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wrestling / Columns

Shining a Spotlight 9.02.10: Luna Vachon

September 2, 2010 | Posted by Michael Weyer

It’s a sad thing to have to dedicate the spotlight to a worker who’s passed. It’s harder for one who went at a relatively young age, a performer who had her personal troubles but still possessed a love for wrestling that never really quit. Her great style got her attention but she still had a light side that made you like her so much.

Luna Vachon.

Her death last week was a bit of a surprise and yet not a huge one. Her personal problems have been well known throughout the wrestling world, less drug issues and more mental problems. That, combined with her unique style, had caused a lot of fans to dismiss her but Luna was more capable than she seemed. In many ways, she was the classic case of someone whose love of wrestling overwhelmed a lot of her reason and that may have played a part in her sad end.

Wrestling was in Luna’s blood. The Vachons are still legends in their native Canada, a family who produced some of the most brutal, amazing workers the business has ever known: Maurice “Mad Dog” was a wild man for the AWA, known for his bloody battles with most anyone in the business at the time, a man so dedicated it took losing his foot in a car accident for him to quit. His brother, Paul “Butcher” Vachon was just as wild, teaming with Maurice in the AWA, the two tearing up territories with their insatiable style.

Career

Born in Montreal in 1962, Luna’s mother, Van, married Maurice, who adopted her when he and Van divorced. Luna was therefore brought up in a world of wrestling, hanging out with Andre the Giant among other stars. It’s no surprise she would want to get into the business herself although Maurice was a bit unsure, thinking the business too harsh for a woman. But Luna was dedicated, training under the Fabulous Moolah in order to get her break into things.

She debuted in 1985 in Florida with an angle of her as an in-ring reporter, a quiet type who was interviewing Kendall Windham when Kevin Sullivan attacked, setting off a melee that had her knocked unconscious. She reappeared, apparently suffering mental damage from the attack, shaving part of her head and joining with Sullivan. She would later say she was uncomfortable with Sullivan’s Satan-worshipper act but threw herself into it. It was here she first met Medusa Miceli, setting off a long rivalry between the duo. She would spend time in Puerto Rico, Japan and Stu Hart’s Stampede era as well.

In 1992, she was approached by the WWF but not without complications; evidentially no one knew where she was, even Maurice thinking she was living in Florida. She was soon tracked down working as a waitress. She made her debut at Wresltlemania IX, in what had become her regular style: A long Mohawk with facial makeup across one side, earrings and a costume of dark leather with multiple chains and rings. Shawn would win the match against Tatanka, who had Sensational Sherri in her corner, the two women starting a feud with a brawl between each other. Soon, she and Bam Bam Bigelow were paired together, which made sense given their wild natures and even the fact they matched each other (her makeup and his head tattoos). Things were built up to a SummerSlam mixed tag match but first Luna injured her arm and then Sherri left WWF. This led to a low point as the duo ran afoul of Doink the Clown, leading to a long feud with the clown character which also had the disgusting Bastion Booger falling for Luna. It was finished up at Wrestlemania X with Bam Bam and Luna winning a match against Doink and Dink.

Things picked up a bit for her when the WWF Women’s’ title was revived with Medusa (now Alundra Blayze) winning the belt and she and Luna had some great matches. She and Bam Bam broke up when he joined Ted DiBiase’s Million-Dollar Stable and she managed Bull Nakano into a feud with Blayze, winning the Women’s title before Luna left the WWF. She spent some time on the independent circle before heading to ECW with some pretty wild matches against Raven and Steven Richards. She had a short run in WCW facing Medusa once more in a series of matches.

She returned to WWF in 1998 with a unique set-up. Dustin Rhodes had decided to have a breakdown, going from Goldust to “The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust” and Luna was now his partner. The two would come out in constantly bizarre outfits from dominatrix/slave to a baby and his nurse. The two would feud with Vader with Luna posing as a nurse wheeling a supposedly invalid Goldust to the ring only to spray oil in Vader’s eyes so Dust could attack him. Vader would get the win at the Royal Rumble with a new gimmick of Goldust impersonating other wrestlers. A fun bit on this was HHH having Goldust impersonate him to defend the European title against Owen Hart, with Luna as Chyna. Hart won and then-WWF Commissioner Sgt Slaughter declared that the impression had been so good that as far as he was concerned, Owen had indeed beat HHH to win the belt.

