THE SPECIALISTS SPECIAL REPORT: What is the Average Length of a WWE Diva’s Career? (Read the Buzzworthy Column covering 1990s to today)
Apr 9, 2015 - 2:12:38 PM
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By Michael Moore, PWTorch Collectibles specialist
The announcement of A.J. Lee’s “retirement” from WWE last week caught many fans off guard. One of WWE’s most popular acts who had just been given a WrestleMania win less than a week earlier was suddenly gone from the company. Given the relationship between WWE and A.J.'s husband, C.M. Punk, her departure really shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
But, Pro Wrestling Torch editor and publisher Wade Keller posed an interesting question on the April 4 VIP Wade Keller Hotline: was A.J.’s career really any shorter than that of most WWE Divas?
To answer this question, PWTorch conducted a special analysis of 46 women who have spent at least 12 months in a significant role on WWE television since 1995. That was the year that Tammy Sytch debuted in WWE as Sunny, which can, in many ways, be seen as the beginning of the Divas movement within WWE. Aksana, who debuted in WWE in late 2011, was the last person included in this analysis. Women like Paige and Emma have not spent enough time in WWE to be included.
This analysis excluded women who spent less than 12 months in WWE, did not wrestle regularly, or did not at least play a significant part in WWE storylines. For this reason, women such as Brooke Adams, Taryn Terrell, Nicole Bass, Cherry, and Joy Giovanni were excluded from this analysis. In addition, Vickie Guerrero was also excluded, because her role within WWE was considerably different from most women in the company as a non-wrestler.
Finally, this analysis looks only at the time these women spent on the main WWF/WWE roster, not in a developmental territory or another pro wrestling company. Start and end dates were gathered from Wikipedia which, while not exactly the most accurate source for research material, provides the most consistent data for an analysis such as this.
What’s Her Number?
The median length of a WWE career for these 46 women - meaning half were above and half were below - was 57 months, or 4.75 years. As of April 7, 2015, the two longest tenured women in WWE since 1995 have been Victoria and Layla (both at 101 months, or 8.42 years), followed by Terri Runnels (98 months, or 8.17 years), Natalya (84 months, or 7 years), and Torrie Wilson (83 months, or 6.92 years). Barring a release within the next month, Layla will probably surpass Victoria as the longest-tenured WWE Diva in history.
The five women with the shortest WWE runs are Christy Hemme (14 months), Stacy Carter (18 months), Linda Miles (20 months), Kristal Marshall (21 months), and Aksana (22 months).
So what about A.J. Lee? She was a prominent figure ever since debuting on WWE’s main roster, and was one of the company’s most popular personalities since breaking out in 2012. A.J.’s WWE main roster career lasted approximately 47 months, or 3.92 years (May 2011 to April 2015), putting her below the median. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, A.J.’s career was statistically significantly shorter (10 months, or 17.5 percent) than the median career of WWE Divas.
Some of A.J.’s active contemporaries, such as Natalya (84 months), Alicia Fox (82 months), Rosa Mendes (77 months), the Bella Twins (69 months over two WWE runs), and Tamina Snuka (59 months) have had considerably longer careers.
A Comparison of Eras
Does the era in which a Diva debuts affect the length of her career? For this part of the analysis, the Divas were broken up into four eras: Pre-Attitude Era (1995 to mid-1997), Attitude Era (late-1997 to the end of 2001), Post-Attitude Era (2002 to early-2008), and PG Era (mid-2008 to 2011). Keep in mind that these groups represent the era in which a woman debuted, not necessarily spent her entire career; for example, Sable and Chyna debuted in the Pre-Attitude Era but attained their greatest fame during the Attitude Era. Also, Luna Vachon is included in the Pre-Attitude Era group due to her initial 1993-94 WWF run.
Five women fell into the Pre-Attitude Era category, 11 into Attitude Era, 22 into Post-Attitude Era, and eight into PG Era. The longest median career average among these four groups was found in the Attitude Era (72 months). In fact, this group was the only one with a higher median than the overall total of 57 months. The median career for women who debuted in the Post-Attitude Era was 56 months, followed by the Pre-Attitude Era (55 months) and PG Era (47 months).
