Trish Stratus saw so many reasons for another extended run in WWE, something she hadn’t had since her first retirement in 2006.
The WWE Hall of Famer saw a chance at a generational feud with Becky Lynch, one of the biggest stars of this era, after their interactions at live events and social media in 2021 sparked plenty of fan interest.
She saw a chance to give back to the future of the pro wrestling business by teaming with NXT call-up Zoey Stark and a chance to compete in some of the types of matches the women of her time were denied during the Attitude Era of the late 90s.
Stratus, 47, remembers partaking in a gravy boat match as women’s champion with Stacy Keilber in November 2021 that “felt like a big slap in the face” as WWE was still easing into women having traditional matches regularly.
Fast forward to 2023 and during this four-month heel run opposite Lynch, Stratus has gotten to wrestle in Saudia Arabia, in her first ladder match at Money in the Bank and now her first-ever steel cage match when she and “The Man” clash at WWE’s Payback pay-per-view at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh on Sunday (8 p.m., Peacock).
“There were a lot of elements I didn’t have back in the day,” Stratus said. “The obvious things are the opportunities to be in a cage match or a ladder match or go to Saudi Arabia. There are obvious things like whoo, bucket list, let’s do this. Only because of what they signify knowing we laid this founding establishing that the women are a viable part of this product [during my era]. However, we still didn’t get the cage matches. We still did get the ladder matches.”
Many fans expected to see this match with Lynch at SummerSlam earlier this month, WWE’s second biggest show of the year.
When Triple H, the head of creative, was asked why a bevy of high-profile stars didn’t have matches in Detriot he spoke of giving them a “bigger spotlight” on other shows.
Lynch turned her and Status’ situation into talking about turning lemons into lemonade.
Stratus looks at things similarly, just with a different analogy stating how she “used to make chicken salad out of chicken s–t.”
“At the end of the day, as long as we deliver, as long as we leave the fans entertained, satisfied, Stratus-fied that’s what my goal is to come here and do the things we never got to do, show them something they’ve never see before,” Stratus said when asked if there was any disappointment of not being on the SummerSlam card.
She joked that in her mind they could have ended this feud back in May when she beat Lynch in their first meeting at Night of Champions and did expect it to stretch as long as it has. Lynch won by disqualification on “Monday Night Raw” in July before they both competed in the women’s Money in the Bank match and the two wrestled to a double count-out that spilled into the stands and the area concourse on “Friday Night SmackDown” two weeks ago.
“I didn’t expect to be sipping lemonade for six months straight,” Stratus said. “Me coming here, I’m gonna prove myself when I beat Becky Lynch, arguably the best of this generation. I kind of feel like I did that in May. I’m kind of like, if Becky wasn’t so obsessed with me I feel like we could have cut this feud a long time ago and I could have gone on to do other things in this current women’s division, which is so intriguing to me.”
It’s the opportunity to work with the rest of the women’s division after feuding with just Bayley, Iyo Sky and Dakota Kai as a babyface for WrestleMania that could keep Stratus around WWE after her program with Lynch comes to an end.
“Not everyone has said, ‘Thank you Trish’ yet, right?” she said. “So I got some work to do.”
Some of it also has to do with how much Stratus is enjoying being a heel again – since turning on Lynch and best friend Lita in storyline back in April.
It comes across the screen during her promos as she toys with fan’s emotions again and her peers have noticed as well, some coming to her to say “Wow you’re really having fun with this?’”
“I’m like, I’m having the best time,” Stratus said.
Last Monday, she was able to flip the Raw crowd in Quebec City in her home country of Canada from cheering for her to chanting “We don’t f–king care” in French as she delivered her promo, something she said she asked Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn to translate for her when she got to back.
“When they delivered exactly what we were going for it’s perfect when you can get that out of a crowd and when you can turn a crowd that’s my people, that’s my Canadian people who wanted to pop for me,” Stratus said. “To get them to do that felt good.”
What’s also been rewarding is getting to mentor Zoey Stark, who is currently her protege both on and off screen.
She said she saw something in Stark from the being and is enjoying watching her develop and deliver each time she goes out there.
She said to me, she’s like, ‘I’m standing next to Hall of Famer Trish Stratus. I can’t suck today.’” Stratus said. “I love that we’re pushing each other and I certainly think she’s the future of the business.”
Stratus added that she has been very hands-on with Stark, going over promos and matches like her mentors did with her because she feels it important to “give back, give the rub, pass the torch.”
“I had people when I was in the business who helped me and my promos were worked on,” she said. “I had Fit Finlay in my corner telling me ‘that’s s–t don’t ever do that again.’ So to be like that with Zoey has been great.”
Stark isn’t the only next-generation getting to enjoy Stratus’ run.
Her kids, son Maximus and daughter Madison are getting to enjoy seeing mom work in a different way than in the past.
Stratus said she enjoys the juggling act of being a WWE Superstar and a parent and her kids have grown accustomed her leaving on Sunday for work and is back on Tuesdays.
“We sort of have the understanding,” she said. “They’re starting to get mom’s kind of famous. My six-year-old was like, ‘I told my art camp teacher that you’re Trish Stratus.’ It’s kind of funny how she thinks it’s a big deal.”
She and Lynch will be the center of attention again at Payback as their four-month-long feud could be closing in on its end in a historic match for her inside a steel cage.
“I know things were kind of lost, like ‘Oh this is running on and it’s dragging.’ Whatever,” Status said. “Sure we all feel like that. I’m sure people thought The Usos’ [Bloodline] story was dragging as well, but boy did they deliver at WrestleMania.
“To me, it’s when we get in the cage and people are committed to what we can do and what this generational face-off means, this unique opportunity to showcase what we can do, I’m pretty excited about it.”