Fourteen years ago I sat in my basement frantically refreshing WWE’s website. I was fourteen years old and my childhood hero, Trish Stratus, was wrestling her last match. Since I couldn’t afford the PPVs at the time, I just wanted to see a photo of Trish holding the Women’s Championship one last time. Lucky for fourteen years old me, that happened.
September 17, 2006. Trish Stratus versus Lita, one last time in Trish’s hometown? At Unforgiven, a PPV that Trish was undefeated at. The perfect way to end a career that changed the game for so many women. As we are at the fourteen year anniversary of this match, I wanted to take a look back at the match with a bit of what it meant to me.
Before Unforgiven, Trish was one of the brightest and most successful WWE superstars. She went from being a valet to one of the greatest women’s champions of all time, which is why it was so fitting her last match was for the title. When you compare the beginning of Trish’s career to the end, her growth is insane. Trish was, still is for me, the poster girl of work hard and you can accomplish your dreams. Finding out a person like Trish was going to retire, especially at what seemed to be the peak of her career, was a tough pill to swallow.
Of course, Trish didn’t get to announce her retirement like one would have hoped because Lita did that for her. The rivalry between Trish and Lita goes all the way back to 2000, Lita letting Trish just quietly walk off in the sunset was never going to happen.
As Lita pulled off her usual tricks, Trish was focused on becoming a 7-time women’s champion. As their rivalry was quite possibly hotter than ever, the story couldn’t have been better.
With the stage set, Unforgiven came quick and Toronto was ready to watch their girl make history. Every time I have watched this match back I notice something different, this last time happened to be how into the match the crowd was. It was electric and how could it not be? We know how important the rivalry between Trish and Lita has been to the evolution of the women’s division. Being able to hold a crowd in the palm of their hands as they did, women didn’t get the opportunity to do that often. Lita and Trish were game-changers.
Trish and Lita took risks. Having their match after Hell In A Cell, meant the floor surrounding the ring was wet because of clean up. Did that matter? Nope! Trish and Lita took their fight to the outside, they jumped off the top rope. It was a hell of a brawl. Lita did her best to retain the Women’s Championship, but it seemed like destiny that Trish would defeat her.
Their match at Unforgiven left it all out there. Lita had Trish down a few times, but Trish’s resiliency stood out. After all Trish had been through to get to this farewell match, everything Lita threw at her wasn’t going to break her.
Lita and Trish once again raised the bar of what women’s wrestling could accomplish. The commentary said that little girls watching that match would be inspired to become a WWE Diva because of it… they were right. This match, this iconic rivalry, solidified my love for wrestling and wanting to be a small part of it.
At fourteen years old, I wanted to be the next Trish Stratus because of this match and the rivalry with Lita. It definitely never happened, but the feeling I could do anything I set my mind to? That has stuck with me ever since. While seeing Trish retire before I ever got the chance to see her wrestle live sucked, her career and how she carried herself has been even more of an inspiration to me.
Watching the Unforgiven match back never fails to bring a tear to my eye. Trish Stratus using a Sharpshooter, in Canada, to win a record-breaking seventh title? It was a fairytale ending. Trish said that she wanted her time to be memorable for her and everyone around her. For me, Trish’s career is absolutely memorable. She never failed to leave the WWE Universe Stratusfied, whether it be at Unforgiven or Evolution. What Trish set out to accomplish, she exceeded.