Before there was Sasha Banks/Bayley or Charlotte Flair/Becky Lynch, there was Trish Stratus/Mickie James, two of the quintessential storytellers in women's wrestling. Their feud was so psychologically thrilling that you had no clue how bizarre it was going to get.
Trish and Mickie made appearances on this week's episode of WWE's The Bump to discuss how their story began. Mickie recalls the first time she was approached about creating said feud, and how nervous she was to stand across the ring from the seven-time Women's Champion.
"[At the time], I only talked to Trish when I came over to WWE for tryouts when I was still in OVW. I was super nervous and excited because she was on top of the mountain, and I was the new girl," Mickie recalled. "It was a huge honor, but I was scared because I wanted this to be amazing. I was like, 'I hope she's going to be happy with this.'"
To keep their storyline crisp and fresh, Mickie began to portray an obsessed fan who lived and breathed everything related to Trish. While it's known that performers have a hard time settling into their roles, Mickie found herself quite comfortable playing a kooky fan.
"I think when you look at fandom as a whole, there are some who take it to a whole new level; our business is no different," she mentioned. "For me, it was an easy character to play because I was a fan, I still am a fan of wrestling. So, it was an easy emotion to promote out there. Trish and I were able to bounce off of each other. I could take her energy and use it towards how my character reacted. I was a super zealous fan."
One thing that has been terribly missed this past year is seeing fans live in the arenas. Sure, there is the ThunderDome, but it just isn't the same as seeing real fans live. Of all the fanbases in the world, Chicago is known for having a tumultuous crowd regardless of what sport or entertainment event is there. Mickie and Trish got a taste of that uproar from "The Windy City" fans when Trish defended her Women's Championship against Mickie at WrestleMania 22. At the time, everyone in the audience was pulling for Mickie to upset the champion, which she did. Looking back, both women agree that performing in front of that Chicago crowd was a career-defining moment for them.
"I was giddy with excitement. I didn't care if they were yaying or booing me, I just wanted to hear their decibels. I wanted to hear their sound," Trish replied. "They were into everything we were doing and that's all I cared about."
Mickie also added that she was astounded with how the fans stood behind her victory that night.
"Honestly, it was a testament to how invested they were in our story," Mickie included. "That was the first WrestleMania crowd I had ever been in front of... They were so loud. I have never received that type of reaction ever. I felt like we were in our element, and I just got lost in the moment. We were owning it!"
In 2018, both women crossed paths again during the Women's Royal Rumble main event. The WWE Universe was on their feet, with half cheering for Mickie and the other half cheering for Trish. The spotlight was on both of them and they delivered.
To most, it looked like they never missed a beat; they both were still trading shots as fast and vigorous as they once did back in 2005. It was a surprise to both women to see how involved the fans were with them, especially since their rivalry was so long ago. They figured no one would remember their everlasting clash.
"This was definitely a moment for me where I was so happy," Mickie exclaimed. "I think I've said this before, but when you work so hard and think you've connected to the fans, especially as a woman [performer], you don't know what that level really meant. It wasn't until that moment when we finally collided. It was great to see that the fans do remember us. That was really special to me."
"We almost did not end up in the ring together," Trish informed viewers. "You [try] to leave an impression on your fans every time you go out there, but aren't sure. To go out there and be validated that many years later was an incredible feeling."
As they wrapped up their final thoughts, both Trish and Mickie are glad to have made such a lasting impression on the WWE Universe and the women's division for their storyline that is still talked about to this day.
"I feel like we worked our butts off, especially at a time where women were starting to come more on the forefront. We were given an amazing opportunity - a huge and long storyline where fans got to know us and see that dynamic that we brought. It's a cool quality to have," Trish concluded.
Mickie believes the layering of their rivalry was what made their story so emotionally compelling.
"It is that kind of moment where we say we did something special out there, but it's only as good as the people you work with, so, thank you, Trish," Mickie said.
"I think the time we invested and the layers to the story were, like, [something different]. I was the super crazy fan. To saying things like, 'I love you,' and building a relationship storyline where we were friends. Then it got weird; it all built something."
You can watch Trish Stratus and Mickie James' full interview above. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit WWE's The Bump with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.