Somewhat surprisingly, women who participated in the much-maligned Divas Search from 2004 to 2007 and went on to careers in WWE have had longer careers than their counterparts, on average. The median career for ten women who participated in the WWE Diva Search (Christy Hemme, Maria, Michelle McCool, Candice Michelle, Ashley Massaro, Kristal Marshall, Layla, Maryse, Eve Torres, and Rosa Mendes) was 58.5 months. Again, women who had very brief runs on WWE TV, such as Amy Weber and Joy Giovanni, were not included in this analysis.
The Diva Search occurred from 2004 to 2007, which was during the Post-Attitude Era Period. ten the 10 Divas Search contestants who became WWE regulars, nine debuted during the Post-Attitude Era, while one (Rosa) debuted slightly later in the PG Era. The median career length for these nine women was 58 months, longer than the median career length of 54 months for the non-Divas Search women who also debuted during the Post-Attitude Era Period.
Age as a Factor
The median age for a woman making her debut on the main WWF/WWE roster was strikingly similar for three of the four periods: 28 for the Attitude Era and 29 for the Pre-Attitude and PG eras. The average age for a debuting Diva during the Post-Attitude Era was considerably lower (24).
This is due in large part to how WWE changed its recruiting strategies for women in the early--to mid-2000s. The median age for Tough Enough winners Nidia, Jackie Gayda, and Linda Miles at the time of their respective debuts was 23, and the median age for the nine Divas Search contestants who debuted on the main roster during the Post-Attitude Era was 24. Also during this period, WWE debuted extremely young women like Kelly Kelly (19) and Alicia Fox (21).
The median age for all women debuting on the main WWF/WWE roster for all four periods was 26, lowered significantly by the number of younger women who debuted during the Post-Attitude Era.
The median age at first departure from WWE for all groups was 30.21. Interestingly, there was no statistically significant difference for any of the four periods. The median age at first departure for women who debuted during the PG Era (31.75) was somewhat higher than the overall median age, while the median age at first departure for women who debuted in the Post-Attitude Era was somewhat lower (28.92).
There are a variety of factors that influence the duration of a WWE Diva’s career: age, health, politics, finances, career, and personal goals and so much more. But statistically speaking, there are some interesting facts that can be observed from this analysis.
The biggest stars don’t always have the longest careers. Sable, A.J. Lee and Sunny were among the biggest stars of their respective eras, but all three had careers that lasted less than the median average of all Divas. Many of the women with the longest careers were those who were considered strong workers, even if they weren’t always pushed as top stars (Victoria, Natalya, Lita, and Beth Phoenix.)
Women who debuted during a boom period (the Attitude Era) tended to have longer WWE careers than women who debuted during any other period. Women who debuted during the PG Era had the shortest median career length (47 months), even though the PG Era has already lasted longer than any of the previous periods used in this analysis.
The age at which women enter WWE’s main roster varied somewhat, mostly because of the aforementioned recruiting changes in the Post-Attitude Era. However, the median age at which women left WWE for the first (and usually last) time was right around 30. In other words, regardless of the period, half of the women who left WWE were younger than age 30 and half were older. This was true for all eras, whether the median age at the time of debut was 24 (Post-Attitude Era) or 29 (Pre-Attitude Era, PG Era).
A.J. Lee’s career may very well be representative of Divas’s careers of the modern era. She debuted (24) and left (28) at a younger age than most, but her approximately 47-month career was right in line with the median career length for Divas who debuted in the PG era (also 47 months).
Young wrestlers like Charlotte and Bayley could take these numbers into account while planning their WWE careers. WWE, meanwhile, may look at the median age at time of debut and exit, along with the median length of a WWE Diva’s career, and use these factors as major components of succession planning when it comes to the Divas division.
PWTorch Collectibles specialist Michael Moore is employed as a Research Analyst and has a working knowledge of statistics and research methods. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MMooreWriter.
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