From the CY Archive: A 2001 Interview with Former WWE Women’s Champion, Superstar & Diva Trish Stratus

In this installment of From the CY Archive, Chris Yandek brings you his November 2001 interview with WWE Superstar and former women’s champion Trish Stratus. Trish was the hottest female in the world of professional wrestling at the time of this interview. She was known as the WWE’s top diva and a Canadian Bombshell. The interview was covered and played on various wrestling radio programs. Here is that conversation from nine years ago.

Listen to the Trish Stratus CYInterview:

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Chris Yandek: What was it like coming off an ankle injury, and then coming back wrestling on every program, as well as competing for the WWF Women’s Championship at Survivor series and winning it, and becoming the new women’s champion?

Trish Stratus: “A pleasant surprise. Well, actually my osteopath, when I was coming back from rehabilitation, he said to me knowing you and your strength when you bounce back you’re gonna be stronger then when you left, and I kinda think he was right. Obviously, the very first match I had back was a tag match with Lita, and I was a little nervous that day when I found out I had the match, and I was thinking, “Come on this is your first time back lets give it a whirl”, and you know I kinda just had to trust them that I would be ok. I left with a bang, and just before I got injured, I had a lot of matches or a couple matches anyway, and I was feeling that thing with that progress to come in and just really feeling good about being in the ring.

So when I left I felt man I did not want to lose the momentum, so I was really happy to pick up where I left off. So when I went out for that tag match everything went well, and I felt no tweaks, nothing because I was being bumped and bruised but my ankle is fine though. It has made me really aware of my strengthening and conditioning behind my training and really has made me make an effort for my cooling down after the match, and that is a preventive thing, and every time I go out there it has really been good ever since.”

CY: What broadcasting and commentary experience have you picked up hosting WWE Excess with Jonathon Coachman?

TS: “Well, I have learned gosh the first time I did it, I did not realize but you know I will just go out there and talk, but it is not quite like that. I have learned so much, and Coach has been really good at kind of realizing my personality has to come out, and that is what you guys want for me. It is not necessarily that you need me to be an announcer on that show. You need to think what my role there is to deliver the information and sell the product, but they really want my personality to do it. The first couple of shows, you know I believe I did a good job of pitching the product, but it was really flat and you’re thinking Trish is missing from this, and that is why I think I was chosen to do this show, that I have a quirky little kind of personality, which you know they want to see on the show over time. It also was getting use to a new format, program, and obviously I have never done this before.

Once my comfort level kinda got there I just sort of threw my personality in there, and by doing that it is a lot more fun, and I walk away saying oh ok that feels better. If I can make it feel more conversational and realizing by still pitching the product, and delivering more information, but yet doing more of a conversational tone with my own personality in there really makes it a good thing, and I really have learned so much. It was a great opportunity, and it really came at a time when I was not on TV. So I still got a chance to be on TV every week, and I could talk about my injuries and by the way I am not on because of my injury. It really has been good because it gives me a different side cause I watch the product very differently as well, cause you have to deliver the product a different way, so it really has been an enlightening experience.”

CY: What do you think of the turn right now with the WWF with Ric Flair coming in, and Jerry Lawler back as an announcer?

“TS: I am super, super, super excited, I think you know we have to stick with the basics. We know how to do a show, we know how to have attitude in our show, and these last few shows have really brought back a lot of attitude, as well as the people we are bringing in really have a lot of attitude that is perfect for our show. I think Lawler felt like he did not miss a beat, and I think he adds so much to the show. I think he really is terrific for business, so he needs to really be there, and he really makes a difference in the show. As a fan listening to the show with Jerry on commentary we really see the show differently, and see things differently cause he sends it to us in a certain way that only the king can, and I am very excited to have him back on board. Ric Flair is classic.

