It was Saturday evening when I logged onto Facebook and saw a status update from Ivelisse Velez a.k.a. FCW/NXT Diva Sofia Cortez
“I have been released from WWE. Sorry my peeps…”
For a moment I thought it was a joke. I scanned down through the comments waiting to come to the one that said “sorry, fooled you all haha” but after seeing over 50 comments on there, I had to accept it. This came as a real blow to me because I felt so bad for Ivelisse when she was forced to be cut from Tough Enough thanks to her injury, and then I got so invested in her when she was signed in December. It was so exciting to follow her and see her actually compete in WWE rings, or even compete at all because she was truly a treat to watch. I had high hopes for her to be a star in the division one day. Unfortunately for whatever reasons, management chose to release her from the company and her fans are now left with a whole lot of what ifs. This recent release suddenly got me thinking. Ivelisse is not the first Diva to have been let go before she had a chance to do great things. The likes of Maxine and the Bella Twins who also departed WWE this year (on their own terms mind you) had already somewhat achieved something in their time, both Bellas holding the title at one point and being a regular fixture on TV and of course Maxine being the star of NXT before it was axed. But Ivelisse only had two matches on the new NXT (a third one was taped but we don’t know if it’ll still air) and impressed a lot in FCW. This makes me wonder about other Divas who I believe had a lot to offer yet never got the chance to do so. If you scroll down, you’ll see a list of Divas that I wish would have gotten more chances.
No, that’s not a picture of RAW General Manager AJ Lee you’re looking at. You’ll be forgiven if you thought it was. I myself, when I saw one of her Express News and Gossip segments, thought I had found AJ’s old gimmick. But actually Miss Cash was one of those type of women discovered by WWE talent scouts and signed to a developmental contract. You might not know it by looking at her, but Jenny was not a model before wrestling. She actually ran a successful law firm, giving me shades of fellow Diva Maxine who was a criminologist before joining the company. Appearances can be deceiving indeed.
Jenny Cash (real name Jenny Quinn) was signed in 2008 and spent two years in developmental before being released in mid-2010 after recovering from an ACL injury. For a while her thing was the “Express News & Gossip” segment – a series of vignettes that would air on FCW television with Jenny previewing coming matches or just dropping random gossip about the FCW superstars, punctuated with her catchphrases “thank you very little” and “Cha Ching” (which she loves it when you hash tag by the way). These segments weren’t exactly anything special but when I watch them, I see a certain spark coming from her, a great natural bitchy heel persona just waiting to be developed. The character was also unique for WWE where characters aren’t really given to the women. After all, a bitchy money-loving gossiping hen could have fitted in nicely on the main roster. Jenny didn’t have many matches on TV but in the ones she did have, she seemed to do quite well for someone so new to the sport. You can check them out below. In fact, her final match taped saw her pin the reigning Queen of FCW AJ perhaps starting a program with her that had to be scrapped. You can watch both matches below and decide for yourself.
But another thing I got from Jenny was her passion to improve and become a good wrestler, especially from an interview with diva-dirt.com that was done after her release where she talks about her plans in the company:
“Growing up I watched wrestling, I can owe that to my big brother…so I was given that opportunity and when I received my contract, it said ‘sports entertainer’ on there and I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to wrestle. And I was so excited and when I got there I knew that I would have to earn their respect because there had been second or third generation wrestlers there, guys who had been working on the independent scene. And here I am with no wrestling experience and I got hired, and I knew a lot of people would have resentment towards that. But I know my work is a reflection on me and I wanted to prove that I did deserve to be there”
“I would have liked to have gotten the title. That was also my goal. I thought it was a good story – I come in with no wrestling experience, I get injured and I come back with this vengeance. That’s what I was trying to do. That month that I came back, I worked harder than I had ever worked. My coaches told me that I was better after I had been out for nine months than I had been right before I got injured. So a part of me believed that I would get the crown or this [FCW Divas’ Championship] title and that I would get moved up…I had always wanted to win the title…a lot of people want to be famous or well-known so they can get this publicity. My goal in life was to be successful and to build a name for myself. I do not drink and I do not do drugs, and I always wanted to set a good example for girls that you can be a pretty girl and have a strong faith…I think that is what pushed me more than anything”
From what I gather, Jenny hasn’t exactly continued with wrestling since her release but I feel if she decides to take it up again then someone with as much passion as that can make a name for herself, even if it’s not in the main company.
