Courtesy Journey of a Frontman / By Alex Obert
I sat down with Trish to get caught up on all the recent happenings, and of course reflect on some of her best memories in the WWE. She’s also been keeping an eye on the women who have made a huge impact on NXT and has a lot to say about them. (And the vision that Triple H has for the future as well!)
Alex Obert: So you’ve been making appearances with Lita as of late at various events. But going way back, what was your first impression of her when you two met?
Trish Stratus: We were both brand new to the WWE. We knew we were coming into this crazy world together and we were both nervous. We met each other over the phone actually as I was waiting for my Visa to be processed before I could enter the US for work. We came into WWE at the same time knowing there was not really a place for women in the current landscape as far as wrestling went. We were in a unique spot where we were there for the beginning of it all. Though we were nervous to be in this world, we luckily connected and had one another to support each other because we realized that this was a great opportunity we were being given. We hit it off right away. They saw the chemistry between us and thought that would translate really well in ring. And it did. The fans got really into it. There was a rivalry from the beginning. Once Lita and Trish were in the ring, it was on.
Alex Obert: How did you feel about her unique look?
Trish Stratus: I always thought she had a great look – her ‘character’ so to speak, had a great look. And when I say ‘character’, I mean her whole package – from her outfits to her moveset and her matching attitude – it was all great. And the fans loved it too. I’ve always felt that it was our responsibility of the Superstars to present a package to help define the identity of our character. She nailed that right from the beginning.
Alex Obert: Throughout the last few years, you were both involved with Tough Enough on separate seasons. Have you two gotten a chance to reflect on your Tough Enough experiences? What did you both agree you took out of it?
Trish Stratus: We did exchange some thoughts. We both were feeling like that came at a good time for us, we were excited about the idea of passing on some of the knowledge we had gained from being in the business for so long. We both enjoyed the opportunity to work with and develop some of the up and coming talent and potential future Superstars.
While you two engaged in feuds throughout the years with different storylines, which way did you prefer who was the face and who was the heel?
I think our funnest work from my perspective was probably when I was heel as she was a babyface. It was when I was making fun of her during the pregnancy, the Kane angle – well, recalling that now – I think it was more fun for me than her during that time. I had a lot of fun with the Trish Stratus character during that time as I was exploring my new found ‘bitch’ role. When she finally broke out of that pregnant victim role, we got to see the Lita attitude back on. That was good stuff between us. I also like what was going on when Carlito and I were aligned and her and Edge were a couple. She was a pretty good bitch as well. We had so many angles and I guess years in the WWE, there were even times when we were on the same team for brief moments. When she came back from injury, we were together. We teamed up when WCW and WWE went against each other. We’ve had all different variations of facing each other and it’s worked every time. That’s unique thing to have.
When you turned heel at Wrestlemania XX, it really was a breath of fresh air.
For sure! The original story was that the Jericho/Stratus romance was finally supposed to come true, the couple that the fans loved seeing together and go through so much would finally be back together. Vince came to us the day of Wrestlemania and said, “So we’re gonna change this up.” And we’re like, “What…?” You know, you gear your mind towards something and literally all the work we had done was with the foreshadowing of what was gonna happen. And, Jericho and I were were looking forward to working together because Chris and I have a good relationship and we like working together. We weren’t sure what to make of Vince’s plan to spin that completely on its head and go a total different direction. But Vince just knows. I didn’t think it was the right move at the time, but we did it. It turned out to be the right move for sure. And, Jericho and I were still able to capitalize on our chemistry in the ring, just on opposite sides. It absolutely breathed fresh life into the Trish Stratus character. I got to grow the most during that phase in my career. It was awesome.
Who helped you to become comfortable with promos?
It was mostly just working on the material. The more you did it, the better you got, as each week was an opportunity to flesh out your character more. Of course, working alongside with my writers, like Brian Gerwitz, we worked together to find her tone and disposition.
While making appearances here and there after 2006, did you get a chance to connect with anyone in particular backstage?
When you work with someone in this business, you really get to know them. They are your world for either a few weeks or a few months. Working with Michelle McCool and Layla was really great. I got to know them a lot more because I didn’t really know them before that. We were in the same company, but when you work on different shows, Raw versus Smackdown, there really isn’t an opportunity for crossover. It was nice to connect with Nattie every time I went back – I love that girl, she is such a sweetheart and absolutely loves the business. I don’t think there is anyone more passionate about the business. We never got the chance to actually work together so catching up all those years later was cool.
How do you feel about the women who have been making names for themselves on NXT?
I think it’s amazing. It’s about time. The girls are ready and the fans are ready. I’m really excited to see what’s gonna happen. I think they’re doing a fantastic job. I want to see who is going to break out from the girls now since they came in as a cluster. It’s an exciting time to see these strong characters, these strong athletes, and to be able to sit back and watch who is going to break out and be that star. They’re all stars. They are all great in the ring – and what I love is they all have pretty defined characters from what we’ve seen so far. I’m proud of them. It’s a good time for women in our business right now.
Bayley and Sasha Banks main-eventing TakeOver in an Ironman match was a huge step forward. The last time something like that happened was when yourself and Lita main evented RAW in 2004.
It’s amazing. It was a bold move for NXT to do that, an amazing move. The great thing is that they’ll sometimes give you the ball to see if you can run with it, and they did. They completely represented and they totally killed it. They proved that women can hold that spot. They showed the world that the women can hang like the men do in the ring.
What’s your advice for these women to stand out and continue to make names for themselves?
They have to challenge themselves and step out of the box every time they go out there. They have to stand out and give the fans something that intrigues them and will make them want to see more of them. I think people get used to their go-to moves and like staying in their comfort zone. But, even if its working, you still gotta mix it up. At the end of the day, it’s about going out there and making it the best damn two minutes you’ve ever made for yourself. Also spotting the opportunity to do that is important. I think right now is the time we are waiting for that big star from the women to break out.
