Lisa Marie Varon: From Professional Body Builder To WWE Diva Victoria

Lisa Marie Varon has gone by many names and worn many hats within the professional wrestling world, and has solidified her status as a legend within the sphere. Going by Victoria in WWE, to Tara — short for Tarantula — in TNA/Impact Wrestling, the multi-time champion with the affinity for spiders entertained audiences across the globe for almost 20 years before her retirement from the squared circle in 2019. Varon hasn't gone quietly into the night following retirement, however, and stays active, with one-offs in the ring for both her former companies. She's also been heavily involved in the business world, though many of her efforts haven't quite worked out. According to her, it's always possible she'll be making one last run between the ropes. Varon led an athletic life from the very beginning, so that comes at no surprise to her fans.


The now 53-year-old former Diva was born in San Bernardino, California, the youngest of four children. Her three older brothers had a lot of influence on her athletic mindset, as all became amateur wrestlers, and her oldest brother even won a gold medal at the Pan American Games in the '80s. Varon herself wasn't immediately a wrestler, however, but was an active cheerleader in middle and high school, as well as dabbling in track and field. She was recognized by the National Cheerleading Association as an All-American during her senior year. Her cheerleading career paid off and she was chosen to cheer at the 1989 NFL Pro Bowl.

When she graduated high school, Varon studied biology at Linda University and was intent on becoming a doctor. While working at an eye and tissue bank for organ donation, Varon moved more into the athletic space to fund her education. That's where her journey to the then-WWF began.


Body building & fitness career

Varon became a personal trainer and taught aerobics while working at the eye and tissue bank while still in college. She was approached at a gym while she was training and offered a spot in a bodybuilding competition. She entered, and won her first show as a middleweight. Varon notably competed in big fitness competitions such as ESPN2's Fitness America Series and won in 1997 at the age of 26. Bodybuilding competitions are where Varon started to make friends who would also end up in WWE. She befriended Torrie Wilson at the Miss Galaxy Competition in 1998, and she met Trish Stratus at another competition. Varon received her International Federation of BodyBuilders Professional Fitness Card after placing second at a National Physique Committee show in New York City.


Varon was introduced to professional wrestling when Wilson invited her backstage to WCW, even appearing in a segment alongside Scott Hall, but she wasn't able to secure a contract with the company at the time. She then moved to Los Angeles and began working at a Crunch Fitness location where she met WWF's Chyna while working and took a hip hop dance class alongside her. Varon told Chyna about her friends in the business.

"She goes, 'Oh, are you a wrestler? You have a really good look for it'" Varon explained in an interview in 2020. "I go, 'You know, I think I can do what Rob Van Dam does and Rey Mysterio.' Gymnastics and the flyer and that kind of stuff."

Varon asked Chyna how she could apply to work in the WWF, and the "Ninth Wonder of the World" gave the budding star the address to the corporate office in Connecticut. Varon sent a video she had made of herself and her talents, showing her in fitness competitions and demonstrating exercises.


WWF debut

Varon heard from Kevin Kelly two days after the company received her tape. She was invited for an interview within the next month. Varon began training at Ultimate Pro Wrestling in Southern California in 2000, under the ring name "Head B**** In Charge (HBIC)" ahead of her debut with WWF. Varon impressed Bruce Prichard, who was then a talent scout for WWF, during her first show with UPW, earning her shot with the company.


She debuted with WWF in The Godfather's entourage, known back then as "the hos." Varon escalated to the position of "head ho," leading the "Save the Hos" campaign, taking a powerbomb through a table from The Goodfather before being taken off TV in November and sent to further hone her skills. Before being sent to WWF's developmental territories, Varon became known in the ring as "Victoria," a name she would carry with her for the next nine years of her career.

Varon was initially sent to Power Pro Wrestling in Memphis for extensive training before returning to TV. While in the promotion, she feuded against the likes of Jerry Lawler and The Kat and was even involved in a kayfabe in-ring wedding, marrying Bobby Eaton. Varon left the promotion after WWF severed ties with it in March 2001, following Lawler quitting WWF. Memphis Championship Wrestling was the next stop for Varon. She acted as the promotion's commissioner and feuded with fellow WWE star Ivory. The promotion closed in 2001, and Varon was sent to Kentucky to train in Ohio Valley Wrestling, where she managed the Basham Brothers.


After around two years of training in developmental territories, Varon returned to the WWE ring as Victoria during an episode of "WWE Sunday Night Heat" in July 2002 and immediately started a feud with Trish Stratus. Varon's career was officially off to the races.