Serena rocking the Sinead O’Connor look
Here we have a Diva who was never at all treated badly by the WWE and yet was released before she could really prove herself in the women’s division. Prior to joining WWE, Serena worked on her own dime to train down in OVW (much like current Diva Beth Phoenix) and made a name for herself as one of the biggest rising stars of Shimmer Women Athletes. When Serena was signed in 2009 she certainly got a nice push down in FCW, albeit with a less than satisfactory gimmick – Mia Mancini the mob boss’s daughter. She was immediately placed into a program with Queen of FCW Angela Fong and was indeed the second Queen in history. She also had a nice little feud with then-rookie AJ Lee, not to mention getting opportunities to work with accomplished women on the main roster such as Gail Kim and Natalya. And when she was still competing on the main roster, she made it to the finals of the tournament to crown the first FCW Divas’ Champion (which ended up being Naomi). Many believed that when she would be called up, she would have a place in the division.
She certainly debuted with a lot of promise. And I mean a lot. She did not debut in a tag team match, a random backstage segment or as a backstage interviewer. She made a huge debut on an episode of Smackdown as a planted fan that jumped the security guards and begged CM Punk to “save her”. In one of the most shocking moments I’ve seen on WWE’s PG television, Serena had her head shaved bald. And in the short time Serena was on the roster, she really got a lot to work with. She got to manage CM Punk and the rest of his Straight Edge Society, she got to be heavily involved in his matches, she got to go to WrestleMania just two months after her debut and she even got to be prominently featured in the big storyline with Kane where she publicly defended CM Punk and revealed that he couldn’t have attacked the Undertaker because he was busy saving her from a relapse. Remember that this was in the days before Eve Torres was branded a “hoeski” and AJ sent CM Punk and Daniel Bryan crashing through tables. But for Serena, the dream would end there. She was released just before SummerSlam after winning her very first match on Smackdown, supposedly for being caught drinking out in public (since she was supposed to be a straight edge character on TV). It’s one of many releases that baffled me because if that were the reason, surely a warning, fine or brief suspension would have done the job? Before joining WWE Serena was listed as among the top three female babyfaces in North America so it’s a sure thing that, had she not been released, she would have been a big player in the division.
Former cheerleader/power-lifter. Yes you read that right
In about mid-2008 a former WWE Diva Search contestant called Taryn Terrell debuted on ECW as an assistant to the General Manager. She was not well received by fans at all who merely assumed her to be Kelly Kelly Version 2 (management must have thought so too considering the two got paired together when Tiffany properly joined the women’s division). In her time on ECW she did nothing much to impress many of the casual fans, even when she found herself acting as the official ECW GM. When that brand folded and she was moved to Smackdown, nobody was expecting much to come from her. Then they saw her wrestle.
In her debut match against Michelle McCool and in plenty of subsequent matches against McCool and Layla, Tiffany showed some brilliant potential. Just watch the matches below. Look how effective her clotheslines and forearms are, and look at the aggression that comes from her. Despite wrestling in a cheerleader’s uniform she was bringing something very different to the ring from the current Divas of the month such as Kelly Kelly, Eve, Melina and Mickie James who were all doing the typical Waif Fu thing. Tiffany showed a more power-based moveset, doing moves such as back body drops, superplexes and atomic drops while also selling her opponents’ offence quite well. To me it really stood out because when Tiffany walked down the ramp she was all smiles and more akin to Malibu Barbie but when the bell rang she was much more like a mini-Glamazon. It was a refreshing site to see a supermodel Diva doing such un-Diva-ish moves. Of course I’m not saying she was a pro or anything, but I enjoyed watching her compete.
Tiffany actually had quite a good run on the Smackdown roster as the shallow talent pool (five girls in total, in comparison to twelve on Raw) meant that she took the number 2 babyface slot behind Kelly Kelly and was a supporting player in the Women’s Championship feud, even getting a one-off shot at the title herself. Unfortunately for Tiff, just before she was scheduled to team with Kelly against LayCool at SummerSlam, she was abruptly suspended for an altercation at a party. She was taken off TV and remained off for four months until she officially got her release at the end of the year. If she hadn’t been released then who knows what she might have found herself doing over the next year. Perhaps she would have had more title shots? Maybe she could have even become Divas’ Champion herself? After her release, Taryn Terrell claimed she “missed bumping” and started taking a few indie bookings though she has disappeared from the radar and has mostly been doing stunt work. As with any released wrestler, I always do say there is life after WWE and especially for the women nowadays. Taryn is someone I hope catches the wrestling bug again one day and develops that potential. Oh and Layla’s now using her theme music.
