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Defining Divas depart

Blending beauty and sensuality with strength and athleticism on a nightly basis, Lita and Trish Stratus forever redefined the word "Diva" in World Wrestling Entertainment. So it was twice as hard to hear both women, while at the top of their game, announce they were hanging up their boots in 2006.

Lita made her first WWE appearance in February 2000, accompanying Essa Rios to the ring in his first match. Though Rios garnered the now-defunct Light Heavyweight Championship in his contest, it was the lightning-quick, extreme Diva with a luchador-influenced style who instantly won over the WWE fans. Within six months, Lita defeated Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley to capture her first Women's Championship. Over the next six years, she'd win the championship three more times, tying her with The Fabulous Moolah for the second-most Women's title reigns—an even more remarkable feat considering she lost a combined two-plus years to a severe neck injury and torn ACL. Her personal life and relationships inspired irate fan fodder during her last few years with WWE, and she failed to retire as Women's Champion after losing to Mickie James at last November's Survivor Series. Yet no one can deny the fact that Lita has Moonsaulted and DDT'ed her way to "Double-D" ("Definitive Diva") status.

It's really no surprise that many of Lita's vast accomplishments closely mirror those of her fellow ring retiree. Trish Stratus' WWE debut followed one month after Lita's, and although she started out as the manager for T & A (Test & Albert), her mic and ring skills soon established that she was more than an exceptionally pretty face. Winning a Divas' "Six-Pack Challenge" at Survivor Series in November 2001, Trish claimed her first Women's Championship, and changed fans' perception of her as "pin-up girl" material into an accomplished sports-entertainer. She'd continually deliver "100 percent Stratusfaction" throughout her six-year career, earning accolades as a three-time "Babe of the Year" as well as WWE's "Diva of the Decade." Yet she's proudest of retiring as an unprecedented seven-time Women's Champion, vacating the title at Unforgiven last September after defeating, of all Divas, Lita in her hometown of Toronto.

Though we're sure they won't need it, WWE.com wishes both Divas the best in their post-WWE lives. And as our way of saying thanks and telling them how much we miss them, we rank their departures high on our list of top stories for 2006, coming in at No. 7.

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