Fighting

PRO WRESTLING: WWE Hall of Famer Trish Stratus part of Women in Wrestling Fan Expo

Trish Stratus (left) and Lita (Amy Dumas), a/k/a Team Bestie, will be part of the Women in Wrestling Fan Expo & Banquet, a tribute to women’s wrestling on Saturday, May 23 at the Coastline Convention Center in Wilmington, N.C.
Trish Stratus (left) and Lita (Amy Dumas), a/k/a Team Bestie, will be part of the Women in Wrestling Fan Expo & Banquet, a tribute to women’s wrestling on Saturday, May 23 at the Coastline Convention Center in Wilmington, N.C. Photo By Erin Simkin

When you think of women’s wrestlers in the modern era, Trish Stratus has to be right at the top of the list.

One of the most decorated WWE divas of all-time built a career with the goal of changing the perception of female athletes in the ring. Now retired from regular competition, Stratus wears many hats: loving mom, devoted wife and savvy businesswomen running her global brand.

Although the Canadian beauty’s schedule is jam-packed with meetings and other projects, Stratus enjoys stepping away to meet fans and hang out with old friends. Stratus will join her “Team Bestie” partner Lita (Amy Dumas) in headlining Masters of the Ring Entertainment’s inaugural tribute to women’s wrestling on Saturday, May 23. Festivities include the Women in Wrestling Fan Expo and banquet from the Coastline Convention Center in Wilmington, N.C.

Stratus and Dumas’ careers paralleled right from the beginning in WWE. Going through the same journey helped create a bond between the two.

“We started a few weeks apart from each other,” she said. “The focus was on us and our tag teams. I was with T&A (Test and Albert), and she was with the Hardys. We had a similar focus that was put on us as performers. Then of course we had that long-term rivalry. In order to have success, you need to trust each other and work with each other. There is this relationship that is necessary. The matches we had made us closer. We were just excited all the time when we had a program together and making that the best program. The lead-up to a pay-per-view match we wanted to give the fans what they wanted.

“I think it really became more special during the end of my career when I had the retirement match with her. To me, it meant a lot. Did I hand pick her as my opponent? Yes, I did. I proposed that idea to Vince [McMahon], and he loved it. I thought, ‘Great, I can’t think of a better way to go out than with my best friend, a fellow co-worker who I had this rivalry with my entire career.’”

The diva’s division took a big hit in 2006 when Dumas and Stratus decided to begin new chapters of their lives. Getting out of the grind made them even closer.

“Once we knew we were retiring the life on the road became different. It was more about enjoying it and seeing the different places you were in. I was a loner. I didn’t really travel around. She had the Hardys and I was kind of on my own all those years leading up to the end. I didn’t have a chance to explore. I think we saw there was an end to this as we were retiring, so let’s enjoy it while we can.

“We really took time and did outside wrestling stuff. That’s where we connected more as friends. Then after we retired we kept in touch. She would come to Toronto to see me. I would go see her. It’s the same with Mickie James where if I’m in Richmond, I will see Mickie. The last five years transitioning into the real world and what is working and what is not working and what you are up to, it was fun to compare notes. Then [my husband] Ron and I decided to name her Max’s godmother, which was sort of our way of extending our family to her. Now she will always be part of our lives no matter what.”

Stratus can’t wait for the women’s wrestling convention because she gets to reunite with this sorority. A group of divas who were part of a boom period in WWE during the 2000’s and supported one another.

“We were taking the same bumps and trying to perform for the people and giving them the best we could,” Stratus said. “We wanted to give them a unique experience each time. Victoria [Lisa Marie Varon], who is coming to this Expo, is a perfect example. Victoria and I always wanted to give the people something different. How can we make an impact for us and the women? How can we help the women’s division leave an impact in the fan’s minds? That bonded us too.”

Another attendee of the event is Terri Runnels, who gained even more appreciation and respect from Stratus in recent years.

“What an amazing woman,” she said. “It is not until now that I’m a mom that I realize how she balanced that. She had Dakota and was coming on the road and working her butt off and performing and doing the crazy WWE schedule. She is an amazing mom. When I see Dakota I say, ‘I knew you from when you were this big.’ I have tons of admiration for Terri and all those years she endured those WWE road schedules, yet balancing it all to have this amazing girl who is articulate, smart and beautiful. She is a supermom.”

The tribute to women’s wrestling comes at a time when female grapplers are getting an opportunity to shine. It’s been a slow process, but WWE has been giving its divas a chance on the main roster and in its developmental NXT brand.

“You are seeing the women have longer matches on TV,” Stratus said. “My whole thing is 10 or 15 years ago we were striving to have that match that wasn’t a chick match. I always said I didn’t want to fight like a girl. I wanted to fight like a man. Now I feel it’s more done. There is no such thing really of having a girly match. It’s just two athletes having a match. I read a cool quote from Triple H who talked about the first female trainer in Sara [Amato]. Then he goes on to say he doesn’t call her the first female trainer, but a trainer.

“That was really cool to me because we don’t want to see her in a separate category. We want to be in the same category. We want to be athletes and treated the same. We do the same job and go out there and do the exact same thing. We just have to look better doing it. I think it comes at a point where women can hold their own and show that we are these fantastic athletes just good or better than the guys.”

When she sees solid ring work, Stratus gets excited. The WWE Hall of Famer is impressed with the girls of NXT.

“People are really talking about them,” she said. “They are the next generation that will be something to talk about. We talk about the golden era that was my time. They may have the platinum era from what I have seen. They are doing amazing.”

With Ronda Rousey making tremendous strides in her sport, Stratus doesn’t rule out a divas match headlining a pay-per-view one day.

“There is everything there in the cards right now,” she said. “You have these strong women with these characters that are athletic and doing matches just as good as the guys. So for sure, I’d like to think that could be a potential possibility in the future.”

