2004-12-09 / Arts & Entertainment

Through The Ropes

Simply breathless.

That was me on my couch during the 12/6 edition of RAW, wondering if Lita was dead. Not figuratively, as in her career. I’m talkin’ dead, as in sending flowers and preparing potato salad to send to the family. Her death-defying leap between the second and third ropes landed partially on Trish Stratus but mostly head-first on the floor. This is bad for anybody, but for someone who already had missed a year due to neck surgery, this was potentially lethal.

The ref came and knelt beside her, not to perpetuate the show but to make sure she could actually move her arms and legs. What happened next made it not just the best women’s match of all-time, but arguably one of the greatest matches ever. She re-covered, hit a moonsault that was perhaps as far as she’s ever flown across the ring and regained her World Wrestling Entertainment Women’s Title.

This was extraordinary timing for WWE, which normally wouldn’t put females in the main event even if getting hostages freed were at stake. But the suits saw something coming in Lita, who transformed from battered wife to Dirty Harriet and gave the fans everything they loved about her in the first place, and more. To spring-board Lita, you needed a worthy op-ponent, and you got that in Trish, whose memorable matches against Victoria proved that she had completely broken the bonds of blonde and bubbly and became a serious wrestler.

This need not be a one-time affair. Trish-Lita must be a long-term feud because this lighting in a bottle doesn’t come around that often. Selling women’s wrestling is difficult because a unique combo of beauty and ability is required to really sell. Molly has too little of the former; Grace Kim has too little of the latter. Add that to fans who aren’t sold on women’s wrestling in general and you have fe-male grapplers who have to have three times as good a match just to get 75 percent of the crowd pop.

So, we just hope we can get through this without Lita or Trish ending up in traction. Because they must do a WrestleMania-caliber match at every RAW and every house show just to get noticed, the chance of injury is exponentially increased. Guys can go at 50 percent if they have a sprained ankle, but the gals can’t. That’s not right or fair; it’s just reality.

We can only wish that Trish and Lita can survive this brutal stretch and bring it like it was their last match ever for at least the next few months. If they can create a real precedent where the crowd hops to attention every time the ladies hit the ring in-stead of heading for the concession stands or the fridge, then the next batch of female superstars might not be held to the same standards.

Maybe we can even get back to the Wendi Richter-Fabulous Moolah feud of the ’80s. In that case, the women got enough time on-screen to develop their characters. That way, they didn’t have to kill each other when they hit the ring because people al-ready cared beforehand.

Of course, getting Cyndi Lauper back to manage wouldn’t hurt, either.

You can contact Josh Stewart at throughtheropes1@cs.com.

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