RondaRousey.com’s Classic Match series takes a closer look at significant and super cool matches from wrestling history.
As WWE Survivor Series approaches, we’re looking back at one of the most memorable women’s matches in the history of the pay-per-view event, Trish Stratus vs. Victoria for the WWE Women’s Championship at Survivor Series 2002. To this day, the Hardcore rules match between two of the Ruthless Aggression Era’s top female performers shows off the strengths and weaknesses of that particular period of women’s wrestling in WWE.
The feud between Trish Stratus and Victoria was one of the most heated and personal in WWE going into this PPV. At this point in her career, Stratus had evolved from the eye candy, villainous manager role she filled when she began her career during the Attitude Era into one of the women’s division’s most beloved and dominant wrestlers. While Stratus was in the midst of a championship feud with Molly Holly in the summer of 2002, Victoria “reappeared”—after a brief Attitude Era stint and subsequent absence from TV—to target her, fueled by an unhinged obsession.
When Stratus won the Women’s Championship for the third time from Holly in September, the pursuit of championship gold became part of Victoria’s psychotic quest against her. She claimed Stratus had betrayed her when they were on the fitness competition circuit and prevented her from getting into WWE. After an incident in which Victoria attacked Terri Runnels simply because she reminded her of the Women’s Champion, it was announced Victoria and Stratus would have a title match with Hardcore rules at Survivor Series.
Before their match—which, given the era, was unsurprisingly the only women’s match on the card—viewers saw Victoria getting ready backstage, brushing her hair next to a standee of Trish. She asked the mirror, “Who’s the prettiest Diva of them all?” and flew into a rage when it—in her mind—replied with her rival’s name. Victoria broke the mirror, sobbing, and tore the head off the cardboard blonde.
On commentary, Jim Ross asked Jerry “The King” Lawler how he would describe Victoria, and The King replied, “I don’t think she’s been right since that house fell on her sister.” After Ross outlined the stipulations of the upcoming match (“Anything goes, pinfalls count anywhere, no disqualifications, King, no countouts”), Lawler interjected, “Anything goes! I just hope it’s the clothes!” This tone of commentary would continue throughout the championship match. Lawler described Victoria as “even past PMS” and had a lot to save about both women’s appearances. Good Ol’ JR’s remarks were less crude, but he also used very gendered descriptions, calling Victoria a “Jezebel” and a “witch,” and describing the vicious quality of the match “like going to a convention of ex-wives” and “about as un-Diva-
The match itself could definitely be more easily associated with the word “hardcore” than “diva.” Before the bell rang, Victoria grabbed Trish’s entrance coat and started choking her with it. The women struggled with a broomstick taken from one of the trash cans full of weapons affixed to each of corner of the ring, and Victoria ended up hanging Stratus from the top rope with it, choking her
Victoria made the first pin attempt of the match after a senton atomico, but Stratus soon started a comeback with creative use of a trashcan, an ironing board (not usually under the ring during men’s Hardcore matches), and a kendo stick. The wrestlers fought aggressively in and out of the ring, with and without weapons, until Victoria definitively turned the tide of the match in her favor with a shot from a fire extinguisher. With Stratus temporarily blinded, Victoria was able to pin Stratus after a snap suplex to win the match and the WWE Women’s Championship.
Given the point in time, Trish and Victoria’s hardcore match at the 2002 Survivor Series was of course shorter, less technical, and more gendered than most women’s matches we see today. However, the passion of the performers, audible excitement of the crowd, and the next-level craziness of the feud still makes it a fun watch—albeit one that may make the viewer appreciate even more just how far women’s wrestling in WWE has come since then.
You can go back and revisit this match (and the entirety of Survivor Series 2002) on the WWE Network.