Victoria WWF: The Rise of a Women’s Champion
Many fans praise the peak of the Diva wrestling division being around 2001-2003, in large part thanks to the quality of female wrestlers such as Trish Stratus, Molly Holly, Lita, Jazz, Ivory, Jacqueline, and Victoria.
The Early History
Victoria initially started out as one of the “Ho’s” that belonged to The Godfather, particularly during the latter months of 2000 before briefly joining up with Too Cool members Grandmaster Sexay and Scotty 2 Hotty. A small bit of irony as it would be a pre-cursor to her eventual face turn years later.
The Evolution and Peak
Victoria would make her eventual in-ring debut, after nearly a full year on the house show circuit, on the July 7th, 2002 edition of Sunday Night Heat against long-time arch rival, Trish Stratus. One of the ways Victoria was able to standout in the ring was through her varied assortment of moves (made more impressive given her size) including a slingshot somersault legdrop, moonsault, and later her infamous finisher. This was one of the feud highlights of the entire division and it really kick started here with Victoria and Trish immediately going face to face and talking trash.
The feud would continue to heat up with Victoria making her “official” television debut on the August 5th Monday Night Raw, again facing off Trish Stratus and scoring an upset victory. She would immediately be thrust into the mix of Trish, Molly, and Jacqueline. Despite being largely quiet for the rest of the month, Victoria would return in September to team up with Stacy Kiebler to continue the feud with Trish who had teamed up with Terri.
By late September, Victoria and Trish were going back and forth on television including a 3 Way match with Molly Holly on the September 23rd episode of Raw. This would largely culminate on the September 30th episode when Victoria not only ambushed Trish backstage but also attacked her with a steel chair during their match later that night. A lot of what really helped sell the feud was Jim Ross helping set up Victoria as unhinged and somebody with, “a screw loose.”
Victoria would continue to raise the stakes, again ambushing Trish the next week and throwing her into the steel steps. A tag match would ensue before leading up to their first singles PPV encounter at No Mercy. The feud was not close to over as Victoria ambushed Trish post match, yet again showing the dichotomy of crazy personal rage against somebody that she had struggled to defeat. As the months continued, Victoria and Trish would square off in various mixed tag and straight female tag matches.
Then came arguably one of the best female matches in WWF/E Diva history as Victoria and Trish squared off for the Women’s Title in a Hardcore Match at Survivor Series 2002. Victoria would get busted open hardway, which in some ways managed to help enhance the feud from its flimsy backstory into one that was more relatable. Namely that Victoria, the heel, simply hated Trish and not only wanted to beat her down but take the Women’s Title from her just to really rub it in.
After a fairly weak finisher the night before, Victoria would easily beat Stacy while unveiling the Widow’s Peak finishing move. It may just be one of my favorite finishers because it looks brutal yet simple too. That night would also start the great friendship/pairing of Victoria and Stevie Richards as Stevie attacked Trish after the match for attacking Victoria.
Victoria’s feud with Trish would continue to heat up including a win by Victoria on the September 25th Raw in her first Title defense against Trish. The feud was so hot to the development of both women that they would help main event Raw in a mixed 6 Man Tag Match on December 9th. At Armageddon, Victoria would defend her title against both Trish Stratus and Jacqueline while also debuting her new theme, T.A.T.U.’s “All the Things She Said.”
Victoria and Stevie would briefly team up continuing his feud with Test as Test teamed up with multiple partners including a re-team with one time manager, Trish Stratus.
As 2003 opened, Victoria would continue her on again-off again tag team with Molly Holly continuing her own feud with Trish that had now not only been going on for 6 months but had started involving nearly every single female wrestler in the company and started including Stevie Richards on the male side. The Hardcore element initially featured at Survivor Series 2002 had also started finding their way into diva matches thanks to the Victoria/Trish feud.
With the inclusion of Stevie, more and more mixed tags started occurring as well in large part thanks to the women. Their feud was so heated that the Chicago Street Fight they had on January 27th is really hot the entire time and arguably the best WWE female match ever. Trish and Victoria were constantly busting out moves and spots they had never done in their matches and this was no exception as well as featuring several callbacks to their Survivor Series 2002 encounter. This would also feature the return of Jazz from injury.
Victoria would continue to defend her Women’s Title against all opponents, in particular Molly Holly, Jacqueline, and Jazz. One of the best parts of this era were the seemingly random yet common sense pairings of tag teams such as this next match featuring Victoria & Jazz against Molly & Jacqueline. They were willing to team with one another but the focal point never strayed from desiring the Women’s Title. As a bonus, you get the Sunday Night Heat finish between Victoria and Jacqueline.
Victoria started showing her dominance over every single challenger thrown her way through the months of February and March including this convincing March 2nd win over Molly Holly on Sunday Night Heat. Despite Trish’s return on February 24th, Victoria continued to win and retain the title in singles matches.
Throughout March, constant conflict was created with Trish, Molly, Jazz, and Jacqueline all gunning for the Women’s Title that Victoria held. Victoria and Stevie, as a result of their combined dominance and cheating tactics, helped to continue various mixed tag matches including a Victoria & Stevie vs Trish & Jeff Hardy match from March 24th on Raw. This would all culminate in a rare WrestleMania Triple Threat match between Victoria, Trish, and Jazz.
Victoria and Trish would continue their feud into April, further proving their Austin/Rock merit in relation to the women’s division. This would officially push them to the 10 month mark. Their feud continued hot into May, first with a Hardcore Match (their 3rd head to head) on May 12th in Philadelphia, before Jazz retained the Women’s Championship in a fatal four way at Judgement Day.
Despite not having a title belt, Victoria and Stevie continued to roll as did Victoria’s on again/off again main feud with Trish including more tag matches. Stevie also started gaining his own prominence with his “Stevie Night Heat,” character. Trish would continue to team with varied wrestlers, this time being Goldust on June 29th.
With the gradual inclusion of wrestlers such as Ivory, Gail Kim, and Lita, Victoria started to see her own role lessen. She would usually team up with Stevie Richards on Sunday Night Heat including back to back matches against Tommy Dreamer & Ivory in late August. Into September, Victoria would sporadically wrestle against Trish but mostly in mixed tag matches. On October 13th in a 6 Man tag, Trish and Victoria would again come to a head in the ring at the end of the match.
This match would lead to straight female tag match with the underrated teaming of Victoria and Molly against Trish and Lita the next week on Raw and culminate in a fatal 4 way match on the October 27th Raw to decide who would face Molly Holly for her Women’s Title. After mostly being quiet, Victoria would square off against Lita in a Steel Cage on November 24th as part of the Raw Roulette.
To close out the year, Victoria would defeat Ivory on Sunday Night Heat to earn a Women’s Title’s match against Molly Holly.
Victoria would transition to a face role almost immediately in January of 2004 and slowly lessen the relationship with Stevie Richards. She would eventually win the Women’s Title on February 23rd. She would retain the title until June 13th, including a Hair vs Title match vs Molly at WrestleMania XX, whereupon she would lose the title to Trish Stratus in another Fatal 4 Way at the Bad Blood PPV. Victoria would again lose in a Women’s Title rematch to Trish at Unforgiven.
Credit to WWE for all initial film clips and match content and Victoria-Web.org.