The WWE Diva Search was one of the company’s earliest attempts to cash in on the reality TV craze that dominated television in the late 90s and early 2000s. In an attempt to make their product more relatable and acceptable to a wider audience, WWE created two ‘talent programs’ – Tough Enough and the Diva Search – as a means of finding their next big stars.
They went about looking for stars this way instead of, you know, finding proper wrestlers the old fashioned way, which worked more often than not.
Though Tough Enough received quite a bit of backlash from those within WWE for exposing and weakening the pro wrestling business, the negative reaction to the Diva Search was far stronger. At least the participants in Tough Enough had some strengths and assets needed to be wrestlers. Those participating in the Diva Search were – more often than not – more interested in the non-wrestling elements of the show and being eye candy than being proper grapplers.
Since its inception, there have been four televised Diva Searches and two that were unaired. The first Diva Search, which took place in 2003, led to a photo shoot and not a contract. The second of these unaired Diva Searches was in 2013 and led to the signing of Eva Marie.
As for the remaining four that were aired, none of their respective winners are still with the company, even though runners-up still are.
Here, we’ll look at where the four Diva Search winners have ended up after winning this ‘distinct’ award.
2004 Winner – Christy Hemme
Christy Hemme was the first woman to get a major push as the winner of the Diva Search. She received a huge initial push, being placed in feuds with the likes of Trish Stratus, Victoria and Melina. She even faced then-Women’s Champion Trish Stratus in a match at WrestleMania 21, after having received some basic training from Stratus’ archrival Lita.
After this, her significance on the RAW brand reduced dramatically, before being released shortly after being sent to OVW for further training. After this, Hemme spent many years in TNA both as a competitor and as an interviewer/announcer. By April 2014, Hemme started working for TNA’s creative team, which she did until her departure in 2016.
Since then, Hemme has been looking at other endeavours and has done very little related to wrestling.
2005 Winner: Ashley Massaro
Ashley Massaro won the 2005 Diva Search and was given quite a major push shortly thereafter. She was thrust into prominent feuds with several top women on the roster at the time, including Torrie Wilson, Trish Stratus, Victoria and Candice Michelle.
Once that feud ended, she began feuding with Mickie James but ended up on the losing end due to James’ superior wrestling skills. After this, she spent most of her time as a valet and as ‘eye candy’, as WWE tried to sell her based on her punk looks. This included some notable segments in which she took her clothes off, much to the delight of the audience at the time.
However, due to a lack of a creative direction by 2008, she wasn’t showcased as much and was released in July of that year. She hasn’t done anything related to pro wrestling since then but has been in wrestling-related news nevertheless.
Not only is she one of many people named in the class-action lawsuit against WWE over their policies towards concussions and other bodily damage, but she has also made headlines for alleging that WWE asked her not to go public over an alleged sexual assault in 2006.
2006 Winner: Layla El
Layla El won the 2006 Diva Search, but her on-screen career wasn’t particularly positive. Her initial segments involved sexually-suggestive segments and humiliating treatment, including her being humiliated by the other Divas and performing in non-wrestling segments such as dancing competitions.
After an insignificant stint on WWECW, Layla achieved her most high-profile ‘success’ by teaming with Michelle McCool as the duo of ‘LayCool’. Together, LayCool became Divas ‘co-champions’, and engaged in mostly poorly-written catty bully segments.
Her booking during this period was questionable at best, especially as she and McCool mocked Mickie James’ alleged weight problems.
After this ended, Layla won the Divas Championship on one occasion by herself and held it for 140 days. She then transitioned through lower-card feuds until she retired from wrestling in 2013. She has since kept away from the public spotlight, deciding instead to focus on her family.
2007 Winner: Eve Torres
Eve Torres is arguably the most successful woman to win the WWE Diva Search, having won it in 2007. Before wrestling, Torres was a professional dancer and had a very promising academic career at the University of South Carolina.
While in WWE, Eve was something of a ‘transition’ champion. Not a ‘transitional’ champion (i.e. a champion with a short-reign between two big reigns of bigger and more popular wrestlers), but a champion that was caught between eras.
Eve was caught right between the ‘Divas and Models era’ and the Women’s Era, performing during that transitional period of the late 2000s and 2010s. She also spent a lot of time as a heel, both as an in-ring performer and as Jon Laurinaitis’ on-screen assistant. She stayed with WWE in a regular capacity until December 2012.
Since then, Eve Torres has been involved heavily in the MMA world. She is married to Rener Gracie, has obtained a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and teaches women’s self-defense programs and is involved in kickboxing as well. However, Torres-Gracie has also maintained ties to WWE in a non-wrestling capacity, serving as a WWE Ambassador since April 2014.