SAN JOSE, Calif. – Melina bared her teeth as she burned a hole into Candice Michelle. She fought back tears and could not believe her eyes as her hated rival hoisted the Women’s Championship in the air. Though Melina had repeatedly lost previous matches – including one for her Women’s Championship last month at Vengeance: Night of Champions – to the former GoDaddy girl, she still considered Candice a fluke.

Melina wasn’t the only one. Several critics believed the A-list Diva’s experience would overwhelm the relative full-time in-ring newcomer, and that she would regain the championship. However, Candice was victorious once again Sunday night at The Great American Bash, showing Melina and the world that she was not a fluke and indeed deserved to be Women’s Champion.

But Candice’s first championship defense was not easy. Before Sunday’s match, Melina promised to give her a beating and make her pay some “dues” – and she delivered. Candice’s screams drowned out the raucous crowd at the HP Pavilion at times. But Candice, who has said she makes up her lack of experience with her tremendous heart, showed the determination and resilience that has won a growing legion of fans and respect in the Raw locker room. Ultimately, she stunned Melina with a new move she called the Candywrapper, and left the Hollywood hobnobber flat on her back and counting the lights.

"This was really a battle for the championship," Candice said after the match. "Melina is really experienced, and I just wanted to show her that I'm still working, still coming up with new moves. ... I'm not going to back down from anyone."

As our fans saluted Candice, Melina screamed and tugged at her own brown locks. Once again, she had underestimated Candice, and the Women’s Championship slowly became a blur behind her tears of rage.

Candice was crying, too, but out of joy. She had passed her first test as champion and was well on her way toward making WWE and the rest of the world believe that she’s more than a pretty face.

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