Professional wrestling is a unique art form filled with hundreds of great athletes and memorable characters.
While there are several great wrestlers, only a few stand out as the best in their field. Read on to see who is the best professional wrestler of all time!
30. The Ultimate Warrior
Running to the ring with a catchy rock tune, flexing magnificent muscles, and donning colorful facepaint is the Ultimate Warrior! Making his WWF debut in 1987, the Ultimate Warrior was one of the most popular wrestlers from the mid-80s to the 90s.
Fans loved the Ultimate Warrior’s high energy, massive physique, and rope-shaking charisma. His popularity would put him at the top of the mountain in 1990 when he won the WWF World Championship at Wrestlemania VI. Throughout the 90s, he would appear sporadically in the WWF and in World Championship Wrestling. He has since sadly passed away in 2014.
29. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat
Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat is one of the most celebrated performers in pro wrestling by both the fans and his peers. With a real name like Richard Blood, you would figure he’d be one of wrestling’s bad guys, but Steamboat was one of the best heroes to ever grace the squared circle.
A former NWA World Champion, Steamboat would have classic matches against the likes of “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, but his most celebrated match would be his bout against “Macho Man” Randy Savage at Wrestlemania III, winning the WWF Intercontinental Championship. Today, “The Dragon” pops in as a guest trainer for WWE and as an ambassador for the company.
28. “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase
After building a solid career in Mid-South Wrestling and in Japan, Ted DiBiase stumbled upon a Hall of Fame gimmick as the “Million Dollar Man” in the WWF in 1987. DiBiase would frequently flaunt his wealth and taunt fans. He was the perfect wrestling villain.
DiBiase would put his opponents to sleep with his Million Dollar Dream sleeperhold and often shove a $100 bill into his opponent’s mouth after he had won. He even bought the WWF championship! While his on-screen persona was an evil millionaire, the real life DiBiase currently works as a Christian minister.
27. Kenny Omega
Kenny Omega boasts himself as “The Best Bout Machine” and it is hard to argue against it. The Canadian grappler has been in critically acclaimed matches in throughout North America and Japan. Not bad for a guy that quit WWE’s developmental system.
Omega has gone on to become the first non-Japanese competitor to win the grueling G1 Climax tournament in 2016. He would win the IWGP World Heavyweight championship in 2018 after having several bouts praised by fans and his peers. He is currently competing in All Elite Wrestling and is one of the company’s executive vice-presidents.
Edge went from a kid with a dream to one of the most decorated wrestlers of all time, having won 31 championships in WWE alone. The Rated-R Superstar first got into wrestling at age 17 by winning an essay contest where he got free wrestling training.
After working in the independent circuit, Edge debuted in WWE in 1997 and spent his career winning multiple world championships, including becoming a 14-time tag team champion. He would retire from wrestling in 2011 and go on to become an actor on shows such as Haven and Vikings.
25. Big Van Vader
Leon “Baby Bull” White was just a hoss that had a brief stint in the NFL before he was transformed into The Man They Call “Vader.” Vader was known for his immense power and agility, terrorizing opponents with his bellowing promos, hard-hitting strikes, and physics defying moonsault. Not many 400-lb. men can do a backflip like Vader.
Vader would dominate the rings of New Japan Pro Wrestling, All-Japan Pro Wrestling, WCW, and the WWF, leaving bodies in his wake. The Mastodon would become a multi-time world champion in five different promotions. He would wrestle into his 60s before passing away in 2018.
24. Jake “The Snake” Roberts
The cerebral and conniving Jake “The Snake” Roberts played mind games with his opponents, leading up his ultimate finishing move, the DDT. If Roberts didn’t get you with his mind games, he certainly could grab you with his slithery pet snake Damian.
In the ring, Roberts played on the dark side of the light as a good guy and an evil gamemaster as a villain. Outside the ring, Roberts dealt with drug and alcohol addiction that plagued him for decades. Fortunately, with the help of former wrestler “Diamond” Dallas Page, Roberts reclaimed his life and has been living well in sobriety.
23. Rey Mysterio, Jr.
Arguably the most well-known and celebrated luchador in the world, Rey Mysterio began training as a pro wrestler at age 14! Mysterio would grow into a worldwide performer, performing throughout the United States, Mexico, and Japan. He was the lynchpin of WCW’s Cruiserweight division, winning the Cruiserweight title five times during its heyday.
Coming into the WWE, Mysterio would face opponents much larger than him but would never fail in entertaining the masses. He would become a two-time World Heavyweight Champion and WWE Champion before going on a brief hiatus. After some stints in Lucha Underground and NJPW, Mysterio is currently back wrestling in WWE.
22. Kurt Angle
An exceptional athlete, Kurt Angle is the only wrestler to ever be both a WWE Champion and an Olympic Gold Medalist. After winning the gold medal in the 1996 Olympics with a “broken freakin’ neck,” Angle would train in professional wrestling. He made his WWF debut in 1999 and won his first world championship in 2000.
