On Monday, Nikki Bella retained her WWE Divas Championship via DQ in a match against Charlotte, officially making her WWE’s longest-reigning female champion since the creation of the Divas Championship seven years ago. In the world of WWE, where anything that happened more than a month ago is ancient history, that makes Nikki Bella the greatest Women’s Champion in THE HISTORY OF FOREVER, which has caused some folks to freak out just a little bit.
Here’s the thing, though; the WWE Divas Championship has much deeper roots than you might think, and a number of women have absolutely dwarfed Nikki’s “historic” accomplishment. Personally, I’m a Nikki fan and have no beef with her being champ, but if you’re struggling with it, maybe putting things into greater historical context will help. Here’s six women whose women’s title won’t be surpassed by Nikki Bella any time soon…
A History of the Women’s World Championship: Before we get into this, let’s set the stage a bit. Most at least moderately hardcore fans have a rough idea of the history of the WWE Championship. They may even know some scattered history of the WCW and NWA world titles. But what about the history of the Women’s Championship? Well, believe it or not, today’s butterfly-shaped WWE Divas Championship can trace its lineage all the way back to the 1890s.
The original women’s world championship actually predates the men’s world championship. The title’s first champion was Josephine Blatt, a carnival strongwoman who went by the stage name Minerva. The history of the Women’s Championship is a bit murky for the next few decades, only coming into focus when the legendary Mildred Burke first won the title in 1935.
Unfortunately, Burke and her promoter husband Billy Wolfe split in 1952, leading to a split in the Women’s World Championship they controlled. The NWA backed Wolfe, leading to the creation of the NWA World Women’s Championship. Meanwhile, Burke created her own title, the WWWA World Championship. The Fabulous Moolah would soon seize seemingly permanent control of the NWA Women’s Championship, while the WWWA Championship would eventually become the top prize in All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling.
By the ’80s, Moolah was doing most of her wrestling for the WWF, so when they pulled out of the NWA in 1983, Moolah sold the championship to Vince McMahon rather than give it back to the NWA, and thus it became the WWF Women’s Championship. Twenty-five years later, WWE would create the Divas Championship as a vanity belt for Michelle McCool, and then two years after that, the WWE Women’s and Divas titles were unified, with the Divas belt now representing the title’s lineage. So yeah, there’s a lot of history riding on those butterfly wings.