WWE Pushed to Punished, Edition 34: The Malicious Meltdown of Melina
In WWE Pushed to Punished, I analyze the controversial careers of past and present WWE Superstars that were once in the good graces of management but ultimately met their downfall for one reason or another. One individual who fits the bill to perfection and has eluded the series up to this point is none other than Melina.
The only other Diva to be featured in Pushed to Punished before was Beth Phoenix, so I figured it was only a matter of time before another one of WWE's lovely ladies graced the series. Melina was a Diva who had many tremendous talents but was ultimately the victim of bad booking and backstage politics.
During her six-year career in WWE, Melina reigned as Women's Champion on three occasions and as Divas Champion on two occasions. Despite her accomplishments, Melina's character was given very little direction in her final few months with the company.
Here, I'll break down every rise and fall in the career of Melina in an attempt to discover where exactly she went wrong.
On the April 14 edition of SmackDown in 2005, Melina made her WWE debut alongside Johnny Nitro and Joey Mercury. The three were collectively known as MNM.
One week later, Melina helped Mercury and Nitro defeat Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio to win their first WWE Tag Team Championships. Melina developed a personality of her own in the months following, winning her in-ring debut match against Michelle McCool on the June 30 edition of SmackDown.
Although MNM dropped their WWE Tag Team titles to The Legion of Doom at The Great American Bash, they regained the titles four months later in a Fatal-4 Way tag team match. Meanwhile, Melina chased Trish Stratus for the Women's Championship and lost to her at Survivor Series with the title on the line.
After Mercury and Nitro dropped the straps to Batista and Rey Mysterio in mid-December, Melina acquired the services of Mark Henry, who helped MNM regain the gold two weeks later on SmackDown. They reigned as WWE Tag Team Champions for a whopping 145 days before losing the titles to Paul London and Brian Kendrick at 2006's Judgment Day event.
Following the bout, Nitro and Melina attacked Mercury, effectively ending their partnership. Melina lost to Jillian Hall in singles competition later that night and subsequently slapped then-SmackDown General Manager Teddy Long backstage, which cost both Melina and Nitro their jobs on the blue brand.
Moving to Raw and Chasing the Women's Championship
Melina soon became an official member of the Raw brand for the first time in her career, debuting on the May 29 edition of the flagship show. Although she continued to manage Johnny Nitro in subsequent months, she gradually got engaged in a storyline with Mick Foley, which was based off of a real life friendship between the two.
Melina was at ringside for Foley's "I Quit" match against Ric Flair at SummerSlam, which was won by The Nature Boy after he threatened to harm Melina, and Foley "quit" because of it. Melina later showed her true colors by turning on Foley and forcing him to join Mr. McMahon's "Kiss My Ass" club.
Going into 2007, Melina entered the Women's Championship picture, becoming the No. 1 contender to the title on the January 29 edition of Raw. Although she came up short of winning the gold on February 5, Melina was successful on capturing her first Women's title two weeks later on Raw by defeating Mickie James.
She took part in the first-ever Diva's Falls Count Anywhere match, where she was successful in retaining her title against James. Melina also maintained possession of her prestigious prize at WrestleMania 23, where she soundly defeated Ashley in a Lumberjill match.
Although Melina dropped the strap to James at a live event in France, she quickly won it back later that night, becoming a two-time Women's Champion in the process.
Earlier in the year, Melina and Candice Michelle exchanged remarks in their official blogs on WWE.com. This led to a full-fledged feud between the two in the summer, where the Women's Championship was up for grabs.
At Vengeance, Candice Michelle emerged victorious over Melina to win her first Women's Championship. They had a rematch at The Great American Bash the next month, but the end result was no different.
Aligning and Feuding with Beth Phoenix
Melina remained directionless for the remainder of the year but then formed a friendship with the returning Beth Phoenix. After a layoff of nearly a year, Phoenix returned to the ring in the summer of 2007 and quickly captured the Women's Championship, dominating the division for close to six months.
Phoenix and Melina paired up to take on the tandem of Maria and Ashley in a Lumberjill tag team match at WrestleMania 24, where the destructive Divas emerged victorious. Tension arose between the two in subsequent weeks after Melina inadvertently knocked Phoenix off the apron during a tag team match on Raw.
Shortly thereafter, Phoenix and Melina engaged in a backstage brawl, turning The Scream Queen face in the process. After Phoenix dropped the Women's Championship to Mickie James in April, the three lovely ladies fought for the strap in a Triple Threat match at Judgment Day, which was won by James.
Their raging rivalry came to a head at One Night Stand, where the first-ever Diva's "I Quit" match was arranged between Melina and Phoenix. After a brutal battle between the two former friends, The Glamazon ultimately emerged with the victory and bragging rights after forcing Melina to utter the two demeaning words.
