WWE Hall of Famer and Attitude Era icon Trish Stratus returns to WWE on SmackDown, setting up a big SummerSlam match with Charlotte Flair. Prior to the current "women's evolution" in WWE, women's wrestling in the company was primarily seen as a time filler, with many joking about it being the designated bathroom break on each show. Granted, a lot of that can be attributed to sexism, but at the same time, there's no doubt that the quality of WWE's female grapplers has increased exponentially in recent years.
This is largely due to WWE deciding to focus more on hiring women with prior wrestling experience, or at least significant athletic ability, instead of being more concerned with supermodel looks than in-ring talent. Unfortunately, while it's WWE's most commercially successful period ever, the Attitude Era was arguably the all-time nadir for women's wrestling in WWE, as more time was spent on pudding matches and on-air spankings than any kind of competitively booked encounters. Not that sex appeal can't have a place in wrestling, but it's years of this questionable treatment that ultimately led to the movement that became the women's evolution.
Of course, not all of WWE's female performers back then were bad in the ring. In the case of Trish Stratus, who came to WWE following a career as a fitness model, someone presumably hired based on looks was able to transcend that stigma by putting in the work and becoming a talented professional wrestler. Stratus ultimately became a deserving inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame. Now, more than a decade after her retirement as an active wrestler, Stratus returned to WWE on Tuesday's SmackDown, getting into it verbally with Charlotte Flair and ultimately accepting a match against her at the SummerSlam pay-per-view.
As mentioned, Stratus retired as an active WWE performer in 2006, following a victory over real-life best friend Lita at Unforgiven. She's returned for a handful of matches since, notably including a WrestleMania six-person tag team match alongside John Morrison and Jersey Shore's Snooki, and an appearance in 2018's first ever women's Royal Rumble match. She also had a featured contest at WWE's first all-female pay-per-view, Evolution, teaming with Lita against Mickie James and Alicia Fox.
This will actually only be Stratus' second one-on-one match since her retirement, so it'll be interesting to see what she can do when asked to carry her end of a match solo after going so long without doing so. Stratus was originally scheduled to face Alexa Bliss one-on-one at Evolution, but Bliss bowed out at the last minute due to injury. For WWE fans, SummerSlam is likely to be quite stratusfying.