Traditionally, if a belt-holder going to be out for a length of time, they usually drop the belt (Batista and Edge with the World Heavyweight Championship in 2006-2007).
However, I can recall the WWE s crewingup a situation with the women's title- I already have given my thoughts on Chyna/Lita at Judgment Day 2001.
But, there was another instance of a champion gone for a while, yet they somehow didn't have to drop the belt- Trish Stratus in 2005.
That year, Trish was gone 5 months with a herinated disc in her back (she was taken off TV when Viscera splashed her at Backlash).
But for some reason, the WWE did not either strip her of the title via the 30 day rule (see Edge and the IC belt in 2004) or vacate the belt because of the injury (as I mentioned earlier, Batista and Edge with the WHC). Imagine if HHH had not dropped the IC/Tag Team belts in May 2001 prior to his quad injury.
The women's division in that stretch when Trish was out and there was no title was not exactly doing great- Diva Search, T&A-related stuff- and I feel that if they had done something with the belt, that situation might have been bettered.
IMHO, this had a bit of an effect on the current Divas at the time. Consider the possibilities had they done something with the belt instead of let Trish keep it while she was hurt:
Victoria- she could have been a good champ during that stretch. Considering how she was misused at times during her run in the WWE, maybe she could have held down the fort until Trish came back.
Christy Hemme- don't laugh. Had they given Christy a chance to prance around with the title (other Diva Search winners have been champ, so don't think it's impossible), she might have fared better with the WWE than she did (and if so, who knows if she goes to TNA). It could have made sense- maybe have Trish put her over before she takes that time off and give Christy a bit of revenge for what Trish did on-screen earlier that year.
Lita- she was a red-hot heel in the summer of 2005- potential blown opportunity. They made up for this a year later, but Lita was near the end of the road. If it was done a year earlier- smart decision?
SmackDown- maybe have an interpromotional Battle Royal for the belt and perhaps a SmackDown Diva is champ for the time being? It could have REALLY legitimized Melina even more when she was with MNM. (IMO, SmackDown Divas for a while were behind the RAW Divas)
All in all, a lot of what-ifs and potential scenarios that never were because an injured champ drop the belt for once.
I don't blame Trish- I blame the WWE. Major mistake here.