Melina joined WWE at the height of the ‘Divas Era’ in 2004 and remined with the company until 2011, racking up five Women’s Title/Divas Title wins in the process.
However, alongside her achievements in the ring, the star also featured in gimmick matches such as lingerie pillow fights which were a staple of the era. In recent weeks the “Divas Era” has been back in the spotlight after Maria Kanellis said that she wanted to much maligned Divas Championship to return.
This sparked considerable discussion online with former WWE stars expressing their opinion that the belt should remain retired as women’s wrestling is vastly different in 2022.
“Our Punishment Was, Here’s A Lingerie Match” – Melia
During a recent interview with WrestlePurists, Melina discussed the “Divas Era” and how some things have continued to the present day. The star also claimed that gimmick matches were used as a method of punishment for female talent.
“We’re blessed to have this contract, this opportunity, and it’s not to say that hey, let me bash the company, whatnot. There’s so many structures, like the top person has to delegate to this person and then these people. It’s like, it can’t be controlled unless it’s delegated. So I can’t blame the whole entire company, whatever, but this is the thing.
There are things within the roster where things should change, but it hasn’t. It’s still kind of trickling from the years and the decades and the eras prior. Certain attitudes or maybe viewpoints, it’s still there. So whatever toxicity, it’s slowly getting flushed out, but not fast enough. So when it comes to a coalition or anything where it’s like, hey, girls, let’s get together, we’re lucky we have a job, but we don’t want to lose our job, and we’ve seen people come and go. It’s like, how do we go about where we keep our job but kinda like push this in [and not get heat].
We’d kind of come together, and then it’s like okay, pick your spots, and we’d get punished. Our punishment was, ‘Hey, here’s a lingerie match right after you did something extraordinary,’ or here’s like, I don’t know, a swimsuit match. They would do stuff like that to kind of see what we’d do. It’s like okay, what are they gonna throw at us at this point? I turned it into, in my kind, I turned it into like a game. Like okay, let’s see what they’re gonna have us do now. [Laughs]. Okay, they wanna see our reaction to this.”
Melina left WWE in 2011 and headed out onto the independent scene later making appearances in NWA and IMPACT Wrestling. The former Women’s Champion made a surprise WWE return, at the 2022 Royal Rumble.
H/t to Fightful