Today in History: Stephanie McMahon “Defends” Her Title Against Lita

On this day in history:

June 8th, 2000 | Women’s Champion Stephanie McMahon wasn’t very diligent about defending her title, but on an episode of SmackDown she promised to give the winner of a Battle Royal a shot at the belt. The competitors probably figured out something wasn’t quite right when Stephanie’s friend Tori was appointed the referee, but they battled on, and Lita emerged as the new #1 contender. Before the title match could even start, though, Tori took out Lita, leaving her down for the count. Stephanie entered the ring and simply pinned Lita, and thereby retained her Women’s Title without breaking a sweat.

What are your memories of this moment? Tell us in the comments!

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  • http://ashmultimedia.wordpress.com melon2617

    I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Stephanie McMahon saved the women’s division. Fans HATED her character, hated that this “non-wrestler” was Women’s champion and for the first time since Sable, people actually cared about that belt. Fans were practically begging for Lita to take the strap off of her. It seemed like such a dunderheaded move on paper, but it was really successful.

    I’ve often wondered if Vickie could do something similar with the Divas title. She is a heat magnet and fans just straight up LOATHE her. Perhaps her taking the title off of Layla, setting up a feud with a new Diva who has history with Vickie (Kaitlyn?) and having Vickie carry the belt around for 2-3 months while “retaining” it with the help of other heel Divas or even baby girl Shaul until Kaitlyn finally takes it from her might really rejuvinate the division.

    • Acid Rain

      Good idea, but I’d prefer having Summer Rae possibly being called up for that. I wouldn’t give the belt to Kaitlyn. Another FCW possibility would be Tenille Tayla.

    • lucky1now

      I agree they sparked something for the women and once wwf seen the fans was behind lita they ran with it and started something special that we call the golden era for divas <3

    • LadyGoDiva

      That is SO very true that Stephanie McMahon saved the women’s division at that time, but I wonder if she can do that now?

      Your idea with Vickie as divas champion could really piss off some people and they’ll start saying that the women’s division is officially dead blah,blah,blah,etc.
      But for me I want any kind of storyline or feud in the womens division right now.

    • http://www.joeyesrojo.webs.com joeyesrojo

      I’ve been begging for this to happen for God knows how long! I think Vickie could pull it off, but in all honesty they might be able to have Eve do it just the same right now. All it would take is some freaking writing!

    • Lita-Sault-666

      As much was we hated Stephanie, you can’t take away from the role Lita’s popularity had in it too! :D

    • perceval

      If you’re going to have a Steph type title reign, I’d go with Eve. She’s got the on screen authority figure role, & she can actually work solid matches. The Divas Championship would then be involved in the main Johnny Ace storyline.

    • Jcott3

      I’ve always been unsure as to my feelings about Stephanie as champ. Part of me hated it because she wasn’t a wrestler, but the other part of me lets it go because fans HATED Stephanie so much back then. I seem to recall her walking to the ring for this, cutting a promo about how she has held the title for “74 glorious days”.

  • lucky1now

    i loved this everyone was into this fued it had a while to build up it was a new start for the back then womens diversion

  • http://aksanahq.com Aksana

    As a child I adored Terri Runnels, I remember asking my Mother as a child to take me to America so I could propose to her haha.

  • lucky1now

    with just 5 females 2 of which couldnt wrestle this was still pretty good

  • LadyGoDiva

    Looking at this match I realized that mostly everyone except Tori & Terri are all former women’s champion and several could wrestle.

  • JJ

    Tori rocked the black and white ref look, and wow! What a finishing move!

    This was the start of Lita’s rise to the top, and Stephanie was the perfect opponent to play off. Constantly ducking and dodging Lita’s challenges until she was finally bested in the Main Event of RAW, with The Rock as referee! That’s unbelievable to think of nowadays.

  • Raekon

    It was nice how the two models (the kat and Terri) went after each other, leaving the real action to the wrestlers. ^_^

    The only thing that went bad was litas moonsault that almost broke Ivorys face.

    Tori had tons of potential and was good at her time but unfortunately didn’t got used much and got released quite fast aswell. :/

    I wish we would get proper storylines, time and no moveset restrictions for the divas today so all the girls can really showcase their skills instead of having to hold back or being restricted to use certain moves and stuff.

