Trish Stratus wrapped the perfect bow on her Hall of Fame career in 2019, but the opportunity to celebrate nearly a quarter-century in the ring at WrestleMania is too good to pass up. Stratus teams with WWE women’s tag team champions Becky Lynch and Lita to battle Damage CTRL (Bayley, Dakota Kai and Iyo Sky) at WrestleMania 39 in Los Angeles.
Stratus overcame her own doubts and put forward a strong showing against Charlotte Flair at WWE SummerSlam in 2019. It was her first singles match in eight years and took place in front of a hometown crowd in Toronto, Ontario. Fast-forward four years and Stratus, 47, finds herself in an all-star game on the industry’s biggest stage.
“I’ve always said, ‘Why would I come out of retirement?’ I had a perfect post-retirement moment with Charlotte at SummerSlam. It was a great match and for me, it was a generational face-off that was cool. It was like the best of her times against arguably the best of my times,” Stratus told CBS Sports ahead of the March 19 premiere of “WWE Rivals: Trish Stratus vs. Lita” on A&E.
“To have us face-off was really special and unique and just really the timing of it being in Toronto was just perfect. I had that opportunity to really have the two of us go and showcase that. That pretty much could have been the perfect ending. I always said it would really take something super special [to get me out of retirement]. It’s got to be fun, it’s got to be challenging, but it has to be something special. It has to somehow impact the next generation. It really has to have the fans interested. Maybe we’re bringing in the older fans and integrating them into the new fans.”
Check out the full interview with Trish Stratus below
The combination of past and present is exactly what compelled Stratus to renege on her previous retirement. WWE Hall of Famers Stratus and Lita are the old guards; meanwhile, Lynch and Bayley are the current status quo. Kai and Sky are fresher faces, only being introduced to the wider WWE audience last year despite their comparable age and experience levels to Bayley and Lynch.
“There’s just so much happening and so much is being offered with this pairing that it’s very special,” Stratus said. “It’s everything I could ask for in a return and why I could return. Also, just to pair up with Lita, we’re like, ‘Oh my God, we’re at WrestleMania, but we’re on the same side.’ That’s so special. And knowing I can work with her and rub elbows with the new girls and then the soon-to-be-coming-up girls are really great. That’s what wrestling is all about. Wrestling is really generational. There’s always that older wrestler being the lead wrestler or the ring general, so to speak. So we’re kind of doing that.
“If I can take anything that I’ve learned in my 20 years of wrestling and pass it on — because it’s more than just about they’re great wrestlers. I might not be known as the best wrestler, but there was definitely a je ne sais quoi about what I did and it’s these little things. It’s the psychology, it’s the little intricate details that make you resonate with the fans or just make those moments. So if I can bring that to the new girls, I’m hoping I could do that. And that would mean so much to me and hopefully to them as well.”
Stratus and Lita are trendsetters whose careers have been intertwined from the very beginning. Both women joined WWE in the late ’90s/early 2000s as supporting acts to male superstars during the Attitude Era. In time, they became decorated women’s champions and the first women to headline an episode of Monday Night Raw. It isn’t unusual these days for women to headline WrestleMania, the biggest annual showcase in professional wrestling.
“Lita and I going back, did we revolutionize the industry? Perhaps. We just knew at the time we started we were accessories, we were the sideshow,” Stratus said. “We were just going out there to enhance the men’s matches and things like that.”
“I think it’ll be fun for people to just see the journey and realize that it wasn’t always like this. I think we take it for granted that there are women in main event matches all the time. There’s more than one match sometimes. They’re headlining WrestleMania at times. That is an amazing milestone. That is an amazing place to be for women because it sure wasn’t like that back in the day. I think they’ll gain a greater appreciation for what the women are doing now, knowing what we had to do. All the obstacles and the uphill battles that we had to fight in order to get to where we are.”