By Eric Lewis
Trish Stratus has visited Moncton in the past, but she admits she has no recollection of the city.
The former fitness model and seven-time World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) women's champion worked for seven years in the whirlwind world of professional wrestling, where she travelled the globe several times over. But her hectic schedule left her with few memories of the many cities she visited during her career.
Trish hopes to change that when she heads to Moncton next week from her home in Ontario.
Trish will be appearing at this weekend's Castrol Radical Speedsport car show at the Moncton Coliseum. The event takes place Friday through Sunday, and Trish will appear to sign autographs for fans on Sunday from 1-3 p.m.
Trish and her husband plant to drive from their home in Ontario to enjoy some of the scenery along the way.
"One of the most frustrating things was to go to all these wonderful places all over the world and never see them," she told the Times & Transcript. "My husband always said to me, 'Don't worry, when you retire, one of these days we'll go back to all these places.' So I look forward to coming back and actually being there."
Trish retired from wrestling in 2006 after a seven-year career but, at only 33 years of age, she still keeps busy.
Last year, she travelled the world as the creator and host of a travel documentary series called Stratusphere. The series currently airs on the travel escape network and is set to debut in the fall on Discovery HD.
She is currently celebrating the one-year anniversary of another Stratusphere, her yoga studio.
"I'm trying to find that balance of Trish Stratus, television Canadian personality as well as studio owner and new business owner," a cheerful and talkative Trish said. "It's an interesting balance. It's good. It's extremely busy, but it's good."
During her wrestling career, Trish was sidelined with a back injury, leading her to take up yoga as a method of rehabilitation. After a few months, she was pain-free, leading her to become a big believer in the power of yoga.
She says now she is building her brand, which requires a lot of work and usually means getting little sleep.
Balancing a career as a celebrity and business owner isn't easy, but she says fans are often respectful of her space and show "autograph etiquette" -- they're not breaking down the doors of her yoga studio for autographs.
She notes that she didn't just sign away her name for the yoga studio. Trish actually works out in her studio and works in classes with students.
But over the years, she has gotten used to dealing with a certain level of celebrity. She says she still gets odd e-mails from fans from time to time.
Trish relates a story of trying to get through customs in India where an episode of her travel show was being shot. She ran into a big of a snag trying to get her and her crew through customs.
"We were at the customs thing, and we've got our equipment and they were being very stern and taking their time, and we were like, 'We've got to go,'" she says. "And all of a sudden the guy who was staring me in the face kind of blurted out, 'Trish Stratus?!' He made the connection, 'Stratusphere,' Trish Stratus ... he dropped the paperwork, stamped it, no problem. We were let through and it was absolute chaos," she says with a laugh.
She met a throng of fans outside the airport. Until that time, the producer of Stratusphere hadn't realized that Trish was such a well-known celebrity, and Trish herself was floored because she had never even performed in India before.
Her wrestling career has allowed her to springboard into other ventures, but she doesn't mind talking about her career in the 'squared-circle.'
She actually got into wrestling after she had studied biology and kinesiology at York University. She had plans to go to medical school until a professor strike at York put her plans on hold.
She got into modelling, and later, wrestling.
Over the years, Trish evolved before wrestling fans' eyes. Initially, she was little more than a bit player dressed up in skimpy clothes who rarely wrestled.
That wasn't enough for her. Trish says she wanted to prove herself and show that she be much more than just a pretty face.
"I was always trying to prove myself, whether it was proving myself to management or to the writers, showing them I could do (other roles) too," she says.
Even the fans needed some convincing.
"There was a bit of re-educating that needed to happen with the fans, I think at first. It was like, 'Wait, we're going to do something more than just come out here in our bikini.'
"If you watch back to some of my early wrestling matches, where I would say I was not polished yet, I was kind of learning ... people were waiting for the bras and panties because tops were being ripped off for some random reason in the beginning. That was the reaction at first."
But Trish and a core group of female wrestlers worked behind the scenes with longtime wrestler Dave 'Fit' Finlay to build up a solid women's wrestling division.
"It was almost like a switch," she remembers of fans reactions.
During Trish's career she became known for her athletic ability and on-screen character as much as she had been known for her beauty.
Chants during women's matches slowly turned around so that they had to do with the action in the ring and not just the pretty faces. The work ethic of Trish and the other 'divas' paid off, she says.
Since retiring, Trish has returned to TV the odd time for special occasions, but she recently turned down an offer to appear on the biggest show of the year, Wrestlemania, when it was clear WWE didn't have much planned for the divas battle royal.
She says the current state of WWE's women's division leaves a lot to be desired. Storylines, character development and in-ring action aren't really the focus.
"It is disappointing," she says. "I think what it is, they have too many women. And I think they can't even see who's who because there's so many of them. I think they need someone maybe that can focus on the women."
Trish would like to see WWE realize that they have different personalities and women who can provide different elements to the show. She still chats with current WWE divas and says they are frustrated with the lack of direction their division has.
Trish retired when she felt like she had accomplished all she could and worked with everyone she wanted to. She had also suffered a dislocated shoulder around that time.
At the same time, her mother was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer, and Trish's hectic travel schedule wouldn't allow her to be with her mother during the trying time.
She retired and moved on to a new life of yoga, television and charity work, in addition to enjoying married life.
She's happy to report that after a very rough year, her mother is cancer-free and happy.
"She's my soldier," Trish says.
She has no regrets regarding her career and says she would be happy to make appearances if the situation is right.
She says she is looking forward to this weekend's appearance in Moncton.
"Wrestling fans are the most loyal fans in the world," she says,
Also appearing at next weekend's event is Mike Jones, a former WWE and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) wrestler who wrestled as Virgil and Vincent in the 1980s and '90s.
Jones will appear at the show from 2-9 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sunday.
* The 35th annual Castrol Radical Speedsport takes place Friday through Sunday. Tickets are $5.50 for youth, $10.50 for seniors and $14.50 for adults. Trish Stratus will appear from 1-3 p.m. on Sunday.