The duo moved onto a feud with Marc Mero, whose wife, Sable, was beginning to rise as a star. This led to a mixed tag team match at Wrestlemania, followed by an evening gown battle. In interviews, Luna would say that the hate between them wasn’t all fake as she took issue with how Sable started to get a swelled head with her popularity rising. She also was personally hurt with how everyone congratulated Sable on well she was doing when Luna felt she had carried their bouts. The two seemed to work together for a while until Sable was attacked by a masked woman who turned out to be Luna, claiming she was out for herself, a mix of her personal feelings into the angle. Shane McMahon, for some reason, decided to back Luna in the feud, she and Sable facing off in a strap match at the 1999 Royal Rumble. For weeks leading up to the event, Luna was attacked by an obsessed “fan” who interfered in the Rumble match, leading to the debut of Tori.

At the same time, Luna was involved with the Oddities, a quirky band of misfits who got over reasonably well in the mid-card with their goofball antics. Things were building toward a Sable/Luna rematch in February but then Luna got suspended for a backstage fight with Sable. She came back six months later to feud with Tori in a few hardcore battles before moving to manage Gangrel (her real-life husband). She took part in the ladies’ match at the Survivor Series but by this point, was getting tired of the over-sexualization of the Divas, refusing to take off her gown in a swimsuit competition at the 2000 Royal Rumble. She was released a few weeks later after another backstage outburst. She spent the next several years bouncing around various independent shows and territories, taking part in the Great Lakes Championship Wrestling show, winning their title and announcing her retirement in 2007.

Personal Life

Luna’s outbursts were quite notable in wrestling and most attributed it to drug use. The truth, however, was that Luna suffered from bipolar disorder (which wouldn’t be diagnosed for a while) and bouts of manic depressive. It wasn’t well known until after her retirement so she often rubbed people the wrong way. In his book Swimming with Piranhas, Howard Brody shared a story on working with Luna in a small promotion and how she went from outraged to tears over what she perceived as a bad pay-off, her outburst so extreme it led some to suspect Brody of having an affair with her. While she did her best to handle it, she would admit the difficult world of wrestling made her condition harder to handle.

She was married three times, first to Dan Hurd, which produced two sons. She was involved with Dick Slater but broke up on allegations of Slater abusing her. She married wrestler Tom Nash and after breaking up with him, ended up with his tag team partner, David Heath (better known as Gangrel), becoming stepmother to his two sons. They were divorced in 2006 but remained on good terms.

The last few years had Luna seeming to enjoy retirement. She expressed gratitude to Vince McMahon for paying for the funeral of Bigelow in 2008 and offering her (along with other former WWE workers) free rehab for any substance abuse problems. She became a born-again Christian in 2004 and in 2009 was honored by the Cauliflower Alley Club with the “Ladies Wrestling Award.” But in August of 2010, her prized house was burned to the ground, along with her beloved garden and collection of wrestling memorabilia. She had been staying with her mother when she was found dead and while the autopsy isn’t official, specualation already is that her mental problems may have pushed her to suicide, leaving wrestling fans with nothing but memories.

Summation

Luna was a difficult person to get to know as her demons were greater than most other wrestlers and couldn’t be blamed totally on drugs. However, her love for the business was undeniable. She went for it whole-hog and took pride in what she did. It’s a shame the promoters couldn’t always agree as she may have been just too wild a character for them to truly understand and use well. That unique style, however, was what made her stand out as she made sure fans always paid attention to her with her outfit and wrestling style. Her death is sadder as she had gotten out of the business in realtively good shape and appeared to be on her way for a nice long life until her personal problems struck her hard. But at least she left fans with a lot of memories of a performer who truly loved what she did and that love was infectious to (as with everyone involving Luna) the extreme degree.

For this week, the spotlight is off.

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Michael Weyer
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