Victoria's secret: the WWE women's champion credits her competitive fitness background for her quick rise to wrestling stardom
By Jim Varsallone-- Wrestling Digest, Feb, 2003
VICTORIA LOVES SEEING HER name on the travel log when WWE visits South Florida. A former South Beach local, the WWE Diva remembers the sun, the fun, and the training--lots of training--in sunny Miami.
If you worked out at Gold's Gym off Collins Avenue in North Miami Beach a few years ago, you probably noticed Victoria training extensively--toning her body and choreographing a routine for a pro fitness competition.
Prior to even thinking about a career in pro wrestling, Victoria excelled on the fitness circuit.
"I ended up qualifying for nationals at an event in West Palm Beach and then got my pro card at national event in New York," she says. "My business in personal training was extremely busy during the winter. It kind of cut down in the summer, so I focused on competing in fitness shows then. It was the perfect lifestyle for me."
Following in the footsteps of two friends from the fitness world, Torrie Wilson and Joanie Laurer (a.k.a. Chyna), Victoria decided to leave the fitness circuit and venture into pro wrestling.
Victoria actually competed against Wilson in fitness competitions. They met in 1998 at the Miss Galaxy Competition and became members of the Extreme Fitness Team, based in Orlando. Wilson then moved to Los Angeles and eventually signed with WCW.
"She invited me to one of her show's, and I couldn't believe it," Victoria says. "I said, `Wow, you get paid to do this. Oh my gosh, this is great.' I was walking by one of the [WCW] agents backstage, and he said, `Excuse me, do you have any sexy clothes with you?'
"I said, `I'm sure I could get some from Torrie Wilson.' He goes, `Get some on. You're going to be with Scott Hall.' I sat on Scott's lap and twirled his hair. Afterward, I thought, `Oh my gosh, this is cake. I can't believe you get paid to do this.' Torrie was trying to get me into WCW. I moved back to LA. trying to do news fitness segments for TV."
Victoria, whose real name is Lisa Varon, worked for a time as a trainer at Crunch Fitness upon her arrival in Los Angeles.
"She is very knowledgeable and professional and an awesome trainer," says Richard Marshall, general manager of Crunch Fitness. "Being a female bodybuilder, she is extremely attractive and has a great personality. She is very nice, very sweet, and nice to be seen with, as well."
Victoria met Chyna at Crunch Fitness. "We started talking, and she goes, `You got a good look. Have you ever thought about wrestling?' I go, `I do watch it and I do have a gynmastics background. I've been in fitness competitions and I have a muscular frame. I have seriously considered it.' Chyna hooked me up with J.R., Kevin Kelly, and the WWE talent-relations department about two years ago."
Two days after she sent her bio to WWE, Kelly called Victoria. "I said, `Oh my gosh, that's so fast.' He said they were going to be in L.A., and they wanted to meet me and have a sit down interview. I spoke to Torrie about it. I didn't know how to wrestle, so I looked up wrestling on the Internet.
"I thought I could be more than a valet I hooked up with UPW, which was the closest wrestling group to where I was living. I told them WWE contacted me, and I wanted to learn to be a wrestler and be ready when I meet them in a month."
Victoria laughs: "Go figure. In my head, I was like maybe I could learn a lot in a month. Was I in for it."
Her first day with UPW, she took a lot of bumps. "I went through a lot of drills, and it was a lot more physical than I'd imagined," she says, "but with my personality, I knew I could do it. No one can say I can't do it. I didn't stop, even though I was hurting a little bit I said to myself, `I can do it. I can do it.'"
Victoria surprised her trainers in UPW. "They invited me back the next day. I went back, and they asked me, `What are you doing here?' I go, `Well, wasn't I invited back?' They're like, `We didn't think you were going to make it back because you went through a lot yesterday.' I go, `Well, I'm not saying I'm not hurt. I'm pretty sore, but I think I can do this.' It wasn't easy, but I'm a quick learner and very determined to learn something."
Victoria became HBIC for the IPO in UPW. "I was like Ms. Hancock, very snooty," Victoria says. "They pulled me in by the hair, and I did a small promo on the show. That was my intro to UPW."
During her first UPW show, she met WWE talent scout Bruce Pritchard. She made a good impression. Victoria quickly became a Ho for the Godfather, debuting on a WWE show in Northern California.
"That was such a blast," she says. "It was so overwhelming compared to local shows. It was hard to describe. I was a bad character in UPW with people booing me. I wasn't used to people cheering for me like that."
After four months with the Godfather, he threw Victoria through a table and became the Goodfather with RTC.
"That was the day I was finished with TV," she says. "Mick Foley, Rikishi, and a lot of the boys were saying you need to go to J.R. and tell him you want to be a worker."
WWE sent Victoria to Memphis where she managed Steve Bradley. "I learned a lot working with him. They were treating me more as a valet, even though I was sent there to learn how to wrestle. That school closed, and I ended up moving to Louisville."
Victoria joined Jim Cornette's roster with Ohio Valley Wrestling. She worked with Rob Conway and Nick Dinsmore. "The first day I worked there, they said, `Victoria, get in there. You have a 12-minute match.' I said, `Woo, woo, woo, woo, woo. I never had a 12-minute match before. The longest I had was like four minutes, five minutes.' They said, `Well, get in there. You're going to work with Rob Conway. We're going to tape it, and basically psychology is not going to matter. Just get all your moves in. Show us what you got because this is where we're going to see where you're at.'"
Fifteen minutes later Victoria realized she had a lot to learn. "They kept on working with me, more one-on-one as opposed to with a group," she says. "I just learned a lot from Jim Cornette and Danny Davis. Nick Dinsmore and Rob Conway are phenomenal teachers, too.
"I started learning a lot about promos, speaking on the mic. I was so nervous because I hadn't had a lot of experience doing that. They threw everything at me, and it was a great place to work and learn. It was very family-oriented there, and I was very comfortable there. I wasn't treated just as a valet."
Amateur wrestling is in Victoria's blood. Her three older brothers wrestled in college. Her oldest brother, Bobby Sole, won gold in amateur wrestling in the Pan American Games.
Growing up in San Bernandino, Calif., Victoria graduated from Eisenhower High School in Rialto, Calif. "I was a cheerleader through sixth grade on," she says. "We competed, and gymnastics was mandatory. I ran track in ninth grade and was always active.
"I was very skinny then. People used to make fun of me because I was so skinny in junior high and high school."
No one is laughing now.
Victoria disciplined herself preparing for fitness competitions, which are much more than bathing suit contests. The judges look at quadriceps, biceps, calves, abdominals, leanness, conditioning, athleticism, and stage presence.
There are three rounds: a one-piece swimsuit event to judge symmetry; a two-piece swimsuit event to judge conditioning; and a routine round for strength and flexibility. Competitors don't have to be a gymnast or dance well. They just have to show their athleticism and strength.
Victoria is flexible, athletic, attractive, and a quick learner. "She is very determined," Marshall says, "and I'm not surprised she is making it in pro wrestling."
REAL NAME: Lisa Marie Varon
WEIGHT: 136 lbs.
DATE OF BIRTH: February 10, 1971
HOMETOWN: San Bernandino, Calif.
PRO DEBUT: June 2000 in UPW
FINISHING MOVE: Moonsault
PRE-WRESTLING CAREER: Competitive
fitness and personal training
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: First worked
in WWE as one of the Godfather's Hos; girl in shower during
the infamous Chyna-Eddie Guerrero breakup match; trained in
Memphis and Ohio Valley developmental territories; captured
WWE women's title from Trish Stratus at the 2002 Survivor