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Lita Day Retrospective: “Daring to be Different” by Vincent A Marotta III

As part of our celebration of Lita‘s WWE Hall of Fame induction, Diva Dirt will highlight fan-written retrospectives on her storied career.

“Daring to be Different” by Vincent A Marotta III

In the world of sports entertainment, it’s not always an easy task to aspire to break barriers, or to set a bar so high, that reaching it is practically unattainable. With decades of characters that range from all different shapes, sizes, sexes and nationalities, it’s truly an accomplishment when one is able to break out from what is the norm and shine in a light all their own. When you stop to think about it, there isn’t too much that we see nowadays that hasn’t been seen or done before in the past. So, it takes someone truly special to come along and put the brakes on the never-ending loop of recycled material, and dare to be something more. Lita dared to be original. Lita dared to be different.

I remember watching her for the first time and becoming instantly fascinated with her look and the unorthodox style she had in the ring. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. Wrestling was really big for me growing up, and I was always so hooked on the feuds and storylines. The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin and HHH, to name a few, were all giving a different kind of attitude to the world of professional wrestling…we were in the midst of the ever popular attitude era. Along comes Lita, with her red hair, the dragon tattoo, and these lucha libre style moves, and suddenly makes it cool to be excited about a wrestler who wasn’t a guy.

I immediately gravitated to her character. She had a look that was very much her own, and the opposite of what was normal for women at that time. Sunny and Sable, the two biggest female characters in the history of the company, again, at the time, gave us a sure-fire idea of what we should come to expect from future women in the business. Yet, Lita was able to break that mold in every which way possible. She wasn’t blonde, and although she was smoking hot, she wasn’t just there as eye-candy; She was there to kick ass. She was able to mix it up with both men and women. Sure, Chyna was doing the same thing and on a grander scale, but she didn’t have that same femme-fatale aura that Lita would exude. Lita was one of the girls, but also one of the guys.

She was the perfect mixture of being sexy and feminine, and being fearless and cool. Dressed like “the punk rock princess of every skater boy’s dream,” her already unique look with the fiery red hair and tattoos, was always supported with attire(s) that were new, exciting and refreshing. She was a tomboy bud didn’t let you forget that she was still very much a girl (never forget the thong). Lita knew what worked, and she worked the hell out of it. So her look alone would have been more than enough to set her apart from the rest of the girls, but she strengthened her presence with what she did in the ring.

In my humble opinion, women’s wrestling probably was never really taken seriously until Lita came along and made it exciting. Personally speaking, I didn’t care at all for women’s wrestling, the women wrestlers or the women’s championship, until I watched Lita perform. Sable had held the championship previously…and sure, she was great to look at, but not really all that exciting in the ring. Again, Chyna was also there, and she was definitely exciting to watch, but she was so much more one of the guys that the work she was doing as a woman in a male dominated sport, wasn’t really doing much, if anything, to elevate the women’s division. Lita was mixing it up with the guys in and out of the ring, but competing primarily as an active competitor in the women’s division.

Before she even started chasing the title, she had legions of fans already firmly in her corner. The kind of reaction she would draw from the fans was incredible. Whether she was in the ring or at ringside, she was sure to exhilarate the audience with whatever it was that she was doing; Litacanranas, moonsaults, suicide dives, crossbodies and senton bombs. This high-flying, fearless move set is what I believe made Lita so unique amongst everything else. There has been no woman, before or even after her time, that has been able to do what she did in the ring; and she did it with such elegance. There was such an elegance behind the execution of every move that she was able to pull off. I remember watching her hit the Litacanrana on her countless male counterparts, and land the moonsault on her many opponents, and being in absolute awe. Her look combined with the moves she was hitting, were very much a winning combination; a breathtaking beauty with reckless intentions.

The objective of hitting offense in the ring is to use your arsenal of moves to wear down your opponent. When the moves you execute have the possibility of causing as much if not more damage to yourself, you’re then throwing caution to the wind, and putting your body on the line. This is what Lita will forever be famous for. This is what she did when she hit the Litacanrana to Christian from the steel cage, or the suicide head dive to Trish Stratus that seemingly snapped her body in half. She risked her own-body and well-being to entertain the fans; to create something memorable, and they loved and adored her for that.

Lita gave the division new life. When she defeated Stephanie McMahon to win her first title, that belt immediately meant something. Stephanie of course did a superb job in keeping fans so annoyed with her reign that literally anyone taking it from her would have sufficed…the fact that it was Lita though, someone who the fans were already fully supporting, and on a level that surpassed that of some of the men at the time… AND the fact that it was in the main event of Monday Night Raw with The Rock, Kurt Angle and HHH all having a part in it, gave the Women’s Title a much needed revival. People cared about her, in turn they cared about the championship. They were bummed when she lost it, and excited every single time she had the opportunity to fight for it.

I firmly believe, it’s because of her popularity and success as a woman, that the company decided to invest so much into the women’s division. Her early work with the likes of Trish Stratus, Jacqueline, Ivory, Molly Holly and Jazz laid the groundwork for what would be considered to be the “golden-age” of women’s wrestling. Enter more names like Victoria, Gail Kim and even Mickie James, and you have a division that was stacked with talent, like it had never been before.

She was a trailblazer. She was constantly pummeling through the walls set in front of her, and slowly etching her name into the history books. Whether it was showing the world her bravery upon returning to the ring after suffering a broken neck, competing in the first ever women’s steel cage match, or having the opportunity to yet again main event on Raw, she always found herself in the midst of something that became memorable; always found herself raising the bar higher and higher. The possibilities were, and still are endless for this woman.

Personally speaking, after meeting her on several occasions (during and after her WWE career), owning next to nearly all merchandise (action figures, shirts, magazines, posters, etc.), and at one point running a fan site dedicated to her (xtremequeen.org anyone?) for well over four years, I am without a doubt a HUGE Lita fan. I mark out every time she gets a chance to come back to WWE TV, and thanks to the internet, I’m able to re-watch and enjoy my favorite matches of hers, and reflect back on her absolutely phenomenal career.

Lita, thank you for the career that you shared with us. Thank you for being yourself…and thank you for daring to be different. Congratulations on your induction into the WWE Hall of Fame, Class of 2014!

I’ll leave you with this video that I think appropriately sums up her career. Credit to my brother Jonathan for making this for the fan site a few years back:

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