After winning multiple championships in WWF/WWE, Angle would become the star of the Total Nonstop Action promotion in 2006. After winning championships in TNA and NJPW, Angle returned to WWE in an on-screen role in 2017. He would officially retire from wrestling at Wrestlemania 35, losing to Baron Corbin.
“The Man They Call Sting” was a bodybuilder that was scouted before becoming the face-painted avenger of the squared circle. Making his wrestling debut in 1985, Sting was tag teaming with the Ultimate Warrior before becoming an icon of WCW. He spent the bulk of his career in WCW, winning the WCW World Championship six times.
After WCW had been folded, Sting would return to the ring in TNA becoming a four-time TNA Champion and win his second NWA championship in the promotion. In 2014, Sting would make his WWE debut at 55-years-old and would officially retire in 2016.
20. CM Punk
Known for his martial arts style and big mouth, CM Punk called himself “The Best in the World” and for a while there was no disputing it. For years Punk was considered a cult favorite in independent wrestling, known for his championship reigns in Ring of Honor. He signed with WWE in 2005, but gained mainstream notice much later.
On June 27, 2011, Punk did his fourth-wall breaking “Pipe Bomb Promo” that pushed him into mainstream popularity. This led Punk to becoming the sixth-longest reigning WWE champion of all time. Today, Punk is pursuing mixed-martial arts and is signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
19. AJ Styles
With his technical prowess and high-flying ability, it is no wonder they call AJ Styles “Phenomenal.” Since 1998, Style has been wrestling throughout the world in promotions like WCW, ROH, TNA, NJPW, and finally WWE. While he spent most of his career as a multi-time champion in TNA, he left to take a big risk and it paid off.
After over a decade with TNA, Styles went to Japan to become one of their hottest stars. This drew the attention of WWE, who originally saw Styles as too small and uncharismatic for their company. Styles signed with WWE in 2016 and has since became a two-time WWE Champion.
18. Daniel Bryan
In 1999, diehard wrestling fans started hearing about this unassuming yet impactful wrestler named Bryan Danielson. For the next ten years, Danielson would establish himself as the best journeyman wrestler in the world before signing a long-term deal with WWE in 2009. The battle had just begun for the newly christened “Daniel Bryan.”
Bryan would receive heavy praise from fans and his peers, but would be questioned and undermined by higher ups. In 2014, a groundswell of support led Bryan to a major WWE and World Heavyweight Championship win at Wrestlemania XXX. After retiring due to injury in 2016, he returned to the ring in 2018 and still wrestles in WWE.
17. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
A scrapper from the start, Roddy Piper started wrestling professionally since he was a teenager! After working for several territories throughout the 1970s, Piper found himself as the top villain in the WWF in 1984. Piper’s feud with Hulk Hogan cemented him as the one every fan loved to hate.
Throughout the 80s and into the early-90s, Piper became one of the most beloved wrestlers in WWE, even though he only held onto the Intercontinental and WWE tag championships once in his career. Outside of WWE, he would become a star in WCW and on the silver screen in movies like They Live.
16. Andre the Giant
Given the amount of urban legends about him, “The 8th Wonder of the World” Andre the Giant certainly lived up to his monicker. Since 1966, Andre wrestled throughout the world with many fans buying tickets to see the massively tall wrestler throw around his opponent. In 1973, he made his WWF debut.
While wrestling for years as a hero, Andre is famously remembered as a villain that challenged Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania III, breaking attendance records. Outside the ring, Andre was also an actor, with roles in Conan the Destroyer and The Princess Bride. Andre would sadly pass away in 1993, but his legend lives on.
15. Eddie Guerrero
A journeyman luchador, Eddie Guerrero started wrestling as a teen under his father Gory Guerrero. He would then became a world traveling talent, wrestling in various promotions in Mexico, Japan, and North America. Guerrero would make his breakthrough impact in WCW, particularly in its Cruiserweight division.
Unsatisfied with his place in WCW, Guerrero signed with WWE in 2000, becoming a multi-time Intercontinental champion. After being fired due to his addictions, Guerrero found solace in religion and became sober, which propelled him into reuniting with WWE and becoming WWE Champion in 2004. Sadly, Guerrero would pass away in 2005.
14. Triple H
Who would have thought that a man who once wrestled as “Terra Ryzing” would become one of the most decorated wrestling champions? The man known as “Triple H” debuted in the then-WWF in 1995 and has stayed with the company ever since. Among several other titles, “The Game” would become a five-time World Heavyweight Champion and nine-time WWE Champion.
While Triple H does come out to wrestle in featured bouts, his focus is less on in-ring action and more in a business role. He is currently the Executive Vice-President of Talent for WWE and uses that role to scout new wrestlers for WWE’s developmental system. He is also the brainchild behind WWE’s NXT brand.
13. Dusty Rhodes
“The American Dream” rallied and riled up fans with his charismatic dancing and hard-times work ethic. With his showmanship and hard work, Dusty Rhodes went from being a son of a plumber to a three-time National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Champion.