How do you feel about this vision for NXT coming from Triple H?
Well the thing about Triple H is he’s very smart and is a visionary really. As the person in charge of talent, his job is to recognize their abilities, spot their potential, then provide them with the opportunity that could elevate them that way they can make the most of them in the company. The cool thing is that he looked at the Divas division and he didn’t just see them as women, he saw these amazing athletes and characters that could do well on the show and connect with the fans. That’s what he did, he gave them the opportunity. Once the fans connect with them, they’re golden. It’s cool to see Triple H in this role, it’s no coincidence this vision is coming from a multi-time champion who knows a thing or two about what works in the ring.
On another note, what might we find on your iPod?
Right now, there’s a lot of toddler tunes. (laughs) But I’m really diverse. I have everyone from Elvis to Led Zeppelin to Black Eyed Peas. It depends on my mood and what I’m doing at the time. I like to have it mixed up in there. Then you’ll also get my zen yoga stuff on there. It really is a mishmosh of everything.
What television programming have you had to watch over and over as the result of having a child?
Baby Einstein has been a mainstay on our TV since Max was an infant. It is a learning DVD that is set to classical music, so I never minded having that on. He still asks for that to be put on. And, not sure if it is connected or not but Max loves music and is obsessed with instruments. Since he was 18 months he would rattle off the names of various instruments, like french horn, violin, etc. I took him to the orchestra recently, and my 2-year old sat through a 2 hour symphony and violin concerto completely transfixed. It was amazing. So I think those DVDs are amazing. We also went through a Wiggles obsession and now a show called Caillou is big on the playlist – but I think that is a Canadian show.
Throughout the years, what were some of your favorite outfits that you wore on WWE programming? I’ll always remember the red and white outfit that was representing the Canadian flag.
That was at Wrestlemania in Toronto with 68,000 people at the SkyDome. That was iconic for me to have that on in Toronto. I think the phase in the beginning with the valet stuff was really fun. If you saw my closet, there was a point where there were just rows and rows of boots, tons of hats and jackets. I knew that as a character, I wanted to make sure that ‘Trish Stratus’ was a character. You know, I thought, “If she was a Halloween costume, what would she be?” So that’s why I really put a lot of attention into what she wore. When I returned from my back injury for the tail end of my career I worked with a stylist (Madistyles), and those outfits were really fun and had a good defined ‘look’, stylistically anyway. A few mentionables were outfits done by the long-time WWE seamstresses – they do amazing work. I really liked the outfit Julie had made me for my Backlash match against Mickie – I was disappointed I didn’t get more out of the outfit. What I mean by that is that match was cut short as I dislocated my shoulder during the match so we wrapped up earlier that we should have. What was fun was as my character evolved, so did my outfits and the style. One constant was my 100% Stratusfaction Guaranteed logo – that always made the cut. I actually coined that phrase before I came into the wrestling world, having developed that while I was in the fitness industry.
Before we wrap up, what can readers expect from you heading into 2016?
I’m really excited about my upcoming movie, called Gridlocked – it should be out spring or summer of 2016. I star alongside Danny Glover, Dominic Purcell and Stephen Lang. It’s basically like a throwback to the 1980s action flicks. We’ve had two premieres already and it was met with great reviews. I’m just really proud to be a part of this. Especially for my second feature film – I was very lucky to be surrounded by such a strong cast. And, everyone was very supportive of my growth – I learned a ton on set. Then there’s my site, TrishStratus.com that continues to grow as my brand Stratusphere continues to evolve. We have 3 DVDs out so far, and we are in pre-production for the fourth. I just finished developing a new line of wellness teas, which will be out soon. And my yoga and fitness products – thanks to my great partners we are working to create new products to add to the assortment. With all the Stratusphere products, we working on getting people healthy and living balanced lifestyles.
Did you utilize yoga as a full-time wrestler or did it become a part of your life afterwards?
During wrestling. I discovered yoga as a means to rehabilitate my herniated disk which put me out of action in 2005. But I can say this, when I came back from the injury – having the yoga in my life made me a better performer for sure. Athletically and being able to recover better it made a huge impact on me in the ring and outside of it as well. So much so that once I retired it was what I pursued as a business venture – I opened my first iyoga studio (Stratusphere) in 2008. And, we had a pop up studio at the Ritz Carlton in Toronto in 2014.
Have you gotten a chance to chat with DDP over yoga? How do you feel about his approach and what he has done?
We have chatted and I think he is doing a great job spreading the word about yoga. We share a lot of the same philosophies actually. Both of our styles integrate strength training into a yoga flow. This perspective no doubt came from us being high level athletes.
In regards to Gridlocked, how much did promos and performing in front of huge audiences help with acting in a film?
It definitely helped. Although acting in a film is very different as we were always working to give big almost over the top reactions whereas in film its a more intimate medium, so I needed to dial that back once I began acting for film and television. What really helped was kicking ass for almost seven years. My fighting background has proved to be super helpful when doing these action movies. And, the ‘movie people’ are always stunned at how far we go and how real it looks. I kept getting asked if I was okay and I’d jump up and go ‘yup, that’s what I do best’.
In closing, would you say you have one last big match left in you?
I do. Absolutely. I mean physically, I’ve kept my training up and sure – in the past, I found out wrestling is like riding a bike. But, the question is, “Who would you want to see me wrestle?” It’s a matter of if the fans want to see me back and what they want to see. To me, it has to be a challenge. It has to be about elevating the game or elevating the person.
And a captivating storyline!
A hundred percent. I want people to be interested and Stratusfied.
Agreed. I’d love to thank you so much for your time.