Over the course of the last month, I've revived my WWE Pushed to Punished series to analyze the controversial careers of past and present WWE Superstars. With this being my final edition for the time being, I'll look to analyze the destructive downfall of the first Diva to be analyzed in the Pushed to Punished series: Beth Phoenix.
Five years ago today, the first major milestone of Phoenix's career occurred when she won her first Women's Championship. Now, the future of her WWE career remains unclear as rumors speculate she could very well be out the WWE by the end of the month.
In light of her potential departure, I'll break down each of her monumental moments and lowest of lows in an attempt to discover what could've possibly pushed her to leave the company.
On the May 8, 2006 edition of Raw, Beth Phoenix made her debut by attacking then-Women's Champion Mickie James in order to protect her idol Trish Stratus. Despite the major push she received upon her arrival, Phoenix fractured her jaw no more than a month later during a match with Victoria.
Sadly, this would also mean that any chance of seeing Phoenix battle Stratus in a one-on-one match was now nonexistent, as the Canadian Diva went on to retire from the ring that September. During Phoenix's one-year absence from WWE television, she went back to her stomping grounds of OVW to further hone her craft and character.
Upon her return the following year, she was reintroduced as a "close friend" of Melina, replacing her in a tag team match against then-Women's Champion Candice Michelle and Mickie James on the July 9, 2007 edition of Raw. She immediately set her sights on Michelle's title and took one step closer to capturing the gold after outlasting many other Divas in an interpromotional battle royal at SummerSlam to earn herself a future shot at the strap.
From that point forward, Phoenix was booked as a destructive Diva that dominated anything or anyone who stood in her way. Now referring to herself as the "Glamazon," she came up short at winning the Women's Championship at Unforgiven, but was successful in capturing her first Women's title the following month at No Mercy.
For the remainder of the year, Phoenix feuded with Mickie James, whom she lost to at the Survivor Series event, which included a 10-Divas tag team match. Despite the loss, Phoenix successfully defended her strap against James at the Armageddon pay-per-view that December.
In March 2008, Phoenix made her WrestleMania debut, defeating Maria and Ashley in a Lumberjill tag team match alongside Melina. Two weeks later on the April 14th edition of Raw in England, Phoenix's six-month-long reign as Women's Champion came to an end at the hands of Mickie James.
After failing to recapture the title, tension began to erupt between longtime friends Phoenix and Melina. The alliance came to an ultimate end after Phoenix blamed Melina for her numerous losses and ambushed her backstage during an episode of Raw in mid-May.
At One Night Stand, the two bitter rivals battled in the first-ever Divas "I Quit" match, where Phoenix forced Melina to utter the two unbearable words following an innovative Glam Slam submission maneuver. Following the event, Phoenix took some time off from television.
On the July 14, 2008 edition of Raw, Phoenix returned to answer Santino Marella's open challenge, and shockingly defeated the Milan Miracle. In subsequent weeks, the two lovebirds formed a relationship which later became known as Glamarella.
Although the pairing was strange, they were also undoubtedly successful. At SummerSlam, Glamarella defeated the duo of Kofi Kingston and Mickie James, with Phoenix winning her second Women's title in the process while Santino Marella won back the Intercontinental Championship.
During her second reign as champ, Phoenix would defeat the likes of Mickie James and the returning Candice Michelle to retain her title. Also, Rosa Mendes would make her WWE debut that November as a "superfan" of Phoenix, interfering in most of her matches and attacking her opponents.
At the conclusion of the year, Phoenix was awarded the Slammy Award for Diva of the Year, and rightfully so, considering the year she had in 2008. On the final Raw of the year, she encountered Trish Stratus for the first time in over two years, whom she lost to later in the evening as a part of a mixed tag team match against John Cena and Stratus.
Heading into 2009, Phoenix lost her Women's Championship to Melina at the Royal Rumble event and failed to regain it on an episode of Raw a few weeks later. She took part in the inaugural (and only) Miss WrestleMania battle royal at WrestleMania 25, but was lastly eliminated by the debuting Santina Marella.
Of course, Phoenix was enraged by the fact that her boyfriend dressed up as a woman and cost her the victory, which caused her to cut ties with him by the spring season. Once their rivalry concluded, Phoenix disappeared from television, only to return that July in a less prominent role on Raw.
She received a shot at Mickie James' Divas Championship on the August 31st edition of Raw, but came up short against her former rival. Following that, Phoenix made sporadic appearances on the flagship show before being traded to SmackDown that October.
Even there, Phoenix was still underutilized and hardly shown on television. Although she was on the winning side of a six-Diva tag team match at Bragging Rights, she was on the losing side of a 10-Diva elimination tag team match at Survivor Series.
It wasn't until January that Phoeinx was finally used in a meaningful manner, becoming the second woman in history to compete in a Royal Rumble match. Surprisingly enough, she managed to eliminate The Great Khali, but received a GTS from CM Punk moments later.
For the first time since debuting four years prior, Phoenix effectively turned face after saving Tiffany from an attack by Lay-Cool. She competed in a 10-Diva tag team match at WrestleMania 26, but her team was on the losing end.
Regardless, Phoenix furthered her feud with SmackDown's resident mean girls throughout the month of April, eventually defeating Michelle McCool in the first-ever Extreme Makeover match at Extreme Rules to win her third Women's Championship.
