The year 2000 saw women's wrestling receive a shot of adrenaline in the form of a fiery redhead who would use her high-flying style to forever change what a WWE Diva could be.
Lita would become one of the most popular and influential female performers in company history.
Her rivalry with Trish Stratus stretched six years and featured some of the best Women's Championship matches in the 50-year history of World Wrestling Entertainment.
By the midway point of the decade, she would turn to the dark side becoming the controversial sexpot girlfriend of "Rated-R Superstar" Edge. She would be by his side throughout his first run to the top of the company.
As the most hated woman in professional wrestling, she would capture the Women's Championship for the fourth and final time in 2006.
Her retirement from the squared circle came at the Survivor Series in November of that year.
Away from the ring, she started a punk rock band called The Luchagors and made appearances at wrestling conventions across the country.
On July 23, 2012, she made her triumphant return to WWE by defeating Heath Slater in a No Disqualification match, thanks in large part to interference from the likes of Bob Backlund, Diamond Dallas Page and the reunited APA.
While she no longer graces her faithful with in-ring appearances, she remains one of the most popular performers of the last 20 years.
Here is a look back at some of the greatest moments from the Hall of Fame-worthy career of Lita.
Going to the Extreme
Mesmerized by the high-flying lucha style she saw on World Championship Wrestling's Monday Nitro, she took off to Mexico in hopes of finding training.
She did, and when she returned to the United States, she found more thanks to Matt and Jeff Hardy, who had a fairly successful independent promotion of their own known as OMEGA.
Her first major national exposure came with Extreme Championship Wrestling.
As Miss Congeniality (and Angelica later), she was the valet for heel duo "Dastardly" Danny Davis and Amish Roadkill.
She hardly had time to make much of an impact, though, as WWE came calling.
By November of 1999, she would be under contract with the McMahon-owned wrestling empire and her career would be forever changed.
Manager and Moonsault Master
On February 13, 2000, Lita made her WWE television debut by escorting Essa Rios to the ring for his light heavyweight title match against then-champion Gillberg.
Rios would win the title, but it was Lita who made a lasting impression with the audience.
She would take to the top rope and dive off, mimicking the maneuvers of her partner in crime to huge ovations from the audience.
April would bring with it her first real hint of a feud as she and Rios became intertwined in a rivalry with European champion Eddie Guerrero and his girlfriend Chyna.
At Backlash, Rios would lose to Guerrero in a somewhat disjointed match but he and Lita would exact a measure of revenge when the opportunistic Lita knocked Chyna down and proceeded to strip her of her prom dress.
Chyna would return the favor the following night on Raw, bringing an end to their brief conflict.
Soon thereafter, Rios would become frustrated by his losing ways and blame Lita. On the May 25 episode of SmackDown, the duo split for good when Rios delivered a wicked powerbomb to his valet. This brought Matt and Jeff Hardy to Lita's aid and the rest, as they say, would be history.
A Fortunate Twist of Faith
The pairing of the Hardy Boyz and Lita was an instant success.
Matt and Jeff were already considered hip, cool, trendsetting and alternative. Lita fit right in considering her willingness to take risks, her laid back demeanor and unique wardrobe.
WWE, to its credit, recognized the rarity it had on its hands.
They had lucked into a wildly popular midcard act that could move merchandise and attract viewers. The group became stars on the level of The Rock and Triple H.
Lita, a red-hot young woman with a marketable look, enjoyed a meteoric rise up the ranks.
Soon, however, she would clash with a fellow Diva that she would be forever linked to.
Lita-Trish, Chapter One
The summer of 2000 brought with it the first chapter of what would go on to become a legendary rivalry between Lita and Trish Stratus.
Lita would be by the Hardys' side in their budding feud with T&A (Test and Albert), whom Stratus managed.
It was only a matter of time before the two Divas clashed.
They did battle in a few six-person tag matches leading into Fully Loaded in July of 2000, but all paled in comparison of the outstanding contest that occurred at that show.
The interactions between the two drew some of the loudest reactions of the night and the quality of their performances indicated that they might make for outstanding opponents.
Throughout the rest of the summer and well into the fall, the two would meet on several occasions.
Trish even interfered on behalf of Women's champion Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley in several title defenses against Lita.
The first leg of the storied rivalry came to an end on October 23, when Lita successfully retained the Women's title against Trish in the first ever Bra and Panties match.
How did Lita capture the title?
Let's find out.
On August 21 in the main event of Raw, Lita's long and arduous journey to the top of the Divas division culminated with her first Women's Championship victory over Stephanie.
The match was a wildly entertaining affair that featured a build to the SummerSlam main event involving The Rock, Triple H and Kurt Angle while never taking the focus away from the competitors themselves.
Lita would go on to capture the title three times after that with the final one coming in November 2006 at the hands of Mickie James.
Despite the fact that she never really had a lengthy run with the title, the volume of titles makes her one of wrestling's most decorated female stars.
Neck Injury and Return
In 2002, Lita suffered an injury that nearly ended her career.
While filming a guest spot on Dark Angel, she fell on her head and broke her neck. A major surgical procedure would keep her sidelined for nearly a year.
