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Full Career Retrospective and Greatest Moments for Victoria

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistOctober 1, 2014

Credit: WWE.com

The mid-2000s were a magical time for women's wrestling in North America. For the first time in the company's long and illustrious history, World Wrestling Entertainment had focused a great deal of attention on the sport and its stars. Dubbed "Divas," the women were allowed the opportunity to step between the ropes and prove their worth in actual wrestling matches that did not involve bras, panties, paddles or pudding.

In the process, they established themselves as superb in-ring talents capable of delivering when given the opportunity and matches that lasted longer than two minutes.

Trish Stratus and Lita may have been the faces of WWE's renewed effort to focus on women's wrestling, but it was the rest of the women, those they worked with and off of to enhance their stars, who were equally as important to the growth and success of the Divas division within the company.

One of those women was Victoria, a tall and athletic former fitness model who overcame her role as one of the Godfather's hoes, trained hard and dedicated herself to the sport. She returned to WWE television in July 2002 a polished product, a professional wrestler willing and capable of working a style typically reserved for male Superstars.

A powerful woman with a warped psyche, Victoria became the resident psychopath on the Divas roster, all the while accumulating title reigns and establishing herself as one of the best ring workers of her generation. She was also the toughest, having worked with a torn ACL for over a decade.

Whether she was beating Stratus in a Street Fight at the 2002 Survivor Series or battling the Beautiful People at Bound For Glory in TNA as Tara, the raven-haired beauty made her name as one of the most respected female performers to ever set foot inside a squared circle.

This is her story, told through some of the greatest matches and moments of her career.

Yes, I've Lost My Mind

After she was written off of Raw as one of The Godfather's ladies of the night, Victoria began training in Jim Cornette's Ohio Valley Wrestling, where she not only developed the Queen Victoria character and managed heavyweight champion Doug Basham, but she also gained an understanding and appreciation for the art.

Thus, by the time she returned to WWE television as an associate of Molly Holly's, she had a better understanding of not only how to perform between the ropes but also how to work the crowd. That knowledge would come in handy, as she began a feud with Trish Stratus that would establish her as one of the top stars in women's wrestling.

On July 7, 2002, she appeared on Sunday Night Heat and worked with Stratus in a very competitive match. It would not be until months later that she would undergo a character tweak and become an unstable and psychotic competitor obsessed with the destruction of the blonde bombshell.

Victoria would descend further and further into madness, attacking her rival on a weekly basis, even going as far as to blast her with a steel chair. Their heated rivalry, one of the best at the time, culminated in a Street Fight at the 2002 Survivor Series in which Stratus defended her Women's Championship in a wild and chaotic bout.

A prematurely broken mirror ruined what would have been a breathtaking finish, but Victoria was able to improvise, using a fire extinguisher and snap suplex to pick up her first title and get her WWE career off on the right foot.

For nearly six months, she dominated the Divas division, scoring victories in rematches against Stratus and wins over the likes of Ivory, Jacqueline and Stacy Keibler.

On January 27, 2003, Victoria and Stratus wrestled their finest match to date in a Street Fight for the title. It was a violent, brutal match that put the champion over as a worthy titleholder and cemented Stratus as the plucky competitor who never said die.

Victoria would drop the title at WrestleMania XIX to her longtime rival in a Triple Threat match that also involved Jazz.

Victoria and Stevie, Sittin' in a Tree...

During her first reign as Women's champion, Victoria began an onscreen relationship with Steven Richards that was never really defined as anything romantic; rather, it was an alliance between a dominant woman and her devoted lackey.

What looked to be an awkward pairing at first actually developed into a fun and entertaining act. Whether Richards was interfering on behalf of Victoria or teaming with her in mixed tag team matches, the former leader of the Right to Censor enjoyed somewhat of a career renaissance.

At the same time, the whole ordeal allowed Victoria to share the squared circle with some of the most talented male Superstars, not to mention the various Divas she worked with during that period of time.

Ain't the Lady to Mess with

The winter of 2003 saw a shift in Victoria's character. Sure, she was still the lovable, smoking-hot psycho who earned rave reviews and the admiration of fans everywhere, but she was beginning to demonstrate babyface tendencies. By the time January 2004 rolled around, she was a full-fledged babyface and the top contender to the Women's Championship that was held by the hated Molly Holly.

