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The King of Harts defends his Intercontinental Championship in WWE's first-ever Triple Threat Match.06/20/2017 - 16:15
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Lita says goodbye
Just days before she walked into Survivor Series to defend her coveted Women's Championship against Mickie James, Lita informed the world that this match would be her last. After seven successful and controversial years in WWE, Lita announced her retirement from sports-entertainment.
By Sunday night, before many WWE fans could even fully grasp the weight of Lita's announcement, the match had come and gone. Lita was no longer Women's Champion. No longer a WWE Diva. No longer side-by-side with World Tag Team Champion Edge.
Amid the fans in attendance in Philadelphia, sects of Lita loyalists in the Wachovia Center shared an emotional mantra: "Thank you, Lita!"
By the time the bell rang to signify the end of the match, it was clear that WWE would be missing a star.
"I'll have a lot of memories with me and a lot of experiences with me but I'm ready to keep moving ahead," Lita confessed. "I've been looking around the locker room and there aren't many people left that were here when I started. It's a sad time, but I know this is right."
Even after Lita's exhaustive post-loss in-ring tirade, it seemed her truest fans were present for the ex-Diva's final WWE match. This augmented Lita's strong sentiment for her supporters that have stuck by her through thick and thin, good times and bad.
Perhaps the greatest of her fans is the Rated-R Superstar, who lingered behind the curtain at the Wachovia Center during Lita's championship defense. Once the defeated champion made her way out of the arena, the two stood together backstage for one last time.
"[Edge] is so close to me and he has heard me weigh out these options and talk about my feelings," Lita said. "He is supportive and he understands my decision."
Despite their deep bond, Lita candidly explained that her intentions to leave sports-entertainment began in mid-2005 with the onset of very personal issues involving Edge. When Lita's relationship with the Rated-R Superstar became publicized and broadcast on WWE programming each week, the former Women's Champion experienced a drastically sharp transformation.
From being verbally harassed by people in the street, to receiving hate mail and having objects thrown at her, Lita described the difficulty of balancing her emotions on a personal level with those cultivated within her career.
"It felt like even if I was walking the dog there was going to be someone yelling ‘You screwed Matt' out the window," she recalled. "It really took a toll on me; it affected every aspect of my life. Although that's passed now, the weight of that situation stays with me every day."
She added, "I feel like there is no way for me to escape the whole feeling that I have from being involved in such a public affair. There's no other alternative for me than to walk away."
By no means, however, does Lita have any regrets or ill-will towards her career. A four-time Women's Champion and known for being in the first-ever women's Steel Cage Match in WWE, Lita fought through multiple injuries to be able to claim her spot in sports-entertainment history.
"I've had an awesome career and I'm more confident in the ring today than I ever have been," Lita claimed. "But, I've made my mark. There is no hidden meaning behind my leaving; this is just me needing to take a break."
That break, Lita said, will be her opportunity for things she couldn't otherwise do under the Superstars' travel schedule. Outside the squared-circle, the former Women's Champion is a songwriter and guitar and bass player for her band the Luchagors -- whose shirt Lita wore in her final match at Survivor Series. In addition to devoting more time to her musical passion, the retiree plans to act in her friends' theatrical productions.
"Now is the time to try new things for me, and to not regret things I didn't do later on," she said. "I'm just going to roll with it and see where this new direction in life takes me, and I'm open to whatever possibilities do or don't come my way."
Lita embarked upon her WWE journey in February 2000 and fought to continue it following a neck injury that required a 17-month absence from the ring. Now, she is eager for the rest of her life away from sports-entertainment. As she continued to coolly address the culmination of her career, Lita admitted that "never" doesn't necessarily always mean "never" -- especially in WWE.
"Coming in and showing a new Diva that she's not hot stuff would be fun," she mused. "I have the utmost respect for the amazing experiences I have had here and I am keeping the door open. I'll figure that out when it comes."
Follow Lita on her last night in WWE
Photos of Lita from Survivor Series