During that time, she would commentate on Sunday Night Heat. While she was better than average, her heart never seemed in it.
In September of 2003, Lita made her return to the company and immediately found herself back in contention for the women's title.
The Kane Saga
2004 was a weird year for Lita.
Rather than taking advantage of her popular in-ring work, the company opted to make Lita the centerpiece of a soap opera-like story involving the Big Red Monster Kane.
Kane impregnated Lita and, after defeating her former boyfriend Matt Hardy at that year's SummerSlam, earned the right to marry his baby's mother.
The wedding between the two proved to be a sight to behold. It was largely entertaining and set up a plethora of potential storyline directions.
Unfortunately, the decision was made to turn Kane babyface. Suddenly Lita, who despised her husband, sided with him following the loss of their child, which was made possible by newcomer Gene Snitsky.
Lita-Trish, Chapter Two
In the fall of 2004, Lita and Trish resumed their heated rivalry.
The Toronto native poked fun at Lita's predicament with Kane and never missed a chance to get in a derogatory remark at her expense.
At the 2004 Survivor Series, Lita unleashed her fury on Trish, using a steel chair to break her nose.
The latest installment of the feud would reach its climax on the December 6, 2004 Raw, when the two game-changing Divas met in the main event of the program and delivered an outstanding, dramatic title match.
Lita, after a year that saw her go through emotional trauma, was able to end 2004 on a high note by capturing the championship and momentarily shutting up her tormentor.
In 2005, a very real story involving an affair Lita had with Edge in real life behind the back of Matt Hardy, her longtime boyfriend, captured wrestling audiences' attention.
They spewed vitriol at Lita, despite her status as a face, and loudly chanted "we want Matt" and "slut" at her whenever she made her way to the ring.
Recognizing the potential that existed, the company turned Lita heel.
It was a brilliant idea that benefited all involved, most importantly Edge, whose sleazy Rated R Superstar character had really taken off and was headed for main event glory.
He did, and Lita was able to be by his side for most of the early period of his main event push.
The duo became one of the hottest acts in the company and rightfully so.
Edge was the villain everyone wanted to hate who just so happened to have gotten the girl and had no problem showing her off.
Together, they rose to heights neither had ever experienced before. Edge captured the WWE Championship while Lita added another women's title to her resume.
In a controversial moment, they engaged in a Live Sex Celebration the night after Edge won his first heavyweight title at New Year's Revolution. The moment, one of the hottest (not to mention awkward) in the modern era, was so racy that officials from the Giant Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania were outraged and would not allow the company to present any live television from the building for over three years.
For one year, they were WWE's resident power couple.
Unfortunately, by the time 2006 rolled around, Lita was not long for the business. Injuries and a desire to work on projects outside of professional wrestling led her to make the decision to retire from the sport in November.
Retirement and Life After Wrestling
Lita's final match came at the Survivor Series in November of 2006. In that contest, she lost the Women's Championship to Mickie James and then, as great heels like Chris Jericho did before her, allowed herself to be humiliated and embarrassed on her way out the door.
In the months and years that followed, she would focus a great deal of energy on her band the Luchagors and produced their first album.
While no longer a full-time performer, she did mke occasional appearances for indy promotions across the country. She was also in attendance at several wrestling and entertainment conventions and seemed to really enjoy connecting and conversing with the fans that supported her throughout her career.
Always a member of the WWE family, she would make one-shot returns in 2007, '10 and '11.
Her most memorable return came at the Raw 1000 episode last July when she defeated Heath Slater in a No Disqualification match, thanks in large part to the help from the reunited APA.
Lita will forever be remembered as the Diva who was responsible for the rebirth of women's wrestling in the United States.
Prior to her debut, such outstanding in-ring competitors as Sable, Debra, Miss Kitty and Harvye Whippleman (don't ask) held the Women's Championship and did a great deal to help devalue it.
Lita's flashy, high-flying offense captivated audiences and made her as popular as many of her male counterparts.
She proved that a woman did not have to be built like Chyna to convince audiences she was capable of make a real impact between the ropes.
She was the idol of many young women early in her WWE career, including current Divas champion AJ Lee, and the object of lust of many young men throughout her six years with the company.
While the 2002 neck injury derailed her and undoubtedly threw WWE's plans into disarray, the impact she had on programming and her unrivaled popularity among the Divas was largely responsible for the introduction of other talented women's wrestlers and the attention given to the Divas division for the first-half of the decade.
An unfortunate personal struggle in 2005 forced her to change her character and to become a heel, but it was for the best in the long run. She reached main event status and was among the most hated villains on WWE programming.
In that role she did what was asked of her and what was in the best interest of the company and the stories it was trying to tell.
Her retirement was not met with the ceremony or fanfare that rival Stratus' was, but she went out on her own terms and did so in a memorable moment.
Lita is deserving of the Hall of Fame.
That she has not gotten there yet is a bit disappointing, but Stratus' induction last year should clear the path for the fiery redhead, the Diva who, alongside the Hardy Boyz, introduced the extreme lifestyle to World Wrestling Entertainment, to finally take her place among the greats in company history.
One can only hope that sometime in the future, when the time and scenario are right, she returns to the company for one more match and finally receives the sendoff she deserves.
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