On an episode of Sunday Night Heat just prior to the Royal Rumble, she defeated Holly in a non-title match. Then, on February 23, Victoria defeated Holly, Lita and Jazz in a Fatal 4-Way match to win the gold for a second time. The win frustrated and infuriated Holly, who was desperate to get her title back. 

Willing to do whatever was necessary, Holly put her hair on the line against Victoria at WrestleMania XX. Entering the Showcase of the Immortals as Women's champion for the second straight year, Victoria refused to leave the event without the gold again. She surprised her opponent with a backslide and scored the pinfall victory. Moments later, she shaved Holly's head, much to the delight of the New York fans.

Victoria's run as champion continued into June and the Bad Blood pay-per-view, where she again dropped the title to Stratus in a Fatal 4-Way match, the exact type of bout she won the gold in months earlier.

Vince's Devils

In 2005, Victoria had been somewhat lost in the shuffle when she turned heel on the Memorial Day episode of Raw during a Bikini Contest involving Christy Hemme, Candice Michelle and Maria Kanellis.

From there, she aligned herself with Candice and Torrie Wilson in a trio known unofficially as Vince's Devils. Together, they would torment 2005 Divas Search winner Ashley Massaro. They beat her down on a weekly basis until Trish Stratus made her return from a back injury and assisted Massaro in her war with WWE's resident mean girls.

On the October 3, 2005 episode of Raw (dubbed "Homecoming"), Victoria, Torrie and Candice found themselves on the losing end of a 3-on-2 Bra and Panties match, effectively ending the rivalry for good.

Vince's Devils would continue teaming together well into 2006 before Candice's jealousy of Torrie led to their demise.

Victoria again found herself lost in the shuffle and spent the better part of the year there. She became a complete afterthought as Mickie James rose to the top of the industry, Trish and Lita waved goodbye to the sport and Melina began her in-ring career.

She rebounded nicely, beginning a story in which she was No. 1 contender to James' Women's Championship. Every week, Victoria would bring a checklist with Divas' names on it to the squared circle, crossing one off after every victory until only the champion's name remained.

Of course, she lost the eventual title bout to James at New Year's Revolution, a loss that would be her last real shot at glory. For the remainder of her WWE career, Victoria remained a valuable piece of the Divas roster. A strong worker with a great skill set, she put newer Divas over and floated between Raw, SmackDown and ECW while doing so.

In January 2009, she said her goodbyes to WWE, supposedly retiring from the ring wars following a loss to Michelle McCool.

As history tells us, her retirement would be a short-lived one.

Tara: TNA Knockout

In 2009, Victoria made her TNA Wrestling debut as Tara. The name was short for "tarantula," but outside of some webbing designs on her gear and the accompaniment of an actual tarantula named Poison, the character was really no different than the Victoria character WWE fans had last seen on Friday nights.

Still a talented in-ring worker, she competed against the likes of Angelina Love and Velvet Sky (The Beautiful People), ODB and Awesome Kong, trading the TNA Knockouts Championship back and forth with those ladies.

A Steel Cage match against Awesome Kong at Turning Point stands out as one of the premier matches of that first run with TNA.

In 2010, a brief contract dispute with TNA led to her departure from the company, cutting short a budding rivalry with Love.

She would return later that year as a bodyguard of sorts of then-Knockouts champion Madison Rayne. It was a role she was perfect for. The fact that she really filled out a black leather bodysuit did not hurt matters, either. 

Tara teamed with Madison for months and was always by the side of the Knockouts division's top heel as she battled the Beautiful People and Mickie James in a series of hard-fought bouts. In May 2011, however, she finally got sick of taking orders and turned on Rayne.

After a brief, underrated run with Brooke Tessmacher as the team known as TnT, Tara finished up her TNA run as the girlfriend of rookie Jessie Godderz.

Legacy

Today, Victoria (real name: Lisa Marie Varon) owns and operates The Squared Circle, a wrestling-themed restaurant with a menu to die for.

Though she is no longer actively involved in the sport, she remains very popular among the fans lucky enough to have watched her in-ring career, this writer included. A tough woman who worked hurt—who worked injured for the sake of bettering herself, the product and entertaining the fans—she could transition from funny to serious to dangerous, taking the fans on an emotional roller coaster, the likes of which few others could.

Trish Stratus and Lita get the most recognition for the renaissance of women's wrestling in the 2000s, but Victoria played a major role in sustaining it, and one day, hopefully, she will get the recognition she deserves in the form of a Hall of Fame induction. 

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