only 19, there is speculation that she will be held in development in accordance with WWE's new "Over 21" policy.
When Naomi was first introduced to WWE television audiences as a rookie on the all-Diva season of NXT, many were surprised to learn that she didn't come from a pro wrestling background, given her athleticism and skill in the ring.
Like Layla, Naomi was a professional dancer with the Orlando Magic as well as a back up dancer for rapper Flo Rida before she signed a developmental contract in August 2009. She was the first-ever FCW Divas Champion and the No. 48-ranked female singles wrestler on the PWI Female 50 in 2010.
After making it to the final three on NXT, many fans were surprised that Naomi was sent back to developmental. However, she's finally made her debut on the main roster—as one of The Funkasaurus' catsuit-clad dancers.
It remains to be seen where Naomi's stint as a member of The Funkasaurus entourage will lead her, if anywhere at all. But hopefully she won't be sent back to developmental before she starts working matches again.
Maxine is the HBIC on both NXT: Redemption and in FCW, and she has a lot of potential to become both a great heel manager and a great women's wrestler.
Alongside Kaitlyn, Maxine was the other participant in the 2010 Wrestling Observer Newsletter "Worst Worked Match of the Year" as a rookie Diva on season three of NXT—and she too has come a fairly long way.
She has been a major player on NXT: Redemption as one-half of the power couple Batemax; at least, up until she left Derrick Bateman for Johnny Curtis. Her in-ring skills have improved considerably, and she has recently added a dragon sleeper finisher to her arsenal. Due to her all around improvement, Diva Dirt gave her the Writer's Choice Award for Best Breakthrough of 2011.
Obviously, WWE has some sort of faith in Maxine to feature her so heavily on NXT: Redemption. Perhaps they are simply waiting for the right opportunity to bring her over to RAW or SmackDown—and when they do, they need to use her just as well on TV as they have online.
The winner of the all-Diva season three of NXT, Kaitlyn stands apart from the prototypical Diva in numerous ways.
Like Beth Phoenix, her build is far more muscular than it is model-esque, and she has a unique, goofy personality that's a welcome change from the two stereotypes that seem to dominate the Divas division these days: the perky girl next door and the snooty, stuck-up bitch.
Furthermore, her in-ring work has come quite a ways from participating in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter "Worst Worked Match of the Year" back in 2010. She has expanded her repertoire to include a lotus hold finisher that looks all the more effective considering her obviously powerful legs.
Unfortunately, because Kaitlyn spends the majority of her time on NXT: Redemption, not many people are aware of this improvement. Additionally, considering her recent heel turn that was cut from airing on SmackDown, it is apparent that WWE execs are unsure of what to do with her.
As she comes from a background in bodybuilding—in which she has placed in numerous national competitions—it is clear Kaitlyn has the dedication it takes to improve. Given time and the right opportunities, she could very well become a strong asset to the Divas division.
From her debut in May of 2010, Tamina was given scarce TV time and wasted as a valet, first for The Usos and then as part of a goofy romance angle with perennial comic relief Santino Marella.
Thankfully though, after being drafted to SmackDown as part of the 2011 Supplemental Draft, WWE execs seem to have finally remembered that she is, in fact, the daughter of legend and WWE Hall of Famer Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka and probably harbors some decent wrestling ability.
Tamina is another example of a woman who isn't a typical cookie-cutter Diva. While she hasn't been given much of a chance to show off her personality—has she ever spoken?—she has displayed some in-ring prowess in her newly kindled feud with Natalya, which will hopefully continue on Friday nights and perhaps even into the Royal Rumble.
Once Kharma returns from maternity leave, either a feud and especially a partnership between her and Tamina could work out quite well. Perhaps they could take on the Divas of Doom, and, along with the Chickbusters, make a case for the resurrection of the WWE Women's Tag Titles.
Like her Chickbusters teammate, nerdy gamer girl AJ hardly fits the mold of a typical WWE Diva—and, unlike most of them, she actually comes from a pro wrestling background.
AJ put herself through wrestling school right out of high school, training at the ACE Wrestling Academy in her home state of New Jersey. Before signing with WWE, she wrestled as Miss April for Women Superstars Uncensored, where she held the WSU Tag Team Championship alongside Brooke Carter, as well as the title of 2009 WSU/NWS Queen of the Ring.
Her success continued in FCW, where she became the first FCW Diva to hold both the FCW Divas Championship and the title of Queen of FCW.
Currently, AJ is being used as an innocent catalyst in the Daniel Bryan-Big Show World Heavyweight Championship feud. If WWE does want to get serious about improving the Divas division, however, it would do well not to waste her talent and give her some ring time.
Eve is different from the rest of the women on this list in that she has already tasted Divas gold.
However, she certainly has yet to reach her full potential, and that definitely makes her "up-and-coming."
Lately, Eve really hasn't done all too much for herself. She was a sidekick to Kelly Kelly before she became a love interest for Zack Ryder—and we all know how that's going. She certainly won't be getting any Oscar nods for her recent performances on RAW.
But even with all the horrible stints she's been given lately, Eve is constantly pushing herself to improve her in-ring work—her series of matches against Beth Phoenix clearly demonstrated that fact.
So, why not grant her some decent matches against some decent opponents; i.e., some of the other women on this list? Why not portray her as the jiu-jitsu martial artist that she is, rather than a whining, terrified mess?
Out of all the women on this list, Eve is quite possibly the best and most recent example of the Divas' misuse by WWE execs.
Believe it or not, a lot of the Divas actually want to wrestle. Not only that, but they're good at it and want to get better.
Hopefully it will be sooner rather than later before WWE opens its eyes and realizes that.