(From The Wrestler/Inside Wrestling Special: On sale September 12, 2006)
There is an old adage in the WWE locker room, passed along from the agents and the veterans to the younger wrestlers, that says: “Never forget where you came from.” To some, it’s just a motto; to others it’s Eddie Guerrero adopting the finishing move of his late tag team partner Art Barr, and then Chavo doing the same to honor his uncle. Regardless of the interpretation, the maxim is meant to instill respect for the industry, as well as those with whom you step into the ring. But, most of all, it means remembering that—whether you are loved or hated—the fans put you where you are.
Unfortunately, Edge and Lita seem to have long since forgotten this advice.
With Edge, his repudiation of this nugget of wisdom is not altogether shocking. Many have come to expect such disrespect from the “Rated R Superstar.” Yet, there were quite a few of her Raw peers that were taken aback when Lita started to mimic Edge’s behavior last year. It was all a mystery to them. Lita never really explained to anybody—not the fans, family, or her fellow wrestlers—exactly why she turned her back on everything important to her to run off with Edge.
Some said it was “love.” However, it’s more likely that the former WWE women’s champion simply forgot where she came from.
Despite her shocking change in demeanor, nobody claimed to be at all surprised when she agreed to stay behind—at the urging of friends, and diminished conscience—after a taping of Raw. Her man had just captured the Raw World title earlier that night in a triple threat match against John Cena and Rob Van Dam. She just wanted to go over the tape and relive Edge’s moment. One can only imagine what she felt as she watched the conclusion of the match.
There was Edge, celebrating and posing with his beloved belt, all the while taunting a stunned Philadelphia crowd. Of course, this was the first time Lita had seen this celebration. She watched herself—mere hours earlier—writhing in pain on the canvas, the victim of an FU from John Cena. Her eyes turned to her crumpled body in the corner of the ring. She saw herself lying helpless and waiting for medical attention, getting barely a passing glance and a shrug from Edge.
Trudging on, Lita popped in the next tape, this one from Edge’s first Raw World title victory at New Year’s Revolution. Lita had been so proud of him for outsmarting Cena, that she didn’t mind as he focused on—and tongue-kissed—the title belt.
Finally, she forced herself to revisit the duo’s “live sex” celebration on Raw. Many on the inside have admitted quietly that Lita was reluctant to go along with Edge’s plan. It was the newly crowned champion that had convinced her it was the best way to get back at their detractors. Still, she went through with the spectacle, even as Edge gently caressed and stared deeply into … the championship belt.
It seemed as if it was only a matter of time before Lita began to see what every fan of Raw had already figured out: The man for whom she had forsaken all of her WWE friendships, lost the devotion of the fans, and sent her personal life into disarray seemed to be far more in love with the belt than with her. But what are her options at this point in her career? Could Lita and Edge co-exist were she to become an active competitor again? Would he be as supportive of her?
“I know that, personally, Lita is very hurt when the fans call her some of the more colorful names,” said Mick Foley, now one of Lita’s only allies backstage. “I think Lita would love nothing more than to go back in time and rekindle some of those epic battles for the women’s championship against Stephanie McMahon, Ivory, and Trish. There’s just a whole lot of self-doubt in there right now.”
It’s easy to see why Lita would doubt herself. Gone are the days of “Team Xtreme” Lita—the woman who was fun to talk to and innovative in the ring. Lita has taken on a persona that is the polar opposite of what made her special. She has learned to embrace this bad reputation because she had little choice. “For the life of me, I don’t know what got into that girl,” said the legendary women’s champion Fabulous Moolah. “But she’s nothing like the girl I met that had some class and some pride and a little bit of spunk to her.”
Lita has since shown signs of greatness and a hunger to return to a life of her own in the ring. “The match she had with Torrie Wilson on Raw seemed to open up something inside Lita that I haven’t seen in a long time,” said Foley. “There was a time when Torrie wouldn’t have given her such a struggle, but, in doing so this time around, I think it definitely opened up the idea in her mind that she was a great wrestler once.”
In the end, there may not be any definitive answers to the questions undoubtedly plaguing the former women’s champion. “I’d be very curious to see what she does,” said Moolah. The legend added, “As strong as she is, she’s always had a man there to back her up. Whether it was Hardy, Kane, or now Edge. She never had the strength to just walk away when things went sour. It will be very interesting, indeed.”
Which leaves many Raw wrestlers and fans wondering where Lita goes from here. Success has come at a price for the once promising star. Unfortunately, she may have already compromised too much of her integrity to truly enjoy it.