Arnold Furious: I never really understood the point of the Diva tapes. If you wanted to ogle beautiful ladies in 2002, there was the internet. If you wanted to ogle beautiful naked ladies, there was also the internet, and Playboy did very similar presentations to these releases without the pretence of “learning more about your favourite Diva”, only with added titties. The WWF were making tacky choices at the time and trying to milk every last dollar from the fans. There were fans out there who wanted to watch tapes dedicated to the ladies of professional wrestling, most of them sweaty awkward teens and sweaty awkward old men, so three of them exist from this “end of Attitude” era. Unfortunately I made the mistake of saying I would cover one of them and then James dumped this monstrosity on me.
Hosts are Dave McLain, Rich Freeda and Noelle Carr, who tell us all the girls are different and have personalities. I hate that. Everyone has personality. When you say anyone has a “great personality” you’re trying to deflect from their lack of good looks. Because we’re all about rating stuff I’ll be rating each of the ladies on their sex appeal and how well they get their famous personalities across. A table will feature at the end, determining the most successful diva.
DIVA #1: Stacy Keibler
Stacy’s unscripted interviews are a flow of consciousness and she does not shut up. It is a constant stream of verbal diarrhoea. She says nothing of interest and it feels like a drill going into the side of my head. Not a good start to the tape. She stops talking so she can frolic in the waves. Stacy is really, really, really, really hot. But she has nothing of interest to say. Based on her favourite outfits she likes showing off her ass, which, face aside, is probably her best feature so that’s a good move. This is all sexy but mind-numbing so we move onto Stacy’s actual history in the business. She says she was a fan (she attended WCW events) and entered a contest to join the Nitro Girls. She won but only lasted a month before creative (Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara) moved her into a storyline as Miss Hancock, then had her trained to wrestle. She slyly buries WCW by saying how great the WWF is and there being a “world of difference” between the two. Presumably because the WWF actually plans stuff in advance and doesn’t change all the booking on a whim. Stacy shows us her skill: tucking her ear into itself. Discussion inevitably leads to her legs, which are 41.5 inches long. Stacy makes a remarkable statement by saying she felt she needed more training for the in-ring and suggested anyone thinking of taking a similar career trajectory should get trained at wrestling first. I’m disappointed they only skim the surface with Stacy in her 8-minute slot. There was too much talk about bikinis and the location rather than her actual career. It actually surprises me that a brief discussion left me wanting to know more, specifically about why she preferred the WWF to WCW and how she found the wrestling training. The fluffy nature of the interview was irritating, but hey, we’re basically just here to see her ass in a thong so that happened.
Sexiness Rating: ****
Personality Rating: *
DIVA #2: Ivory
I don’t really perceive Ivory as a diva but rather a wrestler, given her history in the business. Ivory puts Terri, Trish and Lita over as being her close friends. It seems they liquored Ivory up a bit to increase her sex appeal as we see her struggling to balance on a log. I swear her sense of balance is better than that. Ivory compares herself to Barbie; making her own money, being her own woman and driving a convertible. We see photographer Dave berate Ivory for not knowing how to pose. She’s a wrestler, dumbass. Ivory gets herself over by stealing the camera and taking photos of him instead. She reiterates Stacy’s story about taking bumps and says you need to try that first and see if you like it. She describes her co-workers as weirdoes but goes on to praise some of the chaps as sexy, including Chuck Palumbo and Ron Simmons (“always smells good”). She calls her ability to go and have a 10 minute match, and not get nervous about it, the most satisfying aspect of her wrestling life. Although she tempers that with fear and doubt that constantly nag at her. Ivory’s 8-minutes is far more personal and less shallow than Stacy’s, but with a significant reduction in sexiness as a trade-off. I’ve always felt Ivory comes across as a very genuine person. I’m not sure about her Barbie analogy or her listing off the wrestlers she thinks look sexy, but I’m sure she was pushed into certain directions when talking about her career.
Sexiness Rating: **½
Personality Rating: ***¼
DIVA #3: Sharmell
Nice to see Mrs T. I always thought she was an underrated talent both in the ring and as a looker. She goes into her history with WCW, very briefly, about her spot in the Nitro Girls and wrestling. She swiftly changes course to discuss her holistic training, her yoga and her spiritual superoneness. It’s all very Zen. She moves on to her dancing career and how she used to tour with James Brown (for over 3 years). She goes back to auditioning for the Nitro Girls after seeing Nitro on the Godfather of Soul’s tour bus. Like Stacy, WCW eventually moved her into an angle and gave her the ring name Paisley. She claims to have gotten hooked on wrestling after taking her first bump and is getting trained in OVW, under the tutelage of Jim Cornette. Her character in OVW, Sister Sharmell, was a full-on ghetto girl with fake blonde hair. Her tag team, the Suicide Blondes, beat the Minnesota Stretching Crew for the OVW tag titles. The Stretching Crew was Brock Lesnar and Shelton Benjamin. Brock was making five times what everyone else was on but didn’t have an ounce of passion for the business so he was paired up with Shelton, who was a natural talent and carried the team with his enthusiasm. Sharmell calls Jacqueline a role model for her. Sharmell, being a lesser known talent, gets a lot less time and her spot is 5 minutes long, most of which is her dancing. There’s hardly any swimsuit stuff and a strange, but interesting, aside to her short OVW career made this a different segment. Sharmell picked up an injury around this time and dropped out of wrestling for four years, brought back by the WWE in 2005 as a valet for her real-life husband Booker T. I like Sharmell and thought she nailed all the Queen Sharmell stuff and was great in OVW, but OVW footage aside, this was very fluffy. Not as bad as listening to Stacy drone on about bikinis, but bland.
