Abandoned: The History of the WWE Women's Championship

Kyle SchadlerChief Writer INovember 6, 2011

Abandoned: The History of the WWE Women's Championship

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    Throughout history, professional wrestling has seen many championships. Many in the National Wrestling Alliance still exist and have been defended for decades upon decades.

    In WWF/E, though, there are six major titles. Not many know that the company has had a total of at least 19 different titles, 13 of which have been abandoned for one reason or another. The other two major companies owned by WWE are WCW and ECW, which have at least 15 abandoned and forgotten titles between them.

    For as long as it takes, I will be concentrating on those forgotten titles. Each slide will feature the champion, who they defeated, where and when they won it, the length of their title reign, and if there were any special circumstances that happened during their reign.

    At times multiple belts will be featured into one article due to their short history. Belts with a lengthy history will get their own articles and may be broken up into two, depending on the length.

    For the first edition of Abandoned, I present the WWE Women’s Championship.

    WWE has us believe that the history of the title begins in 1956, with The Fabulous Moolah. They don’t recognize title changes that happened between then and 1983 because the title hadn’t become property of the WWF until then.

    WWE does not recognize the titles rich history with its lineage to the NWA Women’s Championship, which in turn has lineage to the original Women’s World Championship.

    If you do the research, the WWE Women’s Title technically dates back to the 1890s, and that’s where I begin.

Josie Wahlford

1 of 83

    Defeated: N/A

    Where: N/A

    When: 1890s

    Title Reign: N/A

    Josie Wahlford is known as the first Women’s World Champion. This is before there were any wrestling companies out there; just promoters putting on shows at carnivals and places like that.

    Not much is known of the very early history of the title, though.

    A wrestler by the name of Alice William also apparently held a claim to the title around the same time as Wahlford, but Josie is considered to be the very first champion.

Laura Bennett

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    Defeated: N/A

    Where: N/A

    When: Early 1900s

    Title Reign: N/A

    It’s not known if Bennett defeated Josie Wahlford or if there were any other champions between them.

    A wrestler named Hazel Parker apparently got a hold of the title in Chicago, IL, sometime during 1906.

Mary Harris

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    Defeated: N/A

    Where: N/A

    When: 1907

    Title Reign: N/A

    It’s not known if Harris defeated Laura Bennett or Hazel Parker for the title, or if there were any other champions between them.

Laura Bennett

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    Defeated: Mary Harris

    Where: N/A

    When: 1909

    Title Reign: N/A

    A wrestler by the name of Masha Poddubnaya apparently won the title a total of six times before 1910. If true, it’s not known if she and Bennett traded the title back-and-forth or if there were any other champions between them.

Cora Livingston

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    Defeated: N/A

    Where: Kansas City, MO

    When: October 1910

    Title Reign: N/A

    It's no known who she defeated, but Livingston reportedly had the title right up until her retirement in 1925.

Clara Mortenson

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    Defeated: Barbara Ware

    Where: N/A

    When: 1932

    Title Reign: ~5 years

    It’s not known what happened with the title between 1925 and 1932 and some historian’s dispute whether or not Mortenson actually defeated Barbara Ware or if it was another woman.

Mildred Burke

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    Defeated: Clara Mortenson

    Where: Chattanooga, TN

    When: January 28, 1937

    Title Reign: 14 days

    This is the first of many times Burke will appear on this list. Burke was recognized as the very first National Wrestling Alliance Women’s Champion sometime between 1950 and 1953.

    Burke was stripped of the title on August 20, 1954. Promoter Billy Wolfe had a local commission stop a match between her and June Byers and took the title off of her afterward.

    There was reportedly huge heat between Burke and Wolfe and it resulted in the very respected Mildred Burke being stripped of the title.

