Whatever Happened To WWE Diva Victoria?

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Lisa Marie Varon, known to WWE fans as Victoria, spent parts of seven years as a full-time competitor on the roster, utilizing her top-level athleticism and a trademark sinister side to wreak havoc on the rest of a women's division that was on the precipice of the "divas" era. Her accolades are impressive, with two WWE Women's Championship runs and outside recognition in the form of PWI Woman of the Year in 2004. But in 2009, Victoria disappeared from the WWE scene and sometimes, when a long-tenured talent departs from that bubble, the WWE Universe just assumes they've simply vanished into thin air.


In Victoria's case, though the name itself may have gone off to "Parts Unknown," she did anything but, quickly embarking on a successful career in TNA as Tara, and wrestling in several independent promotions under her real name for the next decade. Eventually, she'd return to WWE, albeit briefly, at the 2021 Royal Rumble, and also to TNA for a pair of one-offs, and her name (well, one of them anyway) often gets whispered about come WWE Hall of Fame time, though that hasn't yet materialized. But that's just what she was up to in the wrestling world. There is life (and work) outside of it after all.

From TV shows to multiple business ventures, from podcasting to some spicier content, Lisa Marie Varon/Victoria/Tara has done plenty since her full-time WWE stint ran its course. Let's dig in to see just what the master of the "Widow's Peak" has been up to.


Tara Time in TNA

Victoria's run in WWE has largely spent as an influential force in the women's division. Right off the bat, upon her full-time call-up from Ohio Valley Wrestling in July of 2002, she was placed in a feud with Trish Stratus, adopting her sadistic, deranged persona. Come Survivor Series of that year, she would already become Women's Champion, defeating Status in a hardcore match. After losing the title at WrestleMania 19, Victoria would work her way back as a contender and recoup the championship at WrestleMania 20, defeating Molly Holly in a hair vs. title match that ended with Holly losing her hair, of course. After that title run ended in June, Victoria would find herself toiling through various midcard stories and alliances for the next several years, ultimately asking for her release and wrapping up her run in January of 2009. Though she'd compete in the 25-Diva Battle Royal at WrestleMania 25, about a month later, she'd adopt a whole new name and persona in TNA.


Tara, revealed to be short for "Tarantula," would debut on an episode of "Impact" and immediately enter a feud with the trio of Angelina Love, Madison Rayne, and Velvet Sky, known collectively as The Beautiful People. Once again rising to the top of a women's division rather quickly, Tara would secure her first TNA Knockouts Championship less than two months into her tenure, defeating Love (with a little help in the form of a scare from her pet tarantula, "Poison.")

All in all, Varon's run as Tara in TNA would span four years and was a great success, as she would go on to become a five-time Knockouts Champion while also securing the Knockouts Tag Team Championship with Brooke Tessmacher on one occasion. However, after her departure, she would tell PWInsider that a return to TNA was "out of the question," going on to say, "I had a great run there, but it was very different from WWE. It made me appreciate WWE a lot."


Indies, darling

Varon departed TNA in June of 2013 and resurfaced in wrestling only twice in the next three years, working a mixed tag match with Stevie Richards against Carlito and Rosita at House of Hardcore 3 in November of 2013 and in the same style of match with Bryan Castle against Joe Coleman and Taeler Hendrix for BCW in October of 2015.


Beginning in 2016, Varon would be a bit more prominent on the independent wrestling scene for the next three years, working roughly 45 matches, mostly on one-off occasions, and making non-wrestling appearances as well, showing up in such promotions as Ring of Honor, House of Harcore, Global Force Wrestling, CHIKARA, Big Time Wrestling, Warrior Wrestling, and even a return to Ohio Valley Wrestling in 2018 as part of the 1,000th episode of OVW TV. During this run, she would cross paths with a slew of familiar faces in Madison Rayne, Christy Hemme, Maria Kanellis, Mickie James and many more. At a CHIKARA show in 2016, she aligned herself with James and fellow WWE alumna Jazz, entering the King of Trios tournament as "Team Original Divas Revolution," defeating Solo Darling, Crazy Mary Dobson, and Candice LeRae, (who dubbed themselves "Team Shimmer"), before falling to The Warriors Three, the team of Princess KimberLee, Oleg the Usurper, and ThunderFrog.


Also notable during her independent run was a reunion at House of Hardcore with Candice Michelle, with whom she had a lengthy alliance in WWE before that imploded back in 2006. In what was dubbed as Michelle's retirement match, Varon was to be her opponent, ultimately losing to the retiree after a DDT.