However, a mere two weeks later, Phoenix tore her ACL during a match with her former protege Rosa Mendes on WWE Superstar. As a result, Phoenix lost her Women's title to Lay-Cool the following week on SmackDown in order to undergo the necessary surgery.
Following months of rehabilitation, Phoenix made her shocking return to WWE at the Survivor Series event to decimate Lay-Cool and celebrate Natalya's Divas Championship win. The two teamed together at WWE TLC the following month to defeat McCool and Layla at the inaugural Divas Tables match in what was one of the best Divas matches that year.
Phoenix continued to act as an ally to Natalya in the months that followed before moving back to Raw as part of the 2011 WWE Supplemental Draft. Upon her return to Raw, nothing significant happened until the August 1st edition of Raw, where the Glamazon won a battle royal to become the number one contender to the Divas Championship.
Immediately following the bout, Phoenix aggressively ambushed then-Divas Champion Kelly Kelly, turning heel in the process. Despite her major momentum, she came up short at winning the title at SummerSlam.
It was during that time that Natalya also turned her back on the WWE Universe, aligning with Phoenix to form the Divas of Doom. The second-generation star would be a key factor in helping Phoenix win most of her matches for nearly six months.
Phoenix's quest to become Divas Champion continued, wreaking havoc on any Diva that stood in her way. After failing to win the title yet again in front of her hometown crowd at Night of Champions, it was "third time's the charm" at Hell in a Cell, with Phoenix joining an elite group of Divas that have captured both the Divas and Women's title during the course of their careers.
In subsequent months, the Divas of Doom ran rampant in the Divas division, with Phoenix retaining her title against the likes of Eve, Kelly Kelly and Tamina. Sadly, none of Phoenix's feuds were ever anything truly memorable, but the matches were still better than what we're used to seeing from the lovely ladies these days.
During a match with Alicia Fox on Raw in mid-December, Phoenix suffered a minor injury that saw her out of action for over a month. The 30-day rule was completely ignored, of course, as she maintained possession of the title during her absence.
She made her return at the start of 2012, scoring victories at the Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber respectively. However, she and Eve were on the losing end of a tag team match at WrestleMania 28 after Extra star Maria Menounos pinned Phoenix.
Just days away from snapping Maryse's record as the longest reigning Divas Champion in WWE history, Phoenix lost her title to Nikki Bella on the April 23rd edition of Raw. She planned on utilizing her rematch clause at Extreme Rules, but stepped out of the match after it was revealed that the knee injury she suffered during her previous match with Bella wouldn't allow her to compete.
At Over the Limit and No Way Out, Phoenix was unable to recapture the title. At the same time, she and Natalya gradually parted ways, as the Canadian sweetheart starting to become more of a tweener over time.
Phoenix was rendered irrelevant for months, jobbing out to almost everyone on the roster. It wasn't until just recently that her career was somewhat resurrected, being accused as the one who attacked Kaitlyn at Night of Champions.
In doing so, it's reverted Phoenix back to a fan favorite in an attempt to disprove Eve and her inaccurate accusations. Last week on SmackDown, Phoenix took part in what I found to be the Divas match of the year (that's not saying much) when she defeated Natalya in front of her hometown crowd in Buffalo.
Unfortunately, her angle with Eve was cut short after losing to the Divas Champion this past week on Raw. It remains to be seen whether Phoenix will continue to chase the former Divas Search winner or if she'll be left off any television programs until her contract expires later this month.
It's been widely reported that one of the main reasons behind her possible departure from WWE is because her boyfriend Edge will be undergoing neck surgery later this year. That and the fact that she hopes to get out of the wrestling business early so she won't end up like the Rated-R Superstar.
Who can blame her?
She's accomplished almost everything she set out to do in winning both the Women's and Divas Championships, winning at WrestleMania, winning a Slammy Award, and even competing in the Royal Rumble. There's not much left for Phoenix to do, especially since the Divas division is at its weakest at the moment.
WWE has the tendency to utilize the same Divas each and every week in their programming, so it wouldn't surprise me if her departure had little impact on the storylines. However, there's much more that they could be doing with her right now, so it's a shame that her exit from WWE means we won't be seeing as many well-wrestled Divas matches we've witnessed from the Glamazon in recent years.
Of course, I won't jump to conclusions because there's always the possibility that she won't end up leaving the company after all, but appreciate the Glamazon while she's still around. Many women wrestlers have left their respective companies this year, so Phoenix leaving should come as no surprise.
As dominating as Phoenix was, she was also the cornerstone of the Divas division for nearly five years. It's just funny to think that it was five years ago to this very day that her career was just getting started, and now she finds herself in the lowest point of her career to date.
Why she's being booked the way she has been is beyond me, but one can only hope that she goes out with a bang come the end of October. She's truly made an impact since the start of her WWE tenure and deserves much more than what she's getting right now.
As previously stated, this will be my final edition of Pushed to Punished for the foreseeable future, but the series will return on the first weekend of December. Until then, I thank you for your continuous support of the series; be sure to include any suggestions for Superstars you'd like to see me analyze upon the return of Pushed to Punished.
Visit my website at Next Era Wrestling, like me on Facebook and listen to my SAVE US GSM radio show every Wednesday night at 10/9c for more of my thoughts and writings, along with WWE/TNA news, reviews, recaps and more.
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