Articles about Trish Stratus often start with some corny line about how she is not only gorgeous but also smart, talented and funny.
And make no mistake about it, Stratus is all of the above and more. But no matter how much you try to focus on her personality (which is disarmingly friendly) or her in-ring skills (which are among the best in the business) those dang good looks just keep on getting in the way.
"I'll never forget this one match," Stratus told the Calgary Sun this week. "I got an amazingly strong pin, on my way to a huge victory and the camera shot they used? It was right up my butt. Although, I guess that comes with the territory."
The territory in question is the role of a WWE Diva; Performing for a predominantly male audience in a business where women are viewed first as eye candy, second as athletes.
But Stratus, more than any woman before her, has kicked that stereotype to the curb. Not only by connecting with the fans but also by taking the WWE women's division -- which has traditionally been a hybrid of bikini contests and catfights -- and adding an element of intense athletic competition.
"It's encouraging to see the fans are interested in seeing us actually working," Stratus said. "It's just a matter of sparking their interest."
And since time immemorial, sparking fans' interest has been achieved with the art of the storyline.
"I've always said a match will seem so much better when there is a back story," Stratus explained. "For example, I had a match with Stephanie McMahon in 2000. We weren't exactly the best wrestlers and I don't think anyone expected that much from us.
"But the characters were so strong and the crowd was so into it that to this day, people come up to me and say it's one of their favourite matches. I watch it and think 'Oh my God, this is terrible,' but the story had meaning, so every punch meant something."
The attention to detail wasn't lost on WWE's fan base. With Stratus at the helm, the women's division thrived for the past half-decade, before hitting a slump in mid-2005.
Sitting at home with an injury, Stratus watched as the division was decimated.
But now, back in the ring for the first time in months, Stratus seems happy with the re-set state of the ladies league.
"Torrie Wilson is an interesting addition to Raw because she's obviously going through a much needed character change," said Stratus. "And it's crazy to think about it but apart from one invasion angle where we were in a tag match, we never wrestled. It's like having Batista and Brock Lesnar, you've never had these guys in the ring."
But the Trish-Torrie showdown will finally take place tomorrow night at WWE's Unforgiven event. Stratus will take on both Victoria and Torrie in a tag bout, teaming with Diva Search winner, Ashley Massaro.
"Ashley reminds me of me when I started," Stratus said. "If nothing else, she'll definitively get a good wrestling clinic in Sunday's match."
by tj madigan