Whatever Katie wants, Katie always gets
Katarina Waters was released in a routine purge of talent in the middle of 2010 along with big names like Shelton Benjamin and Mickie James. While most fans were shocked and outraged at those big names, the release of Katie Lea was the one that bothered me most. Boasting six years of indie experience, including a couple of matches for SHIMMER, Katie Lea popped up in OVW alongside women such as Serena Deeb, ODB and Beth Phoenix. She indeed became Women’s Champion down there and even participated in the only Divas Ladder match against Beth, the match even making it to one of WWE’s Ladder Matches DVDs. Around 2008 she had the unfortunate luck of being called up and placed into a disturbing angle with Paul Burchill where the two hinted at an incestuous relationship and giving herself the catchphrase “whatever Katie wants, Katie always gets” but thankfully WWE went PG pretty soon and the angle disappeared. Katie then found herself feuding with Mickie James over the Women’s Championship for the summer. I’ve gone back and read a lot of comments and reviews of the matches from that program and I’m shocked at how negative most of them are. Personally I enjoyed all of the Mickie/Katie matches and found them a lot better than their disappointing outings in TNA together, but it seems management didn’t enjoy them either and Katie found herself shafted to ECW where she floundered losing repeatedly to the Bella Twins. When the brand disappeared, Katie was already on Raw in an equally unspectacular role where she stayed until her release in May. But here comes the part that annoys me the most – the creative team said they were surprised by her release because they were planning on moving her to Smackdown in the draft. That’s right, Katie might have gotten a proper push had WWE not released her. We could have seen a repeat of Katie and Beth’s feud down in OVW with Katie becoming the top heel on Smackdown. Or when Beth got injured, Katie could instead have turned face and feuded with LayCool. With her and Serena on the Smackdown roster in addition to Kelly and Tiffany, WWE might even have held back on unifying the titles.
To me it just seems like such a waste to have a push actually planned out for this girl and then have it taken away from her. I mean, Alicia Fox was in jobber hell before she got moved to Smackdown and then she was booked much better (now is a different story however but is there really a Diva that is actually being used well right now?). And if I ever do one of these articles for TNA, you can expect to find Winter on there because I doubt she’ll last the year. If anything, TNA have misused her even more than WWE did. Two-time Knockouts Champion and one-time Knockouts Tag Team Champion and yet still nothing done right with her. She lost each and every one of those titles on the first defence and has now vanished from television almost entirely. But for someone who has such a unique and captivating presence, I’m sure Kat will find her way.
Angela Fong, wrestler not ring announcer
In a sense of saving the best for last, the final Diva on this list is in fact the best we never had. All of the above-mentioned Divas, apart from Jenny Cash, got chances to show what they could do on the main roster. Angela however is barely remembered by casual fans, who may remember a pretty backstage interviewer/ring announcer called Savannah on ECW but the casual fans would probably be surprised to know that the seemingly cookie cutter Diva Search contestant was actually a damn fine wrestler too. Angela tried out for the Diva Search that was won by Eve Torres but didn’t make the finals. She got a tryout at FCW though and was awarded a developmental contract. Shortly before FCW’s television show premiered reports hit the internet of a developmental Diva who was said to be moving along at an impressive rate, showing an amazing athleticism and agility in her matches (she was a cheerleader and gymnast before joining WWE). I’m guessing you’ve made the connection by now. On FCW television, Angela really showed herself to be a cut above the rest of the developmental Divas and moved with a grace and excitement that was on par with many of the main roster girls. She was actually crowned the first ever Queen of FCW and was highly touted as one of the future stars in the Divas’ division. There’s not much more I can say about her ring talent so just watch her matches below and remind yourself that she had only been training for a year or so.
Along with Naomi and Alicia Fox, Angela has been one of the brightest talents produced from WWE’s developmental leagues. But unfortunately all she got to do on WWE television was ring announcing and backstage interviewing. Angela herself has said she had no idea why she was released and she didn’t have to keep wrestling when she was. But she has indeed and is the reigning Ground Breaking Pro Wrestling Ladies Champion. There isn’t much video footage available of her indie stuff but Angela has embraced life after WWE and is doing pretty well.
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