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WRESTLING COLUMNS

There's Something About Trish
October 8, 2005 by Martin F.


Over the last two years of her five year career in the WWE, I've seen a number of people comment that Trish Stratus has become the newest "it" girl in terms of women's wrestling in the U.S. If she's not being praised by posters on Internet forums, she's getting positive comments from fans, from her peers in the industry, wrestling insiders/commentators, or by wrestling veterans. To my recollection, she's been praised by: Sable, Ivory, Molly Holly, Hulk Hogan, Les Thatcher, Matt Hardy, Bubba Ray Dudley, Tammy Sytch (Sunny), and Stacy Keibler. If you assume the people who appeared in her DVD were giving their genuine thoughts on her (and so far there's no reason to assume otherwise), she's also been praised by Mick Foley, D-von Dudley, Ron Hutchinson (her trainer), Stone Cold Steve Austin, and others. After her performance against Lita in the main event of RAW on December 6, 2004, the praise just continued to flow in. And Trish has become even bigger thanks to her work in the first half of 2005.

So what is it about Trish that everyone seems to like so much" Sure, a part of it is her look. She's gorgeous, and I wouldn't doubt that some people are fans simply because she's hot - the team she managed back in 2000 wasn't called T&A for nothing. However, I think it goes deeper than that. As Matt Hardy said on a radio interview a few months ago, Trish Stratus has become "the total package" in terms of a wrestler. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying Trish Stratus is the best female wrestler of all time. Far from it. I always felt Molly, Gail, Victoria, and Jazz were better technical wrestlers, and I'm sure that the women wrestlers in Japan could probably wrestle circles around her. But as guys like Hulk Hogan have shown, you don't need to be the greatest technical wrestler ever to connect with the fans. Trish has a mixture of many of the attributes that made so many of the WWE's male performers stars in their own right.

1) Determination to succeed (Chris Benoit) --- Anyone who remembers Benoit in WCW knows that nobody ever thought he'd become a big star. He was small and had no charisma or mic skills - Kevin Nash called him a "vanilla midget". When Benoit came to the WWE, he was initially pushed, but again, his height and his lack of charisma worked against him. Eventually, he started jobbing left and right to the company's top stars. However, this didn't deter Benoit. To compensate for his deficiencies, Benoit simply tried to put on the best matches possible and went to extraordinary lengths to entertain the fans. He took massive bumps, put on superb displays of technical wrestling, and kept plugging away no matter what. Eventually, the fans caught on: "Hey ... this guy may not have much charisma, but damn he can wrestle!". It wasn't long before WWE decided they could no longer keep a title off him.

In much the same way, Trish was looked down upon when she came in. "Oh she's just here to show off her body." People viewed her as another cookie cutter woman trying to make a name for herself in the wrestling business. No less than Hulk Hogan himself thought she was just in the business to become famous. Chyna did an interview where she bashed Trish for just being another T&A diva. But Trish proved them ALL wrong. She wanted to wrestle and she wanted to do it well. She trained constantly before she made her WWE debut and even afterwards, she went to guys like Fit Finley and Dean Malenko to learn more technical wrestling holds. Molly Holly also took an active part in training Trish, and thought that Trish definitely had the desire and potential to become a big star.

In 2001, Trish wrestled Stephanie McMahon in a surprisingly good match. In 2002, Trish was getting more and more in ring experienced against women like Victoria, Jazz, Molly Holly, and others. Finally, by 2003, Trish was doing moves like Crucifixes, Neckbreakers, the STF Submission Hold, and the Lemahestraw Cradle (a move so complex I can't even spell it right!). She was putting on wrestling matches that fans and insiders alike acknowledged were very good, including a superb technical exhibition with Jazz in the UK for WWE's Insurrexion 2003 PPV. As I said earlier, it's debatable how her skills compared with other divas like Gail Kim, Molly Holly, or Jazz. But beyond any shadow of a doubt, Trish had proven by this time that she could hold her own in a technical wrestling match. The differences between her abilities in 2000/2001 and 2003/2004 is quite remarkable.