When I was watching, I was completely a mark and a big fan, and I was like oh my god and if I react like that I can only imagine how the fans did. This past week on Axxess we showed WrestleMania 8 which was Flair against Savage, and just going back and remembering that charisma, and what he brings with his presence to the ring which was totally evident on Monday, and you’re like, “Man what a pro” when you saw him out there. He really fits in perfectly, and it is gonna be so great especially the reaction between him and Vince is gonna be so great, and I am gonna be so excited to see it. It is also very exciting to have those two people that are gonna lay down a new way of programming, and so they’re both good foundations to go upwards and onwards with.”

CY: Excited about WrestleMania being in Toronto, Canada this year?

TS: “No. I am just kidding that is the obvious question I am always getting. I am really excited cause it is in my hometown, but also cause it gives a chance for friends and family to come see the show itself, and me perform. I am also very excited of late of having the championship. It really gives me motivation, and I really want to be in that picture for the championship match at WrestleMania, and I can’t think of a better place and time to hold that belt up, in front of a hometown crowd would be a wonderful thing. So that is even a more exciting thing to me. It is very exciting to be in the run, but not only that, also for WrestleMania, which I have never been in the picture around that time for the championship, which is the biggest event of the year. I also know to play possibly a big role is very exciting.”

CY: Tell me about your trip with WWF Divas in Hedonism, and making the video, as well as the magazine.

TS: “Amazing! We have done three of them so far, and it just really gets better every time. We have really gotten to the point where we have gotten familiar with each other. The models, rather the divas, we all know each other, we all know the photographers really well, we know the make up artists really well. So, we all have worked with them, and know each other so we are at that level where we are comfortable and familiar with each other, and everyone knows each other’s styles. You know that feeling when you go to something new, it’s like ok lets see how it goes. It is literally a huge team effort; it takes so many little elements to come together, the TV crews, the cameras, make-up people, and the lighting guys.

Everything has to come together for it to be good; we all know each other so well. We can tweak everything for us to make everything better, and it was just so much fun literally, but don’t get me wrong, it was a lot of work. It was like you get up at four in the morning, and when the sun goes down finally you’re done, but don’t forget there is TV stuff now. It is a really long day, and we got to knock this thing sweet, and get up while it is still beautiful. It was a lot of fun especially when you see the finished product, and what we are capable of doing, and I know this year is going to be even better and a lot more hotter. We have more sponsors this year with bikinis and bathing suits. That is one thing when you have a girl in a bikini there is now a lot more personality, and all of the divas being a little more established now so our pictures can be great with more personality. It will be even more great this time around.”

CY: Did you have a good experience with Anne Robinson, and all the other WWF Superstars on the Weakest Link?

TS: “Yeah, I am a huge game show and board game freak. I play board games all the time, and when I heard I was on I was so excited, reading trivial pursuit cards to get ready for it, and being totally psyched about it. It is also really neat to think that wow I am on a show that is mainstream, and NBC’s audience, I am sure is different from our audience and any additional audience watching us as well. So, it was really exciting that it was just great and a blast cause we were all there out of character somewhat, believe me there was a lot of character in that show.

So, we were a little out of character and we can bug each other, and we don’t get that chance to interact as characters from the show to see people who interact who normally might not. Anne Robinson is a real great person in herself as a character. I said to her you know you got to come on our show, girl, as she would be a great character on our show. I met her afterwards, and she was great and she dropped her little gimmick there and I took a picture with her, and was so much a fan of hers as well. She really does a great job out there portraying her character as much as we do out there, so it was kinda neat to see. I think she was amused by us as to what a bunch of characters these guys are, so it was a great experience. I really enjoyed it.”

CY: What do you think the role of a WWF Diva is in wrestling?

TS: “I think we have to portray a number of roles. I think we need to go out there, and of course be divas, and be beautiful, and provide that element of T&A to a certain degree. We are also put into a position where we become role models for girls and women. So we have to be aware of that as well. I think nowadays being more active in the ring makes us set more of an example, as far as being sports entertainers, and we do our thing as well in the ring, and we do it good as well, as not just being once in a while. We really are showing you we can do our stuff so much that you can believe it now, and you realize what we do. I mean it really is tough to go out there, and you know fight but in the next scene we are looking beautiful and sexy.

