Patricia Anne Stratigeas didn't set out intending to pour the foundation for the modern-day women's division of professional wrestling. In fact, we should thank the faculty at York University in Toronto for Stratigeas changing careers in the first place -- She was studying biology and kinesiology in 1997 when the entire staff went on strike, so she turned her attention to becoming a fitness model.
Eventually, her path crossed with Vince McMahon's wildly-popular World Wrestling Entertainment. The greatest diva in WWE history debuted in March 2000 under the ring name Trish Stratus.
Trish Stratus' Wrestling Career
Stratus debuted as valet for the tag team of Test and Prince Albert; The group's T&A moniker doubled as (sorry for the language, Mom) "Tits and Ass." While honing her in-ring skills, Stratus cut promos for rising men's characters like Val Venis. Stratus worked her way through the ranks, eventually developing a rivalry with Lita on the Raw and Smackdown! weekly shows.
A kayfabe affair with WWF Chairman Vince McMahon grew to wild lengths. Stratus was ultimately ambushed by McMahon during a tag team match when the traitorous group covered her in "slop." McMahon aligned her to a toy he grew tired of playing with, leaving her in the ring alone.
The massive face turn was set. The Stratus-McMahon feud ended at WrestleMania X-Seven, and Stratus became the in-ring stallwart, three-time Babe of the Year, PWI's Woman of the Decade, one-time Hardcore Championship and seven-time WWE Women's Championship winner we remember today.
Impact and Legacy in WWE
Even though Stratus' weekly appearances ended in 2006, she's competed in various matches in recent years. WrestleMania XXVII, 2018 Royal Rumble, WWE Evolution, and various spots on WWE Monday Night Raw used Stratus' superstar status to boost developing storylines. Her most recent match came at SummerSlam 2019, losing by submission to Charlotte Flair.
Stratus has appeared in 272 matches, 42 of which came on pay-per-view. She was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013 by Stephanie McMahon.
"Right now, there are more women wrestlers than ever before. There's more interesting wrestling characters that the fans are more behind," Stratus said in 2003. "I'm so thrilled to be involved in a time like this. Man, I just hope for bigger and better things to come in the division."
During Stratus' career, the women's division went from simply a sexy sideshow to a legitimate, respected part of the company. Look no further than any one of the Bra & Panties matches during those early years.
RELATED: Charlotte Flair Suffers Wardrobe Malfunction Mid-Match
As Stratus' star grew within the WWE Universe, so did the clamoring for more women in the ring.
Led by Stratus' athleticism and Stratusfaction finishing move, the WWE women's division developed major storylines that turned the company global. Female professional wrestlers like Lita, Stacy Keibler, Torrie Wilson, Mickie James, Jacqueline, Jazz, and Molly Holly helped Stratus usher in a new era of women's wrestling.
I'm not sure the WWE Diva of the Decade really understood the growth a strong women's division could bring World Wrestling Entertainment, though.
Women like Asuka, Natalya, Alexa Bliss, Bayley, Carmella, Sasha Banks, Charlotte Flair, and Rhea Ripley are holding down the fort as the coronavirus pandemic limits WWE's live shows to the company's performance center.
How Old Is Trish Stratus?
Trish Stratus was born on December 18, 1975 in Ontario, Canada, and you'd have no idea the superstar was 44 years old if she passed you on the street. She's appeared in the CBS show Armed & Famous and was the subject of Stratusphere, a reality show following Stratus as she visited exotic locations.
The Canadian star opened a yoga studio, plus she sells wrestling apparel and fitness videos through an official YouTube channel and her website, TrishStratus.com.
Stratus married high school sweetheart Ron Fisico, and they have two children together -- Max was born in 2013, and Madi arrived in 2017. Lita, who was Stratus' biggest in-ring rival, is Max's godmother.
There will be hundreds of women in wrestling down the road. They can thank Hall of Famer Trish Stratus for being one of the pioneers.
MORE: Ronda Rousey's Ex Took Nude Photos of Her, So She Beat Him to a Pulp
Enjoy all things sports?
Don't miss a story! Sign up for daily stories delivered to your inbox.