James Dixon: This DVD is a fairly famous one amongst die-hard collectors. Not so much the standard release which is relatively easy to come by, but the FYE-exclusive collector’s edition, which fetches upwards of $200 these days, and even more if complete with the quirky Trish Stratus bobble-head that came with it. The rare version comes complete with additional extras, including a pair of matches against Victoria on RAW, a segment with the APA from Heat, and a countdown of Trish’s top ten most “Stratusfying” moments. Suffice to say, we did not shell out $200 for the privilege, nor do we suggest you do either.
WWE has a set format for biographical releases like this one, and sticks rigidly to it from the off with talk of Trish growing up. Rather expectedly, she had a generic, unspectacular childhood, though apparently she was an insomniac when she was a youngster. We meet her sister, about whom Trish comments, “She’s younger than me. She’s still useable”. Wait a minute, what!? Trish talks about watching wrestling when she was a kid at Maple Leaf Gardens, and being a fan of Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan. Her cousin Jason perhaps lets on a little too much, saying he used to “wrestle” Trish in his bedroom. Canada, eh? We see some of Trish’s early modelling shots, and she visits Musclemag, the publication that gave her a break. She hooks up with Bob Kennedy, the founder of the magazine, and the man who gave her the opportunity in the first place. “Do you remember the magic?” he asks, as again my mind wanders to inappropriate places. Trish hilariously tries to tie in the anatomy and kinesiology courses that she studied at college with modelling, claiming she looked at herself as a science experiment. I have heard some left-field justifications in my time, but that one is a stonker. Kennedy reveals that Trish’s first cover was banned in Japan for being too revealing, before adding, “She was the Arnold Schwarzenegger of the modelling world.” I don’t even know what that is supposed to mean. Kennedy appears to remember every single shoot with Trish, and he has the magazine covers she featured on plastered on every wall around the office. Geez, obsessed much?
Carl DeMarco turns up as a talking head and reveals how he used to jerk off over Trish’s Musclemag covers (these may not have been his exact words, but it was inferred), and we see footage of him on a talk show with Trish, where the presenter first brought up the idea of her getting into the wrasslin’ business. On the spot, she pitches an interest in a potential WWF role, and the ball starts rolling. Soon afterwards Trish was invited backstage at a WWF show, where Mick Foley asked for her signed picture to put on the wall of his gym… for, ahem, personal reasons. Trish marked out over it, because she was still a big wrestling fan. Almost immediately the WWF offered her a contract, causing the green with envy WCW to do the same. “My heart was always with the WWF,” says Trish. No kidding; WCW was a disaster in 1998.
We meet trainer Ron Hutchinson, who didn’t understand why Trish wanted to wrestle and throw herself around the ring, because she was so beautiful and successful. Trish says she had no problem with getting down and dirty on the mat, and I believe her. Her dedication to her craft and desire to improve is commendable. We get some amusing pictures of Trish with a bleached blonde Test, then stories about her telling the guys to lay in harder on her. I am sure they didn’t mind. About Trish’s almost instant success, her two female cousins say, “It was basically a wow factor, we couldn’t believe it”, with a tiny (read: blatant) hint of jealousy. Jason seems proud. Well sure, he can claim he “trained” her. We see Trish’s debut on Heat, of all things, which involved her walking down the aisle and pouting while watching a Test vs. Gangrel match. That match made me pout too. We get a little back story about how Trish was thrust onto TV with little warning, so she had to rush around NYC with Lillian Garcia to do some shopping for outfits. You know, the important things. Her look, with the jacket and cowboy hat was all decided on the day. Revelatory!
I wondered how long it would take: here is the Brooklyn fucking Brawler to chime in with his dumbass, irrelevant views. “She was the porcelain on the plate.” Yeah, that’s nonsense. Absolute nonsense. If Brawler ever offered anything of note whatsoever on these releases I could understand the frequency with which he is used on them, but every single thing he says is inane! Trish does her first promo introducing T&A, which isn’t that bad, but she admits to being super nervous and cringes when she watches it back. Jerry Lawler told her afterwards that she was a deer in the headlights. Yeah, like he was paying attention to anything she was saying. To the Dudleys-Trish storyline, which was a pretty good one. We see the soft-core porn video that Trish did with a load of tables, during which Trish says, “The most important part of any table is its legs,” and “The more you rub it, the better the wood starts to look. They just have to be… hard” Oh, come on! Bubba Ray Dudley reckons he earned respect for Trish at Backlash for kissing him when he was bloody, and for taking the tabling without complaint. Trish is proud of the latter too, because it was the first physical angle she did, and it proved to everyone that she was willing to put her body on the line for the cause.
