Thursday (Nov. 18) marked 20 years since the legendary Trish Stratus won her first-ever WWE Women’s Championship on Nov. 18, 2001, at Survivor Series in the first-ever six-pack challenge of that year women against Ivory, Molly Holly, Lita, Jacqueline, and Jazz. Unfortunately, Stratus suffered from an ankle injury that would keep her off of TV until the fall of that year. During this time, she took on the role of WWE’s newest Saturday night show, EXCESS.
As she prepared to return to the ring, fans would see a different side of “100% babe.” It was not about her looks but her aspiration and desire to get inside of the square circle. Fans quickly noticed that her move-set was different from the rest of the women on the roster. Her finisher was a running bulldog but quickly became her signature move as the “Stratusfaction.”
“Being on the road for 300 days of the year did not leave much room for anything but travel and competing. However, the injury gave me a moment to step out of the fray and reflect on what I wanted out of this business and how I wanted to contribute,” said Trish. “That time allowed me to go back to watching the product as a fan, remembering and appreciating things that got me excited, and so I dove into studying old matches and promos. For all those months I was rehabilitating, I completely immersed myself in studying my craft. I set my intention, and that was to go back and be one of the best female wrestlers in history and change the perception of what a woman was capable of doing in the business.”
As Stratus returned to the ring, WWE was looking to bring back the defunct WWE Women’s Championship after contract negotiations with Chyna fell through. For months in WWE, the title would not be announced until Survivor Series rolled around and a six-pack challenge between Lita, Jazz, Jacqueline, and Molly Holly to determine the new Women’s Champion. Stratus’ hard work and determination would soon pay off as she became WWE Women’s Champion for the first time in her career. As the crowd roared in approval, the company put their trust in the underdog to build the future of the Women’s Division.
“I knew how important this win was and that it was the start of something fresh and new and a chance to showcase the women and that division in a different light. I was thrilled, honored, and excited about the responsibility and ready to take this division to a level unseen before.”
WWE saw a vast increase in the female demographic, and the stands previously male-dominated began to fill with women who were cheering on their female heroes in the ring. With groundbreaking matches, memorable storylines, and character work, Trish laid down the foundation of a career worthy of a Hall of Fame nod in 2013. Her title win at Survivor Series was the building block to 7 title reigns. A record that held up for over a decade before being broken by Charlotte Flair.
As of today, the Hall of Famer is still inspiring the new generation of women wrestlers. Soon, Stratus could possibly come out of retirement to face The Boss, Sasha Banks.