Long one of the more interesting and captivating villainesses in professional wrestling, Stephanie McMahon has been an integral part of several quality feuds in her 15 years as an on-screen performer. Whether it was as the centerpiece in the love triangle involving Triple H and Kurt Angle or the babyface General Manager of SmackDown in an inter-promotional war with Eric Bischoff and Raw, she always manages to touch on the nerves of the fans.
Lately, she has excelled as one of the finest heels in all of sports entertainment. As the vindictive boss, she has tried on several occasions to get the WWE World Heavyweight title away from Daniel Bryan, a Superstar she and husband Triple H simply do not believe is championship material.
In doing so, she has made herself an enemy in Bryan's wife, the lovely Brie Bella. Sunday night at Payback, Brie hauled off and slapped a condescending Stephanie moments after quitting to preserve her husband's title reign.
It remains to be seen if anything more comes of the interaction with Brie. A match between the two would make for a wildly entertaining pay-per-view fight, perhaps as soon as Money in the Bank. Despite not stepping in the squared circle for an official match in over a decade, Stephanie has a history of delivering incredibly fun matches that pay off hot feuds.
One of her most memorable came in February of 2001 when she met Trish Stratus in a much-anticipated bout at No Way Out.
Stephanie McMahon and Trish Stratus' first interactions came as enemies of Lita, an extreme WWE Diva who was the most popular woman in the sport in the summer of 2000 and well on her way to capturing the Women's Championship, then held by Stephanie.
The two vixens would work together, getting involved in one another's matches against their common enemy and generally being thorns in the side of the fiery redhead.
Prior to a mixed tag match slated to feature Trish and Stephanie's husband Triple H taking on Lita and The Rock, the Billion Dollar Princess walked in on Trish and The Game in a compromising position. Already angry at her significant other, the sight infuriated Stephanie and put her and Trish at odds for the first time.
It would be four months before their issues became more heated and personal.
Trish became smitten with Stephanie's father Vince and Daddy's Little Girl did not like that whatsoever. In the stunning blonde from Toronto, Stephanie saw a gold digger more interested in Vince's deep pockets and unlimited power than the man himself.
Stephanie took verbal shots at Trish while the former fitness model engaged in public displays of affection with Vince, something that only further enraged the boss' daughter. When Trish and Vince made out in front of Stephanie's mother Linda, who had been reduced to a vegetative state thanks to a large dosage of medication, it proved how vile and nauseating the couple could be.
As the tension between the women built, Trish announced that she would second Kurt Angle at Royal Rumble, where he would defend against Stephanie's husband Triple H. That revelation went against the wishes of Vince, who was not pleased with his squeeze.
"I've been so bad that I think I deserve a spanking," Trish said. Disgusted by the blatant display, Stephanie later booked Trish in a Spanking match against Jacqueline as a way to humiliate her.
After a massive catfight between the two broke out during the WWE title match between Angle and Triple H, it was decided that their issues absolutely had to come to a head. At No Way Out in February, they would meet in one of the most anticipated women's matches in company history.
Just days before the match, on the February 22 episode of SmackDown, Trish attacked Stephanie in the bowels of the building. For some reason, a farm show was taking place there and Stephanie found herself covered in liquid manure courtesy of her rival.
That segment gave Trish a mental edge entering Las Vegas' Thomas & Mack Center for No Way Out.
One of the greatest and most satisfying women's matches in WWE history, the match was the perfect fusion of crowd-pleasing spots, high impact action and storytelling.
Neither classically trained wrestlers, Stephanie and Trish gave a performance few thought they were capable of. They delivered an intense and aggressive battle that was so much better than it had any right to be.
WWE Commissioner William Regal, who had been instructed by Mr. McMahon to "do the right thing," bumbling and fumbling around as he tried to decide exactly what it was McMahon meant, was hilarious and only added to the match.
The brilliance of the gold-digging Trish character was that, for a brief moment in time, it made the hated Stephanie McMahon a fan-favorite. The crowd in Las Vegas was solidly behind the Billion Dollar Princess and her spanking of Trish, a spot that called back to one of the key moments of the feud, only enhanced that support.
Aftermath and Historical Significance
Just 24 hours after No Way Out, an enraged Vince booked himself in a mixed tag match. Teaming with Trish, he would take on Stephanie and Regal, teasing that he had wanted the commissioner to ensure that Stratus won at No Way Out.
That turned out to be incorrect as Vince, Stephanie and Regal conspired to publicly dump and humiliate Trish in front of a worldwide viewing audience. Vince referred to Stratus as "Daddy's Little Toy" and then emptied the vile, disgusting contents of a janitor's bucket all over the beautiful blonde.
One week later, Trish turned up on Raw begging for forgiveness. She was again humiliated and disgraced as Vince made her bark like a dog, crawl around on all-fours and then strip to her bra and panties. It was a demeaning segment that split the audience in terms of their anger regarding it.
Ultimately, Trish got her revenge by working with Linda and Shane McMahon and setting up McMahon's downfall at WrestleMania X-Seven.
The following night, Trish defeated Stephanie in a Country Whipping match, the final bout of their feud.
In 2013, Trish was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Her inductor? Stephanie McMahon.
The feud between them proved that two strong female characters, with personalities that fans could identify and understand, could carry a program and keep fans invested. The work was outstanding, the segments interesting and the resulting match one of the most surprisingly great ones in company history.