Sexiness Rating: *¾
Personality Rating: **
DIVA #4: Torrie Wilson
Seeing as Torrie is another big hitter, in terms of body type, they go right into the posing and the swimsuit talk. The switch in focus from personality to body is very noticeable after the Sharmell section. To try and get Torrie over as a real person she says she was shy in school and it wasn’t until she went into sport and fitness that she became who she is. She tried to get into acting and worked as an extra on Baywatch. She’d been trying to get into acting in LA for 6 months when WCW signed her. She puts over wrestling as giving her a big break before saying she tried harder because of the “jerkoffs in the back saying mean things about me”. In wrestling? Meanness? I refuse to believe this is true. She doesn’t mention if this was the WWF locker room or the WCW one. It could have been either but from her shoot interviews, I would say it was WCW as the boys didn’t like her inexperience. Like Stacy she goes on to talk about clothes, which isn’t quite what this target audience wants to hear. Torrie covers a lot of ground but very little of it interests me. Torrie has an air-head personality. “I like board games and I like watching movies” is an actual line of her dialogue. It’s painfully vacuous. If Torrie had any substance to her personality at the time, it’s not shown here. She came across like a beauty pageant contestant.
Sexiness Rating: ****
Personality Rating: ½*
DIVA #5: Sara
Did they take everybody on this Caribbean trip? Sara is the Undertaker’s wife, who worked as his valet for a while. She’s a total BOBFOC. She calls herself a tomboy but then goes on to say she wanted to do more risqué stuff for the photo shoots because they had her in jeans and a t-shirt on TV. Somewhat contradictory. Sara tries to get over how dangerous she is by climbing trees and going out into the surf and boxing. She calls herself a “token brunette” despite spending most of her onscreen time as a blonde, and ignoring Lita and Ivory. The problem with Sara is she’s not a wrestler, despite boasting a victory over DDP, and she’s not really a looker. Depending on your preferences you could say the same thing about Sharmell, who’d barely been on TV at the time, but Sara was one of the boys’ wives and the only thing that stood out about her was her rocking hot bod. She seems fairly interesting but only because she’s not a wrestler so she talks about different things. I guess I’m just still resentful of the way she was booked.
Sexiness Rating: ***
Personality Rating: ½*
DIVA #6: Lita
This may seem a bit weird but I always felt Lita was out of place doing sexy stuff. She never seemed all that comfortable and as a personality she felt like a little sister. When she did wrestle in thongs and take her top off, it was in an athletic fashion. The first thing she says is she got over because she was different, which is a massive argument we have against the WWE of later eras; that everyone felt like the same person and the variety of performers just wasn’t there. Lita was an individual and she wrestled a different style, a sloppy lucha style admittedly, but that’s what got her over. Variety is the spice of life, McMahons. Lita seems awkward when she’s posing, but when they get her to act more naturally it works. She’s just not a bikini model, but she’s sexy in her own way. She refers to photographers as “bullshitters” (bleeped) before saying she was better prepared for this year’s photo shoot. The way she compares herself to her clothing is interesting as she says “you may not like it, but you’ve never seen anything like it”. Lita points out her fan mail has an emotional connection to how she is. Having the benefit of hindsight, Lita was a unique in-ring performer and that’s why she was so over. The cookie-cutter WWE production line that makes divas in a factory somewhere, doesn’t create talent like this. Once again, it’s all about variety and I’m constantly irritated by the WWE’s assertions that if the fans like one thing, then they’ll damn well like it over and over and over and over again. Which is strange because Lita was never cloned and copied like so many of her counterparts. I can name half a dozen Trish Stratus clones that appeared in the WWE but no one that reminds me of Lita.