Clara Mortenson

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    Defeated: Mildred Burke

    Where: Chattanooga, TN

    When: February 11, 1937

    Title Reign: ~48 days

Mildred Burke

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    Defeated: Clara Mortenson

    Where: N/A

    When: April 1937

    Title Reign: ~597 days

Betty Nichols

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    Defeated: Mildred Burke

    Where: Columbus, OH

    When: November 18, 1938

    Title Reign: 13 days

Mildred Burke

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    Defeated: Betty Nichols

    Where: Columbus, OH

    When: December 1, 1938

    Title Reign: ~15 years

    Burke reclaimed the belt and set the record for the longest title reign from here.

June Byers

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    Defeated: Awarded

    Where: Atlanta, GA

    When: August 20, 1954

    Title Reign: ~14 years

    After Mildred Burke was stripped of the title, it was awarded to her opponent June Byers, who was reportedly Billy Wolfe’s daughter-in-law.

Penny Banner

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    Defeated: Recognized

    Where: N/A

    When: January 1964

    Title Reign: N/A

    Penny Banner won a battle royal to become the new American Wrestling Association Women’s Champion. She was recognized as the NWA Women’s Champion by some of the NWA promoters after June Byers retired in January 1964.

Slave Girl Moolah

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    Defeated: Recognized

    Where: N/A

    When: January 1964

    Title Reign: ~1,006 days

    While Penny Banner was recognized by some promoters, the majority of them recognized Slave Girl Moolah as the champion when June Byers retired in January 1964.

Betty Boucher

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    Defeated: Slave Girl Moolah

    Where: Seattle, WA

    When: September 17, 1966

    Title Reign: Anywhere from a few days to a few months

The Fabulous Moolah

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    Defeated: Betty Boucher

    Where: N/A

    When: 1966

    Title Reign: ~2 years

Yukiko Tomoe

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    Defeated: The Fabulous Moolah

    Where: Osaka, Japan

    When: March 10, 1968

    Title Reign: 23 days

The Fabulous Moolah

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    Defeated: Yukiko Tomoe

    Where: Hamamatsu, Japan

    When: April 2, 1968

    Title Reign: ~7 years

Sue Green

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    Defeated: The Fabulous Moolah

    Where: Dallas, TX

    When: 1975

    Title Reign: ~ 1 year

The Fabulous Moolah

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    Defeated: Sue Green

    Where: Texas

    When: 1976

    Title Reign: ~2 years

Evelyn Stevens

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    Defeated: The Fabulous Moolah

    Where: Dallas, TX

    When: October 8, 1978

    Title Reign: 2 days

The Fabulous Moolah

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    Defeated: Evelyn Stevens

    Where: Fort Worth, TX

    When: October 10, 1978

    Title Reign: ~6 years

    When the World Wrestling Federation broke ties with the NWA in 1983, The Fabulous Moolah sold them the rights to the NWA Women’s Title.

    Moolah came along with the title and became the first WWF Women’s Champion.

Wendi Richter

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    Defeated: The Fabulous Moolah

    Where: New York, NY

    When: July 23, 1984

    Title Reign: 207 days

Lelaini Kai

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    Defeated: Wendi Richter

    Where: New York, NY

    When: February 15, 1985

    Title Reign: 41 days

Wendi Richter

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    Defeated: Lelaini Kai

    Where: New York, NY

    When: March 31, 1985

    Title Reign: 239 days

Spider Lady

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    Defeated: Wendi Richter

    Where: New York, NY

    When: November 25, 1958

    Title Reign: 220 days

    The Fabulous Moolah was immediately recognized as champion when it was revealed that she was the Spider Lady.

    This situation is also known as the “Original Screwjob,” taking place 12 years before the “Montreal Screwjob.” I won’t get into it here, but look it up if you get the chance.

Velvet McIntyre

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    Defeated: The Fabulous Moolah

    Where: Brisbane, Australia

    When: July 3, 1986

    Title Reign: 6 days

The Fabulous Moolah

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    Defeated: Velvet McIntyre

    Where: Sydney, Australia

    When: July 9, 1986

    Title Reign: 380 days

Sensational Sherri

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    Defeated: The Fabulous Moolah

    Where: Houston, TX

    When: July 24, 1987

    Title Reign: 441 days

Rockin’ Robin

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    Defeated: Sensational Sherri

    Where: Paris, France

    When: October 7, 1988

    Title Reign: 451 days

    On February 20, 1990, the WWF started to shy away from women’s wrestling and it was announced that the title was vacant. It would be inactive for almost four years.

