At the 2001 Royal Rumble, Triple H challenged Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship. More important than the matchup between the top two villains in the World Wrestling Federation, however, was the interaction between the two beautiful women who escorted them to the ring.
Stephanie McMahon had taken exception to an affair her father had been involved in with Trish Stratus in the weeks leading to the Rumble and the effect it had on her mother, Linda. She despised Trish and believed her to be nothing more than a gold digger. Fans could feel the tension between the two and could tell it was only a matter of time before what had been a war of words escalated to physicality.
When Stratus attempted to interfere on behalf of Angle, Stephanie snapped and attacked the former fitness model. They fought around ringside, the arrival of Vince McMahon not even enough to pull them apart. Trish, Vince and Stephanie eventually took their sideshow to the locker room, leaving the WWE Championship match to resume without distraction.
The brief but intense catfight would lead to a match at No Way Out in 2001 that shocked the wrestling world with its quality. Stephanie and Trish proved themselves to be tremendous sports entertainers, their performances in the match overshadowing the fact that neither woman was particularly skilled between the ropes. Stephanie would win the match and, in many ways, the feud, but the most important development was the evolution of Stratus from naive model to improving wrestler. By the time the 2002 Royal Rumble rolled around, she would be sporting gold around her waist.
The Women's Championship bout at the 2001 Royal Rumble featured The Right To Censor's Ivory defending against "Ninth Wonder of the World," Chyna, who had recently recovered from a storyline neck injury suffered at the hands of Val Venis. Ivory had spent weeks poking fun at the injury, as well as claiming that Chyna had no chance of taking the title away from her.
The Rumble match featured Chyna beating and battering Ivory until a cartwheel back elbow into the corner resulted in a whiplash effect that left the challenger unconscious. Medics, referees and even Jerry "The King" Lawler would rush to the ring to check on her.
The latest injury angle, and the drama surrounding it, would eventually lead to a Wrestlemania X-7 match for the title in which Chyna would finally get her revenge, soundly defeating Ivory and adding another championship to her already impressive resume.