Decades before the ongoing women's revolution in professional wrestling, two women - Trish Stratus and Lita - shattered conventional norms by squaring off in the main event of the December 6, 2004 episode of "WWE Raw." In a recent conversation on "Grilling JR," famed wrestling commentator Jim Ross shed light on the profound importance of this moment, an event often overlooked nearly twenty years later.
The discussion around Stratus and Lita's groundbreaking bout arose as Ross expressed his belief in the impending stardom of Rhea Ripley. "Rhea Ripley is destined for greatness," Ross emphatically declared. "Recently, I watched the 'Trish vs.
Lita WWE Rivalries' episode on A&E and found it deeply moving, mainly because I played a role in their professional journey. Neither were on top of anybody's recruitment list or seen as five-star prospects nor had they achieved significant stardom in the independent wrestling circuit.
I encountered them at different instances during my tenure as the Executive Vice President of Talent Relations at WWE, saw their potential, and decided to bring them on board. And as they say, the rest is history."
"Underappreciated Raw Main Event Legacy"
Ross further remarked on the historical importance of the moment Stratus and Lita headlined the Raw event, a fact that he feels is still underestimated today.
"That they were the first women to ever main event Raw is a monumental achievement," he stressed. "Even in today's progressive times, it carries more weight than it's given credit for." In his recounting, Ross shared that there was considerable backstage resentment from "quite a few male wrestlers" when they discovered that two women would be closing WWE's premier show.
He recollected the bewildered reactions of an unnamed wrestler asking, "What on earth is happening here?" Ross defended Stratus and Lita's position: "They earned that opportunity and, without a doubt, they delivered." Ross reiterated that Stratus and Lita had laid the groundwork for the likes of Ripley and many more to follow.
He also suggested that WWE's evolving approach to showcasing female talent could encourage AEW to do the same. Ross concluded, "What's exciting about the rise of talents like Rhea is that it heralds the potential breakout of our female performers in AEW. We are on the cusp of one of the most transformative periods in professional wrestling history."