Kelly Kelly began pro wrestling in 2006, debuting in WWE’s ECW revival before moving to Raw and SmackDown. Soon, Kelly Kelly became a star of the Divas Division, as it was called at the time, and a WWE Divas Champion before retiring in 2012. In six years, she was an “exhibitionist,” a babyface champion, and a member of The Miz’s dance troupe. So let’s take a look at each version of Kelly Kelly, and relive her career.
Kelly Kelly is the 3rd ECW Original, along with Francine and Ariel, having debuted on the show’s first episode in 2006. She was introduced to fans as an “exhibitionist” who did a striptease at the entrance ramp. Kelly was a prop to get Mike Knox over as a heel, as he played the controlling boyfriend who interrupted dances by throwing a towel on her and forcing her to be his valet.
Kelly was a face and her abusive boyfriend was a heel, similar to Randy Savage/Miss Elizabeth. Her big storyline involved backstage flirtations with CM Punk that made Knox jealous, but Knox was such a bad heel that he abandoned her during a mixed tag team match.
5. ECW Singles Star
After her aforementioned dance troupe, Extreme Exposé disbanded in late 2007, Kelly ended up going solo thanks to a feud with her former Exposé partner Layla, who had turned heel on her and started the only women’s feud on the brand at the time. While the ECW revival was a mixed bag that had its moments, this run was not one of them. The problem here was that the lack of an ECW Women’s Championship meant that there was nothing for the two women to do after they settled their grudges in the ring. While a feud gave Kelly Kelly some direction, no matter what happened the direction here would have to be “go to Raw or SmackDown.”
4. Extreme Exposé
After the Mike Knox storyline, Kelly returned as part of Extreme Exposé with Layla and Brooke. Less provocative than Kelly’s solo act, Extreme Exposé was ECW’s version of the Nitro Girls, but with more of a plot function. It was revealed that The Miz owned their contracts, so they worked as his valets in addition to dancing.
This led to a feud between Miz and Balls Mahoney as the latter began fostering a romance with her. While that’s pretty goofy considering the physical mismatch as well as the age gap, it was one of the more oddly charming examples of that common storyline where a hot person is in love with a weird-looking monster. This run would end, however, with the release of Brooke, forcing Extreme Exposé to disband leaving Kelly and Layla as single competitors in WWE.
3. WWE Legend
Kelly Kelly retired at 25, so when she appears in modern WWE as a “legend,” it’s cognitive dissonance to see her in her 30s with aging retirees like Ron Simmons. But her youth means she can still perform, as evidenced by her 2018 Royal Rumble, Evolution battle royal, and 2020 Royal Rumble appearances. She also won the 24/7 Title in 2019. While she was never a gifted in-ring competitor, it’s nice to see WWE value her enough for a nostalgia appearance, even if it’s frustrating how quickly many Divas Era performers were put out to pasture. And it’s great to hear “Holla Holla Holla” and Kelly showing she can still hold her own.
2. Main Roster Run
In 2008, Kelly Kelly moved from ECW to Raw where she feuded with Beth Phoenix and Jillian Hall and challenged Maryse for the Divas Title. After a couple of years, she moved to SmackDown and feuded with LayCool and Edge in a feud against Vickie Guerrero. She was the only woman in WWE to successfully defend the World Heavyweight Championship with Edge. This era showed Kelly as a rising babyface, leading to her becoming the top star of the division and a crowd favorite.
1. Divas Championship
In 2011, Kelly went from SmackDown to Raw and got a strong push thanks to a feud with the Bella Twins. Her victory over Brie Bella earned her the Divas Championship and a Slammy later that year. From there, she feuded with Beth Phoenix and took her and Eve Torres to WrestleMania XXVIII alongside Maria Menounos. This run gave Kelly Kelly the most exposure and brightest spotlight of her career, but it was also shockingly short. She left WWE in 2012 to deal with injuries.