McCool in April 2016
|Birth name||Michelle Leigh McCool|
|Born||January 25, 1980|
Palatka, Florida, United States
|Residence||Austin, Texas, United States|
|Alma mater||Florida State University|
(m. 2001; div. 2006)
Mark Calaway (m. 2010)
|Professional wrestling career|
|Billed height||5 ft 10 in (178 cm)|
|Billed weight||127 lb (58 kg)|
|Billed from||Palatka, Florida|
|Trained by||Deep South Wrestling|
Ohio Valley Wrestling
|Debut||November 18, 2004|
|Retired||May 1, 2011|
Michelle Leigh Calaway (née McCool; born January 25, 1980) is an American retired professional wrestler. She is best known for her time with WWE, where she is a former two-time WWE Divas Champion and a two-time WWE Women's Champion.
McCool originally worked as a middle school teacher in Palatka, Florida. She joined WWE in 2004 after participating in the WWE Diva Search. In her initial on-screen appearances, she utilized the character of a personal trainer, before changing it to that of a teacher. At The Great American Bash in 2008, McCool became the inaugural WWE Divas Champion, holding the title for approximately five months. She then won the WWE Women's Championship at The Bash in 2009, becoming the first female wrestler to have held both titles. At Night of Champions in 2010, she unified both titles becoming the first and only WWE Unified Divas Champion. McCool held both titles on two occasions, which makes her a four-time champion overall. In November 2010, she was ranked number one in Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Female 50, and she retired the following year.
Both of McCool's parents work in education; her mother, Mary, is a teacher and her father, Terry, is a superintendent. She has an older brother who played football at the University of Cincinnati. Growing up, McCool was an avid wrestling fan, going as far as knowing how to do Ric Flair's signature maneuver, the figure-four leglock, by age seven. Before and during high school, McCool played softball, basketball and volleyball. She also played first base at Pasco-Hernando State College. McCool later received her Master's degree in Educational leadership from Florida State University, and taught seventh grade science for four years in her hometown of Palatka, Florida. She also competed in National Physique Committee fitness contests, taught gymnastics and kickboxing, and worked as a personal trainer.
McCool first came to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) as a competitor in the 2004 WWE Diva Search, losing to Christy Hemme. Although she was eliminated, WWE signed her to a three-year deal in November. She quickly began appearing in backstage segments on SmackDown! portraying a fitness trainer and teaching various wrestlers stretches. She wrestled in her first SmackDown! match, teaming with The Big Show to defeat Dawn Marie and René Duprée on March 3, 2005. McCool made her singles debut match on March 24, losing to Marie. A few months later, McCool became a part of the feud between MNM (Johnny Nitro and Joey Mercury) and Heidenreich when she defended Heidenreich against MNM's manager Melina's verbal attacks. In a match on June 30, Melina defeated McCool by pinning her with the illegal aid of the ring ropes as leverage.
McCool was then sent to WWE's developmental facility, Deep South Wrestling (DSW), where she wrestled, performed interviews, hosted segments, and provided color commentary. While in DSW, she was hospitalized after having an allergic reaction to a prescribed medication and was temporarily sidelined to recover. Eventually, she started to train in WWE's other developmental territory, Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW). While in OVW, she began managing the duo of Amish Roadkill and K.C. James.
McCool returned to SmackDown! on June 2, 2006, this time as a villainous character with a "sexy teacher" gimmick, playing on her real life experiences as a teacher. Upon her arrival, she aligned with Kristal Marshall to feud with Jillian Hall and Ashley Massaro. This feud led to a Fatal Four-Way Bra and Panties match at The Great American Bash, which Massaro won. She won her first singles match on the July 28 episode of SmackDown!, defeating Hall by illegally using the ropes as leverage.
Soon after, she began acting as valet for the team of K. C. James and Idol Stevens, who, because of her association with them, were nicknamed The Teacher's Pets. The trio began feuding with Paul London and Brian Kendrick, and their valet Massaro, for the WWE Tag Team Championship, but never won the title. The feud ended when London and Kendrick won a match against them at No Mercy in October. On November 28, McCool was hospitalized with an enlarged kidney, a broken sternum, and an electrolyte imbalance.[a] She was released from the hospital on December 2. McCool returned on the March 30, 2007, episode of SmackDown!, where she participated in a 10-Diva tag team match. On the April 13 episode of SmackDown!, McCool became a fan favorite again, when she came to the aid of Ashley after she was attacked by Jillian Hall backstage. Subsequently, a series of matches took place between Victoria and McCool, including a mixed tag team match where Victoria and Kenny Dykstra defeated McCool and Chuck Palumbo.
McCool was then repackaged as "The All-American Diva", where she began accompanying her on-screen friend Chuck Palumbo during matches against Jamie Noble. After a series of matches between the men, Noble won a date with McCool by defeating Palumbo. In the storyline, Palumbo accidentally elbowed McCool during a match, causing her to suffer a concussion. The partnership was dissolved when McCool refused to accept his apology. She then went on to compete in a series of matches with Victoria, Eve Torres, Maryse and Cherry to determine SmackDown!'s top Diva, with McCool winning title.