WWE career

Varon's first pay-per-view match was against Stratus at No Mercy, as the pair were in an angle where Varon claimed the blonde beauty had betrayed her back when they worked together as fitness models. Varon's character slowly descended into madness, and she became a sadistic villainess. She would go on to win her first WWE Women's Championship at Survivor Series the same year, defeating Stratus. Victoria debuted her finishing move, the Widow's Peak and began using "All The Things She Said" by t.A.T.u. as her entrance theme, a song still synonymous with the former diva today.


Varon continued her feud with Stratus, oftentimes accompanied by on-screen boyfriend Stevie Richards, who had come to her aid after an attack. She dropped the title to Stratus, but still moved forward, becoming one of two women to compete in the first-ever women's steel cage match. Varon went on to feud with champion Molly Holly, turning face and dropping the unstable persona. She secured her second Women's Championship in February 2004 after defeating Holly, Lita, and Jazz in a fatal four-way match.

Varon became a heel once again, feuding with WWE Diva Search winners Christy Hemme and Ashley Massaro, as well as Wilson and Stratus once more. Her final push within the company came in 2008, after she allied herself with Natalya, who had just debuted, as well as Beth Phoenix, Jillian Hall, Layla, and Melina. Varon found herself being duped by the also-debuting Bella Twins and their "Twin Magic" throughout the later months of the year.


Varon had not received a title-push for quite some time, and she asked for her release with two years of her contract remaining after she was told WWE had no plans for her. She wrestled her last match under contract on "WWE SmackDown" in January 2009, against Michelle McCool.

TNA career

Varon dropped her "Victoria" character and debuted in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) as Tara in May 2009 on an episode of "TNA Impact." She immediately attacked The Beautiful People's Angelina Love, Velvet Sky, and Madison Rayne, making her presence in the company known. She defeated Rayne in her debut match on June 11. Varon would bring her pet tarantula, named Poison, with her to the ring, and even put the spider on Sky following a match. Varon won her first Knockouts Championship from Love, though she dropped the belt back to the star two weeks later.


Varon went on to win her second and third Knockouts Championships from ODB. She would go on to hold the championship two more times, for a total of five during her time with the company, including the shortest reign in the company's history after laying down for Rayne, for her to regain the gold. Varon also made history in TNA, competing in the first-ever women's First Blood match. Varon briefly left TNA in 2010 after refusing to re-sign over issues of a pay increase. She lost a match against Rayne, where she put her career on the line against the champion. Varon returned in July 11 as a heel at Victory Road. Varon would go to feud with real-life friend Mickie James in a variety of stipulation matches, including a Falls Count Anywhere match. She would also go on to win the TNA Knockouts Tag Team Championships alongside Ms. Tessmacher, whom she would defeat to win the Knockouts Championship for the final time.


Her last match with TNA came on July 14, 2013 in a losing effort to ODB. Varon was released two days later. Following her release, she said that she was close to leaving anyway, and would never go back. Varon said her time with TNA made her appreciate being in WWE.

Indies & retirement

Varon didn't wait until her time was up with TNA to hit the indie scene, she started by taking part in Family Wrestling Entertainment's FWE: Fallout pay-per-view in November 2011, alongside Madison Rayne, with Christy Hemme as a special guest referee. She returned to the promotion a few times throughout the years while working with TNA. She made her House of Hardcore debut at the third event, where she reunited with former partner Stevie Richards in a loss at the hands of Carlito and Rosita.


Varon also appeared in Ring of Honor under her real name in October 2013, attacking ROH darling Maria Kanellis with the Widow's Peak. She appeared throughout the years at Maryland Championship Wrestling (in 2015), Chikara (in 2016), as well as appearing at House of Hardcore 36 in December 2017 to face off against Candice Michelle in the fellow former diva's retirement match, in which Varon took the loss.

Come January 6, 2019, it was time for Varon to make the announce she was hanging up her wrestling boots from full-time competition. She competed in her final match in the main event of a Master of Ring Entertainment show on September 21, 2019. Varon defeated Melina to become the first MORE Women's Champion, going out on top. Varon continues to make one-off appearances in both WWE and TNA, but is officially retired from working in the ring full time.


Business ventures

Throughout her years in the ring, Varon owned a few businesses alongside her then-husband, Lee Varon, though all failed in the end, sometimes in tragedy. The pair first owned a pizza restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky, called Fat Tony's Pizzeria, but sold it in May 2007 before opening a custom car shop known as Black Widow Customs, a nod to the star's finishing move, in the same Kentucky city in May 2008. The shop was destroyed in a fire, that was deemed suspicious at the time, just 10 days before Christmas in December 2010. The fire broke out while Varon was under anesthesia, having benign tumors removed from her breast. No one was injured in the fire, which was discovered by an employee, who warned neighbors and attempted to put it out himself.