After his stint with the NWA, Dusty would go on to the WWF to feud with likes of his forever-rival Ric Flair and the “Macho Man” Randy Savage. After his in-ring days were finished, Rhodes would help train other wrestlers in WWE’s developmental system, along with assisting his two sons, Dustin and Cody Rhodes. Dusty would pass away in 2015.
12. Mick Foley
Wrestling fans today know that the “Hardcore Legend” Mick Foley is equal parts poet and masochist. Foley’s days in the squared circle as Cactus Jack provided plenty of violent stunts in WCW, ECW, and WWE. His oft-cited Hell in a Cell match against the Undertaker is still lauded over 20 years later.
While Foley became a multi-time WWF Champion, his success wasn’t limited to just wrestling. Foley became a multi-time best-selling author and toured the country as a stand-up comedian after he retired from the ring. Foley even starred in I Am Santa Claus, a documentary about the lives of mall Santas.
11. Brock Lesnar
An NCAA wrestling champion, Brock Lesnar was destined for success in both WWE and UFC due to his athletic prowess alone. Lesnar made his WWE debut in 2002 and would win his first of seven WWE championships later that year. Yet Lesnar’s success is not limited to just WWE.
After he parted ways with WWE in 2005, Lesnar would wrestle in Japan and win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Shortly after, Lesnar would make his UFC debut in 2008 and would win the UFC Heavyweight Championship on November 15th of that year. He returned to WWE in 2012 and has been a dominant force ever since.
10. Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho was crowned the first Undisputed World Champion in 2001 and it’s no surprise why. For years prior to that big win, Jericho held titles and competed all over Mexico, the United States, and Japan for various promotions. He was also a stalwart in WWE, becoming the company’s only nine-time Intercontinental Champion.
Since his Undisputed title reign, Jericho continued to make strides in the wrestling world, winning the World Championship several times afterward. Currently, he is touring with his rock band Fozzy and is the focus of All Elite Wrestling, becoming the company’s inaugural world champion.
9. The Undertaker
The Phenom is one of the longest running characters in WWE, making his debut at the 1990 Survivor Series. The Undertaker mesmerizes crowds with his macabre entrance, quiet charisma, and displays of power. It’s no wonder that he is a seven-time heavyweight champion in the company.
While the Undertaker is known for his performances in casket matches and Hell in a Cell contests, many fans and peers laud him for his impressive Wrestlemania winning streak. Undertaker was undefeated for 21 Wrestlemania bouts in a row before suffering his first defeat against Brock Lesnar. While he has slowed down, Undertaker still makes an occasional wrestling appearance today.
8. John Cena
John Cena’s motto of “Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect” has served him well, making him one of the most celebrated WWE wrestlers over the last decade. Since 2005, Cena was the top dog in WWE, being featured in the main event spotlight for the rest of his career, becoming a three-time World Heavyweight Champion and 13-time WWE Champion.
Cena is not just a hero in the ring, but outside of it as well. He was the first celebrity to grant 300 wishes for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and has received other honors for his charity work. Currently, Cena is the host of Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? and is cast in the Suicide Squad sequel.
7. Bret “The Hitman” Hart
A member of the Hart wrestling family, Bret “The Hitman” Hart called himself the “Best There Is, Best There Was, and The Best There Ever Will Be” and it’s hard to dispute that. From his start in his father’s Stampede Wrestling promotion to WWF to WCW, Hart has collected multiple honors and championships.
While he was a celebrated champion in the WWF, Hart fell victim in the infamous “Montreal Screw Job” wherein he went to WCW. After winning their World Championship twice, Hart was forced into retirement due to a head injury. After years of bitterness, Hart and WWE made peace, with the Hitman making occasional television appearances.
6. Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels collected a number of nicknames over the years: “The Showstopper,” “The Main Event,” “The Icon,” “Mr. Wrestlemania,” and “The Heartbreak Kid” among others. He is considered one of the best pound-for-pound performers of his generation and that was before his initial retirement in 1998.
Michaels’ reputation was more as a locker room cancer than the two-time WWF champion that he was. After finding religion and sobering up, Michaels came back in 2002 and would have some of the best matches of his career, even better than his youth. He retired for good in 2010, but still makes the occasional appearance on WWE television.
5. “Macho Man” Randy Savage
The two-time WWF Champion and four-time WCW Champion “Macho Man” Randy Savage is considered one of the most recognizable faces and characters in all of professional wrestling. Starting his career in 1973, young Randy got his name after longtime wrestler Ole Anderson said he “wrestled like a savage.”
Savage would then entertain crowds in various territories before hitting it big in the WWF. With his gravely voice, giant sunglasses, and ribbons of fringe throughout his wardrobe, Randy Savage stood out amongst the giants in the promotion. Savage would later become an actor in films such as Spider-Man and did voices for cartoons such as King of the Hill before he passed away in 2011.
