Monday night on Raw saw Nikki Bella defend her WWE Divas Championship against Charlotte, in a match that would determine whether or not Nikki Bella surpassed AJ Lee as the longest reigning WWE Divas Champion of all time. While many fans expected Charlotte would end Nikki's reign right before she could surpass AJ's record, many were shocked to see Nikki retain her championship and become the longest reigning Divas Champion of all time, albeit in rather controversial circumstances. Now the conversation has turned to asking if Nikki should now be considered as one of the all time greatest Divas in WWE history? I started pondering this yesterday and I managed to find an answer I wanted to share with you all.
Nikki Bella has now been a WWE Diva since 2007 when she and her sister Brie were signed to developmental contracts with WWE. It's probably not unfair to say that when Nikki and Brie started out they were not exactly the most gifted in the ring. I'm sure I'm not the only fan who found themselves questioning why the Bella's were getting so much attention during their first run in WWE, which lasted until they left for the first time in 2012. While they were not perhaps as gifted in the ring as stars during that time like Natalya, Kharma, Beth Phoenix and Gail Kim they had a unique selling point in the fact they were twins, meaning they were high up on Vince McMahon's radar for making money which is what the ultimate aim for WWE is all about. Their in ring improvements since their return to the comapny can largely be attributed to Daniel Bryan and John Cena, whom Brie and Nikki respectively are in relationships with. The twins will have learnt a lot from both men on how to be better in the ring and I truly believe there is a vast difference in the Bella's of today as opposed to the Bella's of the past.
The title of All Time Great isn't just something that should be banded around. In my opinion you have to do several things of significance to earn that honor, so I thought I would look at what Nikki Bella has acheived over her WWE career thus far. Nikki is a two time WWE Divas Champion which saw her win the championship for the first time on April 23rd 2012, and won the championship again on 23rd November 2014, ironically defeating AJ Lee at Survivor Series to win the title. Nikki has also won one Slammy award, which doesn't really mean much in reality but Nikki and Brie won the Diva of the Year honor in 2013. While the achievements of Nikki Bella are pretty significant they hardly compare to someone like AJ Lee, who in total won the Divas Championship three times and held the title for a combined 406 days. As it stands Nikki Bella is only at 303 combined days (as of writing) so still has a long way to go to catch AJ. AJ achieved three slammy Award wins during her time in WWE too, as well as winning the Florida Championship Wrestling Women's Championship in 2010. While they had similar careers achievements it's clear Nikki still has work to do to surpass the achievements of AJ Lee.
For me you really get into territory of all time greatest Divas when you look at names like Beth Phoenix, Lita, and Trish Stratus. They were probably three of WWE's most popular and successful Divas the company has ever seen. Let's start with Beth Phoenix; Beth won the Divas Championship once but won the Women's Championship on three occasions for a total of 571 days with both belts and winning the 2008 Diva of the Year Slammy Award. Then we come to Lita, who had an incredible career that spanned from 1999 to 2012 and saw her win four Women's Championships with a combined reign of 160 days and entered the WWE Hall of Fame on 2014. And just to put this into perspective you have probably the greatest and most successful Diva of the modern era, Trish Stratus. If there is something in WWE Trish Stratus did not achieve during her six year in ring career then I would be surprised. Trish's achievements in WWE over those years include an impressive seven reigns as the WWE Women's Champion and holding the title for a combined 828 days, a three time Babe of the Year between 2001 and 2003, she was voted the Diva of the Decade, won the Hardcore Championship one time, and is in the 2013 Hall of Fame class. Hold up Nikki Bella's career against these three and I think it's fair to say Nikki has a lot still to achieve.
The other thing to really think about is Nikki's run as Divas Champion is going to be seen by some as a deliberate attempt by WWE to erase AJ Lee's longest reign from top spot. There are silly rumours flying around that WWE even want to give Roman Reigns the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, just so he can surpass CM Punk as the longest reigning champion of the modern era. That's all well and good but as a champion you would want it to be solely about you and benefiting your career and not having anything to do with simply erasing the name of someone the company is no longer on good terms with. Nikki Bella can no doubt be proud of her accomplishment, and she rightly should be. But there is always going to be that little niggle in the minds of some fans about whether this would have happened had AJ not left WWE or been married to CM Punk. Personally I'd like to believe WWE have given Nikki this honour because she has earned and deserved it.
There is no question that Nikki Bella has had a fantastic career up to now in WWE. There are not many Divas who can say they became the longest running Divas Champion in history, and some can't even say they were ever the Divas Champion. However I think it's a little too soon and presumptuous to proclaim Nikki Bella as one of the greatest Divas of all time. That isn't a knock on her at all because she has really come on so much as an in ring competitor over the years, but when you weigh her achievements up against a Diva like Trish Stratus the two are not even in the same league. Does Nikki have the potential to become one of the greatest Divas of all time? Of course she does, and I have no doubt that by the time her career comes to an end Nikki will be up there with the Lita's and Trish Stratus's of the world. At this time though the verdict for me is it's too early to even consider Nikki Bella as one of the all time greatest Divas.
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