The summer of 2000 was an exciting time to be a wrestling fan.
The love triangle between Triple H, Kurt Angle and Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley was captivating both male and female viewers, while The Rock and Chris Benoit tore the house down in several superb WWE Championship matches.
Edge and Christian were developing into one of the most entertaining tag teams of all time, and "Latino Heat" was running wild, thanks to the unlikely pairing of Eddie Guerrero and Chyna.
It was one rivalry in particular that not only excited fans but also led to the golden era of women's wrestling in North America. That rivalry was between former fitness model Trish Stratus and high-flying redhead Lita, and at July's Fully Loaded, they would meet in the first of many pay-per-view clashes.
Trish would partner with Test and Albert, the duo she had managed since arriving to WWE in Mach, while Lita would team with Matt and Jeff Hardy, the talented brothers who had helped train her years earlier in their hometown of North Carolina.
With solid build behind them, the match would kick off the event and set the bar for the rest of the night's action in the process.
The King of the Ring pay-per-view in June featured the ignition of the issues between Trish Stratus, Lita, T&A and the Hardy Boyz. At that show, the tag teams competed in a Four Corners Elimination match that also included Edge and Christian and WWE Tag Team champions Too Cool.
Test and Albert were the first team eliminated, courtesy of the Hardys, and Trish and Lita got into a physical scuffle.
On the July 2 episode of Sunday Night Heat, the two trios met for the first time in a Six-Person Elimination tag team match. Test, Albert and Trish dealt a major blow the to babyfaces, defeating them and killing some of the momentum they had built for themselves.
The July 17 Raw broadcast saw the rivalry taken to new extremes when Trish and Lita fought atop a ladder. Lita tried for a superplex, but Trish shoved her rival off the ladder and through a table that had been set up in the ring. The unprecedented act left Lita in a heap and created questions about her health leading into the much-anticipated Six-Person tag team match at Fully Loaded.
Four days later, T&A and Trish added injury to injury when they assaulted Lita and the Hardys ahead of that weekend's big pay-per-view bout.
This was the match that made Lita a star.
The fiery redhead was already incredibly popular heading into Fully Loaded, but the manner in which she threw her body into the air, executing moves most of the men on the main roster would not dare try, earned her the respect of the audience. That she showed no fear in competing against Test and Albert only further endeared her to the fans.
The match itself was spectacular. The Hardy Boyz were at their peak in terms of popularity, and their matches were almost always above-average affairs. They had great chemistry with Test and Albert, who had formed quite a formidable midcard power team.
The booking was key to the success of the match, as the story of the vindictive Lita trying desperately to get her hands on Stratus ran throughout the course of the bout. By the time Lita got her hands on her rival, the Dallas crowd was at a fever pitch.
Lita's superplex on Trish was a great spot that women typically were not involved in, while the moonsault from the babyface to the heel was a fitting way to end the awesome opener.
Trish's post-match whipping of Lita was brutal, violent and incredibly effective. It allowed the story to continue and put heat back on the blonde bombshell after the loss.
Fallout and Historical Significance
Later in the broadcast, Trish accompanied Intercontinental champion Val Venis to the ring for his title defense against Rikishi inside a steel cage. During that match, Lita attacked Trish, whipping her all the way up the aisle and to the backstage area.
The next night on Raw, Trish benefited from interference by Stephanie McMahon and defeated Lita in a Strap match.
Over the course of the next six months, they would continue to feud on and off. In October, at No Mercy, Trish and T&A would violently attack Lita.
The following night on Raw, Trish would challenge the Women's champion in the first-ever Bra and Panties match.
It would not be their last bout for the prestigious title.
The Six-Person tag match at Fully Loaded was the first chapter in the greatest rivalry in WWE Divas history. Trish Stratus and Lita helped revolutionize women's wrestling in Vince McMahon's company. They proved that a program between two Divas could be as hot and as over as any program between the guys.