Oh, where to begin? There are so many ways this article can be written, and so many ways it can not. I guess I'll start from the beginning, where all good things take shape.
It was 2004 and the WWE had announced it's "new direction" for their WWE Divas division. One of the pivotal factors in this "direction" was the WWE Diva Search competition to find models who they wanted to turn into wrestlers, like the great Trish Stratus.
This is where a future star was found in one Michelle McCool. Michelle had a strong, drawling Southern accent. I didn't think much of her, other than she was another pretty face with a very athletic body shape. It seems the fans didn't think much of her either, because Michelle was eliminated the fourth week of the competition.
Still, the WWE saw something in her that we didn't at the time: a drive and passion for what she wanted. It soon became known that what Michelle wanted was, simply put, to wrestle. The former schoolteacher honed her skills down at DSW while making appearances on what would become her turf, Friday Night Smackdown.
Michelle went through a cycle of different characters and feuds. At one point she faced off against Melina and Dawn Marie, showing both the early stages of the prowess she would display later on in her career. To be quite honest, I still never thought much of her. I rallied behind her when she went against Dawn, but that was more due to Miss Marie than anything else.
After those two rivalries, Michelle stuck to training before coming back as a "naughty schoolteacher." She didn't do much with that until she was suddenly hospitalized. That's the first time I can remember really investing myself into Michelle. In some ways that's sad, but in others it was fantastic.
I went back and watched her matches for months on end. I realized that Michelle wasn't all that bad, and looking back on it, I saw some potential in the Florida native. I remember being ecstatic when she returned and slapped the taste out of Jillian Hall's mouth. After that, I thoroughly enjoyed her matches with Jillian; they were fast, fun, technically sound and extremely hard-hitting, something that was missing in the Divas division for a long time then.
Michelle would go on to prove herself as a true talent before finally becoming the inaugural Divas Champion at The Great American Bash in 2008. She continued to dominate Friday nights all the way up until now. I have to say, my favorite gimmick of Michelle's was her Randy Orton-esque, cold, calculated heel character. People argue that it still did nothing for them, but I found it to be quite entertaining, especially because she was a robot drone making hilarious snaps at the Divas backstage.
During this time Michelle reached her peak as a wrestler, helping carry the Smackdown Divas division to greatness alongside Melina. I think that this was also Melina's peak as a wrestler in the WWE. The two had immense chemistry in the ring, and neither let up an inch when they clashed one on one. It was fantastic.
As we all know, Michelle capped off her career as the snotty "Cool" in LayCool. There's really no need to elaborate on that.
Now, I say Michelle's career is a "storybook" career for a reason. She worked her butt off since the beginning to make herself the best she could be in the ring, and helped many women along the way. She proved all the haters wrong.
Just take a look at Victoria's last match, Mickie's last feud, and her own final match with the WWE. All three were outstanding! They all told great stories and finished spectacularly. It's a testament to how much Michelle has contributed to every aspect of her career, including her coworkers.
Now, I've made no bones about it—sometimes I love Michelle and sometimes I hate her. But after last night, there's no way I could dislike this woman! She left the way a wrestler should, by putting someone over, of course.
And she didn't put just one woman over! Oh no. She put two women over! She could've easily refused, but she didn't. Michelle swallowed her pride.
Say what you will about the backstage politics and whatnot, but Michelle took it upon herself to up her game in every single way she could. And that doesn't discount her fashion sense either! As a personal lover of all things fashionable, it's been a real treat seeing Michelle dress up for these past few years. She always brings her A-game, and her clothing is no exception.
She's done all there is to do in this business, and done it in such a great way as well. Very few can say they've done so themselves. So I commend Michelle.
May you have a happy, wonderful life after wrestling!
Much love, Chris B.