The Definitive List of Must-Watch Matches from Trish Stratus

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistDecember 14, 2021

The Definitive List of Must-Watch Matches from Trish Stratus

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    There are few women who made a greater impact or defined an entire era in professional wrestling more than Trish Stratus.

    The 2013 Hall of Famer evolved from fitness model to manager to the most recognizable female performer on the WWE roster, and when her full-time career came to an end in 2006, she was the undisputed leader of a women's evolution that brought female performers out of degrading gimmick matches and proved they could excel as in-ring performers.

    One of the most decorated and beloved women's wrestlers of all time, these are the 10 most must-watch matches from Stratus' iconic career.

10. Survivor Series 2001: Six-Pack Challenge for the WWE Women's Championship

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    Entering the 2001 Survivor Series, Stratus had limited in-ring experience. Sure, she had bumped around for Lita, Chyna and Stephanie McMahon, but most of her work had been constrained to mixed tag matches, gimmick bouts or catfights.

    With WWE relaunching its Women's Championship after Chyna's departure earlier in the year, it was the Toronto native's opportunity to prove she actually could hang with the company's evolving women's division.

    And she did.

    In what could best be described as an upset at the time, the former fitness model became champion by defeating Ivory, Jazz, Mighty Molly, Lita and Jacqueline in a Six-Pack Challenge match. Every one of those women would, like Stratus, go on to become Hall of Famers, which is a testament to the strength of the women's roster at the time.

    Following her victory, a triumphant Stratus stood atop that roster as the new face of women's wrestling in WWE. It is a spot she would retain for the next five years.

    It's a defining match that may not live up to the quality of the others on this list, but it belongs because of the historical significance to Stratus' career as a whole.

9. WrestleMania XIX vs. Jazz and Victoria

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    By April of 2003, Stratus was the undisputed queen of WWE. She was the centerpiece of its women's division and one of the most popular stars on the entire roster. At WrestleMania XIX, both she and Jazz challenged Victoria for the Women's Championship in a Triple Threat match.

    A hard-hitting, physical match featuring three of the best in the world culminated with Jazz dumped to the arena floor, leaving Trish and Victoria to battle for the top prize in the sport. A back-and-forth gave way to Stratus blasting the champion with a Chick Kick and scoring the win.

    To win that match, on the biggest stage in wrestling, was indicative of WWE's trust and faith in her to carry women's wrestling through what many have dubbed the "golden era." 

    The match itself was very good, and it served as an indicator that women's wrestling was back and in good hands.

8. Armageddon 2003 with Lita vs. Chris Jericho and Christian

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    For the first time ever, and only time since, WWE presented a Battle of the Sexes at its Armageddon 2003 pay-per-view. In that match, Stratus and Lita battled Chris Jericho and Christian just days after having their hearts broken upon learning of the heels' scheme to bed them. 

    Out to prove they would not be objectified, Stratus and Lita took the fight to their prospective love interests in a red-hot match that never crossed the boundary into discomfort. The heels would win, sure, but Stratus and Lita further enhanced their stars by working the best match of the night against two celebrated and respected wrestlers.

    It took a considerable amount of trust to put them in that position and believe they could exceed under the circumstances. Stratus and Lita, often rivals but better friends, backed up that trust in one of the hidden gems of the Ruthless Aggression Era.

7. Fully Loaded 2000 with T&A vs. the Hardy Boyz and Lita

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    Just four months into her WWE career, Trish teamed with Test and Albert for a six-person tag team match against The Hardy Boyz and Lita at Fully Loaded in July 2000.

    Stratus had seen few minutes in an actual match to that point but was tasked with kicking off a pay-per-view event with a satisfying opener. She did just that.

    Though her skills had not yet been defined, Stratus had a grasp on her character and knew exactly the right notes to hit. She bumped around the ring for Lita, played up her vindictive heel role when necessary and had the crowd in the palm of her hand.

    Most impressive? The match was built around Lita getting her hands on Stratus. Everything the two tag teams did built up to those spots, and the women executed them perfectly, giving the fans exactly what they wanted when they wanted it.

    The babyfaces won, but for Stratus, it was a breakout moment. Following real questions and concerns about her ability to pull it off, she proved timing and character work would take her far while she continued to learn and develop the ring skills we would see from her later on.

6. Monday Night Raw vs. Victoria (Chicago Street Fight)

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    Stratus and Victoria had an intensely physical rivalry that began in the late summer of 2002, through the Survivor Series pay-per-view in November and into the new year. On the January 27, 2003, episode of Raw, they wrote the latest chapter in their rivalry with a hard-hitting Chicago Street Fight.

    The match, building on their Hardcore Match back at the aforementioned Survivor Series event, was appropriately violent given the intensity of the feud. The fans in Chicago ate it up, and Stevie Richards added exponentially to the match via his ability and, more importantly, willingness to sell for the women.