The day before the fire, Black Widow Customs was profiled on a local news station's Consumer Watch segment after a University of Kentucky football player claimed his car was left undrivable after it was worked on at Varon's shop. Varon issued a video statement about the claim, as well as the fire, and defended the work of Black Widow Customs. She also said she would make sure her employees were compensated and well taken care of at Christmastime following the fire.

In her final shot in the business world, Varon and her then-husband opened a wrestling-themed restaurant in Chicago called The Squared Circle in March 2013. The business was successful for years, before Varon announced in January 2015 that she would be moving back to California, and left the restaurant to be run by her estranged husband. The Squared Circle was put up for sale in March 2015, but the week after it went on the market, a gunman entered the restaurant and Lee Varon subdued the intruder before the police arrived. Following the incident, Varon announced she intended to close the restaurant and would no longer support the business, and encouraged fellow wrestlers to no longer make appearances there.


Outside media

Like many talent within professional wrestling, Lisa Marie Varon appeared on many different television shows and projects outside of WWE. According to IMDB, Varon is listed with seven television and movie appearances, starting back in 2000. She appeared in an uncredited role as a bodyguard on Pamela Anderson's TV series "VIP," which didn't air for long. She appeared as a wrestler named "Chickasauris" in 2000's "Nikki," and also played a character named Mayday Marge in an HBO series called "Love" in 2017. Varon made an appearance in a Christmas film that also featured Kurt Angle (as himself), which was released in 2023.


In perhaps her most mainstream role that came from her wrestling career, Varon appeared in 2010 in a series of Family Feud episodes that featured two teams of TNA wrestlers. Varon was part of the women's team that also consisted of Love, Hemme, Lacey Von Erich and Sky. They took on the team of Jay Lethal, Matt Morgan, Mick Foley, Mr. Anderson, and Rob Van Dam.

WWE & Impact one-offs

Varon returned to a WWE ring at the 2021 Royal Rumble, entering the women's iteration of the big match as the 10th entrant. It was her first appearance with the company in almost 12 years, and it came during the company's Thunderdome era, when no fans were present in-person due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She was the fifth woman eliminated from the match, being thrown over the top rope by Shayna Baszler. Following her appearance, Varon expressed disgust with how she was treated. She said she felt less than welcomed backstage. Speaking on her "Grown Ass Women" podcast in 2023, she said she was "treated like s***" backstage, but did not divulge too many details.


"How I got treated by some of the people? I will never treat a human like that. Ever," Varon said.

She also appeared in a TNA ring in 2023, despite saying she would never make an appearance for the company again. On January 13, she appeared as Tara at Hard to Kill to support James in her title versus career match against Jordynne Grace. Varon appeared in a backstage segment, then once again in the ring to celebrate with her real-life friend after she defeated Grace. She also teamed with Gisele Shaw to challenge the Death Dollaz, Jessicka and Taya Valkyrie, the following day at Impact's tapings. Varon and Shaw challenged for the Knockouts World Tag Team Championships, but failed to capture the gold.


Varon previously expressed interest in working with AEW in a backstage trainer and agent role, but spoke on her podcast about her less-than-pleasant experience there in June 2023. Varon said she felt uncomfortable and unwelcome backstage at AEW.


These days, Varon lives a much quieter life outside of the ring, and really hasn't been in headlines following what she had to say about the backstage atmosphere of AEW. She's one of three hosts on the "Grown Ass Women" podcast, alongside fellow TNA star SoCal Val and Mickie James. The women of "GAW TV" are also known to do good, hosting multiple events known as "DressleMania" during WrestleMania weekends. The hosts take donations of signed, event-worn dresses from women in professional wrestling and auction them off to benefit various charities, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in honor of the late Daffney Unger.


Varon also makes appearances on websites like Twitch and Cameo, and also has an OnlyFans account where fans can subscribe for $15 a month to see exclusive content. Varon's OnlyFans account differs from the likes of many former WWE stars who sell sultry content to fans, Varon keeps things more subtle. Her page states, "Join me on OnlyFans to take a peek into my life after wrestling! NO NUDES, please be respectful."

Despite how she claimed she was treated backstage in her most recent WWE appearance, Varon has also not ruled out returning to the ring for the company. In an interview in 2022, Varon said that a return could be possible if she was presented with the right storyline, especially now that Vince McMahon is gone from the company and Paul "Triple H" Levesque is in charge.