By Jeffrey Simpson
Canada's queen of the WWE, Trish Stratus, dons a Halifax Mooseheads sweater Monday. Stratus was in Halifax for RAW, a live show at Halifax Metro Centre on Monday night.
"Careful what you grab," the 27-year-old WWE super-diva says, her heavily made-up face broadening into a wide smile.
The Canadian star is unsurprisingly marketed as a sex symbol of the professional wrestling world.
But the scrappy blond was heading for a career as a doctor before she ever jumped into the ring.
She was studying at York University in Toronto, preparing to write entrance exams for medical school when the faculty went on strike.
During her time off from classes, she became a fitness model and then catapulted unexpectedly into a career as a wrestler.
"I fell into it," she says.
"My favourite part about wrestling is probably the fact that I get to be athletic and entertaining at the same time."
She's in Halifax for part of the two-night World Wrestling Entertainment extravaganza that sold more than 9,000 tickets for each of two shows, Monday and tonight.
Hard-core fans staked out the doors to the Metro Centre on Monday, hoping for an encounter of some sort with one of their favourite stars.
Many of the all-male crowd clutched glossy wrestling magazines in their hands, hoping for an autograph.
"It's the fans' loyalty and their passion that makes me who I am today," Ms. Stratus says.
Although fellow WWE diva Torrie Wilson recently posed for a spread in Playboy magazine, Ms. Stratus says she won't go that far for her viewing audience.
"It's not my thing," she says. "It's so huge I think it might overshadow anything I might do in the industry or the ring."
In person she's friendly and easygoing, describing herself as quirky.
"When you get to know me, I'm quite goofy," she says. "People kind of don't expect that."
A big fan of slapstick, her favourite movies include the Austin Powers series and Tommy Boy, which starred the late Chris Farley, the former Saturday Night Live star. Sylvester Stallone's Rocky series also ranks high.
Ms. Stratus still lives in the Toronto area.
"I go back for a couple days a week to do some laundry, repack and get back on the road."
She says life on the WWE circuit can be pretty gruelling, leaving her with little spare time.
"I use my downtime to its fullest extent," she says.
"I don't leave my house. I basically like to watch a lot of movies, play games, things like that - just anything that doesn't require much energy."
As far as wrestling opponents go, she says Jazz is at the top of her hit list.
But she'd also like to concentrate on fleshing out her character's personality, she says.
"I struggled with trying to overcome the stereotype of being the eye candy," she says.
"I think I've done a good job of separating myself so that I'm taken seriously in the ring. That's what I've tried to do every time."