2019 was slated to be her last year as an active competitor, and in September of that year, she defeated another familiar face in Melina, winning the vacant MORE Wrestling Women's Title at "Masters of Ring" in North Carolina.


Like so many other wrestlers have done in the past, Varon took her acting skills outside of the squared circle, appearing on a variety of television shows, reality series, and even a game show, as well as lending her likeness to a slew of WWE video games. Outside of wrestling-related releases, IMDB lists Varon with seven official television and movie appearances dating back to 2000. Of those, the first (chronologically) probably sticks out most, an uncredited role as a bodyguard on Pamela Anderson's ill-fated TV series "VIP."


Beyond that, Varon appeared in "Nikki" later in 2000, as a wrestler named Chickasaurus; in "Tainted Dreams" as Carla Santiago in 2014; in the HBO series "Love," as Mayday Marge in 2017; and as Lisa in something called "Raven Van Slender Saves Christmas," also featuring Kurt angle (as Kurt), which was released in 2023 and is described on Amazon, in part, as follows:

"The galaxy's evilest overlord, E-Neal, has kidnapped Santa to ruin Christmas! Only Raven Van Slender, and his league of Alien Scientists, can rescue Santa and save Christmas!"

Now, if that's not exactly your thing, you can also check out Varon on a 2010 series of Family Feud episodes that featured two teams comprised of TNA wrestlers for an entire week. On the ladies team, in addition to Varon, was Angelina Love, Christy Hemme, Lacey Von Erich, and Velvet Sky taking on a men's squad of Jay Lethal, Matt Morgan, Mick Foley, Mr. Anderson, and Rob Van Dam.


Black Widow Customs

In May of 2008, Varon (along with her husband Lee) opened Black Widow Customs, a custom car shop in Louisville, Kentucky, obviously named after her affinity for spider references as echoed throughout her wrestling career. At the grand opening, several wrestlers then contracted to WWE appeared, including JTG, Elijah Burke, Jillian Hall, Jesse and Festus (Luke Gallows), Melina, Domino, Lena Yada, and Jimmy Wang Yang.


The company operated until December of 2010 when the shop was destroyed in a fire that was deemed suspicious at the time. A day earlier, the shop was profiled on a local newschannel's Consumer Watch segment, detailing the story of Antwane Glenn, a football player at the University of Kentucky at the time, who said his car was left inoperable after Black Widow Customs worked on it.

Varon issued a statement the day after the fire, largely focusing on the loss of income for her employees, especially just before Christmas, but also noting that she was undergoing a surgical procedure at the time, and only knew about the incident after coming to from anesthesia. She also defended the integrity of the work that her company did and stated, "Anyone who knows me knows that I believe that the best defense is a good offense. You'll be hearing more on this once BWC takes action."


It is unclear as to how legal action ultimately proceeded, if at all.

The Squared Circle

Though it wasn't her first foray into the restaurant business, having previously owned Fat Tony's Pizzeria in Louisville, Kentucky, Varon and her husband jumped back into the food and beverage game in 2013 with The Squared Circle, described to WWE.com at the time as "a burger and pizza spot in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of [Chicago, Illinois]."


"We serve gourmet stuffed burgers," Varon told WWE, "like the 'Fat Elvis,' which has peanut butter, banana, and bacon. And we have pizza, thin-crust, traditional New York-style and deep-dish Chicago-style, made with duck fat," she added, also noting that the establishment also had a bar full of various craft beers, and a unique array of side dishes and appetizers. Much like the grand opening of her car shop before it, many of her wrestling contemporaries frequented and supported the venture, with Kevin Nash, DDP, Honky Tonk Man, Rikishi, and Alicia Fox among names she cited as having stopped by, and several others, including The Undertaker, donated memorabilia with which to decorate the restaurant's walls.


In 2015, Varon disassociated with the business, moving to California and leaving it in the hands of her husband. Two months later, it drew media attention when an armed intruder entered the business and was restrained and slammed by Varon's estranged husband Lee, who told the Chicago Tribune, "I had zero sympathy for the guy. There could have been a shootout in the restaurant because of him."

The Squared Circle closed two years later in April of 2017.