On the July 4, 2008, episode of SmackDown!, McCool won a Golden Dreams match to face Natalya for the WWE Divas Championship at The Great American Bash. At the event, on July 20, McCool defeated Natalya to become the inaugural WWE Divas Champion. McCool successfully defended the title against Maryse on SmackDown and at the Unforgiven pay-per-view in September, and against Maria on SmackDown in November. On the December 26 episode of SmackDown!, McCool lost the Divas championship to Maryse. After the match McCool turned heel by attacking Maria, the special guest referee of the match, and blaming her for the loss. In the following weeks, McCool also attacked Eve Torres, resulting in Torres' debut match, which McCool won.
McCool then defeated Gail Kim on the May 22, 2009, taping of SmackDown to become the number one contender for the WWE Women's Championship. A month later at The Bash, McCool defeated Melina -- with help from Alicia Fox -- to win her first Women's Championship. With her win, McCool became the first Diva to have won both the WWE Divas and Women's championships. She retained the championship against Melina in a rematch on July 26 at Night of Champions, and also in a Lumberjill match on the October 2 episode of SmackDown!.
McCool then allied with Layla to form LayCool, and the duo entered a controversial feud with Mickie James, in which LayCool bullied James and made fun of her weight. The feud resulted in a five-on-five Survivor Series match at the 2009 Survivor Series, which James' team won, when Melina pinned McCool. James then became the number one contender for McCool's WWE Women's Championship at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, where McCool successfully retained the championship after interference from Layla. McCool lost the Women's Championship to James at the Royal Rumble, although she regained it on the February 26, 2010, episode of SmackDown! when special guest referee Vickie Guerrero interfered, to become a two-time Women's Champion. On the April 23 episode of SmackDown!, McCool and Layla defeated Beth Phoenix and Mickie James, and attacked Phoenix after the match. This led to McCool losing the championship to Phoenix in an "Extreme Makeover" match at Extreme Rules. On the May 14 episode of SmackDown!, McCool and Layla faced Phoenix in a Women's Championship two-on-one handicap match, in which Layla pinned Phoenix to win the championship. Despite Layla's win, McCool and Layla cut the Women's Championship in half, and the duo were unofficially referred to as the "co-champions".
On the July 30 episode of SmackDown!, McCool took Layla's place in her Women's Championship match against Tiffany, defeating her and retaining the title. At Night of Champions, McCool defeated Melina to unify the WWE Women's Championship with the WWE Divas Championship, becoming the first WWE Unified Divas Champion, and both McCool and Layla carried their own separate championship belts. At Survivor Series on November 21, she lost the Divas Championship when Natalya defeated McCool and Layla in a two-on-one handicap match. At TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs, McCool and Layla were defeated in the first Divas tag team tables match by Natalya and Beth Phoenix. LayCool invoked their rematch clause in January 2011, prompting the scheduling of a two-on-one handicap match at the Royal Rumble. At the event, however, the match was altered to a fatal four-way with the addition of Eve Torres, who won the match.
On the April 8 episode of SmackDown!, dissension began to show between McCool and Layla after they were defeated by Beth Phoenix and Kelly Kelly, due to McCool avoiding being tagged in by Layla, citing a back injury. After more arguing and unsuccessful couples therapy sessions in the following weeks, LayCool officially disbanded. On the April 29 episode of SmackDown, McCool faced Layla in a singles match, which ended in a double countout after the two began brawling. After the match, Layla challenged McCool to a no disqualification and no countout match at Extreme Rules. McCool accepted under one condition, which was that the loser leaves WWE. At Extreme Rules, McCool was pinned by Layla, forcing her to leave WWE.
On January 22, 2018, McCool was honored as part of a segment involving women that contributed to the company's success on the WWE Raw 25 Years special episode. The following week as fan favorite , she was a surprise entrant in the inaugural women's Royal Rumble match at the 2018 Royal Rumble, making the most eliminations in the match at five before being eliminated by Natalya. In October, McCool took part in the all women's pay-per-view, WWE Evolution, by participating in a battle royal. She was eliminated from the match by Ember Moon.
During the week of November 5, 2007, she appeared on six episodes of Family Feud with several other WWE wrestlers and Divas. She also appeared on the February 6, 2008, episode of Project Runway with Maria Kanellis, Candice Michelle, Torrie Wilson, Kristal Marshall, and Layla El. On June 3, 2008, she appeared on The Best Damn Sports Show Period with John Cena. In addition, McCool appeared in the January 2009 edition of Muscle & Fitness, along with Eve Torres and Maryse. She also appeared on a special WWE edition of Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader.
McCool was married to Jeremy Louis Alexander, whom she began dating in high school. The couple divorced in 2006. She married fellow wrestler Mark Calaway, known professionally as The Undertaker, on June 26, 2010, in Houston, Texas. Their first child together, a daughter, was born in August 2012.
She has had several wrestling-related injuries; in November 2007, she fractured her nose during an overseas WWE tour after Victoria's clothesline hit her in the face. She has been hospitalized twice, had two broken ribs, a broken sternum, and a broken xiphoid process. When she chose to leave the WWE, she mentioned that her foot had been injured for two months with a broken toe, torn joint capsules and a torn MCL. In 2016, McCool was diagnosed with skin cancer, and underwent treatment. In April 2019, McCool disclosed she had struggled with infertility, and had suffered several miscarriages.
first-ever Divas Tag Team Tables Match
millions of women, including myself, who struggle with infertility. [...] 13 rounds of IVF [...] & 3 miscarriages later