Bobby Between The Ropes: A Look Back At Divas On PPV – 2009
Posted on Thursday, December 24th, 2015



The year 2009 opened on a bittersweet note. The new Divas’ Champion Maryse abruptly went down with a knee injury just after she won the belt. Likewise long time WWE veteran and one of the best Divas ever Victoria announced her retirement from wrestling. But we had two women’s champions and more talent than ever. We would get to see the rise to the top for Melina, as well as the WWE return of Gail Kim. Newbies such as Kelly Kelly, Eve Torres, Alicia Fox and the Bella Twins would also show some promise. So let’s see what the year offered us.

Royal Rumble – Beth Phoenix* vs Melina:

If you’re wondering why there was a six month gap between two Melina/Beth matches, here’s the skinny: Melina went down with an ankle injury and was left on the shelf for months. She returned to WWE the night after Survivor Series, with plenty of fire and a new moveset. She made a beeline for her rival, who now wore the Women’s Championship. But she had a proverbial thorn in her side in the form of one Rosa Mendes. Rosa had debuted as a big fan of Beth Phoenix and was allowed to join her entourage as an ‘intern’. She had been interfering on Beth’s behalf to make Melina’s life difficult. Oddly enough, she’s not at ringside for this match – due to some visa issues or something. But instead, we just get to see Melina and Beth wrestling. While nowhere near as intense at their I Quit Match, it’s instead a nice slow-paced tactical affair. Melina really thinks outside the box to try and take the fight to Beth. The Glamazon meanwhile dominates as she normally does. In the spot of the match, she bends Melina’s leg back so far she makes the challenger kick herself with her own foot. Melina plays face to perfection and gives Beth probably her biggest challenge yet. And she pulls out a wheelbarrow sunset flip to relieve Beth of the title. Overall a very fine match indeed.

Winner and NEW WWE Women’s Champion: Melina. Match Rating: 7/10

WrestleMania 25 – Miss WrestleMania Battle Royal:

So for the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania, WWE obviously wanted to do something special Diva-wise. For a couple of weeks, it seemed as though they were building towards a Women’s Champion vs Divas’ Champion match – pitting Melina against Maryse. But instead they opted to go to their old standby of quantity over quality. There would be a battle royal to crown Miss WrestleMania, with 25 women competing for the ‘honour’ of the title. Since there weren’t 25 women on the roster, WWE filled those extra spots with Divas from the past. The complete list of participants include: Melina, Maryse, Beth Phoenix, Mickie James, Michelle McCool, Jillian Hall, Alicia Fox, Layla, Kelly Kelly, Tiffany, Eve Torres, Rosa Mendes, Katie Lea, Maria, The Bella Twins and the re-debuting Gail Kim. Divas from the past include Torrie Wilson, Sunny, Jackie Gayda, Joy Giovanni, Victoria and Molly Holly (pop!) – Hall of Famer Mae Young and the injured Candice Michelle acting as timekeepers. Now if you’re wondering why no big names like Trish, Lita or Wendi Richter opted to return – there’s a 25th participant. Santina Marella is Santino’s ‘twin sister’ (read: Santino in drag) from Italy. Yes he does win this match, by eliminating Beth and Melina. And yes it’s every bit as ridiculous as you’d imagine. This saw WWE take a real step backwards and reduce the entire division to ridiculous comedy moments. To cap it all off, none of the returning Divas got any kind of entrance or introduction; they all came out dancing to Kid Rock while he was performing. And due to licensing issues, his performance was edited out of the DVD.

