Over the last few weeks, Diva Debate readers cast their votes in the “Greatest Diva Ever” tournament in hopes of helping their favorite to victory. Lita and Mickie James withstood tough competition to make it to the finals and now, a winner has finally been declared. Your “Greatest Diva Ever” is...Lita!
The fiery redhead made her debut in World Wrestling Entertainment in early-2000 as the manager of Essa Rios. She would help him to a Light Heavyweight Champion in his first appearance and would make a name for herself by emulating his high-flying offense, often times at the conclusion of one of his matches.
After a loss to Matt Hardy, due in part to interference from Lita that backfired, Rios would assault his valet, delivering a vicious power bomb and moonsault to her before the Hardys made the save. From that point, Lita and the Hardys would be linked, in some fashion, for the next five years.
As a part of “Team Extreme” Lita gained a fan following unmatched by any woman in wrestling history. She was sexy, athletic, and could do a number of the high-risk maneuvers the men did. Fans ate it all up and Lita became almost as over as even the top stars in the industry. She appeared in Rolling Stone magazine and in commercials.
Lita was fresh and exciting, and fans reacted accordingly.
The Hardys’ rivalry with Test and Albert in the summer of 2000 would prevent Lita with the rival she would forever be linked with. Trish Stratus was the complete opposite of Lita. She was a former fitness model with dyed blonde hair who, at the time, could not tell the difference between a wrist lock and a hamburger. The dichotomy between the two was an immediate hit, with fans desperately wanting to see Lita get their hands on the blonde bombshell from Toronto, only to be disappointed when she, somehow, escaped.
The feud would lead to July’s Fully Loaded, where Lita and the Hardys would take on Trish and T&A. Lita stunned audiences by performing her signature moves on her male opponents before finishing off Trish with a moonsault. The win would not be the end of the rivalry. Instead, it was only the beginning of a feud that would run, on and off, for six years.
Over those six years, they would engage in some of the greatest matches in the history of women’s wrestling, including a December 2004 match that was the main event of Raw and, arguably, their best together. In 2006, Trish wrestled her retirement match at Unforgiven, defeating Lita to win her final Women’s Championship.
Together, Lita and Trish revolutionized women’s wrestling on the big stage of World Wrestling Entertainment and provided audiences with matches that will live forever in the company’s annals. With Trish’s Hall of Fame induction nearing, it is only a matter of time before Lita takes her place amongst the sport’s all-time greats.
At the height of her popularity with the Hardys, Lita was offered the opportunity to guest star in Fox’s Dark Angel program, which starred Jessica Alba. It was a big step for her as it proved there was interest in her outside of professional wrestling. Unfortunately, during the filming of the show, she attempted a hurricanrana and landed awkwardly on her neck, breaking it.
The injury would put her out of action for over a year.
During her time away from the ring, Lita stayed present on WWE television, working as a commentator on Sunday Night Heat. She did a decent job for someone with no broadcasting skills prior but it was evident that she did not have the passion for it that she did for wrestling. In September of 2003, she returned from her injury, saving Trish Stratus from a beat down at the hands of Molly Holly and Gail Kim, setting up a match between the two teams at Unforgiven.
In December of 2003, Lita and Trish continued their teaming ways, meeting Chris Jericho and Christian in the first, and only, “Battle of the Sexes” at Armageddon. The product of an ill-advised bet between the men, the match featured Lita and Trish taking out their frustration on their Canadian opposition, only to fall short of pulling off the tremendous upset.
Skipping a over a very awkward on-air relationship with Kane that lasted a number of months, a very real situation that had made headlines outside of sports-entertainment bled into World Wrestling Entertainment television.
An affair between Lita and Edge created a heated triangle between them and Matt Hardy, one that saw Hardy make threats that, ultimately, got him fired from the company. Unable to deny the chants by an audience who had been made aware of the Lita’s fling with Edge off-screen, the company made a risky move and turned their most popular female figure heel.
Lita added a new dimension to the self-proclaimed “Rated R Superstar”. She was the sex-kitten that someone claiming to be sexually explicit and violent, as Edge and his awesome t-shirt needed to reach the next level. Edge on his own was incredibly talented and entertaining but add Lita to the mix, giving him a pawn he can use to manipulate any situation or match.
In the fall of 2006, Lita’s contract with World Wrestling Entertainment was coming to a close and she made the decision to step away from the company after six very successful years. At the Survivor Series, she defended the Women’s Championship against Mickie James. Passing the torch to the future of the Divas division, Lita unceremoniously rode off into the sunset after being poked fun at by fan-favorite tag team, Cryme Tyme.
In the years that have passed, she has made several one-off appearances on Monday Night Raw, as well as on a few DVD releases.
One of the most influential women in sports-entertainment history, Lita made women’s wrestling cool again. She single-handedly put an emphasis back on what a woman could do between the ropes, all the while remaining a sex symbol for a new generation. Her accomplishments are many and her influence is strong.
And now, she is Diva Debate’s “Greatest Diva Ever!”