4. Ric Flair
“The Nature Boy” is considered by his peers and by fans to be the best world champion ever. Flair is so good that he became the champion 16 times throughout his career. In the 1980s, Flair was praised for his ability to wrestle hour-long bouts defending the NWA Championship nearly every night of the week.
Flair’s endurance served him well, leading him to winning the 1992 Royal Rumble and his first WWF Championship after wrestling for over an hour. Flair is a two-time WWE Hall of Famer as he and his Four Horsemen group were both inducted.
3. The Rock
“The Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment” is better known as a movie star than a wrestler by younger fans, but Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s wrestling past built up his Hollywood future. After his football career, Johnson followed in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps and became a professional wrestler, but it wasn’t easy.
Fans didn’t care for The Rock at first, being that he was a fake smiley babyface good guy. It wasn’t until he became more like his charismatic self that started to gain popularity and become multi-time WWE champion. While he does make the occasional wrestling appearance, The Rock is mostly making Hollywood blockbusters in the Fast and the Furious franchise among other films.
2. Hulk Hogan
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Hulkamania ran wild and wrestling fans were rabid for the Hulkster. While initially wrestling as a bad guy, Hulk Hogan became a hero and the dominant WWF champion in 1984, ushering in a new golden age for professional wrestling at the time. Hogan had action figures, video games, dolls, exercise sets, and even his own cartoon series at the time.
Hogan would go to WCW after his lengthy WWF run, initially as his good guy self but would turn bad in 1996 and lead another popular wrestling movement: the nWo. After WCW had folded, Hogan would make sporadic returns to WWE but also made appearances in NJPW and TNA.
1. Stone Cold Steve Austin
WWF’s acclaimed “Attitude Era” would not exist without Stone Cold Steve Austin. Austin was a seasoned, underrated grappler before he even made it to the WWF. It wasn’t until the 1996 King of the Ring that Austin first uttered his now-iconic “Austin 3:16” catchphrase that would kickstart him to become the best wrestler of all time.
Throughout the late-90s, Austin sold more tickets and merch than nearly any other wrestler in history. His compelling matches against The Rock, Shawn Michaels, and so many others are valued by the fans. Spinal stenosis forced Austin to retire in 2003. He is currently running his own podcast and hosts Straight Up Steve Austin on the USA Network.
NEXT: WWE Divas: 34 Ladies Who Made the Ring Worth Watching
WWE Divas: 34 Ladies Who Made the Ring Worth Watching
Mickie James made her official WWE debut in 2005 in a seemingly innocuous role, alongside Trish Stratus as her “biggest fan.” In a creepy turn of events, James turned out to be downright obsessed with Stratus, creating one of the more entertaining and odd feuds between the Divas. James remained a fixture amongst Divas, racking up five WWE Women’s Championships before her exit in 2010.
Stepping out of the WWE ring didn’t stop this performer from doing what she loved. James soon launched her music career, releasing her first country album in 2010 and her second in 2013. James’ success in the music industry didn’t stop her from competing in TNA, Impact Wrestling and Global Force Wrestling. In 2016, the two-time Woman of the Year made her return to the ring; she continues to throw down with the toughest WWE Divas today.
Torrie Wilson was a heartthrob, without a doubt. She stood above the rest as one of the most desirable WWE Divas from the time she entered the ring in 2001 until her eventual departure in 2008. During that time, Wilson graced the cover of Playboy in ’03 and ’04 and was featured on reality shows, video games and even in music videos.
Even after retiring in 2008, the blonde bombshell still looks more than capable of jumping in the ring today. From 2011-2015, Wilson dated another heavy hitter: former MLB star Alex Rodriguez. Wilson still keeps plenty busy as a fitness trainer and model.
To say Melina’s time in the WWE was “contentious” would be a gross understatement. Throughout her career (2004-2011), Melina was one of the toughest heels in the WWE and seemed to feud with just about every Diva out there, claiming two WWE Divas Championships and three Women’s Championships.
After an ugly exit from the WWE, Melina continued her wrestling career on the independent circuit until 2012. Then, she took a three-year hiatus from the sport through 2015. Melina, after letting her body and mind recuperate, has enjoyed a triumphant return to the ring on the independent circuit since then. Time will tell if she comes back to the WWE though.
There’s no argument, Trish Stratus is one of the most successful WWE Divas to have ever competed in the ring. Stratus came onto the scene in 2000, and quickly went from just another easy-on-the-eyes Diva to one of the most recognizable faces of the WWE (including both men and women). Her accolades include WWE Diva of the Decade, WWE Hardcore Champion, four-time PWI Woman of the Year, and seven-time WWE Champion.
The 2013 WWE Hall of Fame inductee continues to live it up after calling it a career in 2006. Stratus wasted no time getting hitched to her high school sweetheart just two weeks after her initial retirement. The pair recently welcomed their second child. Though she still occasionally returns to the ring, Stratus has dipped her toes into various other pursuits, including acting and running her wildly successful Stratusphere yoga program.