Winner and Miss WrestleMania: Santina Marella. Match Rating: 3/10

The Bash – Melina* vs Michelle McCool:

So the Divas went six months without a proper PPV match. During that time, the draft really shook things up: Melina was traded to Smackdown and Maryse to Raw, thereby inverting the titles. As soon as she arrived on Smackdown, Melina found herself dealing with the newly heel Michelle McCool. McCool had gained herself a prodigy in new Smackdown Diva Alicia Fox, who accompanies her for this match. This one goes into fifth gear as soon as the bell rings; Melina and Michelle make it seem like they really hate each other’s guts. It’s one of the most aggressive matches Melina has ever had. Michelle dropkicks her in the leg and immediately goes after it. Melina sells to perfection. And I mean perfection; she’s left screaming in agony after nearly every move. It’s a fantastic display of selling, plus some good counters to a lot of Michelle’s moves. Melina comes close to winning, with a facebuster off the top. But Alicia Fox puts Michelle’s foot on the rope. Michelle is able to hit a big boot and then the Faith Breaker. In doing so, she becomes the first woman to have held both the Women’s and Divas’ Championships. A stellar match from both women.

Winner and NEW WWE Women’s Champion: Michelle McCool. Match Rating: 8/10

Night of Champions – Michelle McCool* vs Melina:

At the next PPV, Melina cashed in her rematch clause. There wasn’t much story behind this one aside from that. So it’s even more shocking how darn fantastic it is. Things get off to a brilliant start as Michelle attacks Melina while she’s performing the splits in her entrance. Things may have been aggressive at The Bash – but here they’re just cranked up to eleven. Melina gets a lot more offence, really selling her as a determined competitor. But a tumble to the outside is all Michelle needs to take control. She locks Melina in a half-crab that darn near bends her spine in two. Things spill to the outside yet again where they deliver one of the spots of the night (not just the match) – a DDT on the security wall. Michelle revealed that afterwards they were yelled at for the spot – because it “looked better than the guys” and it was “too good”. Given that Melina and Michelle weren’t put on another PPV and their feud ended with a quick Lumberjill match on Smackdown – there is another possibility for their feud fizzling out. Melina and Michelle worked their asses off to produce two stellar matches on PPV – and they should probably carry a badge of honour for being punished for outdoing a lot of the guys. I’d probably call this MOTY for 2009 anyway. McCool narrowly retains by reversing a seated senton into a sneaky pin. She looks like she’s just run a marathon by the end.

Winner and STILL WWE Women’s Champion: Michelle McCool. Match Rating: 9/10

Maryse* vs Mickie James:

Marking the first time the Divas’ Championship was defended on the same night as the Women’s, the Raw Divas were also in action. This had been a rather long-running feud. After Maryse was moved to Raw, Mickie James managed to best her in a non-title match and then a tag match. It took her forever to get her title shot – due to Maryse interfering in a #1 contenders’ battle royal or else ducking matches every week. Eventually Mickie won a Fatal 4 Way to properly earn this match. However lightning does not strike twice for the women on this night. Maryse was working with a knee injury all through her title reign – and at this point it was too much for her to handle. It also becomes apparent that – taken out of tag matches and safer short matches – Maryse was not up to the task at hand. It’s not often we say this for Diva matches but this one was way too long. It almost seems like another match ran too short and this had some extra time added to it. If it had been only four-five minutes, then it probably would have been satisfactory. But it was nearly ten minutes long – and all Maryse’s flaws were on full display. She repeated moves, she kept rest holds on for ages, she padded everything out…it wasn’t pretty. There were good spots in there of course – but not really enough to save it. Mickie eventually ends the agony with a DDT and becomes the new Divas’ Champion – in a nice feel good moment to redeem the disappointing match. She also becomes the second woman to hold both Women’s and Divas’ Championships.

Winner and NEW WWE Divas’ Champion: Mickie James. Match Rating: 4/10

Hell In A Cell – Mickie James* vs Alicia Fox:

The Divas skipped two PPVs after Night of Champions – as Michelle McCool went down with a minor knee injury, and Maryse went on hiatus to rehab her own knee. Mickie was ever the fighting Divas’ Champion though, defending the belt against multiple women on Raw. Her next challenger came in the form of a young rookie. Alicia Fox found herself suddenly moved to Raw right after Michelle McCool one the Women’s Championship. She shockingly picked up a win over Mickie in a 6-Diva tag match. A few weeks later, she won a #1 contenders’ match to earn this one. Unlike her predecessors, she was awarded a PPV slot for it. This match isn’t bad per say – but it’s not really that good either. Compared to the stellar matches Melina and Michelle had been putting on, it doesn’t quite hold up. Mickie at this point was known for being a hit-and-miss worker; one week she’d be great and the next not. Coupling that with a green Alicia and you don’t have much of a match. Alicia does her best – and she sells a lot of Mickie’s moves very well. But it’s clear that she – like Katie Lea the year before – was put into the spotlight a little too early. She showed definite promise of the Foxy femme fatale she’s more familiar as – but she wasn’t really ready for this match. Mickie retains with a scary looking DDT.

