Join Matthew Roberts as he takes a look at the latest release from WWE Home Video, a two disc look at Trish Stratus & Lita.
Fans of a certain age will probably have (or at least seen) the stand alone releases of previous DVD’s dedicated to the two subjects of WWE Home Video’s latest release, Trish and Lita – Best Friends, Better Rivals. Given the, shall we say, peculiar way in which the Attitude Era treated women it’s perhaps no surprise that 100% Stratusfaction Guaranteed and It Just Feels Right have been consigned to history and brand new profiles have been produced. Which isn’t to say that the AE/treatment of women in the WWE is glossed over on either disc, just that this is 2019 and WWE has a corporate image to uphold!
The set features one disc for each star. Although there is some overlap in content due to their WWE stories overlapping so much, the match choices on each disc are completely different. Each have clips from new sit-down interviews with each woman, although these are spread around between matches and do not amount to all that much (although they are welcome).
Disc one profiles Trish Stratus. She talks us through her days as a fitness model but says it was always a dream to sign with the WWE and that she had made many preparations towards that day. Her debut alongside Test and Albert is noted, as are the implications of the “T&A” name. For the first time, but not the last on the collection, the match between Albert and Crash Holly to “showcase” this era is a short one. Although we start off with that men’s match it is a problem the women would face for decades to come.
An October 2000 Raw Bra & Panties match is symbolic of the era although from there we move to the attempt to get serious about women’s wrestling, signified by Survivor Series 2001 and the 6-Pack Challenge for the Women’s Title. It’s a cut above what you might have expected from the WWE at the time but you’d struggle to say it’s “good”. The same thoughts surround the WrestleMania X8 Triple Threat between Trish, Lita and Jazz, the Unforgiven 2002 match between Trish & Molly Holly and the WrestleMania XIX Triple Threat between Trish, Victoria and Jazz. All are watchable, but none excel. And as I’ll explain later, this is not meant to disparage the talent involved.
The storyline involving Chris Jericho and Christian with Trish is looked at and provides the best match so far as Trish and Christian face Y2J from Backlash 2004. The New Year’s Revolution 2005 match between Trish and Lita is ok but then we get to one of the most infamous storylines and matches from the time period, as Mickie James makes her way to the WWE and turns from excited fan to demented stalker with “possible” lesbian tendencies. Their WrestleMania 22 match is perhaps most remembered for what the WWE once again won’t show you here but it’s probably the best womens’ singles match seen on here yet. Trish says goodbye to Raw with a match with Mickie James from September 2006 before lifting the title in her final (for now) WWE match at Unforgiven against Lita. Trish does tell the tale of her departure and that she was shocked she was allowed to bow out as champion.
Trish’s full Hall of Fame speech from the 2013 ceremony is included before we finish with a ten woman tag match from her 2018 return on Raw.
Disc two’s profile of Lita follows the same format, though disappointingly makes no mention of her pre WWE exploits. Her debut, as the high flying valet of Essa Rios as he takes on Gillberg is the first match and is only memorable for Lita’s moonsault after the match. In February 2000, you simply did not see women doing these kind of moves on WWE TV. A fact Lita acknowledges whilst also saying that many of the male wrestlers didn’t agree with her doing it either.
From there Lita’s association becomes with the Hardy Boys (there is no real mention of the later “issues” that would end her real-life relationship with Matt Hardy) and she teams with them to take on T&A and Trish from Fully Loaded 2000 which was a good match on what was great show. The July 2000 Raw match between The Rock & Lita and Triple H & Trish is carried by the crowd in all honesty but is both a reminder of how white-hot the WWE was at the time and THAT moment Stephanie McMahon interrupted backstage between Trips and Trish. A Women’s Championship match between Lita and Stephanie McMahon is carried by the extra curricular activity (which for once enhances the match) which is about all that you could have asked for from a match that involved the Billion Dollar Princess at this time. We skip three years to a rare example of Lita and Trish teaming up agsint Gail Kim and Molly Holly from Unforgiven 2003 before the “first ever women’s steel cage match” between Lita and Victoria from November 2003 is presented to us. As Lita rightly points out, if nothing else, them getting this opportunity showed that management had faith in them…even if the list of things they were not allowed to do in the match was an exhaustive one. It’s not exactly Bull Nakano/Aja Kong but it’s a sold affair.
Why the entire Lita and Kane wedding ceremony is included is beyond me (though you’ll probably not be able to resist a few laughs along the way – the string version of Kane’s entrance music alone is worth the entrance fee) but we all know why the “first women’s Main Event of Raw” between Trish and Lita is included. As a match it has to be said it’s not very good. Lita acknowledges *that* mistake which nearly cost her another broken neck (though quite what Trish only being 5 foot 4 had to do with that is beyond me) and that didn’t help matter with the match quality. But at the end of the day, its historic position does not mean that we have to pretend it was an all-time classic.
A couple of scrappy matches with Mickie James from 2006 prove a disappointing end to Lita’s full time WWE career although at least we are spared her “sendoff” at Survivor Series of that year; the contrast to Trish’s desparture couldn’t have been more stark. Lita, looking as good as ever, returns to beat up Heath Slater at Raw 1000 before we also get her full Hall of Fame induction from 2014. The final match is the Evolution opener where Lita and Trish team up to take on Mickie James and Alicia Fox in a good encounter.
If wrestling is about getting over in front of whatever crowd you are performing for (in essence giving them what they want) then Lita and Trish were certainly the top two female names of their era. It’s not even close on that score. It’s also fair to say that it would be YEARS before anyone else would even come close. Trish was certainly the top WWE “worker” of her era by the end of her initial stint and whilst Lita never really convinced me of her merits on that level (her undoubted ability on the high-spots wasn’t quite matched by what came in-between) you would have to say that of her time and where she was she was good. It’s neither woman’s fault that they had to fight so hard to even be allowed to “wrestle” and it’s also fair to say that if they had debuted in a more enlightened era they would have been “allowed” to progress and improve so much more and I have no doubt that they could match the best of the North American women today.
And therein lies the problem with this collection. I’m a fan of both and appreciate their efforts at a time when WWE didn’t really want women to “wrestle”. The battle they started was a key paving stone on the way to the WWE’s “Evolution”. They, and others, took their opportunity and showed the “WWE Universe” that women could, you know, wrestle. BUT, it took them a long while to do this and for large portions of their career the promotion they worked for didn’t really want them to succeed on that level. So this entertaining look back at two of the noughties is nevertheless marred by the fact that it doesn’t really offer any stand-out matches that can remotely compare to the best of those we see today in the same company. I stress again that this is not their “fault” at all, but it does mean that this two disc collection is a dish best served over a number of courses, and not all at once.
Format Reviewed; DVD
Photographs courtesy of Fetch and WWE
Thank you to our partners, WWEDVD.co.uk and Fetch for providing our review copy of Trish & Lita: Best Friends, Better Rivals which is out Monday 10 June on DVD. You can buy your copy from WWEDVD.co.uk by clicking here
You can find me on Twitter @IWFICON.