|Posted on June 13, 2016 at 5:20 PM|
The boys of Ring Rust Radio interviewed WWE Hall of Famer Trish Stratus in an exclusive interview. Here are the highlights:
Ring Rust Radio: You had a starring role in the movie GRIDLOCKED as Gina, which will be released on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD on Tuesday, June 14. As one of your first mainstream roles, what was your confidence level going into filming the movie and do you see yourself taking on more acting roles moving forward?
Trish Stratus: My confidence was definitely helped by having someone like Dominic Purcell in my corner. You have seen him in Legends of Tomorrow and Prison Break. I think he looked at me when I first walked on set and thought, “Oh some wrestling chick that’s going to be in a movie, how cute.” Kind of liked when I walked into my first wrestling arena and I got the look like, “Oh some fitness chick thinks she’s going to be a wrestler.” I felt like I had to prove myself and work hard on this. I think Dominic saw how much care I took in my craft and he really took me under his wing and really helped me out. He helped me out with my lines, gave me a lot of tips and a few cinematic secrets. I always say I never could have done what I did in the wrestling world if I didn’t have people like The Rock or Fit Finlay in my corner and helping me. Having that on set really helped me out and boosted my confidence. Each time I got more comfortable on set and more confidence going into every day.
Ring Rust Radio: Having talked to a lot of wrestlers who have also gotten involved in acting the prevailing thought seems to be that acting is almost easier because you get multiple takes whereas in WWE you only get one shot in the ring and on the mic? How would you compare the two in terms of difficulty and how different or alike they are to each other?
Trish Stratus: Well you are definitely right about that. There is the element of you going there and having a couple of takes to do it and some time to work with it. You don’t get that instant gratification like you do in the wrestling world. It is kind of like working in a vacuum with no response to your lines and no applause. It definitely feels a little strange at first and I had to get used to it. It definitely does transcend though as you can see. The bottom line is one of the directors who ended up hiring me was a wrestling fan and he understood the wrestling world. He told me about the things we did in wrestling like evoking emotion from the crowd, getting the crowd behind you. You are an actor and I am confident of you in this role. That’s why he thought everything I do would translate over into this role. The first thing that definitely helped me was my fight knowledge. There is an adjustment because movie fighting and wrestling fighting are a little bit different. It was really cool to work with the fight choreographer. He would come and take me to the side and say, “I want to see you just go. Can you work with my guy here and show us what you got?” I said sure, and we just rolled around and wrestled. He had a chance to see my style and thought it was cool and unique with what wrestlers could do. He appreciated our athleticism and was able to work my background into my move set and integrate it into my fight. He completed a whole new look to my fighting and the fight scenes turned out pretty kick ass. One of the most brutal fight scenes in the movie was one of mine actually.
Ring Rust Radio: I've always considered you the best of all-time in the women's division, but a topic of conversation when comparing your era to today's era is opportunity. It seems the women today are given more opportunity and freedom when performing in the ring. Do you feel that's the case, that perhaps you, Lita, Victoria and the other talented women were restricted compared to what we see in WWE and NXT today?
Trish Stratus: We were given tons of opportunity and that’s why that era became so memorable. It’s something like when people bring up the Divas Era, some of them thought it was crap. I never would say it was crap because the performers in that era were so great. What they were missing, like you said, was opportunity. They were not given storylines back then. They had some great matches, but you don’t remember them because they didn’t have a chance to develop the characters and give the story to the audience. We were given so many chances from promos to different interactions with other characters. Storylines is the thing everybody loves about wrestling from when you were kids to now. To me it was exciting to see all the different outfits and hair colors like something out of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat. Even now during interviews, I get told that it’s not like it was during my time anymore. The only thing missing is character development and definition of characters. I would say the performance center is working on that and they are pumping out these seasoned performers. It’s not like back in the day when they would tell us to just try a move and see what happens. Here they work together, understand the psychology, they work on their promos, they get out in front of that crowd so this way it’s not their first rodeo. I think now they are getting a lot of opportunities and we are getting a great product from that.
Ring Rust Radio: Women’s wrestlers in WWE are getting so many opportunities from an in-ring perspective now and they have the added benefit of coming up through NXT. Had NXT been in place when you were originally signed, how do you think that would have impacted your development as a wrestler as well as the finished product that you ultimately became?