Layla El started out as a dancer for Carnival Cruise Lines. However, Layla got sick of rockin’ (on) the boat and wanted something a bit hotter. So she became a dancer for the Miami Heat and was a member of the 2006 franchise that won the NBA Finals. Layla also was a dancer for Kanye West.
Still unsatisfied with her roles, Layla auditioned for the WWE and won the 2006 WWE Diva Search. Four seasons later, Layla won the WWE Women’s Championship, becoming the first British woman to win it. Following an injury hiatus, Layla returned to the ring and won the 2012 Divas Championship. She retired from the sport in 2015 and has worked in real estate ever since.
The WWE world was first introduced to Terri Runnels in 1996. She appeared as Marlena, the mysterious, cigar-smoking manager of Goldust, who was actually her real-life husband at the time. After their divorce in ’99, Runnels returned to the ring under her own name. She spent time wrestling with the Pretty Mean Sisters stable, then managed numerous other acts.
After leaving WWE in 2004, the former Diva took up an entirely new mission. Runnels has been heavily involved with a number of charities, working with groups such as the Make-a-Wish Foundation and the Children’s Miracle Network. Maybe one day she’ll start her own charity, “Suplex for Smiles.”
Sable didn’t have the longest tenure in the WWF, but it was a red hot run from the moment she came onto the scene in 1996. Her scantily clad showdowns were a fan favorite, which isn’t too surprising. Sable’s beauty earned her three Playboy covers, including two in the same year (1999).
In June 1999, Sable abruptly quit, filing a $110 million lawsuit against the WWF for alleged sexual harassment. After settling out of court, Sable surprisingly returned to the ring in ’03. The reunion was short-lived, however. Sable left again in ’04 to be with her three kids and husband Brock Lesnar, whom she married in ’06. Read on for more WWE Divas power couples!
Who would have thought Victoria’s television debut as a member of wrestler The Godfather’s gaggle of girls would lead to such lucrative opportunities? Trish Stratus seemed to feud with just about every Diva that entered the ring, but for much of Victoria’s WWE career (’02-’09), the two women duked it out to make for some all-time great matches. Victoria left the WWE as a two-time Women’s Champion and was named PWI’s Woman of the Year in ’04.
Victoria may have been done with the WWE in ’09, but this Diva wasn’t even close to finished whoopin’ women in the ring. Under the new name “Tara,” she racked up five TNA Knockout Championships. Victoria has since begun numerous business ventures, ranging from a pair of restaurants to a custom car shop.
Everyone remembers Stacy Keibler as “The Weapon of Mass Seduction.” Destruction would have been a much more fitting name, had she actually brought any talent to the ring. Fortunately for Keibler and her fans, she was able to get by just fine with her lovely long legs from 2001-2006.
Keibler parted ways with the WWE in ’06 to compete in the second season of Dancing with the Stars, where she placed third. In 2011, Keibler dated Hollywood icon, George Clooney. After a two-year romance with the famous actor, Keibler wed Future Ads CEO Jared Pobre. Looks like all of these actors are after Keibler’s cookie.
A list of WWE Divas wouldn’t be much without the lady who is widely considered the first Diva, Sunny. The original Diva first made a name for herself in 1995 as manager of The Bodydonnas. By ’96, Sunny had already taken over, winning PWI’s Manager of the Year award. She fell out of the WWE’s good graces as fast as she rose, as rumored problems with Sable and alleged drug problems led to her dismissal in ’98.
Sunny saw her share of troubles after her untimely dismissal from WWE. While bouncing between different promotions over the years, Sunny endured several hardships including five arrests over the course of four weeks in 2012-2013 when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. The WWE Hall of Fame inductee is now cancer-free and even released an autobiography, “A Star Shattered: The Rise & Fall of Wrestling Diva Tammy ‘Sunny’ Sytch.”
Ivory came out of the gates swinging in her explosive 1999 WWF debut. Not one to let her unfortunate starting point (she was a member of The Godfather’s infamous female entourage) slow her down, she set off on her own journey. Ivory won her first of three Women’s Championships that same year.
In 2005, Ivory decided to call it quits when her WWE contract reached its end. Since stepping out of the limelight, Ivory has been heavily involved as an animal rights advocate. The Diva even opened her own animal daycare center. Now that is grabbing life by the horns.
Kelly Kelly was only 19 years old when she made her WWE debut in 2006. The stunning beauty quickly made a name for herself with the crowd-favorite weekly segment Kelly’s Exposé on the now-defunct ECW. Kelly found herself on the wrong end of championship bouts on numerous occasions, but was finally able to claim a WWE Women’s Championship in 2011 she retired in 2012.
Since 2015, the stunning WWE Diva has starred on the E! network reality show WAGs (wives and girlfriends). Initially, Kelly appeared as the fiancée of NHL star Sheldon Souray. The couple married during the show’s second season and continue to ride the show’s success through season three.