    • http://au.groups.yahoo.com/group/WWE_Divas/ art

      Kat & terri were never models…kat & terri after this went on to have some good matches,kat vs ivory their one on one showed kat could wrestle & terri had her matches with trish,victoria,molly & stacy….

      • Jcott3

        Terri was never a trained wrestler, as her career began before women were expected to be able to wrestle. However, she always tried her best when she had to get in the ring.

        Kat was a different story. I never bought her as a wrestler, mainly because she relied too heavily on sex appeal to get over with the crowd.

        You are correct that they weren’t models. Both got into pro wrestling via their significant others (Kat and Jerry Lawler, Terri and Goldust/Dustin Rhodes). Kat was an aspiring actress and Terri was a makeup artist.

        • HoustonHomewrecker

          Terri was already managing in WCW before she got with Dustin .

  • http://facebook.com/mykael.kennedy mykel1990

    I liked the women of this era. They got in there with for the most part, clearly defined characters, we had the Kat/Terri rivalry, the Ivory/Jacqueline rivalry, the Tori/Stephen alliance, the Lita-Trish/Ivory/Stephanie/Jacqueline feuds. The women almost all crossed paths and had a lot to do with the men. I also love how the non-wrestlers also knew their roles and were still able to entertain.

  • http://jakeyon.blogspot.com Jakey

    Oh, man, I remember yelling at the TV this happened! I completely agree with Melon upthread about Stephanie saving the division — it was so great on the RAW before when Michael Cole finally called her out for not defending the title despite the fact that she’d held it for three months, and then Ivory and Jacqueline confronted her (remember that?).

  • http://jakeyon.blogspot.com Jakey

    Also, it’s unfortunate that Tori got injured that month — I think a Tori vs. Lita mini-feud before Lita finally got another title shot would have been interesting.

  • http://au.groups.yahoo.com/group/WWE_Divas/ art

    I hated that tori never got a run with the title i thought her finisher was deadly….
    funny how tori was meant to be the first diva to have a go at chyna after her storyline with the Dudley’s but she tore her shoulder…

    • lucky1now

      Really I never heard that it would have been cool

      • javiousmckenzie

        It was never planned it was even in the WOW women wrestling edition magazine it was something Tori kept pitching to creative but Chyna turned it down several times

        • http://au.groups.yahoo.com/group/WWE_Divas/ art

          i think it would have happened..xpac & tori vs eddie & chyna….

  • javiousmckenzie

    People dont give The Kat that much credit but she was kind of a big face after Sable left before Lita came along she was like the Katy Perry of WWE with crazy costumes and wigs etc people seem to forget how over she was and how unique she was all those Nicki Minaj wigs she used to rock

    • Jcott3

      To many fans, the Kat was nothing but a glorified stripper who was popular purely because she had no qualms about taking her clothes off and only had her job because she was dating Jerry Lawler.

      • javiousmckenzie

        Oh the same thing that got Torrie Candice Stacy Kelly and so many others over right? The Kat was over before she got nude she was unique in her own way she was quirky comical and adorable get over it

        • norisclouds

          Not really. What I remember about her was Jerry Lawler posting her nude photos on his website. She was over because on PPVs she’d take off her top.

    • http://twitter.com/DirrtySexyFunny Thaila

      Agreed. The Kat is one of my all-time favourite Divas. Entertaining as hell and was very likeable.

    • jonboi

      that was the first time tori debuted her toriplex it was great. Sorry my bad she did it on ivory before but tori was great such a shame she never got the title run she deserved like luna before her

    • jonboi

      the kat was good in the ring just before she was fired to anyone who says otherwise havent seen her matches against ivory & victoria down at the training ground i forget where it is not ovw

      • redsandman99

        It was in Memphis I think…Memphis Championship Wrestling though I could be wrong. I’ve seen those matches and yeah, I would say she was definitely better than was seen on TV. On TV she was mostly just in like cat fights and stuff and really playing up the exhibitionist character she had.