During a tag team match at the 2008 WWE Draft three weeks later, Melina suffered a heel injury that saw her sidelined from in-ring action indefinitely.
Returning from Injury and Winning Her Third Women's Championship
After being out of action for nearly five months, Melina returned to the ring on the November 24 edition of Raw, winning a six-Diva tag team match. She immediately rekindled her rivalry with Beth Phoenix and set her sights on the Women's Championship.
Following her victory in a No. 1 contender's battle royal for the Women's title on December 29, Melina finally received her shot at the strap at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view. In the end, Melina was successful in defeating her former friend to win the Women's Championship for a third time.
Melina soundly defeated The Glamazon in a rematch on February 16 but was eliminated by her in the Miss WrestleMania battle royal at WrestleMania 25, thus concluding the feud. Shortly thereafter, she was sent packing to SmackDown via the 2009 WWE Draft, bringing the prestigious prize to the blue brand for the first time in history.
Upon her arrival on Friday nights, Melina began feuding with Michelle McCool over the title. She dropped the belt to McCool at The Bash and failed to regain the gold at Night of Champions.
Returning to Raw and Chasing the Divas Championship
After failing to regain the Women's Championship from Michelle McCool in subsequent months, Melina was traded back to Raw at the hands of Nancy O'Dell, who was the acting guest host of Raw for its October 12 edition. That same night, Melina defeated Jillian Hall to win her first Divas Championship.
She went on to successfully retain the gold against the likes of Hall and Alicia Fox in the months that followed. That fall, she entered a program with the returning Maryse, who had set her sights on Melina's Divas title.
The two were on a collision course going into the new year, but before they could meet in a one-on-one match for the strap, Melina was injured at live event on December 29 and was forced to relinquish the title. Maryse eventually won the title a part of a tournament, and many thought Melina would return in time to challenge her for the gold.
However, plans changed, and Maryse dropped the strap to Eve instead in April 2010. Alicia Fox defeated Eve for the title at Fatal 4-Way and dominated the Divas division for the two months that she was champion.
On the August 2 edition of Raw, Melina returned to confront Fox. After defeating Fox six days prior to SummerSlam, Melina earned herself a shot at the title at the biggest blockbuster of the summer.
At SummerSlam, Melina was successful in defeating Fox and capturing her second Divas Championship. Following her victory, she was ambushed by Lay-Cool, who challenged Melina to a title unification match at Night of Champions.
Sadly, Melina's second reign as Divas Champion as cut short, as she dropped the belt to Michelle McCool a mere month later. She unsuccessfully challenged Layla for the title the next night on Raw.
Melina was sparingly utilized in the months that followed but managed to get herself back in the Divas Championship picture at the end of the year. After becoming the No. 1 contender to the title on the December 20 edition of Raw, Melina attacked then-Divas Champion Natalya and turned heel in the process.
Melina hadn't been a heel for two-and-a-half years, so her turn felt fresh and came as a shocker to many members of the WWE Universe. This jump-started a feud between the two going into the new year, and it looked as if they were on a collision course towards the Royal Rumble pay-per-view.
However, Melina was given her shot at the Divas title to very little fanfare on the January 24 edition of Raw, where she was unsuccessful in regaining the gold. Lay-Cool were ultimately given a title match at the Royal Rumble instead.
From that point forward, Melina's role on Raw was drastically curtailed. Reports indicated that she had heat backstage after complaining about Trish Stratus being placed in the six-person tag team match at WrestleMania 27 alongside Melina's real-life boyfriend John Morrison instead of her.
Melina competed in her final WWE match on the August 1 edition of Raw, losing a No. 1 contender's battle royal for the Divas Championship. She was released from her contract that Friday and hasn't been seen on WWE television since.
It was a well-known fact that Melina didn't have the best attitude backstage, and her on-off relationship with John Morrison did her no favors. Nonetheless, you can't deny the fact that Melina was tremendously talented in the ring and took part in some of the best women's wrestling matches in recent memory.
It's a shame that backstage politics and her envy of others were what ultimately cost The A-List Diva her job in WWE. If things didn't end the way they did, I'm sure Melina could have stuck around for a few more years and made the most of her position in the company.
Regardless of whether she was a face or heel, Melina always managed to connect with crowds and garner a strong reaction from live audiences. Divas such as Melina are hard to come by these days, so her eventual release was another big blow to a dying Divas division.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to drop a comment below with your thoughts on how Melina was utilized over the course of her career. Also include any potential Superstars or Divas you would like to see featured in upcoming editions of Pushed to Punished.
Read every archived edition of Pushed to Punished here.