Sliced Bread: Jillian Hall Makes Return to WWE at Royal Rumble

Jillian Hall
“You know you want me, you can’t take your eyes away from me, I’m the hottest thing since sliced bread, when the boys see me they turn red…” Those are the lyrics to “Sliced Bread”, the theme song for former WWE Diva Jillian Hall, who made her triumphant return to the WWE for the first time since September of 2010, and one of several surprise returns at the 2021 Women’s Royal Rumble (alongside Victoria, Alicia Fox, and Torrie Wilson). From 2005 through 2010, Jillian Hall had several roles on WWE television, best remembered for her Britney Spears-style singer who seemed oblivious of the fact she wasn’t a very good singer, but she was a veteran of the US indies before she signed with WWE in 2003.

Jillian Hall started her career in pro wrestling in 1998, when she joined Cincinnati, Ohio’s Northern Wrestling Federation (NWF), and was trained at the promotion’s school under Roger Ruffen. As an 18-year old, she competed under the name Macaela Mercedes, and over the next few years would become a belt collector in various US indies. In Ohio, she worked with Hoosier Pro Wrestling (HPW), winning both the HPW Cruiserweight and HPW Women’s Championship, and Superstar Wrestling Federation (SWF), where she was an SWF Women’s Champion and 2x SWF Tag Team Champion (she frequently competed in intergender matches).
She competed regularly on the US indies from 1998 through 2003, competing for many early all-women promotions like Professional Girl Wrestling Association (PGWA) and Women’s Wrestling Alliance (WWA), and in 2002 competed in CHIKARA in a match against future SHIMMER star Lexie Fyfe. She also competed for Apocalypse Wrestling Federation (AWF) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where she feuded over the GLORY Women’s Championship with “Fabulous Firebird” Phoenix for months. In 2003, she headed to Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), where she first began to compete under her real name, Jillian Hall.

Since 1999, OVW had become the developmental territory for WWE, and after months of training under WWE Superstars Dave “Fit” Finley and Lance Storm (who were acting as trainers at OVW as well), she was signed by WWE in 2004. She was part of an OVW class of new women recruits that included Ring of Honor wrestler Alexis Laree (who would become Mickie James) and her old rival Phoenix (who would become Beth Phoenix), marking one of the first class of indie talents recruited by WWE following the demise of WCW and ECW and the rise of the indie revolution in the early 2000s (CM Punk, largely credited for starting WWE’s signings from the indies, didn’t sign with WWE until the summer of 2005). As well as being a standout women’s wrestler, she also became a manager of champions in early 2005, when she helped guide the Blonde Bombers (Tank & Chad Torland) to the OVW Southern Tag Team titles.

It was her work as a heel manager that led to her first appearance with WWE, when she arrived on SmackDown in July of 2005. When the tag team MNM (Joey Mercury & Johnny Nitro (aka John Morrison) lost their WWE Tag Team titles, their manager Melina saw it as “bad publicity”. So Melina brought in Jillian Hall as a “fixer” for the team, to work on rebuilding their publicity as the team’s PR consultant. Oddly, during her time as a consult, she sported an odd growth on her face.
She quickly got MNM a cover story for WWE’s SmackDownMagazine and began to handle pre-and post-match introductions for the team. In September, she left MNM to become the new Image Consultant for John “Bradshaw” Layfield (JBL), who had lost a match against Rey Mysterio. Embarrassed at losing to such a smaller wrestler, JBL wanted Hall to help rebuild his brand. With Hall under his employ. JBL beat Mysterio in a rematch at WWE No Mercy that October, and at WrestleMania 22 in 2006, he defeated Chris Benoit to win the WWE United States Championship.
During her time with JBL, she was also part of a backstage feud between JBL and The Boogeyman, which resulted in Boogeyman “eating” the growth off her face. Shortly after his WrestleMania win, however, JBL fired Jillian Hall from his employ after she accidentally closed a steel cage door on his hands and for what he called a “second rate” celebration after his US title win. With her ousting from JBL’s camp, Jillian Hall became a face for the first time on WWE television.

Now that she was free being a PR person for other WWE Superstars, Jillian Hall would finally get to enter the WWE ring as a full-time competitor. While she had competed in matches previously, making her in-ring debut in October 2005 on WWE Velocity in a win over Stacy Keibler, her ring appearances were sporadic at best and usually on live events instead of TV. But after her dismissal from JBL, she began to feud with her former partner Melina, helping the team of Brian Kendrick & Paul London in their feud with MNM.
She then formed a tag team with Ashley Massaro, but it fell apart and Hall turned heel soon after, growing jealous that Massaro had appeared in Playboy instead of herself. It was during this feud that her most remembered character, that of the failed singer, emerged, as in her attempts to prove she was more talented than Ashley, she began to sing to the WWE audience. She would go on to feud with the likes of Michelle McCool and by the summer of 2007, she had patched up with Melina and the two began to work together as a tag team.

By 2008, she was on the outs with Melina once again and the paired feuded, and Hall also had feuds with Mickie James, Candice Michelle, Kelly Kelly, and Maria Kanellis. In 2009, she would briefly form an alliance with former indie rival Beth Phoenix, and that October, she defeated her OVW rival, Mickie James, for the WWE Divas Championship. Her title reign lasted only minutes, however – moments after her victory, she was challenged by her on-again-off-again friend Melina, losing it to Melina in under a minute. It marked the peak of Hall’s WWE career – she would be used less and less throughout 2010 and was released from her contract in November. Her last WWE match was in tag team action, losing to The Bella Twins (Nikki & Brie Bella) on WWE Superstars with tag partner Alicia Fox on September 30.

Following her release, Jillian Hall returned to the US indies, where she has competed for the likes of New York City’s Warriors of Wrestling (WOW), Women Superstars Uncensored (WSU), and many more. In September of 2012, she had a dark match tryout with TNA/IMPACT Wrestling, losing to Tara (former WWE Superstar Victoria), and made her TNA televised debut at the One Night Only: Knockouts Knockdown in 2013, in a loss to Velvet Sky. Jillian Hall has continued to make sporadic appearances in the US indies as well as multiple wrestling conventions over the years before her WWE return on Sunday night.

In her surprise return at Sunday’s Royal Rumble, Jillian Hall perfectly interacted with Billie Kay, the former IIconics member who has seemingly had an identity crisis since her tag team was disbanded. After failed attempts to earn entry into the Riott Squad, Jillian and Billie – referred to as Billie & Jilly during the match – became a dream duo.

Will Jillian Hall’s enthusiastic return lead to a return to the company, even short term in a program with Billie Kay? Could it lead to a resurgence of bookings on the US indies? Hard to say, but its clear Jillian Hall had a blast returning to the WWE Universe, and judging by the remarks on social media, it appears that the oft-maligned Divas Era of the mid-2000s has found much more love from the women who grew up with that era and became pro wrestlers because of it.

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