Sexiness Rating: ***½
Personality Rating: ***½
DIVA #7: Jacqueline
She’s one of the most experienced wrestlers the WWF had at the time. She moans about spending ages posing and how the photographers keep putting her in the water, which she’s not keen on. She was also a tomboy and she played football with her brothers when she was younger. Jacqui puts JR over for hiring her in the WWF after her WCW contract expired and she debuted with Marc Mero in 1998. She was thrilled to win the WWF Women’s title as she was the first African-American champion. I’m with Morgan Freeman on the race issue: it’s only an issue because we keep talking about it. I don’t think about Jacqueline as a black wrestler but rather a veteran wrestler. Jacqui likes to work out and she lifts a load of weights to burn her biceps. Sculpting those guns. When it comes to the sexy stuff, Jacqui tries way too hard, which is a frequent complaint from me about her. The really sexy divas were the ones that didn’t try that hard but were just effortlessly sexual (Sunny, Trish, Stacy). Jacqui always pushed it like Terri and Sable did. I don’t find any of them attractive. She finishes up by saying she likes bad boys because she likes to experiment. It conjures up a few images that I won’t be able to shake for a while. This whole segment left a bad taste in the mouth as it came across as forced. You can’t push these things.
Sexiness Rating: *½
Personality Rating: **½
DIVA #8: Terri Runnels
I know my fellow writers, James especially, aren’t keen on Terri and it stems mainly from two character traits. One that she’s plastic, both in terms of her personality and her tits. Two that she’s pretty much useless. As per usual she whinges about not getting enough sleep and being too cold and the sand being too coarse. No wonder Dustin divorced her. At least she has a wrestling history where she remembers the Brisco’s and Dusty Rhodes, though her route into wrestling was through make-up work at TBS. In late 1990 WCW asked her to be Alexandra York and because the WWF bought the library we get footage of it. Nice to see a bit of background but it lasts a few seconds before Terri decides to go shopping on the island. Because that’s boring I tend to focus on checking Terri’s body out, and her fake chest area is weird looking. I get fake tits getting people over but if you’re not naturally attractive it won’t help. Terri’s creative when it comes to getting undressed but she has very little to say. After Marlena, I thought Terri was a total waste of space and there’s nothing here to suggest otherwise. Yeah, she has big tits, but they’re someone else’s.
Sexiness Rating: *
Personality Rating: ½*
DIVA #9: Trish Stratus
Now we’re talking. I’ve always said that Trish was the complete package. Everything from the looks to the attitude to the promos to the wrestling. She could do everything and she was outstanding at anything she attempted. Oddly enough Trish’s segment is all over the place as it focuses on the dolphin stuff they’ve been skirting around all tape and then sees all the girls chatting on the beach. It feels like filler. We get a quick bio where Trish talks about med school and her ambitions. Muscle Mag contacted her and then signed her up for a contract. We skip to Trish vs. Stephanie McMahon and their genuinely good match on PPV. Trish mentions how surprised people were by her wrestling but points out she’s always been sporty. Trish connects with her male audience by saying she likes eating cheeseburgers. She must have an amazing metabolism. Trish’s segment is surprisingly brisk and takes us up to the hour mark on the tape. Trish is clearly the company’s big female star as she has every asset you’d need to be the ace of the women’s division. She’s good looking, she’s ambitious, she’s professional (no whinging at all, take heed Terri), she’s athletic and she’s likeable. She comes across extremely well and isn’t just eye candy like Stacy or Torrie.
Sexiness Rating: ****
Personality Rating: ***½
Moving on we get some photographers doing talking head spots where they talk about this being a big Diva showcase before segueing into thanks and closing the profiles section of the tape. If you go for the DVD version you will see a showcase of the girls in-ring performances with an hour of bonus matches. Take or leave that…
As promised here is a table of how I rated the divas from most to least excellent.
- Trish Stratus
- Stacy Keibler
- Torrie Wilson
I think that about sums up how I’d rate them too. Trish and Lita were both exceptional and the best all-rounders. Ivory is decent all round and worth more because of her in-ring. Stacy and Torrie look great but have very little in the personality stakes. Sharmell would improve later in her career and the others are also-rans. Terri comes out last by some distance but that could change based on personal preference. We just happen to think she’s a bit crap.
Summary: The WWF wasn’t quite sure how to do these Diva tapes. They knew they wanted to do something titillating but not be too tacky about it and not go over the top. They’d clearly seen Playboy do similar tapes and felt they could do the same thing without the nudity because of the girl’s wrestling experience. That would give the tape substance. But because they try and mix titillation and information, the tape ends up as neither. It falls in between the two and neither excites nor informs. The only interesting aspect of the tape is clips from OVW and WCW making their way onto a WWF tape release. Something that would become commonplace. It gave Stacy, Torrie, Terri and Sharmell a richer history. Gaining those video libraries was one of the few perks of the Monday Night War coming to a conclusion. I’m sure most people bought this tape to see the WWF diva’s parading around in bikinis, but Stacy and Torrie aside, that’s not much of that going on. If anything teenagers potential masturbatory fantasies ran headlong into Terri going shopping or Ivory making fun of the photographers. It’s boner destroying stuff. I feel bad for the kids who bought this tape, pre-internet, in the hopes of seeing more skin. Not particularly recommended.