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Mickie see, Mickie do
If there is any truth to the cliché, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," then Trish Stratus could have considered herself the most complimented Diva in WWE history. For five months in 2005 and 2006, the Women's Champion was the object of devotion for then-Diva newcomer Mickie James. Unfortunately, Mickie's fan obsession with all things Trish would ultimately breed an element of "Stratus-fear" among WWE's Divas, and pave WWE.com's No. 9 Most Rugged Road to WrestleMania with bumps, curves and dangerous hazards ahead.
Many WWE fans saw the warning signs from the very beginning—an early October Raw night, when unidentified fan-girl Mickie raced into the ring and spared Trish from a post-match beating by Victoria. Awkwardly introducing herself as Trish's biggest supporter, Mickie's enthusiasm flattered the Women's Champion to no end, even after watching her perform the Stratusfaction on Victoria a week later.
Copying Trish's signature move was all well and good; Mickie actually dressing up as her idol for a Raw Diva Halloween Costume Contest, then insisting that the WWE fans vote Trish's Wonder Woman outfit as the winner…well, that was kinda creepy. "Creepy" quickly turned to surreal by late November when Mickie, again utilizing the Stratusfaction for a 6-Diva Tag Team victory, celebrated in the ring with the Women's Championship in hand…and a bewildered Women's Champion standing next to her.
Trish didn't want to believe that something was wrong, even amid colleagues' concerned whispers about "Mimickie" James. But throughout late December and January, her apprehension would become unavoidable—first in the form of Mickie's unexpected under-the-mistletoe kiss, then later with a perplexing apology to her idol…who was showering at the time. At the 2006 Royal Rumble, she'd tell guest referee Trish backstage that she loved her, though clearly she saved none for losing opponent Ashley that evening, nor would she on the following Raw. In fact, she'd go downright psycho on the Dirty Diva, claiming she had spoiled a planned in-ring celebration of Trish with accusations of her mental instability.
By mid-February, Mickie had gone from overzealous to extremely jealous; fuming that Trish was cozying up to a budding new boyfriend, she lured him into the Divas' locker room by donning a blonde wig and dressing like her hero again. Trish's suitor wanted no part of Mickie's uncomfortable advances toward him, but by then it was too late—she suddenly loosened her shirt and screamed at the top of her lungs. A security guard, believing the poor schmoe had attacked the now-hysterical Mickie, forcibly removed him from the arena, while the devious Diva earned sympathy and a warm embrace from an apologetic Trish.
The happy reunion didn't last long; a few weeks later, Mickie returned to her in-ring worshipping ways, literally getting down on her knees and wrapping herself around Trish's waist. When the fed-up Women's Champion tried informing her No. 1 fanatic that they needed time apart from each other, Mickie took the news in true spurned stalker fashion: after a victorious tag team effort at Saturday Night's Main Event, she agreed to honor her hero's wishes, then attempted another big goodbye smooch. Trish had no sooner pushed her away, however, when Mickie delivered a devastating Mick Kick to the champion Diva's skull. Having broken her heart, Mickie now swore that she would break Trish Stratus.
Okay, here's where things get weird. (No, really.) Two nights later on Raw, Mickie offered Trish a humongous, "no hard feelings" gift in the ring: Ashley, gagged and bound to a chair. Though she bloodied the psycho's nose in an attempt to free her friend, Trish was quickly K.O.'ed by a fierce DDT. Asking if she loved her now, Mickie planted a bloody kiss on the unconscious Diva's lips. The following week, she'd treat WWE fans to an "inside look" of her shrine, a room adorned with countless photos of Trish—with her eyes cut out of every image. It was there that Mickie had promised that she would destroy Trish Stratus on the biggest stage of them all—WrestleMania 22.
Mickie James would indeed capture her first Women's Title in Chicago that April, in a contest that many regard as one of the finest Women's Championship Matches in WWE history. There's a great deal more debate, however, as to how her rivalry with Trish had escalated—some say that Mickie was truly obsessed with Trish, while others insist that she had eyes only for the Women's gold, and psyched Trish out by becoming her most devout fan. Either way, the final destination on this Road to WrestleMania would remain the same.