WWE: The 5 Divas Most Likely to Defeat Beth Phoenix for the Divas Championship
The last time the Divas Championship changed hands was on Oct. 2, 2011, when Beth Phoenix defeated then-champ Kelly Kelly at Hell in a Cell, after two previous unsuccessful pay-per-view bouts.
Over the last six months, Phoenix has defeated Eve Torres, Kelly and Tamina Snuka in small feuds and has been making claims that she'll be the Divas Champion until she decides to retire, since she has no real competition for the title.
Though arguably one of the most talented female wrestlers in the history of the company, Phoenix's reign has been a quiet one due in part to the entire Divas roster being placed on the back burner.
In fact, the Divas Championship isn't even on the line at WrestleMania; instead, a tag match with Phoenix and Torres taking on Kelly and TV personality Maria Menounos has been set.
Many are predicting Menounos to land the pin on Phoenix at WrestleMania, and if that happens, Phoenix's fallibility as a champion will become evident to the rest of the Divas roster who currently fear her.
When the WWE turns its attentions back to the Divas again, the pieces are in place for a number of talented women to make a run for Phoenix's title before she unseats Maryse as the longest reigning Divas champion in mid-May (after 216 days).
The race to dethrone Phoenix could make for a potentially exciting storyline over the next few months and the five Divas featured here seem the most likely to become the next Divas Champion.
On the entire active Divas roster, no wrestler comes closer to matching Beth Phoenix's in-ring talents than Natalya, former Divas champ and member of the legendary Hart dynasty.
Natalya, both a skilled wrestler and a charismatic personality, has made her way through most of the Divas division herself, locking the other women in her Sharpshooter submission move and making them cry.
The only reason that she and Phoenix have yet to battle for the Divas Championship is because they've been partners in their Divas of Doom alliance, but recently, there have been cracks in their bond as Phoenix has become arrogant and has chosen Eve Torres to be her tag partner at WrestleMania 28 over Natalya.
Many fans had hoped for a Phoenix/Natalya title match at WrestleMania, and although the WWE had other plans for the Divas division, there is still a great deal of anticipation for these two to clash in the future.
With Natalya currently in the middle a slow face turn, her eventual match against Phoenix should see Natalya secure a victory and with it, a potential second Divas Championship reign.
Eve Torres' claim of being the most talked-about WWE Diva isn't just braggadocio. Since her heel turn and continued manipulation of Zack Ryder's affections, Torres has become the most popular/notorious Diva on the current roster.
Although Torres has teamed up with Beth Phoenix to take on Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounos at WrestleMania, don't mistake their alliance for anything but an attempt to get on the match card.
There is no love between Torres and Phoenix and should they lose, especially if Phoenix is pinned, Torres will have all the motivation she needs to make another run for her third Divas Championship reign.
Although a championship match between two heels might seem like odd booking, Torres is in a very unique position of attracting an enormous amount of heat, much more than many of the top male heels in the company.
If Torres becomes Divas Champion in the near future, the field will be wide open for a variety of Divas to make competitive runs for the title once again, bringing back a sense of excitement that Phoenix's dominant (albeit poorly booked) reign hasn't allowed.
If the Divas title is to become relevant again in 2012, there is no Diva more prominent right now than Torres.
Layla had been one of the more noted personalities amongst the WWE Divas since joining the company in 2006 and as a member of tag team Lay-Cool (with partner Michelle McCool), she was a source of frustration for much of the Divas locker room.
Although known primarily as the right hand of McCool, Layla was a strong wrestler in her own right and was the very last WWE Women's Champion, before the Women's and Divas belts were unified.
Splitting from McCool after last year's WrestleMania and forcing her retirement at Extreme Rules 2011, Layla seemed to be on the verge of a solid singles push with a potential Divas Championship run.
However, she was forced onto the disabled list after suffering from torn ACLs and MCLs and requiring surgery, which has kept her out of the ring since May 13 last year.
Layla, who was being positioned as a face before her absence, has been said to have made tremendous progress during her medical leave and has even recently returned to in-ring action at developmental territory FCW's house shows, which is usually a sign that an injured Superstar is ready to return.
It's also possible that Layla could preview her return to television full-time by making an appearance of some kind at WrestleMania, possibly interfering in the Divas match, which could jump-start feuds with both Beth Phoenix and Eve Torres.
Though not exactly a physical match for Phoenix, a face Layla will benefit from the attention she'll receive upon her return and a renewed confidence she'll likely have as a solo performer.
Since joining the WWE in August 2010 as part of the third season of NXT, AJ has grown leaps and bounds with her athleticism and mic work. Though her initial push in a tag team with fellow NXT castmate Kaitlyn went nowhere, AJ has since found her footing as Daniel Bryan's emotionally abused girlfriend.
In fact, aside from Eve Torres, AJ is the perhaps one Diva who currently receives the most consistent television time.
AJ's face persona, along with her mostly untested skills in the ring and the sympathy she generates due to Bryan's abuse, has gotten her over with fans during the last few months and the WWE seems likely to utilize AJ's talents more fully after WrestleMania.
Although she stands four inches shorter and over 40 pounds lighter than Beth Phoenix, AJ's television boyfriend has made it clear that she will be competing for the Divas Championship soon and that he will ensure that she wins.
All of these factors, not the least of which her visibility amongst the Divas roster, make AJ a threat for a very controversial Divas Championship title reign.
...And then there's Kharma.
Kharma made her WWE debut at Extreme Rules 2011 by attacking Michelle McCool and going on a rampage for most of the month of May. Kharma's monster personality and physicality were due to shake up the Divas division and she seemed likely to become Divas champion sometime during the year.
Suddenly at the end of May 2011, Kharma broke kayfabe to announce that she was pregnant and would have to go on maternity leave for the rest of 2011. In that one out-of-character promo, Kharma endeared herself to the WWE Universe and would likely change the path of her character once she returned.
Since most of the 2011 Divas program was said to revolve around her character, the absence of Kharma has likely left the entire division in the state it's in today and many fans look forward to her return to give the Divas a proper program again.
Though making an appearance during the Royal Rumble (becoming the third woman to participate in the legendary match's history and eliminating Hunico in the process), Kharma has been absent for the rest of 2012 so far due to the much-discussed personal tragedy involving her pregnancy.
Kharma will return to the WWE eventually and she will likely return as a face version of her monster persona. Whether she'll return before another Diva defeats Beth Phoenix for the Divas Championship is anyone's guess, but when Kharma does return, you can be sure that she will instantly be a part of the title picture.