WWE started featuring their female wrestlers like never before in the 2010s, with their Women’s Revolution. But, what many people forget, is that the 2000s was an important decade for women in WWE as well. With the success Chyna enjoyed in the 1990s, WWE followed up by pushing Lita and Trish Stratus to the top in the early 2000s.
Both Trish and Lita had legendary runs and completely changed the game, eventually opening the door for the likes of Mickie James, Beth Phoenix, and others later in the decade. Let’s find out who was the best WWE Women’s Champion in each year during the 2000s.
10 2000: Lita
The first half of 2000 saw the likes of The Kat, Harvey Wippleman dressed as “Hervina” and Stephanie McMahon hold the Women’s Championship. Needless to say, the title was not the main focus of the company, but it all got better once Lita dethroned Stephanie on RAW in August.
Lita had recently joined The Hardy Boyz in mid 2000 after a short run alongside Essa Rios, with the three instantly clicking and getting over with the crowd. Lita’s first reign lasted a little over two months, ending at the hands of Ivory from the Right to Censor on an episode of SmackDown.
9 2001: Trish Stratus
Trish Stratus might’ve only won the Women’s Championship at Survivor Series in November 2001, but fans usually forget just how important this title run was. The belt had been basically dormant since Chyna’s departure a few months earlier, and Trish’s win put the title on the map again.
Stratus won the vacant title in a six-pack challenge against Lita, Jazz, Ivory, Molly Holly and Jacqueline. She would successfully defend it against Jacqueline at Vengeance in December, and carried it heading into 2002.
8 2002: Trish Stratus
While Trish only held the title for about a month and a half in 2001, her run as champion in 2002 was more memorable. Although Stratus initially lost the belt to Jazz in February, she won it two times throughout the year, engaging in feuds with Molly Holly, Stacy Keibler, Lita, and Victoria.
Her feud with the latter was the highlight of the year for the women’s division, with Trish eventually putting over Victoria in a historic Hardcore Match at Survivor Series.
7 2003: Molly Holly
Gail Kim had everything to be the best Women’s Champion in 2003, shocking the world by winning a battle royal for the title in her debut. However, the company had no plans for her, and Kim dropped it to Molly Holly less than a month later on RAW.
Molly held the title all the way until February 2004, successfully defending it against Lita and Ivory at Survivor Series 2003 and Armageddon 2003, respectively. Molly lost to Victoria, and famously lost a title rematch at WrestleMania 20 in which she put her hair on the line as well.
6 2004: Trish Stratus
Trish Stratus spent the first half of 2004 involved in the feud between Christian and Chris Jericho. She was involved in a relationship with Jericho, but turned heel and betrayed him during their WrestleMania 20 match, leaving with Christian after helping him win.
Unfortunately, Christian got injured about two months later, and Trish took advantage of her heat to capture the Women’s Championship from Victoria at Bad Blood. She defeated Victoria a few more times, and later restarted her feud with Lita, culminating with their historic RAW main event in December, which saw Lita win the title.
5 2005: Trish Stratus
Lita’s title reign was cut short due to injury, dropping the gold back to Trish at New Year’s Revolution 2005. Stratus spent the rest of the year as champion, resuming the feud with Lita while she managed Christy Hemme, with Stratus beating Hemme at WrestleMania 21.
However, Trish suffered a serious injury right after ‘Mania, forcing her to take time off. When Trish came back in September, she started her famous feud with her “number one fan” Mickie James, which carried over into the next year.
4 2006: Lita
Trish and Mickie’s feud culminated at WrestleMania 22, with James winning the title for the first time. However, Mickie lost most of her heat after Stratus suffered yet another serious injury. In August, Mickie dropped the title to the most over woman on the roster, Lita.
Edge was the WWE Champion at the time, and Lita winning the Women’s Title got them even more over as WWE’s power couple. She lost to Trish Stratus at Unforgiven in Canada, in what was Trish’s last match. Lita won the vacant belt again, losing it back to Mickie James at Survivor Series in Lita’s final match.
3 2007: Melina
On the February 19, 2007 episode of RAW, SmackDown’s Melina caught everyone by surprise when she dethroned Mickie James for the Women’s Championship. She hadn’t wrestled much until that point, as she had mostly just been MNM’s valet.
However, it didn’t take long for Melina to prove how good she was in the ring. The highlight of Melina’s title reign was a victory over Mickie James in a Falls Count Anywhere Match in March, as well as a win over the late Ashley Massaro at WrestleMania 23. Melina lost the title to Candice Michelle at Vengeance: Night of Champions in June.
2 2008: Beth Phoenix
Beth Phoenix won her first Women’s Championship from Candice in late 2007, but her second reign was by far the best one. Beth Phoenix improved a lot in just one year, having a pretty good I Quit Match with Melina at One Night Stand.
The Glamazon won the belt from Mickie James at SummerSlam, in a weird winners take all mixed tag match that also saw Santino Marella winning the Intercontinental Championship from Kofi Kingston. The two were one of WWE’s highlights in late 2008, showing they had great chemistry in some very entertaining segments.
1 2009: Michelle McCool
Michelle McCool won her first title in WWE when she became the inaugural Divas Champion at The Great American Bash 2008. But her first reign as Women’s Champion the following year was much better.
McCool defeated Melina at The Bash to become champion, and then got paired with Layla to form LayCool. While it seemed like a random pairing, they both got over working together and became the biggest heels of the female division. In 2010, Layla became the last WWE Women’s Champion, as it eventually got unified with the Divas Title.