Trish Stratus on acting, Gridlocked and the evolution of women’s wrestling in WWE

Trish Stratus in Gridlocked Courtesy: Stratusphere Enterprises

Since retiring from WWE almost 10 years ago, Trish Stratus has found new ways to kick butt within the entertainment industry.

The latest addition to her acting resume is Gridlocked, an action-thriller out now on DVD and Blu-ray. The role sees the multi-time WWE women’s champion play Gina, a member of a team of law enforcement agents who must work to secure a police training facility under attack by mercenaries.

The big budget flick gave her the opportunity to work alongside Hollywood heavyweights like Danny Glover and Prison Break‘s Dominic Purcell. Stratus, who made her feature debut in Bounty Hunters (Bail Enforcers), came in well prepared for the physical challenges. She worked with an acting coach and trained beforehand with a fight coordinator.

“I was having awesome fight scenes and enjoying my work in that regard,” she said. “This was a new experience. I got to work with high-caliber actors like Danny Glover. So being in the same scene as someone like that makes you bring your A-game. Also, I was very lucky to work with Dominic Purcell, who I feel kind of took me under his wing. When I first met him he gave me the old, ‘Hi, wrestling girl trying to be in movies.’

“That made me want to prove that I belonged there and give it my best,” Stratus continued. “I think he saw my effort and appreciated what I was doing on film. He took some time and gave me advice and ran through scenes with me. He gave me extra time, which I was super appreciative of. It helped me build my confidence and helped my performance as well.”

Entering a male-dominated world is nothing new for the WWE Hall of Famer. The female trailblazer eventually proved she was more than a pretty face in the ring. She attributes much of her success in the industry with the fact she was a tomboy, not afraid to mix it up and put in the hours to earn the respect of her peers. The same could be used to describe her part in Gridlocked.

Gridlocked Trish Stratus
Courtesy: Stratusphere Enterprises

“I felt like I had to represent the women,” Stratus said.

“I had to show that a strong, confident woman can hang with the boys. This character was very much like Trish Stratus with the way she was one of the few females there. She knew she had to keep her tough exterior, kick ass and prove herself on the job to show she belonged here. She had to prove she wasn’t just some chick on the force. She was part of the team.”

Stratus looked at a number of male action stars for inspiration, including Jason Statham. She watched Angelina Jolie and appreciated her presence on-screen.

“I liked the grittiness of a role,” she said.

“I didn’t want to be too pretty for the role. That is how I wanted to be in wrestling as well. I know it may sound a bit weird, but I never wanted to be too pretty to not look like I couldn’t be an ass kicker or be taken seriously.”

Stratus is no stranger to police training. She got a taste of what it was like on the CBS reality show Armed & Famous. Her respect for what officers do and all the hats they wear grew exponentially form the experience.

poster Gridlocked
Courtesy: Stratusphere Enterprises

When she isn’t running her Stratusphere yoga/fitness empire, being a mom/wife and maintaining her other business commitments, Stratus tries to find time to watch WWE. The veteran performer has enjoyed watching a proverbial woman’s wrestling renaissance.

“I am loving the chance they are getting,” she said.

“That is what it comes down to. They are getting the chance to shine and utilize the talent they have. It’s great. It’s a good time to be a woman in WWE right now. I think if you’re a woman coming up and need something to aspire to there are some positive role models. The girls are doing a fantastic job.”

Character development, time given and overall opportunity were common critiques when it came to the women’s division. Stratus can see the improvements with the female superstars given the ball and running with it. This makes it hard for her to choose a favorite.

“I am really liking everyone on the roster,” she said.

“I don’t know if it’s the new wave of talent that finally got Nattie a chance to get a fresh storyline. That made me excited that she finally got a chance to be in the spotlight – she deserves it, she’s earned it. Charlotte is also amazing to me. She blew me away at WrestleMania 32, I was happy to see her shine at the grandest stage of our business.

“I’ve known Ashley since she was young, when Ric [Flair] would bring her around backstage, I watched her grow up. I remember seeing her when she had just started in NXT. I was like, ‘Girl, you look amazing. You are going to fit right in here.’ She had these crazy arms and awesome shoulders. I felt she was going to work well in this world. So to see her come up has been exciting. She is really excelling in this heel character. It’s fun to watch.

“I think it’s a good thing that I really can’t pick one girl that stands out. I think everyone is doing something unique and giving a different flavor. My whole thing in the past was the characters weren’t being developed. You couldn’t get a sense of who these women were, which was a shame because you wanted to resonate with them. But now these girls are all connecting in a lot of different ways. You have Paige doing her thing. I think Becky is just great. She has such a unique presence about her and what she does in the ring. I’m enjoying all of them.

“…I would love to watch more Alexa Bliss. I’ve been hearing her name associated with me forever. So I’m curious about her. I haven’t had a chance to tune in since she’s been brought up with promoting the movie and everything. I want to watch her stuff. I’m hearing great things about her.”

Trish Stratus

Stratus has always been an avid and vocal Natalya supporter. So she is beyond happy to find out about her latest development. The Total Divas star attacked tag partner Becky Lynch from behind at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view. Returning to a more villainous side helped Stratus revitalize her own career at various points.

“It’s about time,” Stratus said of Nattie’s heel turn.

“This is going to be so good for her. Look, she has waited patiently for a long time, playing the game, waiting for her shot. If she can bring some of that out in this heel turn, it will be good and fans will resonate with it because there will be truth behind it and it is genuine. A successful character or storyline is a success when it has a bit of realism it draws from. I’m excited. That is going to be so refreshing for her character. I have to watch what happens with that”

Stratus is proud to see the work of her bestie Amy Dumas (Lita) shine through in the success of the female athletes. Dumas, godmother to Stratus’ son Maximus, have worked with a number of them to help them realize their potential.

“I’ve always been a fan of veteran work,” she said. “To me, if you don’t have a veteran working with you that really understands you and cares about what you’re doing it’s never going to work. You need someone in your corner. For me, personally I feel like the success I had was because I had people in my corner that had been in the game before, understood the game and advised me accordingly. They really cared about my progression. I think Amy brings that to the girls.”

Stratus also anticipates WWE’s decision to bring back the brand extension. This came with the announcement that starting July 19, SmackDown will air live on Tuesday nights.

“I think it’s a great move,” Stratus said. “There is just so much talent right now. They need the two platforms to allow them to develop the talent and help shape these characters. With so many talented Superstars on the roster, you can’t have them waiting in the wings forever. Because of NXT and the opportunity they have been given to grow at the Performance Center, there are many ready to go right now.  I know when I was there and we had the brand split, there was excitement within the roster. There is so much more potential for opportunity and with the two brands, interesting things can happen, like the Draft became an interesting element for the fans.

“Moving to live is going to be good, too. I know when I was on Raw, I don’t know if it was an internal thing, but that was seen as the A-show. There is nothing like a live performance for the fans and for the performers. I think that combination will be a positive thing.”