With the first WWE brand extension, a storyline division in which WWE assigned its employees to different television programs and touring companies, in 2002, the WWE Women's Championship was originally to be defended on both brands. At some point that year, however, it became exclusive to the Raw brand. Thereafter, only Divas on the Raw brand were able to compete for the title, while the Divas on the SmackDown brand were unable to compete for a women's-exclusive championship. However, on a few occasions the regulation was bypassed with Melina, Ashley, Torrie Wilson, and Nidia challenging for the title while on the SmackDown brand, but none were successful.
As a result, WWE created the WWE Divas Championship and introduced it on the June 6, 2008 episode of SmackDown when then SmackDown General Manager Vickie Guerrero announced the creation of the title. The championship belt was officially unveiled on the July 4, 2008 episode of SmackDown. After winning respective matches to earn the opportunity to wrestle for the new championship, Michelle McCool defeated Natalya at The Great American Bash to become the inaugural champion. When Maryse won the title from McCool in December 2008, she dislocated her kneecap at a live event later that month. Similar to how Trish Stratus kept the Women's Championship when she was sidelined with a herniated disc in 2005, Maryse was able to keep the Divas title upon her return in late January 2009. As part of the 2009 WWE draft, then Divas Champion Maryse was one of the people drafted to the Raw brand, in the process making the championship exclusive to Raw.
It was announced on the August 30, 2010 episode of Raw that the Divas Championship would be unified with the WWE Women's Championship at a match at Night of Champions. And with that, the title (known briefly as the WWE Unified Divas Championship) became accessible to both WWE brands and the champion could appear on both shows, a situation made permanent by the ending of the brand extension in 2011.
Eve Torres and AJ Lee hold the record for most reigns as Divas Champion with three each. AJ also has the longest title reign at 295 days, while Jillian Hall has the shortest reign at four minutes. Paige is the youngest Divas Champion in history, at 21 years of age, and is also the only woman to win the title in her debut. Layla is the oldest champion, having won at the age of 34.