The Top 5 Divas to Make an Impact in WWE History
It is a little bit of a debate as to how the term "Diva" came about.
On one end of the spectrum, you have former WWE Diva, Sunny, famous for her stint in the WWE in the mid 90's, claiming to have been the "Original Diva."
However, on the other end of the spectrum, the first time that a female performer referred to herself as a "Diva" on WWE television was Sable in April of 1999.
Whatever the case may be, there's no doubt, that since the mid 90's when Sunny debuted, the WWE has seen an increase in "Divas" compared to previous eras in the past.
After the debut of Sunny, who was used mostly in a managerial/sex icon role, the WWE signed many female talents who proved to be valuable in the ring. Divas such as Ivory, Jacqueline, Luna Vachon and even Sable later on, proved to have what it takes to compete in a squared ring.
This carried on even more so into the new millennium when talents such as Lita, Trish Stratus, Molly Holly, Victoria, Jazz etc. took it to another level. And they even made the women's division and Women's Title into a legit division to the point where some matches were even taken seriously (case in point, Lita/Trish Stratus main event on Raw several years back).
This article will list the top five divas to make an impact in the WWE, whether it was due to their in-ring ability, or whether it was due to their role as "eye candy."
Certainly having both doesn't hurt.
When Lita debuted in February of 2000, she had a prior history of appearing for a "major" company. In 1999, she was employed by ECW in mostly an on-screen girlfriend role. It wasn't until she made her debut for the WWE that she displayed what kind of an athlete she was.
Before Lita debuted in the WWE, the WWE had never seen a female with high flying maneuvers. Yes, it's true that in pro wrestling, the debuts of lucha libres and high flying wrestlers from overseas had just begun taking place in WCW in the mid 90's; but Lita was the first female to really have that kind of moveset in a major professional wrestling company and become popular.
When she debuted, she was paired with a fellow debuting high flyer by the name of Essa Rios. They stuck together for a few months before Lita moved on to bigger and better things with the Hardy Boyz to form "Team Xtreme."
Lita won the Women's Championship on four different occasions and even made a transition in her character in the mid 2000's, taking advantage of the real life Matt Hardy/Edge/Lita saga. She would become a heel, and, well, for lack of a better term, her character became a "slut."
Lita brought to the women's division a style and an edge never seen before, and she may have taken part in the greatest feud ever seen in the women's division, the feud between Trish Stratus and Lita that took place over several years.
4. Trish Stratus
Trish Stratus is the definition of somebody who went from a Diva who was just "eye candy" upon her debut, to making herself an excellent in-ring talent that became the embodiment of what is expected out of Divas in the WWE today: have a high amount of sex appeal, while also being able to deliver good matches in the ring.
When Trish Stratus debuted in 2000, her first major role was serving as the manager of T and A, a tag team made up of Test and Albert.
For the first year and a half that she was in the WWE, she was mainly just used as a "sex piece" to further storylines, whether it was her involvement with HHH that spurred Stephanie's jealousy, or whether it was enticing the boss Vince McMahon, but something happened in the Winter of 2001 that surprised everybody.
At Survivor Series 2001, in a match that was overshadowed by the culmination of the Invasion storyline, Trish Stratus won the Women's Title in a Six Pack Challenge.
After that event, she showed that she had made major strides in her in-ring work, proving to be the best performer in the Women's Division.
As far as in-ring ability and longevity are concerned, Trish Stratus and Lita may be two of the greatest Divas of all-time.
When you look at Chyna now, you think of what a mess she was.
In the late 90's and early 00's, however, there maybe wasn't a more famous women's wrestler than that of Chyna.
Chyna debuted in 1997, and her main role upon her arrival in the WWE was as the "bodyguard" of HHH, and later on DX.
Chyna was immediately taken seriously by WWE fans, despite being a female, due to her sheer size. She was 6-feet tall and billed at weighing 200 pounds.
Being a bodybuilder before her arrival to the WWE, Chyna had a look that no one had ever seen in the wrestling ring before.
The WWE—realizing the potential that they had with Chyna—began placing her into feuds with men, billing her as the "Ninth Wonder of the World."
Chyna became Intercontinental Champion on three different occasions, proving that women could compete in the same ring as men.
Chyna later on became a sort of "sex symbol" for the WWE, posing on the cover of Playboy in 2000, but I think we all prefer to block that part out of our minds.
I had a difficult choice between No. 1 and No. 2, but in the end I chose Sunny to be No. 2.
Sunny, even though not the first woman to coin the term "Diva," was pretty much the reason why the term "Diva" came about.
In the mid 1990's, she was the definition of a sex symbol. In 1996, she was the most downloaded woman on AOL.
Although Sunny was never an in-ring performer, unlike the prior three mentioned on this list, without Sunny's involvement in the WWE, who knows if women who have ever been featured prominently on WWE television.
She was the one who paved the way for women such as Sable, Ivory, and Jacqueline to be featured prominently in the late 90's, who then paved the way for future stars such as Lita, Trish Stratus, etc.
It's a trend that continues today with Divas such as Michelle McCool, Natalya, and Beth Phoenix, in which we see at least one major Divas storyline taking place and one Divas match taking place at each PPV.
Sable had to be No. 1 on this list for a few reasons:
1. She was the first to coin the term "Diva," which carries on to the WWE 12 years later. She was the first to be referred to as a "Diva" by media outlets.
2. She was probably the first woman to display what is expected out of Divas today; she was a sex symbol and she was an in-ring talent. Yes, she was no Trish Stratus in the ring, but there was no doubt she had moves.
3. She was the first "Diva" to pose for Playboy, encouraging a trend that we continue to see years later from WWE Divas.
Sable's popularity caused the WWE to bring back the Women's Title, which paved the way for talents such as Lita and Trish Stratus to be hired.
Other than Chyna, Sable is the first female that I can remember that actually had a legit feud with a male, engaging in a storyline with Marc Mero in 1998.
As far as a woman's impact in the WWE is concerned, I don't think any had a bigger impact than that of Sable.