By Matt Fowler
USA network's all-new reboot of WWE Tough Enough is set to premiere April 4th at 11/10c, the day after WrestleMania XXVII, immediately following RAW. IGN had the chance to visit the set of this hard-hitting reality competition, walk through the sweet digs over at the Simi Valley Spanish-style ranch (nestled in the Santa Susana Mountains) and talk to series trainer and former seven-time WWE Women's Champion, Trish Stratus.
"A lot of the contestants have a background," Trish told us. "They come from wrestling backgrounds. They've been doing it for a few years, but it's an entirely different thing to be doing it on the big stage and to do it professionally and to do it with the grind of the big WWE machine."
Trish then talked openly about how she's brought her love of yoga into the world of Tough Enough and incorporated it into the contestants' warming up regimen. "I got into yoga at one point and I didn't realize that something like yoga would be a tool that would actually help me as an athlete and just become a better wrestler and increase my longevity in the wrestling industry," she said. "So, bringing that sort of experience and then trying to integrate it in the first time I was like 'we're going to yoga, everybody' and they're like 'oh, easy little yoga', like they didn't expect a challenge." Of course, everybody quickly learned that intense yoga was no joke.
Who was Trish's favorite opponent in the ring? "It's hard to pick just one, but Lita and I probably had the biggest rivalry," she admitted. "The minute you put the two of us in the ring, the fans just got it. We both came in around the same time so we had been in the business for the same amount of time, which gave the fans a chance to get to know us both and grow with us and see us evolve and things like that. So, there was a real connection with the audience. So, no matter if she was a good guy or a bad guy, we always felt like we could really connect with the crowd and kind of create that 'Oh my God' moment."
With Trish herself now being a part of WrestleMania XXVII, partnering with John Morrison and The Jersey Shore's Snooki against Dolph Ziggler and LayCool, what was her personal favorite WrestleMania match? "One of my favorite ones was probably WrestleMania in Toronto -- Wrestlemania 18 (Trish vs. Jazz vs. Lita)," Stratus revealed. "I didn't win the match that evening, but it was such a special time for me because I had just entered into the WWE not too long before and to be in a woman's championship match in front of a hometown crowd was just an amazing moment. I wore my maple leaf outfit very proudly and it was just a really surreal moment. Also, the match before me was the Rock and Hulk Hogan. So, to get a little 'Go get 'em, kids' from the both of them was kind of an amazing moment."
Who is Trish a fan of nowadays? Well, she simply gushed over her fellow-Canadian Diva, Natalya. "She's untapped," Trish said with a smile. "Fans are starting to get to know her more and more and I'm just waiting for the day where she goes out there and really can do her thing because I don't think she's been given the opportunity to really get out there and show everybody what she's got."
With former Diva Sunny getting inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year, Trish suggested another name who she thought should be added to the list. "I think Chyna should be next in because she did a lot of stuff to bring attention to the women's division itself and just presented women as a different thing," Stratus said. "I think fans were conditioned to see women as eye candy for a long, long time and she really broke the mold with that."
Trish then talked about the importance of not separating the guys and girls into two different training camps on the Tough Enough. "To me it was really important to not really have separate groups," she said. "It was real important to show no separation. I trained with guys when I came up. So, it wasn't like, 'This is the girls' thing and this is the boys' thing.' It's an even competition all around. When you're a girl in the WWE, you're one of the boys."