Your Two Cents: Overcoming the Model Stereotype

“Your Two Cents” is our interactive feature where we gauge the opinions of our Twitter and Facebook followers on different discussions in women’s wrestling.

This week, we’re asking this: On Sunday, Brooke Tessmacher won the Knockouts Title for the first time, so we want to know: which former model do you think has best overcome the stereotypes? We’ve read your responses on our social media pages and picked some of the best submissions to highlight here on the website. As always, you can join the debate by leaving your comments!

Our Two Cents

Batting for Team DD this week, it’s Katelyn giving us her personal opinion on this week’s topic:

Katelyn: Trish Stratus will probably be a common answer (and rightfully so), but I am going to say Michelle McCool. She honestly progressed so much as a wrestler/character that I often forget she was ever a part of the Diva Search all those years ago. Honorable mentions to Candice Michelle and Christy Hemme, whom were making obvious strides in the ring when they were wrestling.

Your Two Cents

Albert Albie Aldahawi | Candice Michelle, she started out as eye candy and became a top contender in the Divas division. You can only imagine how good she would of been now if it wasn’t for all the injuries. But she wasn’t scared to perform difficult moves and always brought something new to each match.
Josue Guzman | The Diva Search was where we really began to see many models be picked up by the WWE. While there are some that consider this competition to be the “fall down” of the women’s division, I’ve viewed it as a way for these women to prove they are more than just pretty faces. Take Brooke Tessmacher‘s time with TNA and victory on Sunday. Her improvements per the years almost make you forget that she started out in ECW’s Extreme Exposé!

Christy Hemme went from having pillow fights to stepping into the ring with Awesome Kong, nearly pinning her! Candice Michelle, who didn’t even win the Diva Search, was able to become Women’s Champion because she trained hard and pushed herself. Winners Eve Torres and Layla are not only former Diva champions but also have proven to have the mic skills to play either faces or heels. All these models have given us memories that we’ve grown to appreciate.

Meagan Gearity | I am going to say Trish Stratus here. She was the first one that started the whole model turned into wrestlers thing. At first, I wasn’t very keen on Trish Stratus back in 2000, but as she got in the ring and started to improve, I didn’t label her as a model anymore as she worked to eventually becoming the Diva of the Decade, a 3x Babe of the Year and a Seven Time Women’s Champion. If I am looking at today’s girls then I am going to have to say Brooke Tessmacher. Even though she just won the Knockouts Championship recently, I think she proved a lot of people wrong. I mean look what happened in the past five year with her. She started out as a dancer for Extreme Expose, she got fired, she was Bischoff’s assistant, got fired and was told to become a wrestler to stay in the division, trained her ass off, got hurt and now is your knockouts champion.
Mickey Micklon | How about Eve Torres? I noticed a nice improvement over time in the ring.
Mondarious Brantley | Trish Stratus tops the list for breaking those stereotypes, but other models like Kelly Kelly, Alicia Fox, and Layla have proven that you don’t have start out as a wrestler to become great and prove yourself.
Ozzy Valentine | The obvious answer is Trish Stratus – but in the more recent years, I would have to go with Candice Michelle. She was very sloppy, but like a true champion; she kept improving and coming back after getting her butt handed to her many times. I was the Diva Search Reject hater, Candice changed my mind. You know she worked hard to be taken seriously and even though her run as an active competitor was brief, I’ll never forget her effort and determination that helped her rise above the others as a true Women’s Champion.
@Royal_TRP | I’d have to say Candice Michelle. During her first few years in the WWE she was just seen as a pretty face/model. Then she started training/improving in the ring and became more serious about wrestling, and earned a shot at the Women’s Championship, and won it. She also had good feuds with Melina and Beth Phonenix.

And now we turn it over to you…

What are your two cents on the debate? Which former model do you think has best overcome the stereotypes? Tell us in the comments…

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  • BC757

    I think it’s all depends on how the girls are introduced to the fans. You look at females like Victoria/Tara or Naomi and you forget that they were models or dancers before. My personal favorite story has to be Candice Michelle’s rise to the top, before that I really stopped watching WWE in general but to see her improve like that shocked me. She made the most out of every moment, even if it was a small amount of time.