Alundra Blaze

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    Defeated: Heidi Lee Morgan

    Where: Poughkeepsie, NY

    When: December 13, 1993

    Title Reign: 342 days

    The title would be reinstated almost four years later.

    Alundra Blaze defeated Heidi Lee Morgan in a tournament final to become the new champion.

Bull Nakano

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    Defeated: Alundra Blaze

    Where: Tokyo, Japan

    When: November 20, 1994

    Title Reign: 134 days

Alundra Blaze

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    Defeated: Bull Nakano

    Where: Poughkeepsie, NY

    When: April 3, 1995

    Title Reign: 146 days

Bertha Faye

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    Defeated: Alundra Blaze

    Where: Pittsburgh, PA

    When: August 27, 1995

    Title Reign: 57 days

Alundra Blaze

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    Defeated: Bertha Faye

    Where: Brandon, Manitoba, Canada

    When: October 23, 1995

    Title Reign: 51 days

    On December 13, 1995, the title would be declared vacant again. This time because their champion left the company.

    Five days later on World Championship Wrestling's Monday night show Nitro, Alundra Blaze showed up under the name Medusa. She proceeded to throw the title in the trash on live television.

    WWF decided to put the title aside for almost three years before it resurfaced again.

Jacqueline

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    Defeated:  Sable

    Where: Sacramento, CA

    When: September 15, 1998

    Title Reign: 61 days

    Almost three years later, WWF reinstated the title again. This time we saw Jacqueline defeat Sable for the title.

Sable

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    Defeated: Jacqueline

    Where: Saint Louis, MO

    When: November 15, 1998

    Title Reign: 176 days

Debra

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    Defeated: Sable

    Where: Orlando, FL

    When: May 10, 1999

    Title Reign: 29 days

Ivory

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    Defeated: Debra

    Where: Worcester, MA

    When: June 8, 1999

    Title Reign: 131 days

The Fabulous Moolah

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    Defeated: Ivory

    Where: Cleveland, OH

    When: October 17, 1999

    Title Reign: 8 days

Ivory

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    Defeated: The Fabulous Moolah

    Where: Providence, RI

    When: October 25, 1999

    Title Reign: 48 days

The Kat

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    Defeated: Ivory, Jacqueline, and B.B. Bush

    Where: Fort Lauderdale, FL

    When: December 12, 1999

    Title Reign: 50 days

    This was a fatal-four way evening gown match that took place inside of a swimming pool. This was also the moment that The Kat revealed her “kitties” to the world.

Hervina

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    Defeated: The Kat

    Where: Pittsburgh, PA

    When: January 31, 2000

    Title Reign: 1 day

Jacqueline

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    Defeated: Harvey Wippleman

    Where: Detroit, MI

    When: February 1, 2000

    Title Reign: 56 days

    Hervina was Harvey Wippleman. Wippleman dressed up as a woman and defeated The Kat for the title the night before.

Stephanie McMahon

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    Defeated: Jacqueline

    Where: San Antonio, TX

    When: March 28, 2000

    Title Reign: 146 days

Lita

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    Defeated: Stephanie McMahon

    Where: Lafayette, LA

    When: August 21, 2000

    Title Reign: 71 days

Ivory

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    Defeated: Lita, Jacqueline, and Trish Stratus

    Where: Rochester, NY

    When: October 31, 2000

    Title Reign: 152 days

    This was a fatal-four way match.

Chyna

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    Defeated: Ivory

    Where: Houston, TX

    When: April 1, 2001

    Title Reign: 214 days

    The title was vacated again in November 2001 due to Chyna quitting the WWF due to a contract dispute. Thankfully the title wouldn’t be vacant for long.