Trish Stratus: I might not have had so many crappy matches in the beginning like I did. The fact that these girls come in to the performance center and it’s a different feeling being in there compared to a live audience. I remember my first promo ever I was like a deer in headlights. I would have come in more polished for sure if they had that when I came in. The story of me though is my underdog story. The reason I feel I have that connection with the crowd was because they saw me fall down and get back up, brush myself off and try again. They saw me come out and try to be better than what I was last week and not mess up the move I did the week before. They got it and they understood I was given this position and I was trying to do my best to maximize what I had been given. I was given a unique opportunity because I was a newbie and had very limited experience considering the girls around me. It was the people around me that elevated my game like Jackie, Molly and Jazz. My NXT was kind of like working with these girls and going in week by week. Working with the guys behind the scenes and in the ring while also taking extra promo classes helped me out tremendously. They would put the camera on me in back and say let’s just try some stuff. I had my own NXT camp, kind of. It made a big difference just doing a show that night compared to going that extra mile and doing that promo work backstage and rolling around the ring with the boys. Going the extra mile and just finding room to work really made a difference.
Ring Rust Radio: Your rivalry with Lita will always standout as your best, but another angle that is mentioned a lot is the work you did early in your career with Vince and Stephanie McMahon. What was it like to work with them, especially with Vince considering he runs the show? Was that an intimidating spot to be in and what type of input did you have in those segments?
Trish Stratus: It allowed me and pushed me to elevate my game. Having to go to work knowing you are working directly with the Boss means you can’t suck basically. Working with him, I had the chance to learn a lot from him directly. The way he approached things, what worked and what didn’t work and knowing why that didn’t work so next time I can be better. That really helped me learn by leaps and bounds working side-by-side with him. Working with Stephanie was great because she was so high profile and her expectations honestly were low. We were able to blow people away because people didn’t expect much from us. If you go back and watch that match between us, it wasn’t great, but it was the storyline that brought us there. We watch wrestling because storylines bring us to the accumulation of a glorious match. To start off in that environment did a lot for me. I did make a really good bond with Vince and Stephanie. We actually just texted earlier and we are still all very close. It was a great experience to work with them like that.
Ring Rust Radio: With the recent strides made in women’s wrestling, have you ever thought about a return to the ring and would you ever consider having a one-off match at WrestleMania against one of the top stars in the division?
Trish Stratus: The line I have always given people for the past ten years is, “Who would you guys like to see me fight?” For a while, people really didn’t know who they would want to see me fight and make it worth wile. Would it make sense for me to come back and fight Sasha? I will never close the door if there is something that will challenge me. It would have to be a challenge to me, it would have to elevate someone else on the show and it would need to be something exciting for the fans. What do they want to see? They always ask who I would go back to work for and one person is Nattie. She isn’t one of the top current girls, but I never got a chance to work with her and it would be kind of dream to be able to. If I could return and have some challenging and good matches, I would have no doubt in coming back. Just as long as I could keep up in the ring, I think I would be OK.
Ring Rust Radio: You had one of the greatest retirements from WWE, winning the Women's title in your hometown against Lita, which was also a special moment for your fans. I remember when you made your debut on Heat and you weren't wrestling on TV yet and now you're often regarding as the greatest women's wrestler ever in WWE. When you reflect on your career and legacy, is there a match or moment that you consider to be most special?
Trish Stratus: My retirement was one of the two top moments of my life. I remember walking into that arena that night and I still couldn’t believe that it was happening. It almost felt like a swerve because the whole situation seemed too good to be true. Everything was right from being in my hometown to the match itself was all perfect. Winning the title and making history was bittersweet because I won the world, but then I was going to be leaving it to go on to the next chapter of my life, but I will never forget it. I will always feel that in my mind that was one of my pivotal moments in my career. My match with Mickie James at WrestleMania 22 was my last WrestleMania before I retired. I felt like we got to that point where a women’s match wrestling wise could be better than a guy’s match. We didn’t want to be viewed as a women’s match, we wanted it viewed as just a wrestling match. The reviews came in the next day and they were very high on us. I remember it had about four to five months of storyline behind it which really got us there and that is rare nowadays for a women’s match. So much development of character and the storyline really made the match what it was. We then just left it up to the crowd and their reaction was awesome. It was fun for me to be a good baby face in the match and get booed because of a part of the storyline which I thought was really cool. Those were two moments that really stand out to me. My main event on Raw was obviously a highlight as well. Walking to the arena that day, we saw the board with all the matches listed and we thought it had to be a mistake to have us listed as the main event. When we finally realized it was us, it was such a great moment. They gave us that platform and told us to go do our thing and maximize our opportunity. Lita and I, and everyone that was helping us to get there, it really was a team effort. We really stepped up our game and made it successful.