The real story

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September 06, 2006

Trish Stratus is retiring following Unforgiven on Sept. 17; that much has been known. What was unknown, however, is exactly what has been running through Trish's mind about her retirement. Until now, Trish had not had a chance to address the issue to her fans for various reasons, leaving everyone wondering just why she would seemingly walk away while in the prime of her career.

When a very emotional Trish contacted WWE.com on Tuesday night, she was finally able for the first time to verbalize her thoughts about her final days in the ring…and that was not an easy task at all.

Trish was unable to narrow down specific reasons for her decision to retire, instead saying that it was just time for a break.

"I've worked hard, and when you combine WWE and my prior fitness modeling, the last decade of my life has been lived on the road...traveling, being away from home and just working," Trish told me. "I've done all of my growing up…I've become a woman on the road. I just felt that it was time to step back and enjoy the fruit of my labor, take time to stop and smell the roses so to speak." 

Trish's WWE contract is set to expire soon, and she admitted that the thought of taking time off really didn't hit her until it was time to think about signing a new one.

"It kind of just occurred to me when my contract came due; I had to stop and say wait, let me think about the rest of my life and what I want to do tomorrow," Trish admitted. "I just decided that right now I need a little me time."

For any athlete, the decision to retire is never an easy one. The other athletes in the locker room become almost an extension of your own family, and it's like leaving behind a brother (or sister) hood. But for Trish, the hardest thing about leaving WWE won't be based on what's already happened in her career, but what lies ahead.

"The hardest part of this decision is that this is all I've known for the past seven years; my everyday life and everything that is my existence is going to change," she revealed.

In recent years, Trish has branched out into other avenues; she has appeared on MadTV, and just this past summer, she hosted the Canadian Walk of Fame ceremony. And while she may have the time to pursue more of those interests, the quintessential Diva maintains that the thought of such activity has nothing to do with her retirement.

"My decision to leave was purely to take care of me time," she said. "Those other things are fun and I enjoy the challenge, but I'm really looking forward to just getting up in the morning, having breakfast at home, enjoying a family barbecue or going to my nephew's hockey games."

In her career, Trish has become arguably the most heralded Diva in WWE history, and she acknowledges that she couldn't have gotten there without her fans. But when given the open forum to say goodbye, Trish was really at a loss for words.

"I guess all I can say is thank you…it's so crazy to me, for the last seven years the WWE fans have grown up with me and watched me mature into what I am today. It's kind of a unique scenario, where they were with me for every step up the mountain…"

At this point in the interview, Trish became very emotional, needing to take a moment to compose her feelings and her thoughts.

"They've been with me for the entire ride…"

Again, Trish had to stop, as the emotion of the moment truly overcame her. In fact, it took a little trick out of the movie Austin Powers to help her compose herself; if anything will help you laugh, it's the thought of Austin thinking of Margaret Thatcher naked on a cold day. After repeating that line to herself a few times, Trish was able to laugh and regain her composure.

"The fans have watched me develop and grow as a person and a performer, and I couldn't have done it without their support."

As Trish continued, she confided in me that this was in fact the first time she really had to think about saying goodbye.

"Every week, I wanted to go out and give them everything I had. I always wanted to prove myself to them…but I always also wanted to prove to my fellow Superstars that I could do what they do."

As much as the fans have helped her become the quintessential Diva, there are other people that Trish cited as instrumental in her journey.

"Dave (Finlay)…he took me under his wing, and I guess as he would say he brought out the fighter in me. And Vince McMahon, for giving me the opportunity…"

Once again, Trish needed to pause to collect herself, as she was overwhelmed with the magnitude of the moment.

"Vince gave me the ball, and I just wanted to keep running with it. I don't know if I even want to put that ball down now; I just want to take it with me."

Taking a moment to look back on it all, Trish still can't believe just how far she has come in her WWE career.