2) Ability to bump and sell (The Rock / Mic Foley / Ric Flair) --- Trish has the ability to take huge bumps and sell her opponent's offense in much the same way that The Rock, Mick Foley, and Ric Flair have done for many years prior. There are far too many matches or segments to examine for this section, so I thought I'd just make a few comments on four in particular:

a)Her stage dive into a mud pit on RAW (vs Stacy Keibler): Granted it wasn't a wrestling match, but Trish took a HUGE dive off the stage into that mud pit. Check out the distance between the RAW entrance ramp and the mud pit if you don't believe me. It reminded me a lot of a stage dive Mick Foley did in 2004 in a match against Randy Orton, where he launched himself off the entrance ramp in order to land a crushing blow on the self proclaimed "Legend Killer". Basically, Trish put her body on the line to entertain the fans in that match.

b) The Chokeslam from Kane in January, 2005: I've seen Kane Chokeslam many of the top WWE superstars over the years. Some of the slams looked pretty hard; others looked like Kane was trying to set them down as gently as possible. But I don't think I've ever seen a Chokeslam as vicious as the one Kane gave Trish. He drove her straight to hell in Toronto for RAW on January 17, 2005. That Chokeslam even got some "Holy Sh*t" chants from the crowd. Her bump reinforced Kane as a monster who brutalized his opponents (even though Kane was a face at the time). I personally think this was the best bump Trish has ever taken, as her petite body was easy for Kane to hoist high above his head, and drive into the mat with full velocity.

c) Going through the table: Bubba Ray Powerbombed Trish through a table early in her career. While he normally protects women during this move, Trish took the full brunt of the table on her back and didn't get very much protection from Bubba at all. But she probably wanted it that way in order to, again, entertain the fans, and put over the Dudley Boys. The Dudley's themselves commented on how tough Trish was for taking this move and how much it showed them that she was the real deal and serious about her time in the wrestling business.

d) The Chairshot to the head: In early January, 2003, Trish had a vicious street fight with Victoria on RAW. Victoria smacked Trish in the head with a steel chair - a move usually reserved for the "Hardcore Legend" Mick Foley. Trish was super tough to take that move, as it clearly connected with her head, and Victoria did not try and reduce the impact of the shot. Trish took the hit and crumpled to the mat. I recall the fans being absolutely shocked at a woman taking a Chairshot to the head - another defining moment. I would also like to briefly mention that she did a particularly good job of selling the offensive moves of her opponents. In particular, she did a remarkable job selling Jazz's offense during their feud. Jazz treated her like a rag doll and in the process, Trish put her over as a vicious, unbeatable heel, while Trish got herself over as a determined yet vulnerable underdog. I could make a similar argument that Trish did a fantastic job selling for Victoria, Molly, and Gail Kim. Whenever Trish took a vicious shot or a painful submission move, she sold it with her screams of agony and her facial expressions. This was much the same role that Ric Flair played so many years ago in the NWA and WCW with Sting. By selling Sting's offense and playing the cowardly heel, he turned Sting into a superstar overnight. The Rock is another wrestler who did a great job selling moves for his opponents. I remember an incident in the WWE when Rhyno (an ECW alumni) used his GORE (basically, a spear) on The Rock, who was a lot bigger than him, yet Rock sold the move like he'd been hit by a freight train! Trish has that same ability to tell a story in the ring and make her opponents look good.

3) Mic skills (The Rock) --- Trish is funny, witty, and sarcastic, just like The Rock. The Rock was known for tormenting and verbally abusing wrestlers he didn't like - telling them that he was going to shove his boot up their ass, or making fun of one of their personality traits or characteristics. He became one of the most popular wrestlers on the WWF roster for his comedy skits. Trish has had similar success, tormenting Molly for her "fat ass", to which the fans responded positively. She was incredibly mean spirited to Lita during their feud. First, she scared Lita into thinking Kane was after her, and then eventually mocking her suffering after the New Years Revolution PPV (Lita injured her knee at that event) to say, "Just because your knee is messed up, doesn't mean your uterus isn't open for business". In fact, Trish's heel taunting became so vicious, and so funny (sometimes unintentionally - imagine the response she would've gotten for the uterus comment if she'd said it after word leaked out about Lita's affair with Edge!) that she eventually began drawing what I call "nWo heat" - where a heel becomes so popular that the crowd starts cheering them.