  • Poison Ivory

    I think it’s kinda unfair to name Trish here. There’s a quite big difference between fitness models and “normal” models. The regular type models have to work much harder because fitness models are already fit. All they need is the wrestling practice. But the likes of Kelly, Eve, Alicia etc all needed both to become physically fit AND go through the wrestling training.

    I could be wrong though, but this’s how I see it.

    • perceval

      No, I fully agree with you. The fitness models already have the muscle and conditioning coming in, often more so than the women wrestlers without that background. That means they can do more right off the bat in terms of the hits they can deliver and take. To use a current example, look at Kaitlyn. Just a year in the business, and she was looking more convincing going toe to toe with Beth & Nattie, powering out of their moves, etc, than Divas who had been there for years. Fitness models and swimsuit/lingerie/figure models are not one and the same.

      • GailKim95

        Yeah but Layla and Eve and other dancers turned wrestlers had an athletic background too, so the ones who had it the hardest were regular models like Kelly, Alicia, Candice Michelle and Christy Hemme all had to work alot harder

        • perceval

          You have to give Christy her props for the fact that she was a tiny little thing (118 lbs), and her three most famous programs were with Trish Stratus, Victoria, & Awesome Kong, who were not only MUCH bigger than she was, but were ALL notoriously stiff workers. None of them know the meaning of the words “soft style.” They’re all believers in that “hit you very hard in very safe places” approach.

          She took some real beatings from those three, and just kept coming back for more until an injury during training ended her wrestling career.

  • Poison Ivory

    I think it’s kinda unfair to name Trish here. There’s a quite big difference between fitness models and “normal” models. The regular type models have to work much harder because fitness models are already fit. All they need is the wrestling practice. But the likes of Kelly, Eve, Alicia etc all needed both to become physically fit AND go through the wrestling training.

    I could be wrong though, this’s just how I see it.

    • Poison Ivory

      Uh oh, sorry for the double post. :/

  • perceval

    The ones to really, REALLY, accomplish it were Trish & Victoria. It was their 2002 program that moved Women’s Wrestling from the novelty it had always been in North America to an upper card draw in it’s own right. When those two teamed against Molly & Jazz, no one thought “Models vs Wrestlers,” just four great women wrestlers facing off. Of course, in that match, the ex-model team actually outweighed the pure wrestler team by 2 pounds (a combined 290 vs 288).

    I think one has really overcome the stereotype when people don’t think of you as “model turned wrestler,” but just “great wrestler.” They did this, even though being models was the entire basis for their feud, and the Psycho Victoria character. “Years ago, when Trish and I were fitness models, the WWE was interested in the both of us. But Trish Stratus never let me get my chance.”

  • lucky1now

    id say victoria from the start she was doing her thing pulling off matches trish had a moment in time when she was just eye candy
    now as of a girl that was eye candy for a while and turned into a contender i would say candice michelle she almost had it all (she needed more help on the mic)

  • Future-Knockout/Diva

    For me theres trish 7x Womens champ among other things, Victoria 2x Womens champ, Christy hemme (had a great character, was getting good in the ring, got released came to TNA and had a feud with kong), Candice michelle got very good in the ring and became womens champ and abruptly ended with injuries, layla during her run with laycool she became good in the ring and eventually becoming divas & womens champ, eve torres hate it say it but she has come a long way a 2 time divas champ and one of wwe top heels, Alicia fox right now shes getting very decent in the ring her matches are improving and also former divas champ, Kelly Kelly with her i hate to say it 6 years is a long time and despite her “improvement” she became divas champ after all that time.

  • numero47

    I don’t think Michelle McCool was a “model” but there is no doubt she accomplished a lot during her run with WWE.

    • hado

      I know, she was a teacher before entering the diva search, but ever diva is now a model so people just label them as models thesedays I guess.

  • http://ashmultimedia.wordpress.com melon2617

    Trish Stratus definitely, but that goes without saying.

    When I think of women who really broke the model stereotype, I immediately think of Candice Michelle. Candice trained on her own time, in a seedy LA wrestling school and was willing to take serious risks to prove herself worthy of the Women’s title. Candice didn’t train in OVW or FCW, she did it all on her own, much like Trish. I fully believe had she not sustained those injuries, she would have gone much farther.