So, it can be a tough thing, and it is a tough balance for us to achieve, but I think we and the company really do a good job, that knowing that there are younger girls out there looking up to us as role models and older women. You name their age, and you know they are looking at us like that, so I think our role is to go out there, and portray strong women who are dominant females, and just going out there and getting the job done and going out and getting it. At least that is what I try to do, to show that you can be strong, and believe in what you want to and go for whatever goal you want to go for, and you’re gonna get it. That is what we try to portray out there so hopefully that comes across.”

CY: What was your feeling when many new faces started showing up from WCW and ECW? What was your feeling that there was a big roster, and more competition for TV time?

TS: “I did not think of it really as competition for TV time. I thought what we have here is very…very…very talented people you know. Not only have they proven themselves in other companies, but also they are already established in what they do, so it’s not like ok lets give Joe a try here let’s see if he can handle this. They know what it is like to be on TV, they know what it is like to be on the road, so there really is no trial period here which is great so we have built in ready to go characters.

So, for me I looked at it as exciting opportunities, to see talent from that show interact with talent from our show, which we have really never seen before because we have really never had the opportunity to see that. It was really a great opportunity to see like, you know see so much talent on the show that we brought to this show, and interjecting them into our own style into our own storylines. I think we did a great job of that, and it was just exciting to know that there were new characters out there used to doing their thing, and doing it well. It was just a matter of fitting them into the WWF show and programming and exciting for them to come into the show.”

CY: What was it like working with the McMahons in a storyline and working with them daily with your character and everything else?

TS: “It was wonderful. I learned so much; I think I really contribute today. As far as experience wise, I feel like I have been doing this for five years. It is just because I just learned so much. I was on like a fast track with them you know to learn first hand. I am doing pre tapes with Vince McMahon, I am watching the way he is doing it. I am watching Stephanie cutting a promo out there, and I am responding to her. Working in the ring, I was able to work with some of the top talent by being in that storyline, so it was literally the people at the top and the people in charge like the McMahons, are where they are because they are just that damn good, and I am working side by side with them. There is no other opportunity I can think of that would give me that first hand experience like that, so I learned so much and quickened my learning. So I thank god for the experience, and it was the best experience I could ever have.”

CY: What advice or what can you tell to those girls who look up to you and want to be women wrestlers?

TS: “Well, my advice is it really is pretty funny. It’s not like a certain set way of doing it, and becoming a wrestler. If you ever ask a diva, there is a different story from each of us and how we got here. So all I can say is, you know it is sort of a principal I learned from school is just preparedness meets opportunity, and what you need to do is any opportunity that comes up you need to be prepared for it, and take full advantage of it. So I mean, study your craft very well. Even when I was going to medical school, I did the working in the hospital on the weekends, I did the studying, I did the extracurricular reading I needed to do. So everything I did led up to one package I could present to medical school that they would accept.

So in this scenario it is the same thing you know. I started training on my own you know. I walked the walk and talked the talk. I thought about a character, not just being a girl out there. I wanted to be character out there, so I thought about different ways. You need to study each element of the craft, or of the industry itself, and realize you really need to be good each one of them. So break it down, and same basic principal, take little baby steps to achieve your goals. So you need to take each step, and conquer each step, and get to the next bigger one and just study your craft really well of course. I want to say if anyone does want to do that you must be able to go to wrestling school, and have all that as your background as well. I really can’t give an a to b pass for anyone, but to achieve your goals you need to try really hard, and give it 110 percent.”

CY: Final comments?

TS: “Well, just as being the new WWF Women’s Champion I just wanted to continue to deliver action and continue to deliver Stratusfaction.”