As a heel, she was spiteful, vindictive, and manipulative too. The way she manipulated Viscera during their RAW dinner segments was nothing short of brilliant acting on her part. You want to see a heel - THAT'S a heel. When she blindsided Christy Hemme with a chick kick on the RAW after WrestleMania XXI and then attacked Lita's injured knee, the response she got was akin to a standing ovation. She's just so damn bad as a heel that she's cool!

4) Ability to be a face and a heel (Chris Jericho / Hulk Hogan) --- Trish recently returned to RAW as a face. In the past, her face roles have been given less than stellar reviews, probably because back then, Trish didn't get much mic time to get herself over. However, I believe the WWE should have enough confidence in Trish to get the job done. She's proven with her work as a heel, that Trish can alter her mannerisms, personality, and mic skills to accommodate her role. Before WrestleMania XX she was always nice, kind hearted, and innocent; but right after her heel turn, she began seducing Christian and making out with him, and her facial expressions changed to form a character who lied, manipulated, and used her charms to get what she wants. Trish's ability to move from face to heel and back again is a trait shared by other wrestlers like Chris Jericho. Jericho proved over the course of his wrestling career in WCW and WWE that he could easily move between playing a face and a heel, and that all he needed to change were his mannerisms and the way he acted around others.

Hulk Hogan is another wrestler who was able to make the transition from face to heel. He transformed himself from a hero that kids could look up to in the 80's into being a self-centered, vicious "invader" from the WWE. He did what many thought was impossible - he turned Hogan bad. And even more impressive, when Hogan finally became a face again in 2002, he didn't go back to the old formula, which was outdated. He kept the face character, but blended it with his darker personality, into more of a "bad boy" face. Similarly, Trish, while considered a face now, was able to take some of the confidence she developed as the woman in the division during her heel run and incorporated it with her old face character.

Conclusion

So basically, when I see Trish, I see "the total package" as Matt Hardy said. There's really nothing that she can't do in the squared circle because of all the attributes I mentioned above, but especially because of her determination. She won't accept anything less than her 100% effort, and I think that comes out in not only her matches, but her interview and her character as well. She goes out there to do the best she can and entertain the fans. The fans know this, and that is why they will continue to support Trish no matter what role she plays. The Internet fans know this, and that is why she has been almost universally praised online. Her peers and the old timers from the business know this, and that is why so many of them have said nothing but positive things about her.

Here's hoping for many more years of 100% Stratusfaction!

by Martin F. ..


Eric H wrote:
You're so right on Martin, Trish has done it all. When she started, at first, there she was the vulnerable pretty underdog but look how far she's come! Training, dedication, and God knows how much training in the gym; she's as good as it gets. Any type of match anytime and anywhere one way or another, Ms. Status again and again just takes the WWE ladies to school. When her entrance music play who doesn't jump out of their seat" If ever the was a fan pleasing face, it's Trish, not only that but here and there, you're so right, just like that she can turn an be amazing heel, who's still almost impossible to root against! Yes, put it altogether, she just never disappoints you with her amazing strength, power, fitness, ability, creativity, and style. Martin, in closing may I lead the applause, with you on her comeback and return to active status along with partnership with protoégé Ashley Massaro, following Kane's inane and contrived choke slam earlier this year. I think " Business" as JR would say "is picking up again" in the Women's Divison!
Katie Jones wrote:
Great column on Trish! Real good read. And it just shows how far Trish has come. She is my favourite wrestler on Raw and no doubt the best all around women's wrestler in the WWE right now. Great column!
A. Shina wrote:
I totally agree with everytyhing you said, Trish is the total package. It is no secret that WWE likes to hire good looking Divas (Torrie Wilson, Christy Hemme) rather then talented ones (Gail Kim, Jazz). What WWE did to the Women's division in late 2004 was the stupidest thing they've ever done to it. They fired wrestlers like Gail Kim, Jazz and Nidia and left the Women's division with only 4 divas who could wrestle (Lita, Trish, Victoria and Molly Holly) and hired most of the diva searvh losers who never even heared of wrestling. None the less, Trish Startus continued to deliver, and it was her match against Lita in the RAW mainevent that made me see what the Women's title is about.

