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Bobby Between The Ropes: A Look Back At Divas on PPV: 2006
Posted on Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015
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2006:

2006

Hey guys, it took me a while but I finally got back around to looking back at old PPV matches. This year would be a noted improvement over 2005 in a lot of ways. For one, the feud between Trish Stratus and Mickie James would really pick up – culminating in a fan-favourite WrestleMania match. Although Trish would get injured, other Divas such as Lita, Victoria and Beth Phoenix would step forward. Likewise on Smackdown, there were more women than ever – and plenty of opportunities for Diva storylines. However we would bid farewell to not one, but two legends before the year was over – leaving the division in an unsure state.

New Years’ Revolution – Trish Stratus* vs Mickie James:

The program between Trish and Mickie took quite a turn – as Mickie defeated Victoria to become the #1 contender. This meant that she would be against her idol for the first time. Things had really heated up between the two; Mickie started using Trish’s moves in the ring, she dressed up as her for Halloween and she even cornered her under the Mistletoe at Christmas. Despite this added spice, the match starts off as a friendly encounter – though there is definite tension in the air. There is a bad botch early on with a Mickie hurricanrana, which makes it look like Trish was using the ropes for leverage. After that, the match starts to get a lot more heated. The air of friendly competition slowly disappears – and the crowd gets behind Mickie. Ms James takes the time to walk over to where the title belt is and pick it up. Eventually the action moves back into the ring, and both women trade control. Mickie actually hits Trish with the Stratusfaction – but she takes way too long to savour the moment, and Trish kicks out. She counters Trish’s own attempt at the manoeuvre, but the champ retains with a Chick Kick anyway. A very good first match for these two – and some great acting from Mickie the whole way through.

Winner and STILL WWE Women’s Champion: Trish Stratus. Match Rating: 7/10

Bra & Panties Gauntlet Match:

To our great shock, WWE saw fit to include the rest of the Raw Divas on the card as well. The rules of this are simple: there will be two Divas in the ring, if she is stripped to her bra & panties, she will be eliminated. So on and so forth until all Divas have been eliminated. The first two are Maria and Candice Michelle. Surprisingly enough, we see a bit of wrasslin’ between them. The tops don’t stay on for long but Candice makes a mistake going for the Tarantula: Maria is able to pull her pants off and eliminate her. The rehired Torrie Wilson is the next entrant and again, the wrestling isn’t bad. Torrie even hits Maria with a springboard elbow. Maria’s able to strip Torrie to her undies relatively quickly. But she has her work cut out for her, as Victoria is next out. Victoria makes short work of Maria and strips her down to her underwear. But the match is suddenly interrupted by Mae Young and The Fabulous Moolah. Mae tries to strip off and the two of them gang up on Victoria – and remove her top. This leaves her in prime position for the final entrant – Ashley Massaro. Ashley rolls through a Widow’s Peak attempt and strips the pants to win the match. To please the crowd, she removes her clothes anyway.

Winner: Ashley Massaro. Match Rating: 6/10

Royal Rumble – Mickie James vs Ashley Massaro:

Although Mickie was happy to remain friends with Trish following their NYR match – someone else didn’t believe in her intentions. Trish’s other friend Ashley attracted the ire from a jealous Mickie more than once. Ashley finally put Mickie in her place and called her a psycho. So a match was made between Trish’s two friends – and Trish herself was chosen to be the referee. Moments before the match, Mickie seemed to want to sway Trish’s preference: she told Trish that she loved her. As Ashley was an untrained model, the match is hardly a dazzling display of technical ability. But to give credit to Ashley, she tries her hardest. There’s a nice intensity here that really helps further the story between Trish and Mickie. Ashley gets very aggressive and has to be restrained once or twice. Mickie of course more than matches Ashley’s intensity – even ramming her right into the ring post. You’d expect this match to be very safe, to protect Ashley. But it’s surprisingly physical, and Mickie’s intensity helps sell it. When Ashley’s in control towards the end, it’s not so good and the match sort of chugs along. Mickie powerbombs Ashley and grabs her tights to get the win. She of course tries to hug Trish afterwards.