  • shannymac

    I am so damn tired of hearing about models in wrestling. They need to just shut up and wrestle and the fans need to just shut up and just focus on whether or not they’re good/talented/entertaining.

  • ricky_says_hi

    funny how Michelle McCool and Eve are mentioned and yet they were never models. i think here the term ‘model’ is interchangeable with ‘brought in with no experience’. Melina was a model as well and she became one of the most fun and exciting people to see in the ring. Angela Fong was also very impressive for someone so new to the game. i think Audrey Marie has also been impressive this past year. Aksana and Kaitlyn have also proved impressive from their fitness backgrounds

    • bluejay

      These women are called models because they were brought in based on their looks and sex appeal.

      Molly Holly is just as beautiful as most of these women listed but since she was never pushed for her looks she never got that stereotype of being a model.

  • GailKim95

    Trish, Candice, MIchelle, Eve, Christy, Layla and Tessmacher

  • Jhonmarco

    Trish Stratus and Michelle McCool hands down.

  • hado

    Trish Stratus, Michelle McCool, Alicia Fox & Eve Torres.

  • Timalee

    I see the Kat as a model, but i don’t think she really made it to the top. She got the Womens title, but lost it and never got back up after that. Trish, Torrie, and Stacy. I feel They are the ground breakers. I also think that Torrie should have had a title, and so as Stacy.

    • Looking Glass

      The Kat? She won her title in an evening gown match and had very few actual matches where she did anything, she was pure eye candy.

      • Timalee

        I know, I was just saying she is just a modle figure in my opinion, and sides I felt like looking at women wrestlers/models before Trish came. Even Debra. I see her a model figure. But these two didn’t go as big as they could have.

    • perceval

      The Kat, Debra, Sable, & Terri got into the business the old fashioned way: Being someone’s wife or girlfriend. They happened to be around, they looked good, so they got put in the show.

      The prototype for the modern approach of signing women who either have no wrestling experience or aren’t someone’s wife/girlfriend was Ivory. She was signed to GLOW having never been in a wrestling ring, given a six week crash course in learning to wrestle, then was on a nationally broadcast show as the top woman in the promotion.

      • http://au.groups.yahoo.com/group/WWE_Divas/ art

        Terri wasnt with anyone when she came on to wcw tv…..

  • AdrianRay

    Not to be completly crude on the subject, but who cares? As long as a wrestler shows passion and determination is what really matters. Why should non-wrestling pasts be brought into account constantly? Every wrestler starts somewhere, some were models. So what?

    • redsandman99

      ^This.

    • perceval

      It goes back to 2005, when Gail Kim, Jazz, Jacqueline Moore, & Ivory were released to make room for the Diva Search girls. Then, Trish & Lita were put on the shelf with injuries and Molly retired due to a health scare. The Summer of 2005 found WWE with only Victoria as a good wrestler among the Divas. Would have been nice to have had Gail around, at that point, don’t you think?

      In the Fall, things recovered, with Trish returning and Mickie, Melina, & Jillian called up to the main roster, but Christy & Ashley getting title shots at Wrestlemania didn’t exactly create great matches. The decline in popularity of the Women’s Division just happened to coincide with Ashley’s two Wrestlemania matches (not counting the infamous Miss Wrestlemania Battle Royal). Not counting Miss Wrestlemania, Mickie James only got one Wrestlemania match during her years in WWE. Do you really think Ashley was twice as deserving of the Wrestlemania spot as Mickie?

      And last year: Kelly Kelly vs Brie Bella… If they’d put on something on the level of your average Trish vs Victoria match, the modeling background wouldn’t have been an issue, any more than it was with Trish & Vic.. Nobody holds Naomi being signed straight out of being a cheerleader against her.

      It’s only an issue when the model/dancer/cheerleader is given the top spot in the Division and can’t deliver the great matches.

      • Jcott3

        A-men, halleluah, praise the lord and test-i-fy!

      • AdrianRay

        So? I still see no reason in bashing the model background to justify for poor quality. Sounds like a way to just ignite a debate which goes nowhere.