Winner and STILL WWE Divas’ Champion: Mickie James. Match Rating: 5/10

Bragging Rights – Melina, Gail Kim & Kelly Kelly vs Michelle McCool, Beth Phoenix & Natalya:

And since HIAC, there had been yet another Divas trade. Raw gained Melina (who was now the Divas’ Champion) and the Bella Twins, while Smackdown gained Mickie James and Beth Phoenix. This was just in time for WWE’s big brand vs brand PPV – made up of interpromotional matches. There would be three matches: the IC Champ vs US Champ, the 6-Diva tag and the big 14-man tag. The brand with the most wins would win the Bragging Rights trophy. Smackdown played the faces in the opening match, so now they were the heels. This is also the reason Mickie James is not on the team – as Michelle McCool personally excluded her. Anyway this match is actually loads of fun; the girls get plenty of time and all of them are showcased. Gail starts the match off and does some nice moves with everyone. I believe this is also the only time we ever saw her and Natalya facing off. Kelly Kelly is the one to get isolated by the heels, as Michelle and Beth struggle to co-exist. Nonetheless the Smackdown team are effective in keeping her on their side of the ring. Eventually Melina makes the hot tag and cleans house. Two brilliant spots that stick out are her reversing a slingshot suplex into a small package, and a headscissors into a facebuster. Shockingly in the end it’s Beth who gets the win – laying Melina out with the Glam Slam. This gives Smackdown a point and sets things up for the big tag match later on. I have to say, I really enjoyed this match. It was a great effort from all six women.

Winners: Michelle McCool, Beth Phoenix & Natalya. Match Rating: 7/10

Survivor Series – Team Mickie vs Team Michelle [Traditional Survivor Series Match]:

So since Mickie was moved to Smackdown, Michelle McCool and her new underling Layla were making things difficult for her. There was name calling backstage, they cut up her clothes and Michelle even aired a controversial video calling her ‘Piggy James’. Anyway there was a big Survivor Series match to help progress this feud. Michelle’s team is made up of Layla, Alicia Fox, Jillian Hall and Beth Phoenix. Mickie’s has Gail Kim, Kelly Kelly, Eve Torres and the Divas’ Champion Melina. Kelly Kelly sends Layla to the showers early on with her Kelly Killer finisher (nice work from both girls). Michelle McCool eliminates Gail Kim rather abruptly with a Faith Breaker. Eve and Jillian go at it for a spell, before Eve gets another elimination with a botched sunset flip. The Glamazon cleans house by dispatching Eve and then Kelly – and she herself is unceremoniously eliminated by Mickie. Alicia Fox is next to go, after a top rope Thesz Press from Mickie. Michelle spends a while trying to isolate Mickie – before the Divas’ Champion makes the hot tag. The interactions between Melina and Michelle are the best part of the match. In the end Melina counters the Faith Breaker into the Last Call to eliminate Michelle. A little tighter and more cohesive than the previous year’s match, I must say. Mickie and Melina standing side by side at the end made for a nice moment.

