Tonight, Trish Stratus cements her WWE legacy by entering the WWE Hall of Fame. Arguably the most successful, decorated and popular women in WWE history, we look back on Trish’s Hall of Fame-worthy career in detail.
2000-2001: A Grand Entrance
In 2000, Trish Stratus walked into the WWE as a nobody. In 2006, she walked out a legend.
Thirteen years ago, right around the time that I developed an interest in wrestling, Trish arrived on the scene. She has inspired me ever since. Trish began as a fitness model and guru, a career path that helped to craft her into the confident woman she was when she signed with WWE. From the moment she set foot on the ramp for the first time, the crowd lusted after her. She didn’t even speak; she didn’t need to. Trish was sex appeal personified, with her long blonde hair, her tight clothes and her stunning looks. Many people assumed that was all she could bring to the table, but Trish brought so much more.
She debuted in March of 2000 on an episode of Sunday Night Heat, where she scouted Test and Albert. The three would later from a stable, known as T&A, and go on to feud with the likes of the Hardy Boyz and, most importantly, Lita. Later in 2000, Trish started to manage then-heel, Val Venis, and took him all the way to the Intercontinental Championship.
She started out slow, mainly sticking to her ringside duties. It was when she and Lita began to clash that Trish started to get really physical between the ropes. Intergender tag matches saw her start to take some bumps and prove that she was more than a pretty face.
She wasn’t afraid to take risks. A particularly nasty bump came courtesy of the Dudley Boyz at Backlash in 2000, not long after Trish had joined the company. After taunting Bubba Ray Dudley for weeks, Trish got her comeuppance when she was power-bombed through a table by the Dudley brothers. People start to look at her differently. If she could take bumps like that, could she hang with the big boys? In amongst the enormous brutes, the high-flying cruiser weights and the main eventers, Trish was slowly starting to make a name for herself.
Her rivalry with Lita spanned several years and was, perhaps, one of the most important parts of her career. Having debuted around the same time, and being completely different people, Trish and Lita were bound to clash at some point and once they did, they rarely stopped. The hostilities between them worsened, and on the June 24th, 2000 edition of Raw Trish and Lita went one-on-one in an Indian Strap match. In such a situation, one would have to give the upper hand to Lita, the more experienced wrestler of the two. But Trish proved yet again that she wasn’t someone to doubt, even if her victory came with a little help from Stephanie McMahon.
By the end of 2000, T&A had disbanded and, while Trish continued to manage Albert a little while longer, she caught the eye of another, much more powerful man.
Vince McMahon himself. It was this that really made her start to stand out. It was a huge storyline, and the McMahons had faith that she could carry it off.
It catapulted Trish to the front and center of the shows, and we were treated to a more devious, devilish side. She was given the spotlight and she ran with it. A relative newcomer might have crumbled in such a situation, working so closely with the Big Boss. But Trish was unafraid of change, and came at the storyline all guns blazing. If you ask me, no other diva could have pulled it off the way Trish did. She could play the sympathy card, or the manipulative one. Either way, she had it covered and had us in the palm of her hand.
At the time of the storyline, Vince McMahon’s wife, Linda, had been kayfabe institutionalized after Vince had demanded a divorce from her some weeks previously. Enter Trish; the lustful, sexy other woman. The men wanted her, the women wanted to be her; who doesn’t want a sugar daddy worth billions?! Trish was loved and hated at the same time, and as her popularity rose, so did her temper.
Trish became embroiled in a rivalry with Vince’s daughter, Stephanie McMahon. Despite having been on the same side a few months earlier, Stephanie was disgusted by Trish’s relationship with Vince, and sought to break them up. But Trish stayed at Vince’s side, determined. As the relationship went on, we started to see a different side to Trish. The seeds of change were being planted for her. Stephanie and Trish squared off at No Way Out in 2001 with Stephanie emerging victorious after a run-in from William Regal. If that wasn’t enough, what happened to Trish on Raw the following night was much worse. The victim of a cruel set-up, Trish was rejected by Vince, and then drenched in sewage! If that wasn’t a testament to her loyalty and passion for her career, I don’t know what was! It’s something remembered even now, all these years later.
But the barking incident was worse. Trish was forced to strip to her underwear and kneel at Vince’s feet, before barking like a dog. If people think she didn’t pay her dues, they are wrong. The wrestling business is one full of ego and arrogance, and a lot of people would never have considered doing what Trish did that night. She simply took it in her stride with her head held high. The things she’d done were a means to an end. The crowd got behind her, cheered for her and before long they really cared about her. She had a way of being tough and vulnerable all at once. You wanted to hug her, but you were afraid she’d slap you so hard you wouldn’t remember your name if you did.
In 2001, Trish got her first taste of glory and greatness. At WrestleMania 17, on the grandest stage of them all, Trish decided she wouldn’t sit around and be embarrassed anymore. She could fight her own battles, and wasn’t afraid to let everybody know it. In the midst of a match between Vince and his son, Shane, Trish made her way to ring. She delivered one almighty slap, right to Vince McMahon’s face. The crowd went crazy, and Trish walked away with her dignity afterwards.
It cemented her as a babyface, someone we loved and admired and inspired us to be better. Trish walked out of WrestleMania with all the confidence in the world, and carried that confidence with her through the rest of her career.
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