Squared Circle: WWE Diva Search: Do We Really Need Another One?
Not long after I finished my slide show on Tough Enough and announced its follow up on the WWE Diva Search, it was announced that another group of women are going to compete for a contract to be the next WWE Diva.
I really don't get it. Personally I think the show should stay dead and buried. WWE needs to improve their women's division quite drastically, and having some more models that don't know a thing about handling themselves in the ring is just going to make things worse.
You can probably pinpoint the Divas Division of WWE declining in relation to when WWE started to push models over fully trained wrestlers.
Aside from this problem, the Diva Search was ludicrous. It used to take up around 15 minutes of every Raw or SmackDown and compete for fans votes by doing really odd tasks that looked as if they were to please people with strange fetishes.
It was basically women prostituting themselves on TV to see who was willing to go further and get a WWE contract.
I have a quote from James Guttman about the Diva Search from his book World Wrestling Insanity.
"The best way to describe it would be to liken it to getting punched in the face over and over again by a monster that gets stronger each time while it screams at you in a foreign language."
Sounds like fun. Well let's take a look at the 2004 contestants (the one I watched) that took part in this monstrosity of a beauty contest.
10th Place: Julia Costello
Right, I don't actually know which one Julia is in the photo but it doesn't matter, because being the first woman eliminated from the 2004 Diva Search, she never went on to anything bigger.
She was a small-time actress before the Diva Search; appearing in shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and pretty much stayed en route after being finished in the show.
Ninth Place: Camille Anderson
Well pretty much put what I said about the last contestant here.
Camille Anderson was a struggling actress before the Diva Search and remains the same afterwards (albeit nothing as popular in comparison to Julia Costello).
She does some modeling, but then again I don't think she has much of a choice.
Eighth Place: Chandra Costello
Wait, didn't I just explain her situation only two slides back?
Actually it's her sister who competed on the very same contest.
Yeah, pretty much what I said two slides back can be re-used here.
Seventh Place: Michelle McCool
Championships: Diva's Champion (x2), Women's Champion (x2)
Finally, someone I can talk about because they went on to be a success in wrestling. Michelle McCool wasn't a particularly popular contestant in the Diva Search. Like the last three eliminated talents, her personality was pretty bland.
On the other hand, she was already better because she seemed like she was at least having fun during her time on the show. This somehow managed to gain her a three-year deal with WWE.
At the start she played the part of a personal trainer, which came to an end after being attacked by the tag team MNM. She would spend a while in development before returning as the manager of The Teacher's Pets (Idol Stevens & KC James).
Their success was very small, and when McCool was hospitalised with several health problems, the team split.
Her return would see a climb to the top as she turned face and used the momentum from a series of victories to become the first-ever WWE Divas Champion. From here on you can probably guess how her career turned out.
Whether you love her or hate her, it cannot be denied that McCool is the most successful alumni of the Diva Search.
With four championships in the bag (and probably a few more in the future), she has accomplished more in her seven years in wrestling than some spend a lifetime trying to achieve.
Sixth Place: Tracie Wright
Err... I could find very little about Tracie Wright. I think she's a model, but that's only from the fact I found lots of pictures like the one shown here.
Fifth Place: Maria Kanellis
So we are onto the sixth contestant of the 2004 Search and only on the second one who can be considered to have made a success out of her WWE experience.
Once again, despite being eliminated, WWE gave her a deal and put her straight to work in OVW. Apparently she made noticeable contributions to the booking of the events, since she wasn't afraid to put forward her own ideas of how things should turn out.
Not long after, she was promoted to the Raw roster as an interviewer. She played a dumb-blonde gimmick (yes, I know she's a brunette) and pretty much was used for comedy angles and being a damsel in distress that face wrestlers had to save.
After a move to SmackDown, WWE started using her in a more serious capacity and attempted to market her as a proper wrestler. Personally, I don't think it helped that they kept putting her into relationships with various talents on-screen. It made her seem kind of dependent.
Either way, her career was pretty much over when she announced she had plans for a career outside of wrestling. The last thing you should ever say when working for WWE.
If Vinnie Mac feels you are not 100 percent dedicated to his company, then there is no point keeping you around. Luckily, her music career seems to be holding up currently.
Fourth Place: Amy Weber
You know how Randy Orton once had the reputation for being a bit of a cruel prankster and a sexual harassment lawsuit in waiting? Well, Amy Weber is one of those who helped him gain this reputation.
