WWE – Trish & Lita: Best Friends, Better Rivals (Cert 15)
2 Discs DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 349 minutes approx.
In the days of the WWE “Divas” where the focus was largely on objectifying the women and not treating them more seriously as wrestlers, the tide slowly began to turn due to the unique chemistry and different approaches to their looks and personalities of two women – Trish Stratus and Lita.
As the title of this latest WWE Home Video release clearly intimates, these two ladies we able to keep the fans invested and entertained for six years by being both friend and enemies in the ring, but mostly the former outside of the ring. It is remarkable that this feud ran intermittently for a relatively short time compared to era-spanning rivalries like, Flair vs. Steamboat, Masawa vs. Kawada, Rock ‘n’ Roll Express vs. Midnight Express, etc. but remains as iconic as those.
Maybe the matches weren’t all five star classics but they took place at a time when the women in the WWF/WWE were treated as an eye candy side attraction who barely got more than 2 minutes for a match on TV, and quite often the division itself was made up of models hired for the bodies rather than their ability to execute a body slam properly. Sure, you had the occasional worker slip through the ranks – Molly Holly, Jazz, Victoria, Ivory, Jacqueline – but they would come later.
This release takes us back to the time when both ladies arrived in the WWF at the tail end of the Attitude Era, and offered something a little different to the norm. The first disc is devoted to Trish, a former medical student turned fitness model in her native Canada who was spotted by Michael Hayes when they shared a TV recording studio, leading to him inviting her to send a profile package of herself to the WWF.
Admittedly, this is how many of Trish’s contemporaries were hired but she at least was a lifelong wrestling fan and had no qualms in training up in Canada with Ron Waterman ahead of getting the call from WWF. I’m sure this will surprise many who thought Trish was just another pretty face who happened to transition extraordinarily well to the role of wrestler but it certainly explains how she was able to grow so quickly between the ropes too.
Early matches shared in this set see Trish accompanying her charges Test and Albert (aka T&A) or working with them in mixed matches, including the first PPV match to feature Trish and Lita as opponents, as the latter teamed with the Hardys. This feud would continue with, I’m sure, a long forgotten Bra & Panties match from RAW in 2000 when Trish challenged Lita for the Women’s title under this stipulation. It was a horrible but mercifully short match, but one that would be a distant memory in a few short years.
Skipping forward, Trish’s first title win at Survivor Series 2001 is featured before a good look at her feud with Molly Holly in 2002 (skipping her run against Jazz earlier that year), then with Victoria and finally Mickie James. Yet, it all comes back to her and Lita, be it as partners or adversaries, concluding with Trish’s 2006 retirement, which is explained as Trish not renewing her contract to tend to her sick mother.
Lita’s story is told on the second disc, skipping her background in Mexico and ECW and going straight to her WWF debut in early 2000 as the valet for Essa Rios, where she would mimic his Moonsault finisher on his fallen opponents. This expanded to Lita also hitting Hurancanranas on larger males at ringside, before being paired with The Hardys to form Team Extreme.
In one interesting anecdote, Lita admits that being signed at the same time as Trish, she felt she wasn’t going to get pushed because Trish had the looks; Trish confesses that she thought she’s never get on TV because she couldn’t do Moonsaults like Lita could! It might be hard to reconcile this now we have a roster of women of all shapes, sizes, ethnicity, and skill sets, but Lita’s tomboy gimmick was pretty radical for the time.
Of course, this won her many fans of both genders, and contrary to the norm, so did Trish despite being the more blatantly sexual of the two, it was her improvement in the ring that helped her popularity. Trish also admits that she hated the “Puppies” chants whilst she was in the ring being clobbered, and for those who missed it first time round, you can share her pain courtesy of Jerry Lawler’s prurient sexist commentary as Jim Ross tries to keep his mind on the match.
Whilst Trish openly discusses her 2004 heel turn and having fun with these changing personalities, we don’t get such insight from Lita, instead she keeps her narrative on her in ring work, though this is probably for the best given the controversy of her private life, which Vince didn’t hesitate to incorporate into the storylines. Thus, the time skips relative to Lita’s match listing aren’t given context, requiring viewers to rely on their own memories, or failing that Wikipedia.
Not all the matches included here are memorable, but many have stood the test of time, but the presentation format of showing a big match, for instance the fabled RAW main event from 2004, then discussing it highlight form afterwards is distracting in being so repetitive. And whilst my usual complaint of no HOH subtitles is applicable once again (come on WWE Home Video, it’s 2019!) I fear everyone might need them as Trish talks VERY fast, gabbling a lot to the point of being incomprehensible.
Now both Hall of Famers, Trish and Lita have earned their place in WWE history and this overdue retrospective makes for a fun nostalgia trip for devoted fans, but its lack of substance and reliance on filler matches stops it from being the definitive tribute to this ground breaking duo and trailblazer’s for women’s wrestling.
Rating – ***
Man In Black