We skip forward nearly a year, past Trish’s initial shitty attempts at wrestling, to her involvement with Vince McMahon. This was the start of an unsettling era where Vince would mack off with a different Diva seemingly every other week, fulfilling his perverse old man fantasies in a very public manner. We briefly see the excellent misconception angle with Triple H and Trish, where he shows her a hammerlock reversal and Stephanie McMahon walks in, then goes off on one because she thinks Hunter is ragging her from behind. That leads to Steph and Trish throwing various substances on each other, Steph eating shit, then a rather good match at No Way Out. More of Trish and Vince, with Trish giving him an oily massage, before getting humiliated by Vince and Steph on RAW with dirty, filthy, mop water. Horrible angle. Next time out, Trish begs for forgiveness and says she will do anything for Vince. Oh no, not this. For those who have never had the pleasure, Vince makes Trish get on her hands and knees and act like a dog, swaggering around the ring like a jackass while he does so. Thankfully, the part where she barks is omitted. Trish tries to defend the segment, but there is no reasoning that I can ever find acceptable. It was Vince at his misogynistic worst. Trish claims the payoff of her slapping McMahon at WrestleMania X-7 makes it worthwhile, but I don’t buy it. For anyone who ever wondered why WWE doesn’t treat its women performers seriously, look no further than this angle. This was Vince’s mindset when he was not caged by PG, and he has become far more senile since.
We go back in time a year to a Divas shoot in the Dominican Republic. Ivory offers backhanded compliments, “She was so good… at doing the photo shoot thing.” Stacy Keibler thinks Trish has the “sexiest sexy face ever,” and knows how to work a pose better than all of them. Well, she was a model. Not to mention that her competition was at one time Terri Runnels, Ivory, Molly Holly and Jazz. I could look sexy amongst that line-up. Cue lots of suggestive, highly sexual poses in the sun, with plenty of gratuitous shots of Trish’s tits and ass set to low-rent porno music. “She always approaches her work with some pre-thought. She always thinks about the kids.” Take a seat, Ivory, you take Brawler’s crown as the person who has talked the most shit on this release.
Back to the future now with Survivor Series 2001, and ten second highlights of Trish’s title win. We immediately backtrack three months to Trish getting injured, and co-hosting short lived live call-in show Excess with Coach, which he thinks took her game to another level. Okay. In keeping with the scatterbrained approach to the timelines, Trish and others put over the arrival in the WWF of Finlay, who did a lot of good work improving the otherwise drastic women’s division, turning (some of) them into real wrestlers rather than mere eye-candy. We see some footage of the girls working out in the ring before shows with Fit, and that’s the extent of his involvement on this disc.
Trish claims Chyna left the WWF and took the Women’s Title with her, which isn’t exactly true. WWE simply didn’t care enough about the belt due to the glut of championships in the company at the time due to the Invasion. We return to the six-women match at Survivor Series, which Molly claims was a great contest that the fans were really into. Lee Maughan scored it *½ in The Complete WWF Video Guide Volume V, so “great” is perhaps pushing it just a tad. To Lita, who Trish describes as being “a worker”, which is good for a laugh. She wrestled, sure, but calling her a worker is a bit strong. We continue to bounce all over the place, going back to Trish’s first match, then forward again a few years to Jazz, one of her favourite opponents. They certainly had better matches than most. Trish and Molly feud, where Trish mocks Molly’s “big ass”. Their entire rivalry was based on Trish insulting poor Molly, which was WWE’s way of telling her to lose weight. She doesn’t have a big ass at all. It is very typical behaviour of WWE though. They did the same thing with Mickie “Piggy” James a few years later. Ever the company girl, Trish again has no problem with any of it. Next, Victoria nails Trish in the head with a chair on RAW, which was apparently a landmark moment, then the pair’s hardcore match at Survivor Series 2002. Oh man, none of the stuff on this release would be allowed nowadays. Sex? Chair shots to the head? Hardcore matches? Blood? Blatant bullying? The PG Era is a shitty time for WWE, but at least it signalled the end of this sort of thing.
Steve Austin makes a cameo, mocks Booker T’s catchphrase, and drinks a… Diet Pepsi!? Kayfabe shattered! He puts Trish over in his amusing Steve Austin way, then they spend three minutes talking absolute shit. It is the worst sort of forced small talk you will ever hear, though they do at least admit as much. We stop off at WrestleMania X8 at Toronto’s SkyDome. which again, is going backwards in time. Couldn’t they have at least tried to have something resembling a coherent timeline? It’s maddening. Mania was in Trish’s hometown, so it was special for her. “Seeing the reaction from those fans, that was history in the making,” says Carl DeMarco, about a throwaway match in the post-Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock dead spot. The reality is the match was heatless, and Trish lost. Nor was it any good.
The feature veers off into her work away from WWE, including an appearance on MadTV. She was cast as a stereotypical dumb blond. She isn’t one, but she did played the role pretty well. Not much to see here, really. Next, she does magazine covers, as we come full circle. So, all of this time in WWE has opened all these doors for her to… do what she was doing before she was in WWE. Next we get a lot of highlights from the Much Music Video Awards, Canada’s half-assed answer to MTV. Apparently there are lots of celebs around like… the singer from Disturbed, and Chris Jericho. Swell. To be quirky, it is held outside, which sounds like a swell idea because Canada is always so warm…
At RAW X, Trish won the Diva of the Decade award. It wasn’t political of course. At that time, it was hardly going to be Sable, Sunny or Chyna was it? After that, some marks cry when they meet Trish. These people. We wrap up with D-Von Dudley offering his opinion that every would-be Diva should follow Trish’s lead and put in the work that she did, which is about the most sensible thing anyone has said on this. That would be a great note to end on, but instead we have to suffer a final word of wisdom from the Brawler: “I think Trish has a tremendous future in this business.” She retired three years later.
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