The 1000th episode of SmackDown is finally here! As we prepare to enjoy the festivities of SmackDown 1000, let’s take a look back at the women who helped build SmackDown.
The first episode of SmackDown took place on August 29th, 1999. For the first couple of years, the show served as an extension of regular WWE programming. So you would see women that you would see on Raw, such as Trish Stratus, Lita, Tori, and Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley. It wasn’t until the brand split that SmackDown’s roster had to fend for itself
The Women of SmackDown: The Initial Brand Split
During the first ever WWE brand split, several women were selected to be sent to the blue brand. WWE mega-stars Trish Stratus and Lita were chosen for RAW, which meant SmackDown was lacking incomparable star power. They did, however, come away with names such as Ivory, Torrie Wilson, Stacy Keibler, and Stephanie McMahon. Stephanie would rise from superstar to General Manager in the summer of 2002, paving the way for future female authority figures.
The Women of SmackDown: Ruthless Aggression (2002-2005)
Joining these ladies after Tough Enough runs would be Nidia, Jackie Gayda and Shaniqua (Linda Miles). Initially, in the wake of the split, both the Undisputed and Women’s Championships were meant to include both rosters. However, the Women’s Championship became exclusive to RAW in September of 2002. This left the women of SmackDown void of a prize until 2008. During the 2004 draft, Nidia was moved from SmackDown while Jackie was added. Nidia had a very memorable tenure on SmackDown, as the girlfriend/valet of Jamie Noble. The duo would have notable feuds with The Hurricane and Torrie Wilson. During this era some other valets/sometimes wrestlers were Joy Giovanni, Amy Weber, Hiroko, Sharmell and Jillian Hall.
The Women of SmackDown: The PG Era (2005-2009)
The sultry Candice Michelle was the lone addition to the SmackDown roster in the 2005 draft. Also joining the roster in 2005 would be Kristal Marshall and Melina. 2006 would see Torrie, who had been on RAW, move back to SmackDown, as well as sending Sharmell along with her husband to Raw. Victoria (Raw) and Jillian (SmackDown) would trade places and this would round out the women’s side of that draft. Outside of the draft, 2006 would see the additions of Ashley Massaro, Michelle McCool, and Vickie Guerrero. In 2007, the vintage starlet Cherry would join the SmackDown family. Also in 2007, Vickie Guerrero would be named SmackDown General Manager, following in the footsteps of Stephanie McMahon.
2008 would be a banner year for the SmackDown women with the establishment of the WWE Diva’s Championship. This would finally give them gold to fight for after almost six years. Michelle McCool would become the inaugural Diva’s Champion. Maria Kanellis would be drafted to SmackDown in 2008, as well as see the debuts of Natalya, Maryse, The Bella Twins, and Alicia Fox. 2009 saw a big return as Melina rejoined the roster, bringing with her the WWE Women’s Championship. Maryse would take the Diva’s Championship to RAW, completing the championship trade. Also rejoining the blue team would be Alicia Fox, with new additions in Mickie James and Layla.
The Women of SmackDown: The Era of LayCool and The Rise of the Divas (2010-2015)
The union of Layla and Michelle McCool, known as Lay-Cool would take off as 2009 turned into 2010. They would feud with Mickie James, during which the infamous “Piggie James” segment would take place. Other notable feuds happened with the Blondtourage, Tiffany and Kelly Kelly; as well as the Divas of Doom, Natalya, and Beth Phoenix. 2010 also saw the additions of Rosa Mendes and Kaitlyn. In 2011, AJ Lee would join the scene; as well as Tamina, Natalya and Alicia Fox during the draft. Also, as part of the draft, Beth Phoenix and Kelly Kelly would leave SmackDown. This would be the last draft until 2016. Following the dissolution of the draft and inter-brand competition, many superstars, both male and female would be seen on both Raw and SmackDown.
The Women of SmackDown: Women’s Revolution (2015-Present)
Following the historic women’s revolution highlighted in 2015, the brand split was reinstated in 2016. The Women’s Champion at the time, Charlotte, was made exclusive to Raw. This necessitated the creation of the SmackDown Women’s Championship. Becky Lynch would eventually become the first ever SmackDown Women’s Champion. On the roster, she was joined by Natalya, Naomi, Alexa Bliss, Eva Marie, and Carmella. These were all selections made during the 2016 draft. Nikki Bella and Mickie James would also return to the brand in 2016.
The 2017 shake-up would have Alexa and Mickie leave while Charlotte, Lana, and Tamina arrived. Also in the same time frame, Nikki Bella took some time off of wrestling and leaving SmackDown. Later in 2017, the Riott Squad (Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan), as well as Maria Kanellis, joined the SmackDown crew. Kanellis would go on hiatus, however, in September. 2018 would bring many changes as the Riott Squad departed, as well as longtime SmackDown mainstay Natalya. Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, Asuka, and Zelina Vega would all join the ranks of SmackDown women. The IIconics, Billie Kay and Peyton Royce would be added as well.
To recap, the full roster now is Asuka, Becky Lynch, Billie Kay, Carmella, Charlotte Flair, Lana, Mandy Rose, Naomi, Peyton Royce, Sonya Deville, and Zelina Vega. Paige is also the SmackDown General Manager. In a poetic mirroring moment, Becky Lynch is also your current SmackDown Women’s Champion.
In looking through the history and contributions of women to the success of SmackDown, it appears to be safe to say that they will continue to flourish. While there may have been a drought in terms of championship competition, the women always managed to play a prominent role. Through the good, the bad, and the ugly, the women of SmackDown have continually evolved. With the current trends in WWE and women’s wrestling in general, there is no doubt that will also continue. Here’s to another 1,000 episodes of SmackDown and the women who steal the show!