Over time, though, the Divas Championship became the focal point of the division as it enveloped the Women's Title while making stars out of Beth Phoenix, Maryse and, most recently, current champion AJ Lee. With the wicked Ms. Lee reaching a major career milestone this week, WWE.com looked at the five Divas who not only kept the tightest grasp on butterfly, but made it the premier prize for women's wrestling.
5.) Kaitlyn- 153 days
During Raw’s 20th anniversary of Raw on Jan. 14, 2013, hometown favorite Kaitlyn challenged WWE Divas Champion Eve Torres in Houston, Texas. Flattening Eve with a ring-rattling spear, The Hybrid Diva dramatically seized the butterfly-emblazoned title, becoming the first NXT Diva to win the championship.
With an impressive defense against Tamina Snuka at Elimination Chamber — in addition to a litany of major non-title victories — Kaitlyn extended her reign to 153 days. On June 16, 2013, however, her former best friend-turned antagonist AJ Lee defeated her at WWE Payback, capturing the Divas Championship to begin her own impressive run with the title.
4.) Michelle McCool- 159 days
When Michelle McCool forced Natalya to tap out at The Great American Bash on July 20, 2008, to become the inaugural Divas Champion, she proved that she had come a long way since her WWE Diva Search rejection in 2004. Still, even though McCool’s first-ever reign proved to be momentous and extensive, it did foreshadow upcoming changes in her disposition.
As champion, she slowly began to reveal a more vicious side of herself, which fully came out on the Dec. 26, 2008, episode of SmackDown. After her Divas Championship reign was surprisingly ended at 159 days by Maryse, McCool blamed the loss on special guest referee Maria and brutally attacked her after the match.
3.) Beth Phoenix- 204 days
In fall 2011 — after forming an imposing tandem with Natalya — Beth Phoenix challenged Divas Champion Kelly Kelly. After failing to wrest the title from her beautiful rival at SummerSlam and Night of Champions, Phoenix finally captured the Divas division’s greatest prize at WWE Hell in a Cell on Oct. 2, 2011. From there, she carved out a legacy as the most dominant, overpowering, physically imposing woman to ever hold the title.
After successful defenses against Kelly, Eve and Tamina Snuka, Phoenix’s lengthy reign ended at 204 days on the April 23, 2012, episode of Raw, when Nikki Bella capitalized on the champion’s ankle injury to win the title in a hard-fought Lumberjill Match.
2.) Maryse- 212 days
Up until this week, Maryse had been the longest reigning Divas Champion of all time. The French-Canadian beauty defeated Michelle McCool on SmackDown on Dec. 26, 2008, to begin a run that would last for much of the next year.
Coming into her own as a villainous, vindictive champion, Maryse held onto the Divas Title for 212 days before falling to Mickie James at Night of Champions on July 26, 2009. The gorgeous Diva exited WWE soon after, but the landmark reign earned her well-deserved repute as a great nasty.
1.) AJ Lee- 213 days
By the time AJ Lee had the date she won the Divas Title permanently inked across the nape of her neck, you knew her championship reign wasn’t just some passing fancy. It was a love affair — a particularly enduring one that began on June 16, 2013, and has lasted for 213 days as of Jan. 15, 2014.
In the face of varied — and ever-improving — challengers like Natalya, The Bella Twins and Naomi, AJ hasn’t just defended the Divas Title; she’s elevated it. Like it or not, AJ’s Gollum-like obsession with her precious has given the championship new worth. It may take a trip to Mordor to get it away from her.