  • javiousmckenzie

    I been saying forever Vickie needs to be DIvas Champion fans dont care about the title they need someone who will make them care Vickie can do that people will want the belt off her so bad it will drive them crazy then she always wanted an alliance with Tamina Tamina could be her Tori interfering helping her win matches when she did defend and then let Kharma be the one to return and take it from her

  • Marlon Eric

    Stephanie didn’t “save” anything. Sure, the idea was putting the title on her for it to gain attention and since at the time, she was the top female heel in WWE. But during that time, she barely defended her title and women’s wrestling was placed on the back burner.

    The later half of her reign, was when the division was finally brought out of hiding and soon enough, Lita was crowned. So, I’d say Lita really saved the division. From Stephanie…

    • http://ashmultimedia.wordpress.com melon2617

      Even in her book, Lita credits Stephanie’s reign as the turning point for the division.

      Stephanie’s reign seemed like such a stupid idea on paper, but had Lita won the belt from anyone else, it would have been just another generic, boring reign. The Women’s belt had been held by Hervina and Jacqueline was just floating around. Nobody cared about the Women’s belt until Stephanie won it. All of a sudden, the Women’s title was in the main event, @ ringside with the Billion Dollar Princess and fans HATED it. All of a sudden, that title mattered.

      Don’t get me wrong, Lita’s popularity helped a great deal, but Stephanie’s ridiculous heat and charisma is what generated interest in the belt. Add in the amazing build up to the Steph/Lita showdown and you had a belt people suddenly cared about.

      Having someone like Vickie win the title would cause fans to care. IWCers would flip out that a “non-wrestler” held the title and the mainstreamers HATE Vickie. Having a slow build between her and her former protoge Kaitlyn, setting up a big win for Kaitlyn @ a PPV would get fans invested in the Divas title again. Then, you feud Kaitlyn with AJ, as they were former besties. Then, when she’s ready, add in Kharma.

      • norisclouds

        I’d have rather see Vickie vs Layla if they had been able to build that and Layla hadn’t been injured–but I agree with you 100% on the Vickie title reign idea. Would’ve been a great thing for the belt because it would’ve cause fans to care about whether or not a legitimate wrestler held it. That was the big thing with Lita vs Stephanie. The portrayal was of Lita as a legitimate wrestler and Stephanie as a pretender to the throne, which worked great at legitimizing the value of the title.

    • norisclouds

      People didn’t care about the women’s division until Stephanie had her reign. You had Ivory, Jacqueline, Tori, Fabulous Moolah, Mae Young, Debrah, Miss Kitty coming in and out randomly trying their best to make entertaining matches and feuds while the crowd sat on their hands and chanted for “Puppies” or ignored them.

      Once Stephanie had the belt, everyone took notice and casual fans to diehards wanted to see her lose it, and especially see Lita who was rising in popularity take the belt off of her. Just looking at the reactions of the crowd to that battle royal shows how things changed–you can look at an Ivory vs Tori match just a year or so prior and see that the fans couldn’t care less, when these were good wrestlers and workers in the ring.

  • Marlon Eric

    And on that note, putting a title on a big heel, non-wrestler isn’t going to make it more prestigious if anything. If that was the case, let’s put the World title on Michael Cole. All it is, is some annoying little prick with the title belt. So, having Vickie Guerrero as the Diva’s Champion isn’t going to make the division more credible. It’s not like “OMG, WE HATE VICKIE SO MUCH, SOMEONE MUST BEAT HER TO SAVE THE DIVISION!”

    Building up the division is going to require character-building and actual storylines.

    • http://ashmultimedia.wordpress.com melon2617

      Absolutely, but it also requires exposure. The Women’s title was a nothing thing and then it was being carted out to the main event matches on Stephanie’s arm. That front row centre exposure plus Stephanie’s charisma is what took it to that level where people gave a crap.

      Vickie is the modern day Stephanie. You can build the storyline up and then work on building the Divas characters up around that storyline. Kaitlyn has history with Vickie plus a first time reign always generates buzz. This would also incorporate AJ. Either way, putting the belt on Vickie may help lightning strike twice.

  • Marlon Eric

    Tori had the best finisher of that era. And a pretty good runner-up today.