Perhaps, “Team Bestie” versus the Bella Twins could be a headliner?

“I don’t mind an easy win,” she says jokingly. “I think the idea is interesting. ‘Team Bestie’ is up for anything. If the fans want it, who knows? When Amy and I were working against each other, we were having fantastic matches because we knew each other’s motions and body movements. I think as a team we could utilize that same chemistry, but channel it in a different way.”

Brie and Nikki Bella are two on the roster enjoying mainstream exposure thanks to “Total Divas.” Stratus is a fan of the reality show and it ability to reach a new audience.

“You tell someone who doesn’t watch wrestling what your day-to-day life was in wrestling they are like, what,” Stratus said. “I think to showcase it is pretty cool. ‘Total Divas’ used to be like check out these girl wrestlers and then also see their lives. Now it’s see their lives about girls who happen to be wrestlers. I think it has slowly turned into a reality show, not much of a wrestling show. It’s sort of the backdrop, which is fine. I still love the show. I think it would have been fun to do.

“Though a couple of months there was a lot of cat fights on the show where I was like, ‘Jeez, this would never work for our generation. We were really close. It would be boring TV to see.’ TV has an interesting way of making things happen. So I think it would be an interesting show for us back in the day for sure.”

Stratus hopes to work with Dumas on something in the future, whether it’s a show or movie. She says there has been keen interest. The former “Tough Enough” coach is excited to watch her friend serve as trainer on the upcoming new season of the reality competition for a WWE contract.

“I think it’s awesome for her,” Stratus said. “It’s a good fit for her. I think she is going to be a valuable asset to the show in lending her expertise. My tips for her are, I don’t think she needs any tips. She has her s--- together. She knows what she is doing out there. She will do fine. I do have to remind her that when you come from retirement and forget about the grind, you forget how exhausting the grind is. They will be filming week-after-week. I was in Los Angeles to tape the show for almost two-and-half months and lived there.

“I went home for the holidays and that was about it. Then I did the thing on Raw and the thing with Snooki and LayCool. Before you know it, you are back in the grind. As long as you remind yourself to get your sleep in and stay healthy and stay fit and use whatever tools you have to get you through that crazy schedule.”

Speaking of crazy schedules, Stratus says she is the same level of busy today as during her full-time WWE days. Whether it’s filming movies or television appearances, conventions, launching new fitness products, producing workout DVDs, modeling for magazine covers and everything in between, the driven performer does it all. She gives credit to her strong support system including her mother, mother-in-law and husband.

Stratus takes pride in all she has accomplished. The “Diva of the Decade” is ready to fly to North Carolina to celebrate with her fellow trailblazers all they did to put women’s wrestling on the map.

“This weekend will be so awesome from my perspective, but also the fan’s perspective,” she said. “It’s the first time you have a convention only for women. That’s pretty fantastic. I think [organizer] Bambi [Weavil] has done such a great job putting this together. She really had this vision and believes in the women. To have all these girls from all of these organizations, if you are fan of women’s wrestling, this is the place to be.

“We are going to have all these women gathered and really show the strength in women. The guys are seen as the draw, but I want to show how big a draw the women can draw. To see all these people come out to see the women will be pretty awesome.”

- Masters of Ring Entertainment LLC, a special events pro wrestling organization, announces two exciting special events on Saturday, May 23 at the Coastline Convention Center, 501 Nutt St. in Wilmington, N.C.

The Women in Wrestling Fan Expo 10 a.m.-5 p.m. is a once-in-a-lifetime fan convention featuring some of the greatest legends in the history of the sport. A special “Team Bestie” photo opportunity featuring WWE Hall of Famers Trish Stratus and Lita (Amy Dumas) is available Noon-1 p.m., as well as solo appearances by Trish Stratus from 10 a.m.-Noon. and Lita 1-3 p.m. Also appearing will be Lisa Marie Varon a/k/a WWE’s Victoria and TNA Knockout Tara, Lisa Ivory Moretti, former WWE Diva Terri Runnels a/k/a WWE’s Marlena, GLOW legend Little Egypt, former WCW star Missy Hyatt, and current NWA Women’s Champion Santana Garrett a/k/a Brittany in TNA.

General admission is $20. VIP tickets are $99. With a VIP ticket you get access to a special Women in Wrestling Q&A Panel featuring Trish Stratus, Lisa Marie Varon, Terri Runnels, Lisa Moretti, Missy Hyatt and more, hosted by WGNI 102.7’s on-air radio personality Jackie Jordan. This is a unique event where fans can ask questions to the panel. Also during this event, there will be an all female pro wrestling spectacular tournament brought to you by Just Cause Pro Wrestling. The live in-ring action will be featured from Noon.-2 p.m.

Lasting Legacy – A Tribute to Women in Wrestling from 8-10 p.m. is a banquet/hall of fame style event honoring the women of pro wrestling. This is the first time ever that the women of pro wrestling have ever been honored for their accomplishments and contributions. The event is to be headlined by Trish Stratus, and is also featuring Amy Dumas, Lisa Marie Varon, Lisa Moretti, Terri Runnels, Little Egypt, Missy Hyatt and more. Food options will be available for purchase. General admission to the event is $30. VIP tickets are $99, which includes the VIP ticket to the Women in Wrestling Fan Expo.

Tickets and more information available at:

http://www.MastersofRingEntertainment.com

- Catch Trish Stratus in her upcoming movie “Gridlocked” with Danny Glover and Dominic Purcell of “Prison Break.”

For more information on everything Trish Stratus, visit

www.TrishStratus.com

- Follow Trish Stratus on Twitter

@TrishStratusCom

- Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN

- Pro Wrestling On The Web

http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/fighting/

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