Winner: Mickie James. Match Rating: 5/10

WrestleMania 22 – Trish Stratus* vs Mickie James:

So the 22nd WrestleMania saw Mickie now heel and getting another shot at the Women’s Championship. Although she’s the villain in this match, the smarky Chicago crowd are very into her. They cheer Trish as well but Mickie is the clear star. The crowd really adds to this match and it’s one of those times an audience has been that insanely invested in a Divas’ bout. Much like Trish’s match with Melina, they sell her as the experienced veteran – but then book Mickie as the underdog heel. A kick to the ring post gives Mickie an opening and she targets Trish’s leg. As the match goes on, the crowd sides 100% with Mickie. She basks even more in the psycho part of her character, dancing around the ring and cackling whenever she’s back on offence. Trish comes back but is really caught off guard when – as she’s going for the Stratusfaction – Mickie gropes her crotch and licks her hand. Mickie was reportedly yelled at by Vince himself over that little stunt. The match presumably would have ended with Mickie hitting Trish with the Stratusfaction – but it gets botched. So Mickie has to win with a kick instead. It’s still not enough to completely tarnish what was already a good match.

Winner and NEW WWE Women’s Champion: Mickie James. Match Rating: 8/10

Torrie Wilson vs Candice Michelle [Playboy Pillow Fight]

The second WrestleMania to feature two Divas matches. Thankfully this time around the actual wrestling is superior to the T&A. Basically the story was that Candice turned her back on Torrie after posing for Playboy. They were going to settle this in a ring which was set up with pillows and a bed. Merging this with another puppy-lover gimmick, the women come down to the ring in evening gowns. Much like she did at WrestleMania 20, Torrie tries to bring some wrestling to the proceedings. But since the ring is covered in pillows, she really needn’t have bothered. The girls of course get stripped out of their evening gowns and Torrie gets the win. This match actually featured no proper pillow fighting. False advertising, folks.

Winner: Torrie Wilson. Match Rating: N/A

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Other Divas were featured semi-prominently on the card, such as Sharmell. She and Booker were placed into a handicap match against the Boogeyman. Sharmell tried to hit him with his stick – but ended up getting a nice wormy kiss. Jillian Hall made her WrestleMania debut managing JBL for his victorious effort against Chris Benoit and his United States Championship. And Lita made her final WrestleMania appearance in the corner of Edge for his bout with Mick Foley. Lita ended up setting a table on fire – which Edge later speared Mick through. Quite a very good amount of Divas included on this Mania card – and in very useful ways too. Well, maybe not the pillow fight.

Backlash – Mickie James* vs Trish Stratus:

Although Mickie now had the title, that didn’t mean the craziness had to stop. The night after WrestleMania, the new champion appeared in a blonde wig and in Trish’s attire. Her transformation was now complete. But surprisingly, Trish was able to respond with mind games of her own. She appeared dressed up as Mickie. The confusing mind games continued all the way into Backlash, where the Divas thankfully appeared as themselves. The chemistry between Mickie and Trish is actually very good in this match – and it’s clear that they were getting better and better at working with each other. The first few minutes are incredibly good, and this had the workings of a nice long battle. Sadly, shortly before Mickie takes control, she dumps Trish to the outside. It’s apparent immediately that Trish is legit injured. Mickie very obviously has to call things on the fly and improvise. She’s abruptly disqualified for choking Trish with her scarf – and not breaking after five. So she still keeps the title. It makes for a rather cheap ending, but the beginning of the match was very enjoyable.

Winner by DQ: Trish Stratus (Mickie retains the title). Match Rating: 5/10

Judgment Day – Jillian Hall vs Melina:

Since WrestleMania, things weren’t looking up for Jillian Hall. After JBL won the US Championship, she attempted to throw an in-ring celebration for him. But JBL wasn’t happy with it – and fired her on the spot. Ever the shoulder to cry on, Melina offered Jillian a job doing her make-up. Naturally a good old make-up table catfight ensued. And since this was a Smackdown PPV, their grudge match made it to the card. Melina was already in a bit of a mood – as MNM had imploded after losing the titles earlier. Anyway Johnny Nitro is sent to the back immediately – and a surprisingly fiery Divas match follows. We’re normally used to seeing it with Melina as the face and Jillian as the heel. But I quite like this dynamic; Jillian and Melina work quite well together in the opening moments. When Melina’s in control, the pace sags a little. But it’s still a very fun match. Jillian never got much of a chance to be a face in WWE – but she brings plenty of fire and aggression in this bout. She’s reminiscent of Taryn Terrell. The match sadly ends rather early when Jillian gets a sunset flip and the ref counts to three – despite Melina’s hand being on the rope. When she goes to Teddy Long’s office to complain about this – it’s safe to say her night didn’t get any better.