Now, Trish is again feuding together with Ashley (who is working on her wrestling but still meh) with Torrie Wilson, Candice Michelle (Two divas who not only make the worst heels ever, but can't sell a match) and Victoria. Trish is still prooving to all of us that the Women's division is still alive, and without her (or Victoria) it would be dead now.

I really do agree with Trish being the total package, because she has it all, good looks, fair wrestling ability and good charisma and mic skills. I don't think that there has ever been another diva that's had all that.
Matt Kopp wrote:
GREAT ARTICLE. You are 100 percent correct. First off, Trish is the most drop-dead gorgeous diva ever to step foot in a WWE ring. She is amazing at selling her opponent look good in the ring ( however, she still looks hotter than them doing so. Seriously, she can do basically anything and look hot doing it). She is amazing at being both a face and a heel, and I loved her heel turn so much. Her "bad girl" turn made it, (if it's humanely possible) even sexier. Trish is a sure-fire Hall of Famer, and one of the greatest Women's Champions to date. A perfect article for a perfect woman.
Elisa Poggese (Italy) wrote:
Excellent article. That's exactly what I think about Trish - she looks perfectly comfortable on a wrestling ring, just like it's... her yard, so to quote someone else! Seriously - she might not be the best in terms of pure technique, but her overall abilities make her quite the perfect wrestler WWE style: someone who is able to mix athletic skills with entertainment. And she undoubtly isn't afraid of taking bumps indeed - and blade jobs, too...

I'd like to give my two cents on A. Shina's comment, too: I agree that, today, the only "real" active female wrestlers in the WWE are Trish and Victoria, with Lita still kept to off-ring action. And I think that the WWE never made the Women's Title vacant (despite Trish's long hiatus) because, well, they realised they had no believable contenders for it. But on the other hand, we still have the Diva Search, which is about everything but wrestling, and after the Christy fiasco (she sure had the good will to train, but she had hardly become a wrestler during the last year) we have another gorgeous girl to push... to do what" I still have to understand it. At Smackdown, instead, girls with previous wrestling experience like Melina or Jillian Hall are just valets, or they are engaged in catfights that we can hardly call "wrestling". So the WWE's attitude towards the divas puzzles me. It seems like they are trying to preserve some dignity for the Women's Title without giving it away to a random beauty queen - but what are they actually doing to improve the situation"
Richard Powell wrote:
Trish is much better than she was a couple of years back, but no one can compare to the truly brutal Victoria. Victoria in her top form would absolutely destory Trish is a matter of seconds, if not inside of two minutes. People cheer Trish because there are no women wrestlers really left to cheer. Vinny Mac fired them all................
Matthew Behrman wrote:
I see trish as a eather WWE champion or WWE world champion It could happend look at chyna before he fall from grace she is the first women to hold the WWE Intercontenal title it is only a matter of time to see trish as a WWE world champion or WWE champion down the road
michael nader wrote:
I'm sorry. I just can't find myself respecting any wrestler that's been a face longer than they've been heel. I mean I don't deny Trish's talents, but I'm having a hard time finding why I should cheer for her when she's been champ so long when there are women like lita, victoria, and torrie wilson.
Martin F. (Rebuttal to Richard Powell) wrote:
Actually Richard, I said in my article that Vic was a better wrestler than Trish. I don't have a problem with saying that, and I imagine that most people reading my column would agree. However, I think you're underestimating Trish's ability to work a little bit. If you watch her matches with Victoria from 2002/2003, you'll see a girl who goes toe to toe with Victoria and, win or lose, is able to handle herself and put on a good show.

As for why people cheer Trish, while you're right that there are few female wrestlers to cheer for, she has worked her butt off to improve and to entertain the fans for the last five years, and I think the cheers she gets from the crowd are a recognition of how much she's contributed over the years. The fans know that she's paid her dues, and she's earned their respect.
wrote:

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