Stratus leaves the ring with her head held high
TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun
After a seven-year career as one of pro wrestling's biggest stars, Trish Stratus has hung up her boots and walked away with her head held high.
In any other sport, an honourable exit would be par for the course. In wrestling, it's nothing short of a miracle.
Just look at Chris Jericho --- a 15-year grappling veteran who left WWE on good terms in 2005. His final bout wasn't accompanied by video tributes, tearful farewells or even a post-match goodbye speech. Instead, WWE bosses booked him to lose, then 'fired' him on live TV and encouraged fans to boo him on his way to the locker-room.
It's one of those classy time-honoured wrestling traditions. You know, part of that same outdated code of honour which makes it OK to defecate in a young lady's luggage as a way to welcome her to the company.
The mandate is pretty straightforward. When a wrestler is riding off into the sunset, he or she does the job (in wrestle speak, that means losing cleanly) and passes on some shine to those who are sticking around.
Back in the old territorial days, it made perfect sense when a wrestler moved on for greener pastures. Even in 2006, the logic would still be valid for, say, a Charlie Haas or a Kid Kash if they were going to work for TNA.
But when it comes to the retirement of wrestlers who have helped revolutionize and carry the industry, a different set of rules need to apply.
Fans didn't want to see Jericho get the snot kicked out of him in his retirement match. After watching him every week for over a decade, fans wanted to reflect on his career, see him in the ring one last time and send him off with a 'thanks for the memories.'
It was a blown opportunity but it seems someone at WWE HQ has developed a sense of sentimentality since then.
Stratus announced her retirement last month, deciding to get out of the business while she was still at the top of her game. Her final WWE appearance couldn't have been more different than Jericho's.
Stratus got to wrestle a memorable one-on-one match with another top name, in front of her hometown crowd at Toronto's Air Canada Centre. She was pushed as a headline attraction of the show and even walked out the winner, the new women's champion.
She got a video tribute, a post-match celebration, a standing ovation and even a tearful farewell. And she deserved every minute of it.
Stratus fronted a revolution which changed the face of women's wrestling in North America, becoming one of the industry's most recognizable faces in the process.
Arriving in WWE as nothing more than another busty diva, Stratus worked hard to hone her craft and rise through the ranks, eventually becoming an excellent in-ring worker and a top-tier talent.
Her matches were often the best part of otherwise lacklustre WWE shows and she is widely credited with opening the door for women to be credible wrestlers, as opposed to just T&A eye candy in the background on Raw.
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