Winner: Jillian Hall. Match Rating: 6/10

Great American Bash – Ashley Massaro vs Michelle McCool vs Jillian Hall vs Kristal Marshall:

It may seem surprising but there was actually a storyline going on with the Smackdown Divas at the time. Ashley was moved to Smackdown after she recovered from a calf injury. This prompted a heel turn from Ashley’s fellow Diva Search contestant Kristal, who was jealous of her success. Michelle McCool had also made her return to Smackdown, now as a sexy teacher. So this pit Ashley and Jillian against Michelle and Kristal. But at the PPV, all four women would face each other in a Bra & Panties match. Oddly enough for this kind of match, it’s not elimination. The match ends when one Diva has been fully stripped – and the win goes to whoever removes the garment. Kristal draws first blood by ripping Ashley’s top off. There’s a good spot where Jillian goes to the top rope, Kristal crotches her and Michelle whips Ashley into the ropes – which puts Jillian into the Tree of Woe. Her top doesn’t last long after that. The faces get on top and remove the skirts of their opponents. Michelle appears to be ‘cheating’ by wearing a second skirt underneath. The heels soon turn on each other, leaving Kristal alone with the faces. As Jillian runs Kristal’s face off her boobs, Ashley is able to pull the top off to get the win. Jillian is a little annoyed that Ashley stole the win from her – but the latter convinces both of them to strip just for the hell of it. Fun fact: the theme song used by Kristal here was previously used by both Jillian and Michelle.

Winner: Ashley Massaro. Match Rating: 4/10

SummerSlam:

WWE’s biggest event of the summer featured no Diva matches yet again – but every Diva did make it to the card. Layla had just won the 2006 Diva Search and this was her first PPV on the roster. She finds herself in the locker room with the other Divas and is given an initiation: she must get showered with all her clothes on. The rest of the Divas joined in too. You can see why Trish and Lita left.

Unforgiven – Lita* vs Trish Stratus:

So at this point in time, Lita was now the Women’s Champion. She had defeated Mickie James for the belt with significant help from Edge. The reason for this rather random win was that a shocking announcement made it to the internet: Trish Stratus would be retiring at Unforgiven. Lita had leaked the news herself just for the sake of being petty. So Trish proposed one more match between them – for the championship. And since Unforgiven was in Trish’s hometown of Toronto, you can expect that the atmosphere is intense. From the moment the bell rings, the match is incredibly back and forth. It’s also the first long match Lita had wrestled as a heel. She does quite well actually. We see her properly wrestling and controlling a match – which is great to see. There are plenty of great spots on display: Air Canada from Trish off the apron, a Stratusphere off the ring steps, Lita sending Trish tumbling from the top rope to the outside and Lita countering the Stratusfaction by sending Trish to the outside. Lita even kicks out of a Chick Kick. It all culminates in Trish locking the Sharpshooter in – to an insane pop – and Lita tapping out to give Trish a seventh Women’s Championship reign. It’s a wonderful storybook ending for Trish. Wrestling has been known to leave behind many broken hearts and even more broken bodies – so for even one person to go out like this is a wonderful moment. And hats off to both women; after injuries, inexperience and angles got in the way – they finally delivered a big PPV match. And it was the best match on that card, for sure.

Winner and NEW WWE Women’s Champion: Trish Stratus. Match Rating: 10/10

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Lita also made her presence known in the main event. John Cena faced Edge in a TLC match. Lita ran down to the ring to tip a ladder over while Cena was climbing it. She ended up getting an FU through a table. We also saw Melina earlier in the night, managing Johnny Nitro. The two were now on Raw and Nitro was the Intercontinental Champion. During the match, Melina seemingly went down with an ankle injury at ringside – but she was playing possum and helped Nitro retain the title.