Trish Stratus

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    Defeated: Molly Holly, Ivory, Jacqueline, Jazz, and Lita

    Where: Greensboro, NC

    When: November 18, 2001

    Title Reign: 78 days

    This was a six pack challenge. The first woman to get a pinfall or submission wins.

Jazz

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    Defeated: Trish Stratus

    Where: Las Vegas, NV

    When: February 4, 2002

    Title Reign: 98 days

    On May 6, 2002 WWF officially made the transition to WWE due to a lost lawsuit over the “WWF” initials with the World Wildlife Fund.

    Jazz was recognized as the first World Wrestling Entertainment Women’s Champion.

Trish Stratus

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    Defeated: Jazz

    Where: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    When: May 13, 2002

    Title Reign: 41 days

Molly Holly

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    Defeated: Trish Stratus

    Where: Columbus, OH

    When: June 23, 2002

    Title Reign: 91 days

Trish Stratus

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    Defeated: Molly Holly

    Where: Los Angeles, CA

    When: September 22, 2002

    Title Reign: 56 days

Victoria

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    Defeated: Trish Stratus

    Where: New York, NY

    When: November 17, 2002

    Title Reign: 133 days

Trish Stratus

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    Defeated: Victoria and Jazz

    Where: Seattle, WA

    When: March 30, 2003

    Title Reign: 28 days

    This was a triple threat match.

Jazz

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    Defeated: Trish Stratus

    Where: Worcester, MA

    When: April 27, 2003

    Title Reign: 64 days

Gail Kim

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    Defeated: Jazz, Molly Holly, Ivory, Victoria, Jacqueline, and Trish Stratus

    Where: Buffalo, NY

    When: June 30, 2003

    Title Reign: 28 days

    This was a 7-woman battle royal.

Molly Holly

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    Defeated: Gail Kim

    Where: Colorado Springs, CO

    When: June 28, 2003

    Title Reign: 210 days

Victoria

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    Defeated: Molly Holly, Jazz, and Lita

    Where: Omaha, NE

    When: February 23, 2004

    Title Reign: 111 days

    This was a fatal-four way elimination match.

Trish Stratus

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    Defeated: Victoria, Gail Kim, and Lita

    Where: Columbus, OH

    When: June 13, 2004

    Title Reign: 176 days

    This was a fatal-four way match.

Lita

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    Defeated: Trish Stratus

    Where: Charlotte, NC

    When: December 6, 2004

    Title Reign: 34 days

Trish Stratus

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    Defeated: Lita

    Where: San Juan, Puerto Rico

    When: January 9, 2005

    Title Reign: 448 days

Mickie James

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    Defeated: Trish Stratus

    Where: Chicago, IL

    When: April 2, 2006

    Title Reign: 134 days

Lita

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    Defeated: Mickie James

    Where: Charlottesville, VA

    When: August 14, 2006

    Title Reign: 34 days

Trish Stratus

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    Defeated: Lita

    Where: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    When: September 17, 2006

    Title Reign: 1 day

    The next night, the title was declared vacant due to Trish Stratus officially announcing her retirement.

Lita

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    Defeated: Mickie James

    Where: Cincinnati, OH

    When: November 5, 2006

    Title Reign: 21 days

    Lita defeated Mickie James in a tournament final to win the title.

Mickie James

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    Defeated: Lita

    Where: Philadelphia, PA

    When: November 26, 2006

    Title Reign: 85 days

Melina

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    Defeated: Mickie James

    Where: Bakersfield, CA

    When: February 19, 2007

    Title Reign: 64 days

Mickie James

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    Defeated: Melina and Victoria

    Where: Paris, France

    When: April 24, 2007

    Title Reign: A few minutes

    This was a triple threat match.

