WWE's Lita: The Rise and Fall of an Extraordinary Woman

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WWE's Lita: The Rise and Fall of an Extraordinary Woman

This is my article submission for week two of the NTWWC Cycle 1 contest.  I always wanted to write an article about Lita, because in my opinion, when you are talking about phenomenal women wrestlers, you are talking about Lita, so enjoy.

When describing something one loves, something one is passionate about, something that embodies the very essence of extraordinary, finding the right words can be difficult. Narrowing that down to four key words is almost impossible.  What can one say about Amy 'Lita" Dumas that has not been said already? All I can offer is this:  

 

L: Lita-canrana

Growing up, all I wanted to be was a wrestler.  I was going to grow up, marry The Undertaker, and somehow convince Shawn Michaels that I would make a much better tag team partner than Marty Jannetty.  

Of course, WWE creative didn't see eye-to-eye with my lofty aspirations, what with them burying my potential husband alive and breaking up The Rockers.  Nevertheless, my dreams of being a WWE superstar were just that—dreams.  

At the time, women in WWE had a few minor roles.  They were valets, trophies and occasionally interfered in matches.  That just didn't sit right with me.  

I wanted to be the one tagged in by Shawn Michaels, climbing up on the turnbuckle and delivering the elbow drop of a lifetime to The Big Boss Man and getting the 1, 2, 3.  Somehow, putting on a dress and escorting Michaels to the ring, sitting on the rope so he could climb in and occasionally helping him win a match just did not hold the same appeal.  

There was not a single female wrestler I felt I could identify with.

Luckily for me, one Sunday night in 2000, it all changed.  Sitting in my living room, cramming last-minute homework into my busy schedule of Fun-Dip and Sunday Night Heat, Essa Rios came out to face Gillberg for the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship.  The announcers were abuzz about a new presence at ringside, Rios's valet, Lita.  

At first I thought she was just another pretty face.  Rios got the 1, 2, 3, and the match was over.  Big deal.  Suddenly I noticed Lita was climbing the turnbuckle, and I was thinking to myself, "What in the blue hell is this chick doing?" Bam! She nails Gillberg with a diving moonsault (later to be known as a Litasault).

I was speechless. It was like some wrestling god somewhere had heard my prayers as a kid--all my hopes and dreams of seeing a female wrestler dominate and go toe-to-toe with a man--and dropped her into my world.  

At that moment, I felt validated.  Sure it wasn't me who landed the Lita-canrana or the Litasault, but it was a woman, and that meant the world to me.  My life as a woman and a wrestling fan was never the same again.

 

I: Icon

After that night, Lita went on to have an amazing career, and I was more than happy to be along for the ride.  

From teaming up with Team Xtreme and being the only WWE Diva to take part in a TLC match, to being Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Woman of the Year in 2001 and a four-time WWE Women's Champion, Lita truly became the definition of the word "icon."

Her commitment to the business and her fans was unwavering.  While I had only idolized The Undertaker up until that point in my life, she was quickly giving him a run for his money.  

One match against Ivory really sticks out in my memory.  Lita lost the match, and I really cannot tell you much else about it, other than that during the match she caught part of Ivory's boot to the eye and it busted her face open.  She carried on through the match like a champ, and afterwards her face was bruised and a mess, but she still had a smile on her face.

Call me lame, a dorky fangirl, whatever you like, but, truth be told, I was raised watching wrestling.  My parents were separated and my mom worked two jobs.  I used to say I was raised by wolves, but when I reflect back on my life, I now believe I was raised by Vince McMahon (jury is still out on whether or not that is worse).  Lita's never-quit attitude and resiliency that night struck a cord with me.  

I never forgot that no matter how badly you think you're beat, how much pain you are in at the moment, life goes on, and so do you.  I mean, she was out 17 months after breaking her neck and came back stronger and fiercer than ever.  

The storm of controversy that surrounded her relationship with Matt Hardy/Edge could have buried her then and there, but she came out every night, despite having her once adoring fans call her a "ho," "crackwhore" and "slut" every time.  She faced adversity head on, and that is the type of woman I want to be.  

 

T: Trish Stratus

A wise wrestling fan once told me, "It takes an icon to make an icon." What? Confused? I was too.

Much like Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat's epic matches cemented their iconic statuses, Trish Stratus's rivalry with Lita skyrocketed the two ladies to main-event status.

A trailblazer and icon in her own right, Trish Stratus's in-ring ability and sass, mixed with Lita's off-the-wall, crazy moves was a recipe for success.  The crowd's energy during their matches was phenomenal.  When is the last time anyone has heard the crowd pop for a Diva's match the same way they pop for a Cena match? It was pretty much unheard of.  

People joke on this site that Diva matches are a good time to use the restroom, grab a beer, RKO your best friend, or whatever you like to do for a break, but you would have had to RKO me to get my eyes off the screen when Lita or Trish had the mic, were in the ring, or hell, even just in the parking lot.  

Their match at Survivor Series 2004, where Lita was disqualified for hitting Trish with a chair, and then their December 24, 2004, match on RAW where she suicide dove off the rope on to Trish?  Epic.  I have yet to see two Divas match the intensity those two brought to the ring.

I truly feel Trish and Lita made each other's careers, and that the Divas Division as a whole has not been the same since they hung up their boots.

 

A: Adam "Edge" Copeland

After returning from a knee injury to help Christy Hemme, then getting involved in a feud with Trish Stratus, Lita should have been on top of the world.  However, her real-life love triangle with Matt Hardy and Adam "Edge" Copeland, was front-and-center, and the iconic Diva got lost in the shuffle.  

Once cheered and adored, now signs were telling Lita, "Ho" or "You Screwed Matt."  Once the center of attention, she now had to fight amidst a mass of boos.  Once a darling of the WWE, she was thrust into full-on heel status, and I don't think she or her remaining fans were completely ready for it.

While Edge's career was on fire with the rated-R superstar gimmick, the once-main event, fly-from-the-ropes Diva was reduced to nothing more than a valet with cheap tricks, cheap clothes, and even cheaper storylines.  Her matches with Mickie James were a joke. She was a joke, and it broke my heart.  

It was like suddenly everything this woman gave to the business—all her sacrifices, her injuries—meant nothing.  The way they used her personal problem against her, to turn the fans against her, in my opinion was inexcusable.  Instead of using it in a positive way, and showing her rising from the ashes of her flawed personal judgment, the hardcore Diva was reduced to a few one-liners, and ultimately it became too much for her.

After dropping her women's title to Mickie James and giving a painfully honest in-ring speech, how was Lita sent out? Cryme Tyme sold her "personal items" of underwear and feminine wash to JBL and a few crowd members.  

Just like that, a legend, my role model, was gone.  Cheap does not even begin to describe it.  

In a final interview with WWE, Lita was asked how she believed she will be remembered. She said that while in the immediate future she will be remembered as a joke, she hopes that she will eventually be respected for her career and what she gave to the business.

To me, she was nothing less than legendary and the epitome of extraordinary. 

Radical life changes can happen at any moment.  Sometimes, what you are doing is completely irrelevant to that change, but the fact remains, you are changed.  Lita did that to me, and that's always how I'll remember her.

"If it's not in your heart, you're not gonna make it. At the end, looking back, you know it's worth it." -Amy Dumas

 

If you have not already, check out the videos I included in my article.  Especially the footage of all the Lita-canrana's. If that does not blow your mind and show you just how dominant and exceptional this woman was, I do not know what will!

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