Cyber Sunday – Mickie James vs Lita [?]:

With Trish retiring after Unforgiven, it left the Women’s Championship effectively vacant. As such, a tournament was held to decide the new champion. Mickie James had made a sudden abrupt face turn since Lita had cheated her out of her first title. It’s no secret that Mickie said her angle with Trish was written with Lita in mind – as Mickie had been a big fan. But Lita went down with her injury and so it went to Trish instead. So now Mickie was finally getting to work with her actual idol. And as WWE had put the revived ECW on Tuesday nights, the former Taboo Tuesday was put on a Sunday night slot and renamed Cyber Sunday. Refreshingly enough the fans get to vote on the stipulation of the match, rather than what fetish costumes the girls will wear. The options are No DQ, Submissions or Lumberjill. The last one wins, which is awfully convenient since all the Divas were at ringside anyway. As you’d expect, there are plenty of spots where the girls are thrown to the mercy of the Lumberjills. But sadly there isn’t much chemistry between Mickie and Lita. It’s a very sloppy match where not much happens. Lita does pull out a nice tilt-a-whirl sideslam but there’s little else that happens. Mickie tries to hit a horrendous looking tornado DDT but Lita puts her feet on the ropes for a pin – and is pushed down by Candice Michelle. But it’s Victoria who distracts Mickie and leaves her easy prey for a Lita DDT.

Winner and NEW WWE Women’s Champion: Lita. Match Rating: 4/10

Survivor Series – Lita* vs Mickie James:

So despite Lita one-upping Mickie at Cyber Sunday, the perky little Virginian didn’t back down; she kept pursuing the Women’s Championship. Lita allowed her to have various title matches – with rather insane stipulations. Mickie would have to compete with her feet shackled, hand tied behind her back or blindfolded. But after all these ridiculous matches, Mickie was granted a proper title match for the Survivor Series. Lita also dropped a bombshell: she would retire after that PPV. Now this match is immediately miles better than their dreadful outing at Cyber Sunday. Truth be told, the chemistry isn’t there early on. The two definitely don’t seem to be on the same wavelength. But once Lita properly takes control, things flow much better. And the latter half of the match is quite good. There are some really nice near-falls and false finishes that really amp up the pace of the match. My favourite spot would probably be Mickie going for her ‘rana but getting faceplanted instead. Mickie blocks the snap DDT and is able to connect with her own to win her second Women’s Championship. Out of respect for Lita, I won’t recap the incredibly rude and tasteless farewell she got at the end.

Winner and NEW Women’s Champion: Mickie James. Match Rating: 7/10

December To Dismember – Kevin Thorn & Ariel vs Mike Knox & Kelly Kelly:

The infamous disaster of an ECW PPV did feature a Divas match – and it’s the only PPV match of Shelly Martinez. At the time she was portraying Ariel; a gypsy fortune teller bitten by vampire Kevin Thorn. Kelly Kelly meanwhile was just out of high school and had debuted with a striptease gimmick. Eventually her boyfriend Mike Knox started bringing her down to ringside so he could keep an eye on her. It’s apparent from the beginning that Kelly is the most over member of the match – as she’s the only face. The in-ring action is mostly a contest between the two heel men and it’s pretty bland. The only highlights are Ariel’s screams from the apron. When Ariel tags herself in the crowd comes alive for Kelly to tag in too. As expected, it’s mostly just Ariel beating her up and dragging her into position for things. Kelly goes to tag Knox but he walks out on her. Ariel then puts her out of her misery with an STO. Not much of a match but some good acting from the women throughout.

Winners: Kevin Thorn & Ariel. Match Rating: 2/10

So 2006 was great in many ways and tragic in so many others. We lost two huge Diva icons within months of each other. Trish and Lita had been some of the last remaining Divas of the Attitude Era – and Victoria was now the only Diva left from the Ruthless Aggression division. The one that was hard-hitting, the one that was exciting, the one that was entirely about the wrestling. With no Trish or Lita figure, WWE struggled to find a Diva to build their division around. They would stop and start pushes for many Divas until AJ Lee eventually came along. Diva Search contestants were also slowly becoming less of an entity in the division. The likes of Amy Weber, Christy Hemme, Joy Giovanni, Carmella DeCesare and many of the other eye candy girls didn’t last long. But even without Trish and Lita, Mickie James remained a beacon of hope. She began the year as a rookie and ended it as a star. Other Divas like Melina, Jillian Hall, Candice Michelle and Michelle McCool would also eventually rise to the occasion and become notable figures in the division.






  • william

    excellent read -- thank you so much!

    • Bobby Calloway

      Thanks very much for reading :)



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