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Female Wrestling - The History of the WWE Divas 4
The History of the WWE Divas, Part 4 with Michelle McCool, Candice Michelle, Maria Kanellis and more
After 2002, the now WWE entered what a lot of wrestling fans consider the "dark days" of the promotion...at least for the Divas.
Oh the popularity of the Divas kept going up to be sure, but a lot of these new women on WWE Raw and it's sister show WWE SmackDown came from model agencies, swimsuit magazines and of course...the dread WWE Diva Search.
Yes these women were beautiful, but had little or no professional wrestling training.
Interestingly enough, not a single woman on this list is still with the WWE today.
But the WWE didn't totally turn it's back on real wrestling in the Diva's division.
On the June 30, 2002 edition of Monday Night Raw, Gail Kim debuted and she promptly won a seven-woman battle royal in Buffalo, New York for the WWE Women's Championship.
This made Gail the first woman of Korean descent to win the WWE Women's Championship belt.
She came to the WWE after two years working for Independent wrestling promotions, so she was a legit wrestler.
Gail held the title for four weeks before losing it to Molly Holly.
She went on to leave the WWE, join TNA, win the TNA Knockouts Championship there and then return to the WWE.
In 2003, the WWE did it's first Diva Search.
It wasn't conducted on TV like the later ones, it was a live Internet contest and the winner, Jaime Koeppe, didn't get a contract with the WWE, but she did get a photo shoot in WWE Magazine.
Jamie was born on October 18th, 1978 in Canada Langley, British Columbia, Canada.
She is now a part time model and full time personal trainer.
The second 2004 Diva Search had a lot of women that would go on to back a dent in the womens division.
Christy Hemme won in 2004, and went on to wrestle for them, having feuds with the runner up Carmella DeCesare, Trish Stratus, Victoria and Melina, before she too left the WWE for TNA.
Carmella DeCesare, the runner up in 2004 made a few TV appearances feuding with Christy as I mentioned.
She is married to NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia and they have three children.
The 3rd place contestant Joy Giovanni who also made a few appearances and started a feud with Amy Weber that would go beyond WWE and finally culminate in 2009 with a DVD released by Big Vision Entertainment with Joy and Amy wrestling each other.
Amy Weber came in fourth place that year, and like Joy and Carmella, even though she didn't win, she got a lot of air-time after the contest in her feud with Joy, and as JBL's "image consultant".
Joy Giovanni smacks Amy Weber
The woman that came in fifth place that year went on to become a major Diva in her own right...Maria Kanellis.
Yes Maria didn't win, but that launched her into her her role as backstage interviewer, and eventually into the ring.
And incredibly, the seventh place contestant went on to get even more fame than Maria.
Michelle McCool, the former middle school teacher in Palatka, Florida (okay, let your fantasies run wild here guys) came in seventh, but then went on to become the WWE Divas Champion, and win the WWE Women's Championship, making her the first female wrestler to hold both belts.
And another woman that didn't even make it into the finals, went on to make a name for herself as a WWE Diva.
Candice Michelle didn't make it into the top ten, but the WWE hired her anyway and started her out as a "make-up" artist on the show.
Despite her looks Candice really did express an interest in becoming an in-ring performer and with help from Finlay (and I have heard it rumored Arn Anderson), Candice not only got into the ring, but went on to eventually become the first Diva Search contestant to win the WWE Women's Championship belt.
In 2003-2004 the WWE Women's Championship changed hand several times, moving from Trish Stratus, to Jazz, to Gail Kim, to Molly Holly to Victoria, back to Trish and finally Lita in December of 2004.
Even though the WWE still had it's mainstays in the women's wrestling division, they were blended in with women that really shouldn't have been in the same ring with them.
And as for the models that did actually put on a good show, you can thank Finlay for a large part of that as most (if not all) of these women were trained by him.
2005 was pretty much business as usual, with the exception of the beautiful Ashley Massaro winning the 2005 Diva Search and going into the wrestling rings, and a new influx of talent getting ready to come in.
More on her and the others in the next article.