There have been a number of Divas that have come through World Wrestling Entertainment over the years that, for whatever reason, have seen their accomplishments overshadowed by other more prominent women. Perhaps the most underrated, underappreciated woman in WWE history is a three-time Women’s Champion.
Ivory entered WWE in 1999 as the manager for the team of D’Lo Brown and Mark Henry, and as such, she almost immediately engaged in a rivalry with the manager of WWE Tag Team Champions Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart, the lovely Debra McMichael. That rivalry netted Ivory her first Women’s Championship, and shortly thereafter, she became the lead villain in a rapidly-expanding women’s division.
Her feud with Tori produced several hard-hitting matches, including the first women’s hardcore match for the Women’s Championship on September 6, 1999. From there, Ivory would target the legendary Hall of Fame inductees the Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young. Her first title reign would come to an end at No Mercy when she was upset by Moolah in a match that was, well, better left unmentioned. She would rebound by recapturing the title from Moolah just eight days later.
2000 was an interesting time for women’s wrestling in WWE because the focus was still largely on T&A and specialty gimmick matches, leaving women like Ivory and Jacqueline floating around without much to do. The Kat and Terri Runnels received generous TV time, while untrained, inexperienced Stephanie McMahon held the Women’s title for four months.
At the same time, however, newcomers Lita and Trish Stratus had begun to lay the framework of what would later become known as the “Golden Age” of women’s wrestling in Vince McMahon’s company.
Lita’s arrival, especially, gave Ivory something to do. Now a member of the Parents Television Council-parodying “Right to Censor,” Ivory spoke out against the blatant sexual displays of the women in WWE at the time. The act got over to such an extent that she was awarded her third Women’s Championship, defeating Lita and beginning a rivalry that would run through the 2000 Survivor Series.
Perhaps her most memorable rivalry would begin in December of 2000 when Ivory, along with Val Venis, injured the neck of the “Ninth Wonder of the World” Chyna and sidelined her. Ivory would dress as the former Intercontinental Champion and mock her, setting up a showdown as Royal Rumble. At that show, Chyna would reinjure her neck, extending the storyline and ultimately setting up a final Wrestlemania showdown.
Ivory played the cowardly villain brilliantly; never afraid to run her mouth when she knew Chyna was not in the building and never hesitating to run away when she was confronted. She would be squashed in the title match at WrestleMania, bringing to a close a months-long rivalry between two women over the Women’s title, the likes of which we would never see today.
Over the course of the next three years, Ivory would remain a fixture on WWE television, often competing on the Sunday Night Heat and Velocity programs. While she would never reach the prominence in the company that she once enjoyed, Ivory remained one of the most talented performers on the roster, always available to step in when needed. Her final, major championship match would come at Armageddon 2003, when she challenged Molly Holly for the Women’s title.
Ivory was an essential piece of the Divas puzzle for WWE during her first few years with the company. As a legitimate wrestler in the land of pretty faces and even nicer bodies, she carried a number of women during feuds and matches, most of whom really had no business being in the ring. She helped the division transition from being largely concerned with bra and panties matches and lingerie contests to focusing on real wrestling matches, which Trish Stratus, Jazz, Molly Holly, Victoria and Lita would help popularize in later years.
A woman whose importance to women’s wrestling in WWE will only be recognized more and more in the coming years, Ivory earned a place for herself in the WWE history books by being one of the business’ most adaptable performers. There is a locker room full of women in both WWE and TNA that could do themselves a favor by watching her work and adopting and adding what she was able to do to their own performances.