  • Looking Glass

    I think the obvious answer to this question is the unofficial Unified Women and Divas Champion in our hearts…Miss Ashley Massaro

    • AdrianRay

      Ha.

  • Prescott

    Kudos to Poison & Perceval on this one. I had already named Perceval as that rare person that I don’t disagree with often, and I still don’t. This cat is simply telling it like it is. Listen to him/her/it. This poster really nails the shades of grey in a way that is insightful, honest and even trenchant. (Sorry for the big word, Mel. Couldn’t avoid it.) Keep it up.

  • Prescott

    As far as my comment, I look at it from a booking angle. We don’t have anything like a meritocracy in either of the Top 2 in the United States at present. While this is one of their biggest problems, it makes this fact ‘the’ biggest problem in answering this question. Sure, Trish Stratus stands out depending on your definition of model, because she had the full package and paid her dues and they really had no-one comparable to run with. She was popping the crowd, was shrewd and got a good contract (we know this is what gets VKM’s respect) and then got ‘THE PUSH’.

    What I mean is, it’s a chicken or egg argument. How many other Brooke Tessmachers were there? Girls that even THEY didn’t know what their true ceiling was until they were cast off to the indies, thrown to the ‘net commenter dustbin, working guard armories for 20 people on a good night, and then finding something deep down and getting it all to click? We don’t know.

    That’s why the booking, writing, editing and window-dressing aspects are hugely important. They let develop who they WANT to let develop. They give mic time where they want; remember, Trish was booed off the mic before she started to interact back and within 3-5 months it ‘clicked’. I think that if there were more of a clear meritocracy in either WWE or TNA (TNA is at least ahead now b/c they have to be, in this department) those stereotypes would be blown through the roof. There’s no genetic rule about a hotter girl having a lower wrestling ceiling, or a great-pedigree wrestling chick not being able to find her own & develop mad trash-talk skills on the mic w/ a 6-to-18 month investment depending on the person.

    It’s like scouting high-school, college and minor-league talent for baseball teams: you can project the ceiling but you’ll never actually get it right every time, or even most of the time. That’s why we will never truly know who broke the barrier the best, who had a ceiling never discovered, who just needed to be kicked back to indies for a while, who was a glorious mic-worker after they got repetitions to hone their act, it’s all on the booker. The best we can do now is just hope that TNA continues holding Bischhogan to the ratings fire and doing as much meritocracy stuff as they can to keep their jobs. It’s given us Gail’s dues run, a clean drop to Tessmacher, this poll question itself, and hopefully more insight to come.

  • Matthew

    Layla, Alicia Fox, Candice Michelle, Michelle Mccool and Trish Stratus, have all really impressed me with their unique styles and how quickly they were able to pick it up.

  • http://au.groups.yahoo.com/group/WWE_Divas/ art

    the models turned wrestlers who are good workers would be trish,victoria,eve,layla & alicia sometimes lol…i dont get candices hype to me she was still pretty bad when she broke her collar bone…

    • http://ashmultimedia.wordpress.com melon2617

      I’m not sure about anyone else, but my Candice love came from the fact that she trained on her own, even though WWE didn’t really suggest that she did to become a wrestler on her own time. Much like Trish, who trained in Toronto at the same school that trained Edge & Christian, Candice went to a wrestling school in LA called the Barrio and worked her ass off. Was she the best wrestler ever? No. Was she still shaky? Yes. But she was legitimately trying to become the very best that she could be.

  • Jcott3

    Trish would be the easy choice, but because of her success, WWE came to believe that all they had to do was find a model, train her and BOOM – instant star. That thinking gave us the Diva Search and even though there were some bright spots, the women hired under Project Diva Search were usually closer to Ashley Massaro than Lay-Cool.

    The problem I have with most models-turned-wrestlers is that they rely so heavily on sex appeal to get over with the crowd that people can’t take them seriously (example: Torrie Wilson). One exception to that rule was one of my faves, Victoria. She was a fitness model and bodybuilder, but she was a beast in the ring and her “psycho woman” persona could be funny, scary or anything you needed it to be.