WWE return at 2021 Royal Rumble

After nearly a 12-year hiatus, Victoria made her return to WWE in the event known for such surprise reunions, the Royal Rumble, in 2021. Normally, a Royal Rumble return, especially after such a lengthy absence for a superstar, would elicit an inimitable pop but unfortunately for Victoria's fans, this Royal Rumble was the only one in history held in front of no fans, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding restrictions at the time. Instead, Victoria's Rumble return took place at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, home of "The Thunderdome" and its multitude of television screens showing fans watching along from home.


Still, a homecoming is a homecoming and Victoria expressed the customary nerves that go along with such a return in a WWE Network Exclusive after the event.

"[It was] nerve-wracking, I'm gonna be honest with you. I think people know that I'm one of the most nervous wrestlers. I get the nervous belly, sweaty hands, about to throw up, not to be a diva but I was so nervous and these girls are freaking tough, man!" Victoria did not record an elimination and was gone from the match herself thanks to Shayna Baszler, to whom she said, "I'll get you next time, Shayna!" She also expressed gratitude to her fans and appreciation for the return, saying, "All you Widow's Peak Freaks out there, I love you so much and I'm happy to be back."


To date, however, she hasn't been back, and in 2023 shared a story, seemingly speaking on the Rumble appearance, on her "Grown Ass Woman (GAW)" podcast, which painted the experience in a negative light (though it hasn't always sounded like she's completely against a return).

"I was treated like s*** when I came back to WWE backstage. How I got treated by some of the people? I will never treat a human like that. Ever.'"

Never say never

Though her Royal Rumble return for WWE in 2021 seems to have been bittersweet for Victoria, perhaps a comeback for her other primary wrestling persona, Tara, would go more swimmingly. 

That indeed came to pass on an episode of "Impact Wrestling" in early 2023, when she teamed with Gisele Shaw to challenge Death Dollz (Jessicka and Taya Valkyrie) for the Impact Knockouts Tag Team Championships. The challenge was ultimately unsuccessful, largely due to Shaw and Tara not being on the same page and when frustrations grew after Shaw worked the whole match and refused to tag Tara in, the latter hit the Widow's Peak on the former and effectively, that was that.


That match turned out to be a one-off, at least for now, but the good news is she did return to the company after saying previously that such reunion was "out of the question," breaking the age-old adage in wrestling of "never say never."

Grown Ass Women

Who doesn't have a wrestling podcast these days, right? Well, in May of 2020, Lisa Marie Varon removed herself from the list of those who don't. Debuting alongside co-hosts Mickie James and SoCalVal during the Covid quarantine was "Grown Ass Women," or "GAW" for short, described as "a show for strong, opinionated women who embrace their femininity while keeping it real." While the ladies are known for their wrestling careers, the show focuses on current events, careers, relationships, fashion, beauty, wine, music, and more. That's quite the diverse set of show topics and of course, a little wrestling gets generously mixed in.


Boasting scores of episodes on its YouTube channel, the show has upwards of 16,000 subscribers and has featured guests like Gail Kim, Mick Foley, Saraya, Trish Stratus, Al Snow, and many more.

In an episode from August of 2023, WWE Hall of Famer Alundra Blayze (aka Madusa) joined the show and Varon talked about joining her at one of her monster truck shows, something she does for a lot of wrestlers, including the always-in-the-news CM Punk. From there, the ladies started ribbing on his real name (Phil Brooks). "He loves to be called Phil," Val joked. "He loves that so much." James added, "He's 'Philbert Punkerton.'"

It's nice to see Varon (and the others) having some fun.

Side hustlin' online

In 2024, it's only fair to assume that anyone with any sort of celebrity is looking to do all they can to capitalize on that by taking advantage of technology and the mass appeal of video game voyeurism, direct interaction, and of course, spicy content! Varon is no different, now offering her services across platforms like Twitch, Cameo, and yes, OnlyFans!


While her Twitch channel appears to be less in the vein of watch-me-play-video-games (which some of the old guard may never understand), and more let's-have-dinner-together-and-do-a-Q&A-type content, the Cameo and OnlyFans pages appear more in line with what you'd expect from those outlets. Her Cameo page touts her former ring names, Victoria and Tara, plugs GAW TV and the rest of her social media, and contains samples where she answers what makes her sneeze, recounts the infamous TNA Family Feud week, and shares her experiences with dating apps.

As for OnlyFans, while the Mandy Roses of the world are reportedly just hauling in the money for premier adult content on the platform, Varon seems to be keeping things a bit more subtle with a note on her page that says, "Join me on OnlyFans to take a peek into my life after wrestling! NO NUDES, please be respectful."