  • WweLitafan4ever

    Ahh yes around the time Lita was rising to stardom.
    Cool

  • jcarcano12

    I Love Terri

  • No Holds Barred

    I love Terri! For a non wrestler she was good in the ring.

    Terri vs Trish
    vs Molly
    Terri and Trish vs Victoria and Stacy

    lol at her and Jackie both using PMS theme after their split

  • mojodoom

    For those people who like to talk shit about the divas of today and put the attitude era wrestlers over the pedestal, after watching this again can we at least agree that todays crop of divas are a lot more athletic and more cohesive in the ring than we give them credit for?

    • http://twitter.com/BroskiRomano Ryan

      Diva today can run a match and know a match’s choreography like the back of their hands…why? Because divas today do the same match over and over and over again for 2 mins…

      Back then you got that feel…like from Jackie Lita Ivory..These girls KICK ASS!! You cant really say that about the divas now can u…

      • redsandman99

        The girls back then aren’t as held back by management as they are today though. Not exactly a fair comparison.

        • http://twitter.com/BroskiRomano Ryan

          It used to depend on WHAT show the divas were..On Raw they were in that 2 min tied…Smackdown with McCool they could do whatever they wanted. Now its like..Both of em suck. And not bashing ALL the divas..ALicia Eve Bella Twins have proven they can put on a great match. Its that minority of divas who get mad pushed that suck and cant deliver

  • AdrianRay

    Lita was so sloppy…

    • http://au.groups.yahoo.com/group/WWE_Divas/ art

      LOL this coming from a maryse fan…

      • No Holds Barred

        He’s right though. She always was bad at landing the moonsault up until she returned from her neck fusion surgery then she was very solid in the ring

        • http://au.groups.yahoo.com/group/WWE_Divas/ art

          she didnt land it right like 3 times…thats not bad at all…

        • norisclouds

          No he isn’t. She performed that moonsault nearly every night for around 6 years, and people bring up the three times they remember her missing on television and say she missed it “all the time”.

          And I say this as someone who’s watched all of her televised matches and has seen her perform at houseshows at least 3 times. She wasn’t nearly as sloppy as her critics make her out to be…if she were you’d have a lot more divas with broken collarbones and accidents from taking the move, and WWE would’ve told her to stop like they did Paul London or other high flyers.

        • http://au.groups.yahoo.com/group/WWE_Divas/ art

          @norisclouds i think shes alot better then people give her credit or no credit what so ever….

        • http://twitter.com/BroskiRomano Ryan

          Dude Lita could hit that moonsault from LONG RANGE Distance!! She could fly over half way across that ring!!
          I can see what u mean by Sloppy but Lita was awesome and kicked ass
          One of a kind right there

  • norisclouds

    The debut of Lita’s thong!

    • WweLitafan4ever

      Oh yeah your right!
      She mentioned that in her book.
      The baggy pants with the thong and mesh shirt was an awesome ring attire.
      Lita’s best too.

  • The K@rmic HeeL

    This match was great, and Lita was already huge with the crowds at this point. I love this moonsault by the way. She made it seemed so effortless and the fans were mesmerized by her athleticism as I was.

    Stephanie was a great heel too. Tori overtime, started looking better and better, in the same way Chyna transformed over a couple of years. They lost all that muscle and feminized themselves.

    It’s a shame Tori turned down a return to WWE in 2003, or so I read. She would have fit in nicely.

    • http://twitter.com/BroskiRomano Ryan

      I was a big Tori fan. She looked very sexy around the 2000 time. She had muscle yet looked very feminine! Perfection.
      Plus also was in love by her athleticism. When she dived from the top turnbuckle to outside on Buh Buh Ray Dudley and splashed him through a table! Haha
      and her Tori-Plex was something else!

      Stephanie had a great way to get under the fans skin lol..loved how she walked around with her chin held up high. Daddys Lil Girl. Billion Dollar Princess and Womens Champion. When she spoke she was great on that mic and owned! Her slaps were done with force humiliation and at its greatest! But it didnt take that fear dimension of “Lita is comming to kick your ass Steph”..which she feared and made it all great! =D

      Rooting for the good guys was great back then