Michelle McCool made her 2004 debut on “Raw Diva Search.” Though she only took seventh place, that didn’t stop her from having a long, successful career in the WWE. McCool was a Diva to be reckoned with throughout her seven-year run. 2010 was perhaps “the year of McCool,” as she won PWI’s Woman of the Year and was named the Slammy Awards’ Diva of the Year before retiring in 2011.
Before her retirement, McCool added to her amazing 2010 by marrying The Undertaker. In 2012, they welcomed a daughter to the family. In 2016, McCool announced that she had been diagnosed with skin cancer. The Undertaker has since retired, so he and McCool can focus on their family.
AJ Lee entered the mainstream WWE world when she competed in the third season of NXT in 2010. Lee went on to have a solid career, winning (and defending) a WWE Divas Championship and taking over 2012 and 2014 as the Slammy Awards’ Diva of the Year and PWI’s Woman of the Year.
According to AJ, there were two main factors that led to her 2015 departure: her husband CM Punk’s controversial exit from the WWE, and spine damage she had suffered over the years in the ring. The renowned Diva offered these insights in her memoir – a New York Times bestseller in 2017 – “Crazy Is My Superpower.”
In 2000, Lita took the WWE by storm. After a very short stint as Essa Rios’ valet, she teamed up with the Hardy Boyz as part of the iconic Team Xtreme trio. Lita won four WWE Women’s Championships and developed one of the most heated rivalries amongst the WWE Divas with Trish Stratus. However, a variety of injuries throughout her career contributed to her early retirement in ’06.
After Lita stepped out of the ring, she starred on a different stage as the lead singer of punk band The Luchagors. The band had a solid run, touring from their inception in 2006 through 2014. Lita was also inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in ’14 and has been working as a full-time writer for WWE since ’15.
Stephanie McMahon, everyone’s favorite devilish Diva to despise. She initially debuted as the sweet little innocent daughter of WWE CEO Vince McMahon in 1999. McMahon showed everyone that she’s one Diva who doesn’t care who she’s messing with, getting into everything from a whipping match with Trish Stratus to a family feud with dad (which resulted in her unforgettably being choked out with a lead pipe).
McMahon’s time in the ring has significantly waned since 2005, as she has continually taken on a larger role behind the scenes. Far from her start as a receptionist in ’98, McMahon was Senior VP of Creative by ’06, and rose to become Executive VP in ’07. Since 2013, she has served as the WWE’s Chief Brand Officer.
Christy Hemme broke new ground in 2004 as the winner of the inaugural “WWE Raw Diva Search” on Spike TV. Not only did Hemme cash in on a $250,000 prize, she landed a one-year contract with WWE. Hemme launched plenty of feuds with other WWE Divas during that year, but her first contract ended up being her last.
Though Hemme’s time with WWE was brief, she continued on in the sport with TNA Wrestling in 2006. In ’09, Hemme transitioned to a new role as a ring announcer and interviewer until ‘16. Hemme also enjoyed a successful modeling career, posing in magazines like Maxim and Playboy. She also tried her hand in the music industry, recording a few songs in ’06. Hemme and her husband, Charley Patterson, had their first child in 2015. She revealed she’s expecting quadruplets in 2018.
Keep reading to see which other WWE Divas have earned their bunny ears.
Thanks to the fifth installment of “WWE Divas Search,” a star was born in Eve Torres. After winning the show in 2007, Eve Torres worked her way up the ranks to win three Divas Championships. In 2013 – arguably the height of her career – Torres decided to step away from the ring and take her talents elsewhere.
Torres, a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, married BJJ practitioner Rener Gracie back in 2014. She gave birth to her first son in ’15. Torres serves as spokeswoman and head instructor for Gracie Women Empowered, a self-defense class at Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy.
In 2008, Nikki Bella launched her WWE career in a one-of-a-kind manner. She would hop out from under the ring to take over, after her twin sister Brie Bella had hidden underneath it. She then joined forces with Brie to dominate as The Bella Twins (save for a brief hiatus from 2012-2013) and on her own.
Even with everything Nikki has been balancing – starring in two reality shows, founding a clothing line and running a YouTube channel to name a few – she still had no trouble holding down her title as the longest reigning WWE Divas Champion. All of that came to a halt when longtime boyfriend and WWE legend John Cena proposed to Nikki after their tag team match on April 2, 2017. Two days later, Nikki announced via Instagram that she would be stepping away from the ring.
In 2004, Maria Kanellis was introduced to the big stage on “WWE Raw Diva Search.” Though she only placed fifth on the reality show, the WWE signed Kanellis. She started as a backstage interviewer, but quickly worked her way up and was competing by ’05. Kanellis became a household name, even posing for Playboy in ’08 . She won the Slammy Award for Diva of the Year in ‘09 before her release in 2010.
While Kanellis continued to wrestle in a number of circuits outside the WWE, she also tried her hand in other ventures. Kanellis released an album, “Sevin Sins,” acted in films, and appeared on numerous reality shows such as “Celebrity Apprentice.” In June 2017, Kanellis briefly returned to the WWE alongside her husband, wrestler Mike Kanellis. In September 2017, Kanellis began a leave of absence from wrestling after announcing her pregnancy.
