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Out of the Stratusphere: even with her popularity skyrocketing, WWE Diva Trish Stratus still aims to please

by Matt Berkowitz - Wrestling Digest, August, 2003

    ARGUABLY THE MOST POPULAR WWE Diva, Trish Stratus has not only become a fixture on "Raw," she is a leader among the new breed of female wrestlers, who collectively are helping raise the popularity of women's wrestling to a whole new level.

    No longer toiling in the men's shadows, the Divas have worked countless hours developing their in-ring skills. Divas nowadays wish to be viewed as wrestlers rather than mere eye candy.

    "Right now, there are more women wrestlers than ever before. There's more interesting wrestling characters that the fans are more behind," Stratus says. "I'm so thrilled to be involved in a time like this. Man, I just hope for bigger and better things to come in the division."

    Stratus owes her wrestling career to a faculty strike. In 1997, Stratus was attending York University in Toronto, studying biology and kinesiology, when the school's faculty walked out. She decided to become a fitness model and appeared on the Canadian TV show "Off the Record" with several wrestlers. That experience led to her singing with WWE in November 1999. She made her WWE TV debut in March 2000.

    While she may have failed to get her degree, the York University strike seems to have been a blessing in disguise. "Last year, I thought, 'I'm happy where I am. I've been in the business for three years, and I'm actually in contention for the belt. I couldn't have asked for a better scenario," Stratus says.

    Stratus credits former wrestler and current WWE road agent Fit Finlay with raising the bar in the women's division. "Finlay has been really great. He's kind of stepped back and watched us personally," Stratus says. "I think everyone has a personal style once they get in the ring, so he's been really good at assessing us once we get in the ring and what sort of things our character would do in the ring.

    "The great thing is he's very encouraging as far as saying 'You know what? You can do that too.' Then I would do it, and I'd be like, 'I can, too.' So, he's been really encouraging, saying, 'Give that a shot. Try that.' He's really motivating us and encouraging us. He's very supportive of us, and we definitely could not have done it without him."

    An example of the confidence WWE displays in their Divas surfaced at Wrestlemania X-8 in 2002 as Stratus, Lita, and Jazz competed after the famed Hulk Hogan-Rock dream match. "Wrestlemania X-8 was incredible. Yeah, that was certainly a highlight of my career. It was a real enjoyable experience," Stratus says.

    Stratus, however, feels that while women are gaining more exposure on television, their storylines tend to be uninspired. "I feel that sometimes we do have a story rolling, and it seems like not as much focus is put in the story as I'd like to. Thankfully we get a chance," Stratus says. "We have an allotted amount of time in the ring that we are able to tell our story physically. You always hope for the best.

    "But right now, there are so many main event fields and so many storylines. I can only sit back and appreciate that time [on an event with] Hogan, Rock, and [Steve] Austin," Stratus says. "Hopefully our time and development will come."

    With all the momentum this young Diva has been building, Stratus seems to have a bright career ahead. However, she has not changed her basic philosophy: Take life one day at a time.

    "I would have never predicted for myself to be where I am today character-wise and as a person. So, I certainly can't predict the future," Stratus says. "I just know I'll be delivering 'Stratusfaction.' Every time I go out to the ring I try to just improve upon the last time. You know, improve upon what I've done, build my character, and entertain the fans."

    So, what makes Stratus such a fan-favorite? The answer can be seen at any "Raw" event. As soon as Stratus leaves her car, she signs as many autographs as possible for fans.

    "I really believe that it's the fans that make us. If the fans didn't cheer for me, then I wouldn't be popular. I really depend on the fans to get behind me. When I feel the energy in the crowd, that's what gets me going in the ring," Stratus says. "As a fan myself before I got into the business, I recognize what it's like to be one

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