What happens when you get two feisty, power-hungry women vying to be at the top? This certainly sounds like a recipe for disaster, and we learned (and loved!) this to be true. Coming on 15 years ago, Trish Stratus & Stephanie McMahon made history and took their rivalry to a whole ‘nother level in creating one of the most talked about women’s matches to this day.
It all started when Vince and Stephanie McMahon wanted to get rid of the “meddlesome bitch” they referred to as their wife and mother respectively – WWF/E CEO Linda McMahon. After Vince filed for divorce from Linda, she fell into a state of comatose, leaving her out of the father-daughter’s duel to reclaim the top spot in the company. And then came along Trish Stratus, who began a torrid love affair with the company’s chairman. Stephanie made it clear real fast that she was not going to let daddy’s new girlfriend use her assets gain control. After plenty of catfights over about two months, we finally got what we wanted – a proper match at No Way Out 2001.
Through their backstage segments, and catfights galore, we saw that Trish & Stephanie were more than willing to step it up, but fans weren't sure what to expect from their in-ring work considering neither lady was an accomplished grappler at this point in their respective careers. The match started out in typical catfight fashion, but quickly turned into a legitimate match once Stephanie pulled Trish’s legs causing her to fall hard on her back from the top ropes. Stephanie continued to dominate as they spilled outside the ring, where she delivered a clothesline from the top of the barricade. Once back in the ring, Trish gained the offense with a combo of slaps and kicks, followed by a bulldog and a DDT. But things turned quickly when Stephanie reversed a chokehold from the corner top rope and slammed Trish all the way to the middle of the ring! Following this, the matchup spilled to the outside once again. Once the ladies got back in the ring, Trish attempted a hurricanrana that Stephanie countered with a power bomb. It wouldn’t be a true Attitude Era matchup without an attempt by Stephanie to rip Trish’s clothes off to humiliate her. The final blow came when both ladies charged one another only to drive each other face-first into the mat. As they both lay motionless in the ring, William Regal ran in to help Trish get the win by pulling her on top of Stephanie for the count. Seconds later he changed his mind and put Stephanie's foot on the rope to break the count. An irate Trish flipped out on Regal and she delivered a few of her patented slaps until Regal dropped her with a neck breaker, which gave Stephanie the opportunity to cover Trish for the win.
While women’s wrestling has evolved to new heights in the past 15 years, at the time, both ladies delivered to well beyond the expectations of fans and critics around the world and told a great story. Between the time the ladies received to perform (8 minutes, 29 seconds) and the months of storyline and build preceding the match, it was obvious the company had the confidence in the duo to put on the best match they possibly could, and this shined through in every aspect. To this day, people still talk about this match and it was definitely the first step in Trish's transition from eye candy who can put on a good scuffle to a serious in-ring competitor. And so the journey began…
As for the Trish/Stephanie feud, it didn't quite end there, but that's another story for another time! I think good ol' J.R. spoke for the WWF/E Universe during that moment on February 25th, 2001 when he proclaimed, "This is amazing! This has gone beyond anything I've ever dreamed it would be going into this matchup!"