Survivors: Mickie James & Melina. Match Rating: 5/10

TLC – Michelle McCool* vs Mickie James:

After defeating Team Michelle at the Survivor Series, Mickie decided to pursue the Women’s Championship. Michelle and Layla – now calling themselves ‘LayCool’ became WWE’s own version of the Plastics from Mean Girls. They bullied and tormented ‘Piggy James’ in several ways. But when Mickie defeated Beth Phoenix and Natalya in a #1 contenders’ match, it was time for them to put their money where their mouth was. In contrast to the Divas usually getting five or six minutes for a PPV, the girls here get nearly ten. They use this extra time well to build a nice slow pace and really sell the tension between each other. Mickie had become hit-and-miss in the year 2009 – but against Michelle here she delivered probably her best match that year. Things spill to the outside and Mickie executes her signature ‘rana off the security wall. Back in the ring, Layla gets up on the apron to interfere. Although a miscommunication allows Mickie to roll Michelle up – the Women’s Champion still kicks out. Michelle then floors Mickie with a big boot to get the win. Very nice match from these two, ending the year on a good note for the Divas.

Winner and STILL WWE Women’s Champion: Michelle McCool. Match Rating: 7/10

2009 saw a rather annoying step into territory we’re all too familiar with these days: time. Diva matches were getting even less time on Raw as the year went on. Maryse sadly disappointed as Divas’ Champion, due to working with a serious knee injury. And when she returned in November, it was clear she would never be the same again. Mickie James also had a disappointing year. Despite being Divas’ Champion, she developed a reputation for being hit and miss in the ring – which thankfully seemed to change as she was moved to Smackdown. And the less said about Santina, the better. However the year 2009 saw probably one of the best Diva rosters since the Golden Age: Beth Phoenix, Melina, Natalya, Gail Kim, Katie Lea, Jillian Hall, Mickie James and Michelle McCool were all very talented workers – while Alicia Fox, Kelly Kelly, Eve Torres, Layla and the Bella Twins were all promising young talent. Melina and Michelle really delivered whenever they got to PPV. Melina especially was the MVP of the division that year – though she sadly ended it with a torn ACL. There was promise for good things in 2010 – but sadly they did not quite come to pass.

  • Dominik K.

    I was personally disappointed with 2009 when it comes to divas. They had such a talented roster of divas and never used it. I still can’t believe that we never had Gail vs.Nattie match. Whenever I think of this year I’m just frustrated. Even in TNA there was a mess that year but it was still better than in TNA.

    • Bobby Calloway

      I remember watching every week and hoping something would happen. It always seemed as if we were on the edge of something great -- Mickie vs Gail, Katie Lea getting a push, Alicia Fox showing promise -- but it never happened. I do look back on the Melina/McCool matches fondly though. Melina was really the whole package in 2009 I think.

      • Dominik K.

        Yeah Melina was really over. Too bad we never had Melina vs.Natalya when they were both on SmackDown at that time. I always thought Gail and Mickie deserved a longer storyline for the title with Gail ultimately turning heel and winning the belt. Thank God they had great matches later in TNA. There were so many bad moments in 2009 -- Jillian title reign (she deserved better), WrestleMania and this whole Santina thing, big tag matches with no meaning, Maryse’s title reign, Gail returns was a mess. It;s just sad because they had the most talented roster ever

        • Bobby Calloway

          I think the only time they went at it was a short tag match involving Layla and Maria. Agreed about Jillian’s title reign. She went and then had some fantastic matches with Gail on Superstars. Back then that was the show to watch if we wanted good matches.

          • Dominik K.

            I started watching wrestling with all the queens on SuperStars like Gail, Jillian and Alicia. After a year of only watching SuperStars (that was the only show they were airing in Poland) I started watching Raw and SmackDown on the internet and we all know 2011 wasn’t the best year

            • Bobby Calloway

              I have the matches for 2011 typed up and admittedly the PPVs from SummerSlam to the end of the year are quite respectable. The girls were really delivering when they made it to PPV. Sadly it was on Raw and Smackdown that they got pitiful time. Kelly, Eve, Beth and Nattie really worked their asses off for not a whole lot.

              • Dominik K.

                2011 was a disaster. Michelle, Maryse, Gail, Melina left. Divas were having one minute matches. Alicia never got her title shot. Brie was champion when she shouldn’t be and Snooki on Mania. The PPV matches weren’t that bad especially Beth vs.Kelly matches and Eve vs.Beth from Vengeance.

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