Melina

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    Defeated: Mickie James

    Where: Paris, France

    When: April 24, 2007

    Title Reign: 61 days

Candice Michelle

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    Defeated: Melina

    Where: Houston, TX

    When: June 24, 2007

    Title Reign: 105 days

Beth Phoenix

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    Defeated: Candice Michelle

    Where: Chicago, IL

    When: October 7, 2007

    Title Reign: 190 days

Mickie James

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    Defeated: Beth Phoenix

    Where: London, England

    When: April 14, 2008

    Title Reign: 125 days

Beth Phoenix

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    Defeated: Mickie James and Kofi Kingston

    Where: Indianapolis, IN

    When: August 17, 2008

    Title Reign: 161 days

    This was a Tag Team Match where both the WWE Women’s Championship and the WWE Intercontinental Championship were on the line. 

    When Beth Phoenix & Santino Marella defeated Mickie James & Kofi Kingston, Phoenix won the Women’s Championship and Marella won the Intercontinental Championship.

Melina

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    Defeated: Beth Phoenix

    Where: Detroit, MI

    When: January 25, 2009

    Title Reign: 154 days

Michelle McCool

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    Defeated: Melina

    Where: Sacramento, CA

    When: June 28, 2009

    Title Reign: 217 days

Mickie James

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    Defeated: Michelle McCool

    Where: Atlanta, GA

    When: January 31, 2010

    Title Reign: 23 days

Michelle McCool

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    Defeated: Mickie James

    Where: Milwaukee, WI

    When: February 23, 2010

    Title Reign: 61 days

Beth Phoenix

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    Defeated: Michelle McCool

    Where: Baltimore, MD

    When: April 25, 2010

    Title Reign: 16 days

Layla

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    Defeated: Beth Phoenix

    Where: Buffalo, NY

    When: May 11, 20105/11/10

    Title Reign: 131 days

    This was a handicap match.

    Despite the team of Lay-Cool winning the match, Layla was recognized as the champion due to her getting the pinfall victory.

    One week later, both Layla and Michelle McCool came out wearing a title. They announced that they were co-champions.

    Even though Layla was recognized as the sole Women’s Champion by WWE, Lay-Cool were the self-professed co-champions.

    The mess would continue as the title was to be put in a unification match with the WWE Divas Title on September 19, 2010. Five days earlier on SmackDown, Lay-Cool were told that only one of them could participate in the match. Their WWE NXT rookie Kaval drew a name from a hat.

    When the name came up as Michelle McCool, she was recognized as the sole champion going into the match.

Michelle McCool

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    Defeated: Melina

    Where: Chicago, IL

    When: September 19, 2010

    Title Reign: 1 day

    When WWE Women’s Champion Michelle McCool defeated WWE Divas Champion Melina, McCool was recognized as the WWE Unified Divas Champion.

    The next night on Raw, Lay-Cool came out where matching WWE Divas Titles.

    After over 100 years of history, the WWE Women’s Championship was abandoned in favor of a title that was created two years ago.

Statistics and Final Thoughts

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    Most Reigns: The Fabulous Moolah (8)

    Longest Single Reign: Mildred Burke (~15 years)

    Longest Combined Reign: The Fabulous Moolah (~22 years)

    Shortest Reign: Mickie James (a few minutes)

    City with Most Title Changes: Tie – Columbus, Ohio and New York, New York (5)

    State with Most Title Changes: New York (10)

    Most Title Changes in a Single Year: Tie – 1999, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2010 (5)

    Most Title Changes in a Decade: 2000 (34)

    The WWE Women’s Championship has a very rich history that includes some of the greatest of all time. It’s a shame that WWE doesn’t give some of these greats the recognition they deserve.

    It’s a bigger shame that the company abandoned a title with over a century of history for a title that looks more like an accessory then a championship belt.

    I hope that one day WWE will realize their mistake and toss the WWE Divas Title in the trash and reinstate the WWE Women’s Championship. For now, though, it remains abandoned and most likely soon to be forgotten.

    Come back on Wednesday for the next edition featuring the WWE European Championship plus a bonus title!