[INTERVIEW] The Queen of the Ring, Trish Stratus, Reflects on Her Legacy

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Trish Stratus is a pioneer in WWE wrestling and a legend to many in the industry. Now a WWE Hall of Fame inductee, Trish was once among a handful of others that helped increase the emphasis of women in the ring.

In addition to those accolades, she still holds the record for most Women's Championship wins over thirteen years after her retirement. Fans today can occasionally catch a glimpse of Trish making a special appearance on the show or touring the country for various signing events. As a matter of fact, Trish is scheduled to appear at Dallas Fan Days next week! She visited with us earlier this week to discuss a bit of her personal life and iconic career.

Almost two decades after her WWE debut, Trish Stratus's name still holds so much weight that Funko Pop recently released a figure to commemorate her time in the ring. It's hard to imagine that she'd never even considered a career in wrestling just a few short years before she joined WWE. Trish originally had every intention of completing medical school. While she was attending college, her professors went on strike and thrust her onto an unexpected path.

Sometimes I just look back and wonder how all this happened. It seems like such a blur… I had my plans to go to med school and I did not veer off my track at all. I was proposed a number of things that didn't make sense in my path. I got proposed to do the Miss Teen Canada pageant, which was a great opportunity, but it was not anything in line with what I wanted to do. Since my university was on strike, I had the opportunity to do some things.

I got to do the fitness modeling, which led to being on a TV show. Like I said, it was just being in the right place at right time. I did my training, got that under my belt, and ended up having my first fight in 2000. I still look back and wonder how I got here.

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It wasn't long before Trish Stratus was established as one of the biggest names in WWE. She became a crowd favorite with finishing moves like the Stratusphere and Stratusfaction. As WWE fans know, professional wrestlers are only as good as their signature moves. So, where do these athletes find their inspiration to create them?

The Stratusphere in the corner was actually something that I saw on Mortal Combat. I remember thinking, “That is neat. I need to try that!” It was really cool. I would work in the ring during the day and all of the guys were really good about being there for me if I needed help or if I would want to try out a new move.

Professional wrestling has been criticized over the years for being fake, but the skill and risks that come with the profession are all too real. Mick Foley notoriously broke multiple bones, lost teeth, and suffered other serious injuries after several falls during a Hell in a Cell match versus The Undertaker. Luckily, Trish Stratus didn’t suffer injuries that severe, but she did have her share of physical struggles. Her most memorable setback came in Backlash 2005 while fighting Mickie James.

We were having a great match. We had actually worked the weekend show for a couple weeks and we had this great spot we kept coming to. We’d end up on the turnbuckle, throw some punches, and we’d get thrown off. At the time, as I was failing, I saw the ring stairs there. I thought, “Whoa, that’s not going to be good!”

I put my arm down to throw my body the other way, but then my body went over my arm the wrong way and popped my shoulder out. We went on to continue the match for a while because it took a little bit for me to get the message to everybody that things weren’t good…

I could literally see myself on the tron trash talking with my arm dangling around. After it went dark it popped in and felt a little bit better, but I had fractured something in there too. It was a small bone fracture where a bit of a bone spur had come off.

In 2006, Trish Stratus won the championship belt in her home town of Toronto while using fellow Canadian Bret Hart’s signature move. This victory solidified her record for most Women’s Championship wins. It seems as if she were at the pinnacle of her career, but Trish had other plans. Following the match, Trish announced her retirement from WWE to focus on her family and personal life. Almost a decade would pass before fans received the surprising news that Trish Stratus would enter the ring again for Evolution 2018.

I feel like it was sort of a personal challenge, kind of like, “Could I do it?” Over seven years at the time and two children later was the Royal Rumble. That went well and I enjoyed it. As a performer you will never, never lose it. You just do what you do, go out there and perform, deliver and you evoke that emotion from the crowd. When I returned for Evolution, I got a chance to have a little bit of a longer match because it was a tag match. The thought that it was possibly my last match occurred to me. I think I was possibly okay with it at the time…

Evolution might have proven to be a great opportunity to get Trish back in the ring, but it would not be her last match. She once again came out of retirement this year for a marquee match against WWE superstar Charlotte Flair. Trish jumped on the opportunity to take on one of this generation’s greatest female fighters, but it did come with some concerns. This fight would be her first premiere individual match in thirteen years and potentially her final match ever.

There was a point where I was like, “What did I just sign myself up for?” Certainly, that thought did come in and out. It occurred to me at one point I could literally ruin my entire legacy with one poor performance tonight. I've always been about delivering 110% and I would never bring anything less. There was a lot of pressure on me for that match and you never know [what could happen]. You can have all the practice you want and ring time you want, but you really don’t know until you’re actually in that scenario. Everything is different and an elevated level on so many fronts.

There is incorporating the crowd and the adrenaline and all that stuff. Knowing that it's a live performance, you really can’t predict what is going to happen. I think that maybe I thrive on that type of challenge and it was something I was excited to tackle. I was very pleased. To be honest, at the end of the day, I just pat myself on the back. I was pretty proud of my body.

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Although it looks as if her WWE career may now officially be over, her fingerprints are seen across the industry. Trish Stratus has already established herself in professional history among fans and records for years to come. So, what legacy does she want to be remembered by?

I think just showing people that hard work always gets them to where they want to get to; it never fails you. I definitely would say that I never had a day of ease. It was hard work all the way. I came from a place where I was very green and inexperienced, but I learned on the road. I knew that I wanted to do this and I knew that if I put the work in that I would see the results. I would say that if you put the work in that you'll see and reap the benefits.

I believed that I could do this and it was always a challenge for me. It was a new industry, not just the industry itself but also for me since it was something I hadn’t done. I conquered that, but at the time I entered there wasn't really a role for the females. I knew that I wanted to change the perception of what females can do in the ring and I knew that I was capable of more. I just wanted to show them what I could do. I wanted to knock down the preconceived notion of what females could do in the ring.

I made it a mission to do that and I think we accomplished it nicely. We look back now and hear a lot of the girls saying that we were their inspiration in the beginning. It's really humbling and gratifying. It makes you feel great about the work you put into it.

For more information about her upcoming appearance at Dallas Fan Days head over to www.dallasfandays.com. Dallas Fan Days will be located at the Irving Convention Center on October 18-20. Also, be sure to keep up with Trish Stratus at her website and on twitter. The full interview transcript, including what Trish had to say about balancing her business ventures and life, can be seen here.