Trish Stratus on Why Becky Lynch Reminds Her of Lita, WWE WrestleMania 39 and MoreMarch 17, 2023
Trish Stratus on Why Becky Lynch Reminds Her of Lita, WWE WrestleMania 39 and More
For as far as women's wrestling has come in WWE these last two decades, Trish Stratus and Lita remain the measuring stick for success to this day.
Their unforgettable feud in the early 2000s transcended the women's division and inspired future female wrestlers to follow in their footsteps.
Both WWE Hall of Famers retired from full-time competition in 2006 but have continued to occasionally grace the WWE Universe with their presence and test their mettle against the talent of the day.
Stratus recently returned for the first time since 2019 to aid Lita and Becky Lynch in their ongoing war with Damage CTRL. At WrestleMania 39, the two trios will collide in a star-studded six-woman tag team action.
Before then, the upcoming installment of WWE Rivals on A&E will cover the story of Stratus and Lita at length and illustrate the importance of them teaming up on The Grandest Stage of Them All. From bitter enemies to inseparable soulmates, they will forever be synonymous with each other no matter what.
Stratus sat down with Bleacher Report this past week to reminisce about her rivalry with Lita, her main motivation for wanting to wrestle again, the sense of satisfaction she gets from sharing the spotlight with a fresh face, and more.
Realizing the Impact She and Lita Had on Women's Wrestling
Needless to say, the timing of Stratus' WWE Rivals episode with Lita two weeks ahead of their in-ring reunion at WrestleMania is apropos.
It will serve as the prefect primer to the history between the two for any fans unfamiliar, starting at their first matches in the early years of the Attitude Era all the way to Stratus winning the Women's Championship in her retirement match against Lita in 2006.
"It was just serendipitous," Stratus said. "My team was like, 'Oh, wow, this happening with this doc coming out is really amazing.' We were thrilled to find out we were being spotlighted as a Rivals episode. We know the Trish and Lita thing is talked out and that people point to that rivalry, but to have it coming out now with WrestleMania right around the corner and knowing we're on the same team, it's cool being on the flip slide of it all."
Stratus spoke about how what she and Lita did was unique and that they were able to pull it off because of the intangible link and amazing chemistry between them. They had a lofty goal of changing the perception of how women were viewed in the business, and they did just that.
This documentary will mean more now than it would have years ago because of its retrospective nature and how Stratus is an even more accomplished individual than she was at the time of her then-final match.
Their impact on the industry wasn't realized until years after they were gone.
"It took us being retired, going out and meeting fans, doing autograph signings and the dad saying, 'I just got my daughter into wrestling but I started with your stuff, the OG stuff,'" Stratus said. "It's really cool and the network allowed that to happen. We definitely have a different perspective now... It takes those moments and to hear what people are saying to realize, 'Woah, what a difference.'"
How Becky Lynch Reminds Her of Lita
In what should come as no surprise, Becky Lynch has gone on record in the past in saying that she modeled most of her career after Lita.
They first feuded over the Raw Women's Championship in February 2022 before forging a friendship and joining forces to capture the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship from Damage CTRL last month.
Upon celebrating backstage with Lita and Lynch afterward, Stratus knew immediately that The Man was a welcome addition to their group of friends.
"It's a great dynamic because she and Lita are very similar," she said. "They forged that path of doing it their own way and their M.O. was living that out. I've been a fan of Becky's for so long. We had some interaction at a live event in Toronto and we had some fun just going back and forth. It's a nice mix. Just being able to go in there and touch with Bayley and the new girls, it's going to make for a very interesting match because we all came from different times."
What's special about this WrestleMania match for Stratus is that the past, present and future will all be represented. Stratus and Lita played a pivotal role in the Women's Evolution early on, and stars such as Dakota Kai and Iyo Sky are ready to take it to the next level.
Bayley growing up idolizing Stratus, and Lita adds an extra personal layer to their matchup. But it's the reunion with Lita that sold the Canadian on coming back.
"I couldn't be happier to be teaming with Lita," she said. "If we're going to go back and if I'm going to go back and put life on hold, and I have businesses and I have babies and all this stuff, we're having the most fun and the best time. It's really special to go back in this capacity."
How This WrestleMania Return Will Differ from Her Last
Despite retiring from the ring at Unforgiven 2006, it wasn't long before Stratus wrestled again. She teamed with John Cena in a winning effort on an episode of Raw in December 2008, so it was clear she'd be back whenever she felt it was worth her while.
The 47-year-old has had matches since then, including her most recent WWE contest against Charlotte Flair at SummerSlam in 2019, but she hasn't had a WrestleMania bout in over a decade.
Her last outing at The Show of Shows saw her, John Morrison and Jersey Shore star Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi defeat Dolph Ziggler and LayCool in an intergender six-person tag team match.
In all honesty, it was a complete waste of Stratus' star power, so this upcoming match at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on April 1-2 will be a better sendoff for her on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
"I don't think it was a conscious choice to go back and say, 'I have more in me,'" she said. "The Charlotte match was a perfect ending. It was a generational faceoff: The best of that generation against who they say is the best of my generation. It was in Toronto and absolutely perfect, and for that to bring closure, I was very satisfied with that. But then having these little interactions at live events, it was fun to have that generational mix-up. When I retired, I said I'd return if it was fun... and maybe not to pass the torch necessarily but to influence a new generation."
At this stage of her decorated career, it's all about the moments as well as what's at stake. For her, it's about proving she belongs, the same way she always has.
"There's an element of proving yourself. You always feel like you have to prove yourself," Stratus said. "I know with my Charlotte match, that was my driving force and proving to not only to the fans that I could still do this, but also to myself. I thrive on the challenge.
"Can I still hang with these girls? Trust me, before I accepted, I did a few rounds in the ring and had to make sure the question of whether I could still do this was rhetorical."
Why She Agreed to Come Out of Retirement, Continuing Her Story with Lita
Having been blessed with many moments throughout the years, Stratus is grateful to have the opportunity to create another at WrestleMania 39.
Both nights of the event will be super-competitive with several highly anticipated matches taking place, so she's aiming to do her best to ensure people are talking about their match when all is said and done.
"I've been speaking with WWE for a little while now about doing a little something because I did the live events," Stratus said. "There's always ideas thrown at me. Once they saw me get in there with the girls, it becomes 'This could be something.' I have a great relationship with WWE, so we've always talked. 'Would you come back?' 'Yeah, if there's a right moment.' If the right moment is challenging and I can touch another generation and make a difference, that would be great, and those boxes would have to be checked."
The WWE Hall of Famer recalled Lita's short-lived return on The Road to WrestleMania last year when she unsuccessfully challenged Lynch for the Raw Women's Championship in Saudi Arabia and had a stellar showing in defeat. That, along with knowing she and The Man could make magic themselves, enticed her to lace up the boots once more.
The only major interaction Stratus and Lita have had at WrestleMania was at the 2002 installment in a Triple Threat match when they both failed to walk away as women's champ.
Once she discovered the 'Mania match would also involve Lita, she jumped at the chance to add to their now-outdated documentary by writing an entirely new ending.
Regardless of whether she intends to wrestle again after April, the indelible mark she and Lita leave on women's wrestling can never be disputed.
"I'm excited to see the story told from our perspective now at this point in our life with where the women are in the industry, and hearing their insight brought to the documentary as well is going to be really special," she said.
"I'm really excited to have that moment to show the journey and share my voice and know that it's been heard and knock down the preconceived notion of what it was like to be a female in the ring and we did it together."
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.