"I would've never imagined the success or the encounters I've had over the years. I always knew that I was athletic and capable; it just took someone to bring it out of me. Working with women like Jazz, Molly Holly, Victoria, Ivory and Jacquelyn…we brought something out in each other that allowed us to really redefine what a Diva is today."

After taking another moment, Trish said that in everything she's done in her career (good or bad), she's taken something from it to help make her what she is today.

"Coming in as part of T&A was the perfect place for me to get in, and then working with Vince, I learned so much…having to prove to my boss literally standing right by his side in the middle of the ring that I was good enough to be in that spot...I've worked with The Rock, Kurt Angle, Bubba (Ray Dudley), and those are incomparable scenarios that made me who I am today. So when the day finally came to take those experiences and grow into Trish Stratus…every day when I go out there I still think about those people."

With that, Trish was reminded of some words of wisdom she gave during her very first WWE Interview years ago:

"If I'm given two minutes, I'm going to give the best damn two minutes I've got."

She has one last chance to do that at Unforgiven. In her final match, Trish will meet the one woman her career has always seemed intertwined with, Lita, for the Women's Championship. And of course, Trish believes there's no more fitting way to go out.

"No matter where my final match took place, it would always be special…but if this were a fairy tale, the writer couldn't come up with a better scenario. My family, my friends…I couldn't ask for a more perfect scenario. To survive and prosper in this industry, all the sacrifices, you have to have the support of the people closest to you, and to go out in front of the people who always supported me is fitting for the moment."

It's also fitting that her final opponent will be Lita. Both Divas made their WWE debut around the same time, and since their first encounter in 2000 they've had a roller coaster relationship. Lita has undoubtedly been Trish's most heated rivalry, and it's arguably one of the most intense we've seen in the last few years.

"Our careers have paralleled since we came in…going out, there wouldn't be another ass I'd like to whoop as much as I'd like to whoop her ass at Unforgiven. She and I in the ring standing face to face just tells the story, and so much more will unfold at Unforgiven. It would be my honor to go out by whooping her ass one more time."

And if that does happen, Trish will extend her record by becoming a seven-time Women's Champion. For the quintessential Diva, that would be the icing on the cake, and it's a thought that choked her up instantly.

"Like I said, you couldn't write a better fairy tale ending. It would be a dream to go out on top, so I hope it comes true. After all I've done…the beginning of everything that I am today was when I won the Women's Championship for the first time at Survivor Series 2001. I began to grow when I won it the first time, and to go out as champion again, it would be like coming full circle."

As far as a legacy goes, Trish believes that her fans watching her evolution into the Trish Stratus of today is more of a legacy than any one moment.

"My journey to where I am today has been a great one, and I can't think of a more unique scenario where the fans have seen all my efforts and progress…my evolution as a Diva."

In the movie A League of Their Own, there is a scene near the end where Lori Petty's character (Kit) is trying to convince Geena Davis' character (Dottie) not to walk away from baseball. Kit tells Dottie that she'll miss it too much, to which Dottie replies:

"Miss what? Catching doubleheaders in 100 degree heat? Pushing the bus through the mud? Having batter hit line drives at me? No, I'll tell you what I'll miss. I'll miss the fans. I'll miss the girls. I'll miss you, Kit."

The above paragraph could easily sum up the life of a sports-entertainer. When it's time to walk away, it's a tough moment. Trish Stratus may never miss the bumps and bruises, the long hours of traveling and the injuries that come with the territory of being a WWE Superstar. But the fans, the friends she's made a long the way…those are the true blessings.

In sports and entertainment in general, the word "retirement" is very rarely ever final. Players return from injury or hiatus, Hall of Famers come back for "one more match" and actors will always find that one last role. So with that said, Trish made it clear that while she is retiring right now, that doesn't necessarily mean WWE has seen the last of the six-time Women's Champion.

"My career has been buoyed by the support of the fans…so whenever the fans feel like they need some more Stratusfaction, all they have to do is let me know. It's just like the Bat signal…let me know, and I'll be there."

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