Heading into WrestleMania 39, one of the biggest controversies surrounding “The Showcase of the Immortals” involved who would main event Night 1, Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley for the SmackDown Women's Championship or Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens versus The Usos for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship belt.
On paper, both sides had a pretty strong case for the top spot; Sami Zayn's fall-out with The Bloodline was arguably the most compelling storyline in the entire promotion, whereas Ripley won the Women's Royal Rumble, which typically guarantees a main event spot at WrestleMania.
Was that decision the correct one? In hindsight, yes, as, despite a fantastic effort from Ripley and Flair, Zayn, Owens, Jimmy, and Jey turned in a certified masterpiece that garnered a five-star rating from Dave Meltzer. Still, the question has remained a hot topic nonetheless, with even Ric Flair unsurprisingly calling the decision a mistake.
Sitting down for an interview with Ryan Satin on Out of Character, Trish Stratus was asked who she felt should have headlined the show and asserted that WWE made the right call.
“Well, to me, we have this thing like, there has to be a woman's match, but I always look at it like, I don't want you to look at it as a woman's match,” Stratus said via Wrestling News. “I want you to look at it as like, this storylines should culminate to this match, to this WrestleMania moment. It's all about our story and our characters and taking our fans on a journey to get them to a certain point. So I don't think it depends on like, let's make sure we get the token woman's match. I don't want to be the token women’s match. I want my match regardless of our gender to be the match because of the storyline, because of the characters, because of the interest, and what the fans want. So it is an interesting take on it, right? It's not guaranteed, but it's also like, it's not guaranteed that Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn would be in the main event, but because of their storyline and their hard work and their commitment to their story and characters, that's what brought them to the dance.”
Would it have been a “token” match for Ripley to face off against Flair instead of giving the nod to Zayn, Owens, and The Usos? No, not necessarily; Ripley had a legitimate claim for the main event spot, and few would have called the match unwarranted if WWE stuck with tradition. Still, it's nice to know that Stratus believed that WWE made the right call, as she is sort of the authority on women's professional wrestling, even if she largely gave that moniker to herself.
Trish Stratus appreciates the improvements WWE has made to the industry.
Elsewhere in her interview with Satin, Stratus was asked about how the industry has changed over the past few years, especially for women, and for the most part, the WWE Hall of Famer believes things are progressing in the right direction.
“I think there's always room for improvement in any industry, right? There really is. I mean, I think it's great,” Stratus said via Fightful. “I'm very happy to see where the women fit into the grand scheme. I think we are represented well. Honestly, still come to be able to come into this landscape and see how I can adapt to it has been fun, and no, I think it's gonna be ever-changing. I mean, the thing about wrestling is it's always changing. It's an ever-changing business and industry. So you know, we can have this interview again in another five years [and] we'll notice these things have been different or shifted.”
As Stratus has noted many, many, many times during her current heel run in WWE, professional wrestling was a very different place where she began her run in The Fed, with the idea of a women's match headlining RAW an impossibility… at least until she did it herself multiple times during her first run in the promotion. Since then, women have headlined WrestleMania, wrestled in Saudi Arabia, and become a fixture of WWE programming across the board, with Stratus' least-favorite wrestler, Becky Lynch, once arguably the most popular performer in the entire company during her run as “The Man.” Even if WWE, and the industry as a whole, have plenty of room to grow, performers like Stratus have helped to push wrestling forward, and it doesn't appear that progress is going to slow down any time soon.