Before becoming an 18-year veteran of professional wrestling, Lisa Marie Varon was a dancer, a gymnast, a cheerleader, and an athlete overall. She took first place at the ESPN2 Fitness America Series, the National Physique Committee and the Debbie Kruck Fitness Classic. Varon got her start in the WWE as part of The Godfather’s entourage, and, after training for the then WWE developmental promotion OVW, she made her in-ring debut as Victoria. Victoria’s psychotic personality made fans turn their heads, but it was Varon’s in-ring ability that left them awestruck.
After wrestling for the WWE in a litany of groundbreaking matches, including a famous hardcore match at Surivor Series 2002 with Trish Stratus, Varon surfaced in TNA under the moniker of Tara. Once again, she put on a series of stellar matches with the likes of Awesome Kong and Mickie James. Though it is rare, she still performs in the ring. Throughout her illustrious career, Varon became a two-time WWE Women’s champion, a five-time TNA Women’s Knockout champion, and alongside Brooke Tessmacher, she won the TNA Knockouts Tag Team Championship.
I recently had the pleasure of talking to the multi-talented athlete, and we discussed her WWE and TNA career, what it takes to become a professional wrestler, the upcoming WWE all-women’s pay-per-view, Evolution, and a whole lot more. While some athletes of her caliber have a chip on their shoulder, Lisa Marie Varon was very gracious, engaging, and it was clear that she is very grateful of her fans and for her stunning career.
Fitness competition days. #ifbbprofitness Repost from @wwe.victoria @TopRankRepost #TopRankRepost Old but gold. #wwevictoria #victoria #lisamarievaron #wwe #wrestling #wwedivas #divas #wweuniverse #wwehistory #widowspeak #wwewomen #wwewomenschampion #prowrestling #goldenera #tbt #tb #fitness #bodybuilding
Lisa Marie Varon: Hi Carter!
Carter Lee: Hello Lisa! How are you?
LMV: I’m doing awesome. How are you?
CL: Doing great, thank you. I was actually just watching a compilation of you performing the Widow’s Peak right before you called.
LMV: Oh, a fan made it?
LMV: Isn’t that pretty cool? Like how people put so much time and effort into that.
CL: It is. That’s amazing of them.
LMV: It is.
CL: And well-deserved. That’s a phenomenal maneuver and you performed it amazingly.
LMV: Thank you.
CL: This is a thrill for me, and I appreciate your time. I’m a retired worker or wrestler, whatever you want to call it.
LMV: Okay, wow!
CL: Now, I get to talk to one of my favorite wrestlers from back when I was still performing in the ring. So, this is awesome, thank you.
LMV: Aw, thanks a lot. That’s so nice of you. Thanks.
CL: My pleasure. Well, I want to be respectful of your time, so let’s get into it.
CL: Take me back to the beginning of your career. I read, though I don’t know if it is true, peace be with her, is it true that Joanie Laurer was the one who encouraged you to become a professional wrestler?
LMV: Actually, yes, it’s very true. I actually went backstage with Torrie Wilson at WCW, and I met Torrie back when we used to compete in fitness competitions. She was hired by WCW, and she walked me backstage and I said, ‘You walk a guy to the ring and you get paid for that?’ She was trying to get me into WCW and, you know, it was going down hill. I met Chyna at a health club in Los Angeles. I used to live in West Hollywood area, and I used to be a trainer at a gym and sell memberships.
She came in, and I gave her a stack of guest passes and I said, ‘Hey, I have two friends that are in the industry, Torrie Wilson and Trish Stratus. We come from the fitness industry.’ She said, ‘Oh, are you a wrestler?’ I said, ‘No, but I think I can do what the guys can do, like RVD and Rey Mysterio,’ because I had gymnastics background, and dance, and I was an athlete, and it was a good transition. I have three older brothers, and they all did amateur style wrestling.
Awwwww it’s my boo @torriewilson and I . #Repost @physiquewrestle with @get_repost ・・・ Before Torrie Wilson and Lisa Marie Varon threw down in the ring, both ladies did their thing in the fitness competition scene! In fact, this ended up being a big reason of how they both got discovered in wrestling! #torriewilson #victoria #tara #wwe #wcw #tna #impactwrestling #missgalaxy #fitnessmodel #fitness #fitnessmodeling #femalemuscle #phoww #physiquesofwomenswrestling #prowrestling #wrestling #sportsentertainment #womenswrestling
LMV: [Laughing] Yeah, go figure, that their little sister would do a version of wrestling.
LMV: Yeah. So, she said, ‘You have a good look for it. You should send yourself in.’ I did, and this was WWF at the time. I spent $600 on this VHS tape. VHS. I spent $600 for this video to be edited to perfection. $600 back in the day, that’s expensive right?!