Brie Bella’s 2008 WWE debut was a telling sign of things to come. She promptly put a whooping on her would-be rival, Victoria, on Smackdown. Of course, Brie’s “remarkable talent” turned out to be her twin, Nikki, tapping in from underneath the ring. Nonetheless, Brie remained one of the toughest WWE Divas until she decided to take a break from competing in 2016.
Not long after, Brie announced that she was expecting a child with her husband, pro wrestler Bryan Danielson. She gave birth to their daughter in May 2017. Amongst the Bella twins’ countless projects and ventures, Bella has served as a WWE ambassador since taking her leave.
Nidia entered the WWE world in 2001 after winning the first season of MTV’s “WWE Tough Enough” reality show challenge. But it wasn’t until ’02 that Nidia debuted on Smackdown with on-screen boyfriend Jamie Noble. The two were known for their trailer trash gimmick, though it didn’t last long – she was released in ’04.
Nidia’s life since leaving the ring is a far cry from the glitz and glamor of the WWE Divas spotlight. She gave birth to a girl in 2007 and now resides in her home state of Texas with her family. Nidia reportedly started attending Houston’s Culinary Institute LeNotre in 2010 and now leads a local Girl Scouts troop.
Maryse Ouellet first appeared on the scene in 2006 on WWE’s Diva Search. She didn’t make it past the final eight, but that was enough to help launch her wrestling career. By 2008, fans knew Maryse’s face well, as she became a two-time WWE Champion on Smackdown and Raw.
Maryse ended her WWE contract in 2011. Like many WWE Divas, the talented beauty went on to star in a number of film and television roles. In 2014, Maryse married professional wrestler Mike “The Miz” Mizanin and returned to the ring as his manager in 2016. She has recently stepped out of the public eye after announcing she and The Miz are expecting a baby.
Beth Phoenix, three-time WWE Women’s Champion, is known for the physical dominance she exhibited in the ring. She was actually a wrestler in high school and signed her first developmental contract with WWE in 2005. Known as the Glamazon, Phoenix performed her Glam Slam finishing move against many formidable opponents throughout her professional wrestling years.
Phoenix retired in late 2012. She married WWE veteran Adam “Edge” Copeland; the pair have two daughters. In 2017, Phoenix was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. While there are many married couples in the world of professional wrestling, Phoenix and Copeland are currently the only spouses who are both WWE Hall of Famers.
Lilian Garcia got her start in the WWE as an announcer and singer on “Monday Night Raw.” The talented beauty rose through the ranks to host several top-rated shows, including “Monday Night Raw” and “Smackdown” on Friday nights. Garcia began singing at an early age and continued to hone her skills, performing the National Anthem at sporting events for the MLB, NBA, and NHL. She even surpassed Aretha Franklin’s record for singing the most times at Wrestlemania.
Over the years, Garcia released several musical albums and her first single “Shout!” debuted at No. 69 on the Billboard Hot 100 in ’02. Garcia had two long-term stints with WWE, eventually leaving in 2016 to care for her ill father. Since then, she has made a few sporadic appearances at WWE events. Garcia began hosting two podcasts after leaving WWE. In July 2017, she debuted her latest podcast project, Chasing Glory with Lilian Garcia, on PodcastOne.
It takes a certain special type of person to bring a whole new meaning to word “puppies.” During Debra McMichael’s run in the WWF (1998-2002), she won a Women’s Championship and earned PWI’s Woman of the Year title in 1999. Yet, she’ll always be remembered as the ultimate distraction when she gave the crowd what they wanted and showed them her “puppies.”
McMichael, who attended highly lauded Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute before beginning her wrestling career, has revisited both acting and her studies since retiring. She returned to Tuscaloosa, where she graduated from The University of Alabama, to pursue a master’s degree in Criminal Justice.
Back in 2005, the world was introduced to the one and only Ashley Massaro. Massaro was the winner of the 2005 WWE Diva Search, and it looked like she had a promising career ahead of her. Massaro was featured in WrestleMania 23 against Melina and was a star at a Lumberjill match at WrestleMania XXIV.
However, Massaro began to fade into relative oblivion equally as fast as she rose to prominence. In 2008, just three years after her debut, Massaro retired from wrestling. Other notable ventures of hers include appearing in Playboy Magazine and competing on “Survivor: China.” Massaro, who has stayed out of the spotlight for many years, is a mother of one.
Jillian Hall may have the strangest gimmick in the history of wrestling. Hall worked her way up to the WWE by wrecking the smaller competition in minor wrestling leagues around the country. In 2003, Hall signed with Ohio Valley Wrestling before making it to the WWE. Hall’s early time in the WWE was relatively insignificant until she found her signature gimmick as a monotone singer.
That gig lasted until 2009 when Hall made her first run at a championship. In October of 2009, Hall defeated Mickie James to win her first Divas Championship but was trumped by Melina moments after winning. In 2010, the monotone madness that was Hall was let go by the WWE.