She was granted the position of being valet to WWE Champion JBL. As part of the Cabinet, she was the female member that feuded with fellow Diva Search contestant Joy Giovanni, who was in an on-screen relationship with the No. 1 Contender, Big Show.
Weber resigned from the company before the angle was finished.
Weber alleged that she didn't like the pay she was receiving, considering the amount of harassment from male superstars she garnered. Although she never mentioned him by name, Orton was alleged to be the main culprit.
Today, she makes ends meet by taking part in various jobs such as acting, singing and modeling.
Third Place: Joy Giovanni
Joy Giovanni was one of the contestants WWE desperately wanted to do something with, like Amy Weber. Ironically she was placed in a feud with her as a rival valet.
Probably her most memorable moment is a tie between being found bound and gagged in the trunk of JBL's Limo or her unfortunate encounter with a half-naked Kurt Angle as she exited the shower.
Afterwards she took on the role of a Diva who had no place in the company. With little skill in ring she was primarily used backstage and in bikini contests. She was released pretty quickly.
She did make a guest appearance at WrestleMania XXV in the Miss WrestleMania Battle Royale.
Like all the others who have left, she now acts and models.
Runner-Up: Carmella DeCesare
A frequent star on the Bleacher Report's Top WAGs lists.
Before being involved in the Diva Search, she used a similar contest to become a Playboy Centrefold. Despite the show being fan voted, I wouldn't go as far as to call Camille one of the more popular contestants.
Like all the others, she had no personality. Her background as a Playboy model gave her a superiority complex if the other contestants are to be believed.
One memorable moment was Maria flipping her off after she was eliminated from the show. The crowd made it no secret that they didn't like her, either. On numerous occasions, she was booed by the live audience.
So if no one liked her, who the hell voted for her to get so far? Hmm, makes you wonder.
She ended up having one match in her short WWE career, a loss to the eventual winner in a Lingerie Pillow Fight (just screams class). She was released shortly after and is back to her pre-WWE status of Playboy Model and WAG.
Winner: Christy Hemme
When looking back on the contest as a whole, Christy Hemme seems like an obvious winner.
Firstly, she was enthusiastic about being there and competing for the contract. Hemme also realised that she had to gain the support of the WWE fans and backroom staff to make it. Finally, she was charismatic, unlike the other nine contestants.
Since she was the winner, WWE pushed her immediately. Once the contest had ended, Trish Stratus (who was Women's Champion at the time) began to antagonise her. WWE put her on the cover of WWE Diva's Magazine in addition to letting her pose for Playboy.
In the end, though, like all people in WWE who have very little skill in-ring, she moved from gimmick to gimmick before eventually being released.
She would eventually wrestle for TNA but retired from in-ring performances in 2009 and now is exclusively a backstage interviewer.
What Have We Learned...
Notice how all but one of those pictures actually showed any of the women in a wrestling capacity? Well that's the biggest problem with this competition. Too many entrants saw wrestling as pure entertainment, this is an assumption that destroys most Diva Search contestants' will to continue in the company.
There is a reason why Professional Wrestling is known as Sports Entertainment. The first part does hold some truths. The people who compete in the ring are athletes who are pretty much required to get beaten-up over 300 days a year. The only time they gain a break of any sort is when injury requires it.
The Diva Search takes women who are used to a much more comfortable environment (I won't say easier because I know some modelling gigs are pretty harsh) and expecting them to work in a male-orientated environment.
I think we can also agree that the word contest is a liberal use at best. Out of the ten women I mentioned, six were given a job. Some made it further than others, but still when the winner doesn't last longer than the fifth and seventh placed participants it makes you wonder if the Diva Search is nothing more than a glorified screening process.
With this in mind, WWE ended up with a huge excess of female performers who couldn't wrestle. There are only so many non-wrestling roles you can assign to the girls before you run out of ideas. Considering WWE's favourite excuse to release talent is that "They could find nothing for them to do" it makes you query the reasoning behind hiring more competitors than they need.
Finally, you can't mix reality TV with a scripted show. WWE Raw and SmackDown already have enough complaints of there not being enough wrestling aired and too much filler. Giving 15-20 minutes to something that not only fails to contribute to a solution, but breaks escapism will merely encourage viewers to change the channel.