Don't let Lisa Marie Varon fool you. The former WWE superstar Victoria does enjoys appearing at comic conventions to meet fans, but she is also a geek at heart. Ninja Turtles, Transformers, Star Wars, anime, it's not out of the ordinary to see Varon taking pics with an attendee in cosplay or a celeb like John Travolta and Jason Momoa. The Californian appreciates those people who still want to see her in the ring and at these events after 20 years in the business.
"It's flattering," Varon said. "Wrestling fans always appreciate historical people in the business. I will always have a job through independents and conventions, especially now with the girls kicking butt right now. They are getting such a big push in the industry that it's better for all of us. Even though I'm not currently on WWE, I still get the benefit from it."
The popular performer is having a busy 2019 for the popular performer. Soaking in every moment with plans to step away from active in-ring competition by years end. Although Varon admits she is scared to say "retire" because the past has shown it's not in a wrestler's vocabulary.
"You never know when we're going to come back or make some appearance, but I'd say this is my last year doing independents, singles matches," she clarified. "You might see me do a referee spot or do a run-in to help another girl. Stuff like that. I'm 48 and been doing this for so long. My body hurts. We are bad asses that do our own stunts, so it takes a toll on your body."
Varon is gearing up for her next big match on September 21 for Masters Of the Ring Entertainment at the Duplin County Events Center in Kenansville, NC. She is headlining a star-studded card against fellow WWE alum Melina Perez with the honor of being the first MORE women's champion on the line.
"It's awesome that the women's revolution has excelled so much. It's about time they started main eventing," she said. "I'm flattered to be main eventing this upcoming show. Bambi [Weavil] the girl who runs the show Masters of the Ring, is a huge fan of female wrestling. She is a female promoter. I didn't find out I was main eventing until recently when one of the posts came out. I had no idea.
"It's a pat on my back and the women's division and the female wrestlers who paved the way for me. I would have been happy in the second match too because I do what I love. Does a spot on the card make a difference to me? Not really. Fans tell you when they appreciate your work. When I do make appearances, they ask if I remember certain matches. And certain ones I don't remember because I've done so many. It's flattering people still want to see me in the ring."
Surprisingly this is only the second time Varon and Perez have shared the squared circle in a singles capacity. Varon has high hopes for the encounter knowing the quality of talent involved.
"Her and I have good chemistry and are really good friends. You always have your best matches with your friends because you're willing to go the extra mile," she said. "There is that trust where you trust your body in someone else's hands. When Bambi asked who I wanted to face, originally it was ODB. Then she lost her food truck.
"My next choice was Melina. She said, 'Absolutely. I would be honored to.' We're from a golden era and generation where we tell a story in our match. It's not going to be a spot fest. We were so winded the last time we faced each other. At the end, we felt like we were at war because we have a lot of pride in what we do. I think people will be really happy with our next match."
The recent growth for women within the industry and positive expansions in the landscape of pro wrestling overall has not changed Varon's decision to hang up the boots regularly. However, like any good businessperson, she is open to opportunities that might come along.
"AEW is awesome in giving a bigger platform for more wrestlers to have jobs and as a paying gig," Varon said. "They haven't reached out to me, but I am always open to discuss. Though the current developments didn't weigh heavy on my making the decision.
"I'm still good in the ring, so people ask me why I'm retiring when I'm still good in the ring. I go, 'Exactly. I still want you to remember me good in the ring.' I don't want to get sympathy or people to say, 'Oh my gosh, she was such a bad ass back in the day.' I still want to be good out there and not keep pushing my body where I can't execute the moves. I give a 110 percent when I wrestle. I want people to walk saying, 'She is 48? And still work like that?' I still have pride in what I do."
After a decade, Varon appeared at a WWE event at the Hall of Fame alongside Candice Michelle. For her, it was important to be there to support the inductions of Torrie Wilson and the late Chyna.
"That was the main reason to support our friend and someone from our generation. It was odd being back because there were so many new faces," she said. "There was just a lot of change. It's funny when I went back because I hardly knew the new talent. I knew mostly the crew, which were the camera guys, the ones who do the cable and lighting, the set builders and the ring guys. Those are the ones I remember, and they remembered me. It was nice to be back.
Varon has no hard feelings for the company. If many enthusiasts have their way, she will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame one day for her trailblazing contributions.
"A lot of people express on social media that they are disrespecting me. I don't see it as that," she said on the topic of her lack of presence on their programming. "There are a lot of people to thank before me. I don't think they dislike me or anything. I hope not."
The star is happy to witness all the female talent continuing to break down barriers. It's a long time coming in her eyes. Among her favorites is Charlotte Flair. She is on the list of dream opponents.
"Of course, being Ric Flair's daughter, you can't expect anything less but greatness," Varon said. "I never had a big program with Nattie. She is an awesome wrestler and a veteran there. I wrestled Mickie James. I had the best times in the ring with her. There is so much good talent out there. Ember Moon, I'm a big fan too. It's hard to pinpoint one that I would have a number one spot for. They are all doing so great."
She continues to maintain the bonds formed during her days in WWE and even Impact Wrestling competing under the name Tara. The tragic loss of Ashley Massaro to an apparent suicide in May led to many peers coming together to raise money for her teenage daughter.
"It's sad about Ashley's death. She brought all us girls much closer together where if you have a problem, we are a phone call away," she said. "We didn't know a lot of what she was going through. When I read some stuff, I had no clue. When we go to work, our problems are outside the door.
"We're there for a job. We wrestle and have this happy face. We don't want people to know we have any problems at home because it might affect your work in the ring. Everything was hush hush. Not that it was taboo, but the feeling that you didn't want to hinder anybody with your problems because we are here to do a job."
A sure testament to the respect and love Varon has earned for years of dedication. Masters of Ring 1 is a special charity fundraiser show for Fishin' With Special Friends. Fishin' With Special Friends is a national non-profit organization based in Wilmington, NC that focuses on special fishing events for special needs kids, special needs adults and their families. For more information on Fishin' With Special Friends visit FishinWithSpecialFriends.org.