TrishStratus.com special guest columnist Dan Calvarese looks at 'WWE Rivalries: Trish vs. Lita' airing now on WWE Network.
As a wrestling fan, when one says anything pertaining to Trish Stratus or Lita, what comes to mind? Some will say, “Their feud was so awesome!!” while others will say, “OMG their fans are insane and passionate!” There are hundreds of words and memories that go through any wrestling fan’s head when you mention either one of these WWE Hall of Famers. But I can sum them up (whether it be singled out or as a unit) with one simple word – AWESOME!
This week, fans of this legendary feud were able to relive it in a 45-minute special on the WWE Network. And with a show called Rivalries, how was this not given to us avid Team Bestie (we’ll dive back into that later) fans sooner?! While they had their highs and lows together, I think they will ultimately be remember for their epic feuds against one another.
The show starts off Trish’s Hall of Fame induction speech, showing the final chapter in the Diva’s career, thanking her bestie, Lita. Confusing, right?
We begin introducing the of Divas of the Attitude Era, before Lita and Trish. Those Divas included the likes of Sable, Jacqueline, Luna, Marlena/Terri, Molly Holly, Sunny, Tori (not Wilson!), Ivory, Miss Kitty/The Kat, and Debra. Trish and Lita joined the WWE towards the end the Attitude Era, but they made an impact enough to usher in a new era and are still hailed as a big part of the Attitude Era, both being a part of recent DVDs and books on the era.
As the special delves into Lita and Trish’s debuts respectively, we’re shown home videos of Lita, as well as some of her ECW footage. Lita made her debut in WWE in February 2000 as the valet of lucha libre star, Essa Rios. Lita gave us a very unique look that we weren’t use to, including the giant tattoo on her right shoulder as well as the fiery red hair. And to much surprise and excitement, Lita delivered a jaw-dropping moonsault after Essa Rios finished off his first victim in his WWE debut. This was so exciting because we never (or I never, I was 12 years old at the time) saw a Diva do something like that!
“Lita, she was so unique. She looked different from the other Divas and she was athletic and that’s how I see myself as and how I relate to her,” said WWE Diva Naomi.
Trish’s journey starts a little differently as a fitness model journeying into the wrestling world. “The transition between fitness modeling and being a WWE Diva was a little difficult. I definitely knew I wanted to be athletic, I knew that I wanted to be able to do what the guys do in the ring,” Trish said of the beginning of her career. Current Divas like Paige and Natalya note that she was definitely the norm in regards to what WWE was generally looking for in women, namely she had the right look, but Trish showed she was willing to take on any challenge and prove that she was more than just eye candy. Upon Trish’s debut, she scouted Test and Albert to form the tag team T&A.
Around that time, Lita parted ways with Essa Rios, to join the Hardy Boys and form Team Extreme. It only made sense to pin the new girl’s team against the other new girl’s team. Their opposite personalities and looks gave fans something to look forward to, hoping for a confrontation sooner rather than later. The thought quickly became a reality when the two Divas got their hands on each other.
“We had such a clash in personalities. I think when you bring that together, or you’re bringing this interesting dynamic, and Lita and I definitely brought that,” Trish said. “We knew every time that we went our there, we were kind of like the new kids on the block who had to prove ourselves every time. Luckily the fans got us, they understood us from the very beginning.”
Lita competed for and won the WWE Women’s Championship less than 6 months after her debut. As Lita took reign of the Divas division, Trish continued to step it up. Her desire to improve every time she stepped into the ring shone through to fans and trainers alike.
“She’s a tough girl and willing to try anything. We said ‘Okay, this is what we’re going to do. We’re going to get you to the top,’ and we worked at it, diligently,” trainer Dave Finlay a.k.a. Fit Finlay says.
With a new interest in the women's division, this brought in a new wave of talent to the forefront of the division, including Jazz, Victoria, Gail Kim, Molly Holly, Jacqueline, and Ivory. “Seeing the women do what they did, they’re not just hot chicks standing on the side, they’re amazing athletes, they’re a draw to the business,” says WWE Superstar Dolph Ziggler.
After a potential career-threatening injury in April 2002, Lita had to have surgery, and Trish took command the spotlight – and building the division. During that time, Trish collected three women’s championship reigns (four reigns in career total at this point). In September 2003, after a seventeen-month hiatus, Lita returned to save Trish from Molly Holly and Gail Kim. For a brief while, the two joined forces and dominated the Divas division. Trish and Lita even attempted to conquer the men’s division in an inter-gender match against Chris Jericho(Y2J) and Christian (CLB).
It was only a matter of time that their on-screen alignment would dissolve, as old tensions were reignited and the two were at odds again! With more experience under Trish's belt, and a renewed rivalry, the match-ups from the ladies were the best we've seen from them. It was this intensity and passion between both the women involved and the fans, that eventually led to WWE giving them the opportunity to main event Monday Night RAW for the Women’s Championship – something that had and still has never been done by two female Superstars. On the gesture, Lita says “It was just a really great nod. They wouldn’t have put us in that position if they didn’t think that we had that. I knew we were gonna kill it, she knew we were gonna kill it, and we did!”
After much praise for the RAW main event, Trish received her rematch at New Years Revolution for the title, but things did not go according to plan.
"Trish and I had a pay-per-view match, a very short pay-per-view match, that was not suppose to be a very short pay-per-view-match,” Lita says as we see slow motion replays of the injury happening. “I jumped off the side of the ring and did a Thesz Press onto Trish and my body went one way and my knee went the other way and man it was awful. It was like the first time in the ring that I didn’t know if I was gonna be able to finish the match. Third time I tried to do something, I just kept falling cause I couldn’t support my leg."
Lita also reveals that Trish and her reversed the finish of the match because they did not want the championship to be ‘dead in the water’. After winning the championship for a fifth time, Trish went on to hold the Women’s Championship for 448 days, making her the longest reigning women’s champion in 20 years. Trish continue to kick ass and take names in the women’s division while Lita began to explore her bad girl side as she aligned herself with the Rated-R Superstar, Edge. As the women began to reach a climax in their respective careers, they both reveal they came to the realization that it was time to move on as they have accomplished as much as they could at that given time. But, not without one last final battle…
Upon Lita announcing Trish’s plans to retire, Trish challenged Lita to a final match for the championship in her hometown of Toronto, Canada. The two went on to have one of the best women’s matches in that era, and will truly be remembered as one of the greatest rivalries of all time.
As we reach the end of the special, we go back to last year when Lita was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by none other than her bestie, Trish! Despite the love/hate relationship their characters display, there is no doubt that Trish and Lita show that the on-screen chemistry was more than just a gimmick. The genuine relationship between these two women lead the way for future women in the industry, and we’re still waiting for those shoes to be filled!