    Victoria won, but who left Chicago with the title was of little concern. Stratus continued to evolve as a performer. She was no longer just contained to straight wrestling matches against performers more experienced than her, like Jazz and Molly Holly. Now, she could go out there and work in a style of match that even the best wrestlers were not always able to deliver.

    It was also—to that point—her best match, making it doubly significant.

5. No Way Out 2001 vs. Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley

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    The battle between Stratus and Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley at No Way Out 2001 never should have been as good as it was.

    Neither woman was a regular in-ring performer. They were characters, in the midst of a soap opera story involving the megalomaniacal Vince McMahon. There was intensity and clear hatred, but surely it wouldn't live up to the expectations given just how great the feud had been leading into the show, right?


    The match was brilliantly laid out, never asking the women to do too much but always relying on their timing and aggression to help the spots land. Everything from Stratus' signature bulldog to Stephanie delivering a big powerbomb popped the fans in Las Vegas. By the time the confused imbecile William Regal arrived and helped McMahon-Helmsley win the match, the crowd had been on an emotional roller coaster ride.

    Yet again, a young Stratus was tasked with delivering in a match she never should have been able to. Yet she did, wowing the audience with her ability to tell a story and take a beating in the name of it.

    She excelled, and to this day, the match with the boss' daughter is one of the best women's matches in WWE history.

4. WrestleMania 22 vs. Mickie James

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    Mickie James exploded on to the scene in late 2005 as an unhinged, obsessive fan of Stratus'. After months of the women's champion attempting to appease her, the friendship came to a halt when Trish rejected the advances of James. It ignited a rivalry that culminated in one of the most anticipated matches on the WrestleMania 22 card.

    Stratus would deliver a valiant effort, but the damage to her knee and some truly bizarre mind games played by James landed the newcomer the title.

    You know a performer has evolved into one of the biggest stars in the industry when fans begin to reject them simply because they have been so prominently featured over the years. That was where Stratus was in this one. She had been the best for so long that the crowd wanted to see someone knock her off, and they got their wish.

    And in the process, Stratus put her opponent over, instantly making a star of her.

    Add to it the fact that it was one of the best matches of either woman's career, on the biggest stage in wrestling, and the importance of this one to the Hall of Famer's career is apparent.

3. Unforgiven 2006 vs. Lita

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    We knew Trish was retiring following her match against women's champion Lita at Unforgiven in her hometown of Toronto. Perhaps that is what made the match that much more special.

    Emotions ran high as the two definitive women's wrestlers in WWE history fought their last battle against each other.

    A greatest hits version of their many classic matches, this one felt different—more final.

    Stratus, in her hometown and in front of friends and family, trapped Lita in the Sharpshooter in an ode to Bret "Hitman" Hart and tapped her out to win her final women's title.

    The post-match celebration and emotion painting her face told the story. This was the last dance for a woman who debuted amid the suggestion that she got her job only because of the way she looked, then proved all of those doubters wrong by developing into the most storied women's wrestler of her generation. She had triumphed when so many expected her to fail, and there she stood, one last time, on the mountaintop.

    Arguably, her greatest moment on this list, not to mention the match preceded it.

2. SummerSlam 2019 vs. Charlotte Flair

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    If Stratus was the defining female performer of her generation, Charlotte Flair is that to the current generation of WWE Superstars.

    Returning to the same arena in which she wrestled her retirement match against Lita 13 years earlier, Stratus battled Flair in a dream match at SummerSlam 2019.

    The dramatic match saw the Hall of Famer fight through The Queen's onslaught and appeared to have her beaten on more than one occasion. Unfortunately, like so many before her, Stratus became trapped in the vaunted Figure Eight and had no choice but to tap out as Flair notched the biggest win of her career.

    Ring-rust be damned. Stratus walked on to one of the biggest stages in wrestling and reminded everyone why she is as celebrated and respected as she is. In what was Retirement Part Deux, Stratus stole the show one last time and entrenched herself in the history books.

1. WWE Raw vs. Lita (Women's Championship Match)

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    The December 6, 2004, episode of Raw saw Stratus and Lita shatter the glass ceiling, becoming the first two women to main-event the flagship show.

    The frequent rivals tore the house down with a high-profile match that saw Lita throw caution to the wind and dive through the ropes, crashing on the arena floor and narrowly avoiding a serious neck injury.

    Lita overcame the nasty fall and delivered her trademark moonsault, defeating Stratus and regaining a title she had not held in three years.

    More than the quality of the match or the significance to the performers individually, it elevated the status of women's wrestling in the states. For the first time, WWE had two stars who could be relied upon to not only have a great match but be credible in the main event spot.

    On that night, Stratus was part of a match that laid the groundwork for what women's wrestling would ultimately become. She had developed to such an extent that she was now a top star and a viable headliner in wrestling's biggest organization.

    To this day, it is the match that defines her career above all, and rightly so.


    The Definitive List... is an ongoing series detailing the 10 greatest matches in the careers of wrestling's greatest Superstars. Catch up now with these previous installments: "Macho Man" Randy Savage, The Attitude Era, Scott Hall, Mick Foley and Kurt Angle.