Like most wrestlers, Gail Kim had to grind her way through small circuits before she could make it big time. In 2002, Kim joined the WEE and became the first WWE Diva in the sport’s history to win a championship in her debut match. Well, when you start atop the mountain, the rest of the journey is all downhill, and two years after her debut she was released by the WWE.
Gail Kim proceeded to sign with TNA, wrestling there for a few years before heading back to the WWE. In 2016, Gail Kim was inducted into the TNA Wrestling Hall of Fame. In 2012, Kim married celebrity chef Robert Irvine.
Celeste Beryl Bonin is not a name becoming of a wrestler. A transformation was needed and Celeste became Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn got her start in wrestling by way of bodybuilding. IN 2007, she won the National Physique Committee championship while placing fight at the Arnold Classic in her division.
Enthralled with the limelight, Kaitlyn made the transition to wrestling, signing an entry-level contract with the WWE in 2010. Three years later, Kaitlyn ascended to the pinnacle of women’s wrestling after winning the WWE Divas Championship. After her meteoric rise to stardom, Kaitlyn retired from wrestling in 2014 to focus on her marriage (which dissolved) and her own business.
Dawn Marie graduated from NYU’s Stern School of Business and immediately began working in real estate where she rapidly rose through the ranks. But selling houses wasn’t her passion. What she really wanted to do was slam people through chairs and tables. In what could be considered the most drastic career change of all time, Marie quit her day job and pursued a career in wrestling.
In 2000, Marie signed with the WWE and wrestled there until 2005. Her most notable feud was with Torrie Wilson. In 2006, Marie filed a claim against the WWE alleging that she was wrongfully terminated from her contract because she got pregnant.
In the absence of the dominant Diva Chyna, WWE’s attention turned to another professional badass. In 2001, Jazz made her debut in a six-pack challenge. Although she wasn’t successful on the Survivor Series PPV, Jazz quickly proved a formidable opponent. Even plagued with injuries, Jazz was the Women’s Champion in ’02 and ’03.
Aside from a brief return in 2006, Jazz’s run in the WWE ended in ’04. However, injuries and age haven’t stopped Jazz from competing. After the WWE, Jazz competed on the independent circuit, Women Superstars Uncensored, and has been back at it since ’11. Jazz and her WWE husband, Rodney Mack, run a professional wrestling school called The Dogg Pound.
Keep going to check out which other WWE Divas traded competition for tutelage.
It sure was a wild ride for Molly Holly in her time in the WWE Divas ring from 2000-05. She went by many names: Lady Ophelia, Molly Holly, and Mighty Molly before returning as the iconic Molly Holly once again. Following her wins as she became a two-time WWE Women’s Champion and one-time WWF Hardcore Champion proved equally as entertaining as her losses, like when she got hit in the face by a door to lose the Hardcore Championship – right after winning it.
Since Molly Holly’s departure from the ring, she has been on a philanthropic mission. This former Diva is dedicating her life to good, working with youth battling substance abuse issues. As if that isn’t enough, she has also been working in Guatemala as a missionary. Now that’s a Diva on a divine path.
One of many WWE Divas to get her start on “Diva Search” in 2004, the gorgeous Candice Michelle was a sight for sore eyes. Michelle enjoyed as much stardom outside the ring as she did in it, until her departure from the WWE in ’09. Michelle starred as the first GoDaddy Girl in the company’s now (in)famous Super Bowl commercials and appeared on the cover of Playboy. She also earned PWI’s Woman of the Year title in ’07 and bagged a Women’s Championship.
A slew of injuries played a large role in Michelle’s release from the WWE in 2009. Since retiring, Michelle has shifted her focus to family life with her husband, Ken Gee Ehrlich, whom she married in 2005. They have three daughters together.
Sudden Celebrity Deaths That Left The World Grieving
When we let celebrities into our homes, either on screen or through their music, they become a part of our lives. So when one celebrity suddenly passes, millions around the world mourn the loss. But some of the deaths of our favorite stars were so sudden that no one saw them coming. Take a look back through some of the most shocking, totally unexpected celebrity deaths of all time.
One Iconic Character, Two Actors, But The Question Is: Who Played It Better?
Since the dawn of the 20th century, Hollywood has been introducing us to iconic character after iconic character, as well as recycling past formulas proven to be successful. Over the decades, classic films have been subjected to remakes, and as such, we’ve got to see multiple actors bring back to life the icons of yesteryear. Time to find out which actor pulled it off the best: the original, or the remake?
Love Thyself: Body Positive Celebrities Share The Secrets Behind Their Self-Love
Hollywood often gets a bad rap for fueling unhealthy, and often unattainable, standards of beauty. Thankfully, a new generation of stars are pushing back, focusing on choosing self-love over self-criticism. Challenging Hollywood to become more inclusive, these body positive celebrities are shifting the conversations on appearance. Check out our list of self-love game changers, and the secrets behind their confidence.