CL: Oh, absolutely!
LMV: I had special effects added. I punched the screen and it goes, ‘Lisa—Marie—Varon!’ Kevin Kelly called me, and he said that they’ve never seen such a professional tryout video and package. I’m like, ‘What do people send in?’ I’m in Los Angeles, people put money into what they represent of themselves. And then I get into the business, and people are sending films of them in the backyard, wrestling. Their promo in a bathroom, and stuff like that [Laughing]. I put together a great package.
I asked them, ‘I’m obviously not a Trish Stratus or a Torrie Wilson. What do you see me doing?’ They said, ‘We see you wrestling, and we would like to meet you in 30 days.’ I called a wrestling school, UPW at the time, and I told them the WWF contacted me, and that they want to meet me at the Staple Center in 30 days, and I need to know how to wrestle in 30 days. Little did I know. I didn’t know what the heck I was getting myself into because I thought I can learn to wrestle in 30 days. Obviously, you being a worker and a wrestler, you know that that’s not possible. I thought it was just a dance routine, and you could memorize the whole match.
But I met them, and the Godfather hoe slot opened for me. They were looking for two permanent girls to travel and be his entourage, and that was my foot in the door. I remember talking to J.R. and saying, ‘Jerry Lawler told me I need to move to Memphis, that it’s a better school, and a little more old-school.’ He said, ‘Well, would you be willing to move?’ And I said, ‘Well, you know I’ve been going to wrestling school on my days off.’ And he’s like, ‘We didn’t notice.’ I was like, ‘Are you serious?’ And he said, ‘Okay, we’ll have a meeting about you.’
The next week, Kevin Kelly comes up to me and goes, ‘How fast can you get to Memphis?’ I said, ‘How fast do you need me there?’ He said that they would like me there in a week. We packed up in L.A. and got a U-Haul. My ex-husband and I relocated. After Memphis Championship Wrestling School, I moved to Louisville, Kentucky, for OVW. And then I got brought up much, much later. The rest is history. I’ve been doing it for 18 years, and I never left. I’m not retired. I don’t wrestle as much as I used to. I mainly do Comic-Cons and Wrestling-Cons to do signings. Isn’t it crazy? For me to not have any history of doing anything in this profession and look at me now. It bit me, and it’s in my blood now.
— Lisa Marie Varon (@REALLiSAMARiE) April 12, 2018
CL: Incredible! I love how it works that way with so many people. I grew up watching wrestling since I was four, so it really surprised no one when I went to wrestling school in Baltimore. But I met a lot of people who, you know, they were just big guys, and they’re like, ‘Oh, I can do this.’ And half of them would dropout, not realizing how tough it was. The other half that stuck around, same thing, it just bit them.
LMV: Yeah, you would look at a guy, a good-looking guy who is just huge, and they look like a wrestler. Then you would see them get in the ring, and they just get so winded running the ropes, and they think it loos so easy and choreographed. They have no idea what it entails to be part of it, and they get weeded out so quickly. It’s insane with what’s involved in the wrestling business. It’s not, you just go out there and do a routine.
You have to know where the camera angles are. You know how to get the crowd involved, and if the fans are not getting into it, you need to change the match. Sometimes you go, ‘You be the heel, I’ll be the babyface.’ Then you go out there and it doesn’t work, and then you have to learn on the spot, ‘You know what, they’re not buying you as a babyface or a heel,’ and in the ring you need to know how to change it up. You have to talk to each other out there. You know because of your background, but a lot of fans don’t know what it takes to be a part of it.
For us girls, I think it’s really difficult just because we’re not supposed to age. We can’t gain weight, we can’t grey, and we still need to maintain what we used to be. It’s a lot of pressure. It’s like, I do a lot of Comic-Cons and signings and stuff like that, and you have to look at the banner and, ‘Oh, is that who that is?! Are you kidding me!’ They look so different now that you have to look at their banner you’re like, ‘[Gasp] What happened? Look at how old they got.’ That kind of stuff.
I tell my friends, I tell Tommy Dreamer, ‘Be the first to tell me, ‘You better not do that move. You don’t do it as crisp as you used to.” Which hasn’t happened yet. I’m asked when I am going to retire, and I say the day when people say, ‘Oh my God! Remember how badass she used to be?’ Or, ‘She used to be so much better. She’s gained a lot of weight. She looks old.’ I don’t want that. I don’t want sympathy from fans. I want them to remember what I always was in this industry; the hard worker, always trying to work on my craft, and that kind of stuff.
CL: Well, you still look phenomenal, and you’re still kicking ass.
LMV: Thank you.