Ranking The 17 WWE Divas Champions From Worst To Best
In 2016, WWE gradually started to phase the term “diva” out of the company vocabulary, at long last accepting female superstars as equal to the men, at least in name. Little of value was lost in the rebranding effort, although there was one sacrifice, that being the WWE Divas Championship. Created in 2008 during the initial brand split, the Divas Championship was equal to the Women’s Championship for two years, at which point it absorbed the older belt to become the only prize females in the company could do battle over.
Over the eight years the WWE Divas Championship existed, 17 different women would hold claim to the prize. Despite widespread criticisms over the flashy pink design, which some felt trivialized women’s wrestling, the desire to hold the belt nonetheless inspired many women to wrestle some of the best matches of their lives. Of course, as is often the case in sports entertainment, other less coordinated superstars also found their way to championship glory, and their reigns with the belt are thus looked upon unfavorably in retrospect.
Ultimately, there’s no denying it’s a good thing WWE is treating women with more respect and no longer uses a pejorative term to describe them. That said, it would be a disservice to the 17 women who were Divas Champion to entirely ignore the belt. Regardless of how one feels about the name of the honor, for nearly a decade, it was what most women in wrestling aspired to be, and their hard work shouldn’t be forgotten simply due to the era in which it happened. Keep reading to see our rankings of the 17 WWE Divas Champions from worst to best.
- Jillian Hall
Holding the belt for all of two minutes, there’s no question Jillian Hall was the worst Divas Champion in history. She won the belt on the October 12, 2009 episode of Raw by defeating Mickie James and attempted to celebrate by poorly singing the song “Paparazzi” by Lady Gaga. Guest host Nancy O’Dell interrupted Hall’s victory dance to introduce her first challenger, freshly traded from SmackDown, Melina. One powerbomb later and the Lovely Latina was the new champ. The two minutes of glory were Jillian Hall’s only moments in the sun during her some five-year stint in the WWE Universe. Fairly or not, Hall will always be better remembered for her intentionally horrible singing than anything she did in the ring, so it’s just as well her lone title reign didn’t last that long. In addition to how short and insignificant it was, Hall’s reign felt unexpected and undeserved to begin with, making it more of a confusing footnote than anything else.
- Kelly Kelly
Length of a title reign alone doesn’t equate to a great superstar, which is why Kelly Kelly’s 104 days as Divas Champion places lower on our list than four of the five women who failed to break the 100-day barrier. Popularity is important, so it wasn’t for nothing that Kelly’s reign began when she won a fan vote over Beth Phoenix and Eve Torres for the right to challenge Brie Bella for the title on Raw in June 2011. In all fairness, Kelly had significantly improved in the ring over her few years in WWE, but she was still far from talented enough to lead a faltering division. Worse than that, she could never overcome the embarrassing circumstance of her debut, regularly appearing on ECW and promising to get naked for no particular reason. That she somehow became a success in the PG era was a strange twist, but it meant dropping the only distinguishing quality her character had, outside of her marketable looks and repetitive name, making her an abysmal and forgettable champion that sunk women’s wrestling for months.
- Alicia Fox
Not nearly as bad a wrestler as Kelly Kelly but without a significant enough reign to allow her to place any higher on our list, Alicia Fox held the WWE Divas Championship for a brisk 56 days. Simply being better than Kelly Kelly doesn’t mean much, either, as Fox had a mere four years of experience in the wrestling ring when she won, a fact that was repeatedly clear during her brief reign. She defeated former champion Eve Torres, Gail Kim, and Maryse in a fatal four-way match at the appropriately named Fatal 4-Way Pay-Per-View and lost the title to Melina at SummerSlam. In her favor, Fox did at least manage to make history as the first African American to hold the belt, and she has since become one of the longest tenured women of color in the company, which isn’t anything to ignore. However, it didn’t exactly make her time as champion any better, and the fact other African American women would soon go on to hold the title and perform far better as champion than she did almost makes the accolade irrelevant.
- Brie Bella
In a world without reality shows, or even one where the Bellas weren’t twins, neither of them would have had any shot at becoming stars in the wrestling industry, certainly not to the extent they have. Neither Nikki nor Brie have ever been particularly noteworthy for their technical wrestling ability, with Brie especially showing a lack of grace in the ring. She’s also not a particularly good actress, with a serious lack of range at doing anything other than cheer her sister on or make angry faces at women she’s supposed to be feuding. Her reign as Divas Champion started on the April 11, 2011 episode of Raw when she defeated Eve Torres, ending when Kelly Kelly took the belt away from her a mere 70 days later. Brie’s only high profile title defense was also against Kelly, won by the Bella trademark Twin Magic. It’s telling that Nikki got better in the ring the further away from it Brie got, and their respective places on this ranking speak for themselves about which twin is a better wrestler.
Ranking Natalya Neidhart’s tenure as WWE Divas Champion is harder than it looks. The most prominent female wrestler in the extended Hart dynasty, Nattie was arguably one of the most talented women to hold the belt, but with a mere 70 days as champion she’s also one of the shortest tenured champions in its existence. On the plus side, the way Neidhart won the title was particularly impressive, defeating both previous champion Michelle McCool and her tag team partner Layla El in a handicap match at Survivor Series 2010. Natalya’s time as champion was mostly spent continuing her feud with LayCool, and thus didn’t include many title defenses until she lost the belt to Eve Torres at the next Royal Rumble. Borderline contradictorily, Nattie was raising the profile of women’s wrestling with her work while also deemphasizing the Divas Championship, making her a better wrestler than she was a champion and leaving her fairly low on this particular list.
- Mickie James
Similarly to Natalya, Mickie James is and was a much better wrestler than her tepid placement on this list would imply, and she’s wound up this low for much the same reasons. With 78 days on top of the division, James only beats Natalya’s reign by a week and a day. She defeated Maryse for the belt at Night of Champions 2009, losing it to Kelly Kelly in short order. As if the brevity of her reign wasn’t embarrassing enough, losing the belt to Kelly in an uninteresting match seriously hurts Mickie’s place in history, and she didn’t have any noteworthy title defenses before then to save her. Regardless of her blasé reign as Divas Champion, Mickie nonetheless earned her spot in the WWE record book through her far more impressive five reigns with the Women’s Championship, which most fans always considered the far more prestigious of the two. We might even go so far as to say Mickie was more noteworthy in her three reigns with the TNA Knockouts Championship, as well.