WCW Diva Rewind: Nancy Benoit
Although it's difficult today to see beyond the sorrow,
May looking back in memory comfort you tomorrow. -John Taylor
She was fresh out of high school, newly married and answering phones just to make ends meet. It would be an innocent trip to a local wrestling show that thrust her into the chaotic and often cartoonish life in pro wrestling that would end just 23 years later.
Nancy Elizabeth Toffoloni was born and raised in Daytona Beach, Fla. to parents Paul and Maureen, and was later joined by younger sister Sandra.
After marrying her high school sweetheart, Jim Daus, Nancy began working for an insurance company, attending wrestling shows in Orlando on weekends.
It was one of those shows that introduced her to Wrestling All Stars photographer Bill Otten, who hired her as a cover model. She eventually made her in ring debut several months later as Fallen Angel on the arm of Kevin Sullivan in 1984 in Florida Championship Wrestling.
Sullivan and his valet married the following year, and four years later in 1989, Nancy made her World Championship Wrestling (WCW) debut not in the ring, but in the crowd as a Rick Steiner mark.
Eventually Nancy, known then as "Robin Greene," began managing Rick and his brother Scott, until turning on them in favor of Sullivan, adapting the ring name Woman and managing the masked duo Doom (Ron Simmons and Butch Reed).
Before she and Sullivan defected to Extreme Champion Wrestling (ECW) in 1993, Nancy even had a stint managing Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen.
ECW saw Nancy manage her husband and The Tazmaniac to the ECW World Tag Team Championships. She stayed on ECW to manager 2 Cold Scorpio and the Sandman after Sullivan returned to WCW.
It was also in ECW that Woman had her first ever match, when she tagged with Sandman against Peaches (Sandman's wife) and Tommy Cairo.
However, she was quick to follow Sullivan back to WCW, and in 1996 made her television debut, waiting in the aisle with several others for Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan. Nancy would soon find herself aligned once again with the Four Horsemen, which now included Chris Benoit.
It was Brian Pillman, though, in his "loose cannon" storyline who began the feud with Sullivan, which would lead to an on screen—and eventually off screen—feud between WCW's booker and Benoit, who Nancy left Sullivan for and married in 1997.
That same year, Woman would leave the wrestling business for good.
In the later years of her life, Nancy was focused not on being between the ropes, but being a stay at home mother to her only child, her son Daniel, who was known as "smart, affectionate and kind-hearted."
Nancy Benoit died on June 22, 2007, at the age of 43.
“I’ve known Nancy for 20 years. She was always exuberant and fun to be around,” WWE announcer Jim Ross said at Nancy and Daniel's funeral. “Always laughing, had a great sense of humor. You know, was one of the guys. Had great timing in the ring, was a beautiful lady.”
Thanks to NBC Sports, Benoit: Wrestling the Horror that Destroyed a Family and Crippled a Sport, Rajah.com, WrestlingClothesline.com, and TheCitizen.com for the quotes and information for this article.
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