In this blog I'll be looking at some of the biggest and most successful ladies in wrestling. I'll be starting with a personal favourite of mine.
So let's disregard all of the controversy - and there's a lot of it - surrounding Chyna. Forget her current plea to get into the Hall of Fame and her infamous film career. Let's talk about Chyna, the living embodiment of an Amazonian warrior; the She-Hulk incarnate. Chyna achieved a huge amount in her career with the WWE: she is a two-time Intercontinental champion (and is the only woman to ever hold the IC belt), she is a former WWF Women's champion and she was the first woman to ever participate in a King of the Ring or Royal Rumble match. She was also at one point the number one contender for the WWF Championship when she beat Undertaker and Triple H in a triple threat match but sadly lost it to Mankind shortly after.
Chyna was a game-changer because she broke the mould of your traditional women's wrestler: she didn't look like all the others, who were athletic but nowhere near as jacked as she was. She proved that women can be muscular and still be feminine, still be beautiful. She didn't act the way that most women do in the ring either; there was no hair-pulling or screaming like a banshee. If she was in the ring then she was going to bulldoze you and hit you with a low-blow no matter what was between your legs. Her feuds with the likes of Jeff Jarrett and Chris Jericho prove that mixed gender matches work and it's a shame that they didn't continue on with them because there are current Divas that could easily take on some of the guys on the current roster.
It's hard to believe that she was only signed for 4 years with the WWF. She achieved so much in that time and in my opinion she is more than deserving of a spot in the Hall of Fame. I highly doubt she'll ever be in it after all the mayhem that occurred just before and well after her departure but she definitely is deserving of a place.
Lita is another favourite of mine, again for how she broke the mould and dared to be different. She wasn't prissy, she wasn't a model; she was this bad ass punk chick with tattoos and her knickers hanging out. As a kid that was always a little bit "different", that was so cool to watch and comforting to know that it was ok to go against the grain. Everyone had a favourite wrestler as a kid and I guarantee it was always one that stood out and gave a big "fuck you" to the norm at the time.
Lita's greatest time in the WWE was probably her time spent with Matt and Jeff Hardy as part of Team Xtreme. She was part of one of many of their infamous TLC matches (and was the first woman to ever do so) and her part in Team Xtreme lead to her long feud with Trish Stratus that lasted from June 2000 right up until Stratus retired in 2006. After Lita pinned Stratus in what was Stratus's last ever match she began feuding with Stephanie McMahon and ended up winning the WWE Women's Championship for the first time.
There was a lot of Lita's career in the WWE that really didn't sit well with me though. She was a brilliant wrestler who brought the Mexican-style wrestling into the ring that wasn't commonly seen in women back in those days but a lot of the time she was booked in romantic storylines involving one (or two, as it were) men. Matt Hardy, Edge, Jericho, Kane... It was all so unnecessary. She was a good wrestler and she proved that time again in her feud with Stratus, she didn't need to be involved in daft stories like the one with Kane.
Despite the ridiculousness of some of the stories she was involved in, she went on to become a four-time WWE Women's Champion; she lost the belt to Mickie James in her retirement match at Survivor Series 2006. Again, it's hard to believe that she was only with the WWE for 6 years given the impact that she has made. She was deservedly inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014 by, of course, Trish Stratus.
And that leads me on to the next part.
Of course, I couldn't write about Lita and leave out Trish Stratus. Trish is a legend in her own right for what she managed to achieve in her career at WWF (and then WWE): she's a seven time WWE Women's Champion (the most reigns with this title that the WWE has seen in it's history), a one-time Hardcore Champion and she was named "Diva of the Decade" on the 10th anniversary episode of RAW. That's a great deal considering that she had no previous experience in wrestling before coming to the WWE - before she joined she was a fitness model. Fans nowadays always complain about Divas being signed when they have no previous experience but they forget that's exactly the same background that Stratus came from so it's just a case of waiting it out to see how good these women really are.
Albeit at first, Stratus was used mostly for her appearance but as she got better in the ring she was given a lot more opportunities such as her aforementioned feud with Lita. It took her a while but she eventually got the opportunity to wrestle after being involved in that ridiculous storyline with her having an affair with Vince whilst Linda was in a coma. She feuded for the belt with people like Jazz, Molly Holly, Victoria and Mickie James, who was the last person to ever win the belt from Stratus. After that Stratus won the belt from Lita in her last match in her hometown of Toronto (by using the Sharpshooter, might I add), she retired as the champion in 2006.
She was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013 by Stephanie McMahon. Again, for only having been with the WWE for 6 years she achieved an incredible amount. She proved that you can achieve anything if you put in enough hard work and dedication, no matter how much or how little experience you may have.
And there we have it, three women of the WWE who all were a little bit different than the norm of wrestling at that time and yet still managed to rise to the top. Of course, women like Molly Holly, Gail Kim and Mickie James all done great things in that era too but as I mentioned at the start, there's just not enough hours in the day to write about them all (or for you to read about them all!). Next time I'll be taking a look at the more current WWE Divas who shouldn't be overlooked or underestimated.
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Next week - The 2nd edition of Running the Ropes with Marc P! (Check out Part 1 here)