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29 August 2010

Pro wrestling star Luna Vachon dead at 48 - 29th August 2010

Veteran pro wrestling star Gertrude “Luna” Vachon was found dead Friday morning at her mother’s Florida home.

The Canadian-born Vachon, 48, the daughter of Paul “The Butcher” Vachon Butcher and niece of Maurice “Mad Dog” Vachon, had been staying with her mother after her own house was recently destroyed in a fire.

The cause of death has yet to be determined. An autopsy was scheduled for Saturday.

Vachon had been medically diagnosed as having a bipolar disorder and being manic depressive, and had battled health issues throughout her career. She attended a WWE-sponsored rehab program in 1994 due to drinking problems.

Vachon began training at the age of 16 under her late aunt, Vivian Vachon, and began her wrestling career at The Fabulous Moolah’s school in Columbia.

“All she ever wanted to do (was wrestle),” Paul Vachon once told the SLAM! Wrestling website. “Her idol was my sister, Vivian, who was a wrestler. She had been watching her ever since she was 4 or 5 years old. That’s all she ever did. I told her she was a lunatic because all she wanted to do was wrestle.”

Vachon’s gimmick for most of her career was that of a “lunatic,” an outlandish, face-painted, Mohawk-sporting, over-the-top character with exaggerated facial expressions, and a part of stables such as Kevin Sullivan’s Army of Darkness in Florida in the mid-’80s and The Oddities in WWE in the late ‘90s.

But Vachon, who last performed in WWE in 2000, also was an accomplished wrestler who enjoyed notable feuds with the likes of Alundra Blayze (Debra “Madusa” Miceli) and Sensational Sherri Martel (Sherri Schrull), and most recently had mentored WWE women’s star Natalya (Natalie Neidhart) of the Hart Dynasty.

She often lamented that the business would benefit from more women who could actually wrestle — “not just bimbos and bimbettes.”

“I am saddened to hear of the passing of Luna Vachon,” Sullivan said in a statement. “Not only was she a fantastic performer, but I was lucky enough to consider her a dear friend and I will miss her greatly. Luna was an integral part of my career and I would not have succeeded without her. We have lost a great performer and an even greater person.”

Vachon had been married three times, including twice to wrestlers Tom Nash and David “Vampire Warrior” Heath of The Blackhearts tag team, and also was once involved in a purportedly abusive relationship with veteran wrestling star Dick Slater.

Vachon, who was nicknamed “Daughter of Darkness,” became a born-again Christian in 2004 after attending an Athletes International Ministry conference, and was later baptized by fellow wrestler Nikita Koloff and her then-husband David Heath (the former Gangrel in WWE).

She had worked in recent years as a tow truck operator in Port Richey, Fla. She recently had lost nearly everything she owned when her home in Florida burned down.

Jim Ross posted on his blog at jrsbarbq.com that he and Steve Austin both conversed with Vachon at a Cauliflower Alley Club event two years in Las Vegas, and that she had gained much-needed stability in her life.

“We talked about her being diagnosed with being bipolar and her having issues with depression of which she battled on an ongoing basis for a good while,” said Ross, who worked with Vachon when he was Vice President of Talent Relations in WWE. “Luna was a battler and was a tough individual who said she was going to keep fighting the good fight, but that it wasn’t easy. Steve and I both gave Luna many words of encouragement and spent significant time with her at the CAC function, talking old times and mostly laughing about our mutual experiences. Without question, laughter is good medicine for all of us.”

“It’s a very sad day for wrestling with the passing of Luna Vachon,” said TNA star Mick Foley. “My heart is aching.”

-- “Tough” Tony Borne, a legendary performer in the Pacific Northwest for several decades, passed away Friday at the age of 84.

Borne, whose real name was Anthony Osborne, was the father of wrestler Matt Borne (the original Doink The Clown).

The nine-time Pacific Northwest heavyweight champ was perhaps best known for his tag team with “Moondog” Lonnie Mayne during the ‘60s. The two held the Pacific Northwest tag-team belts on 11 separate occasions.

Borne, whose last match was in 1981, worked full-time in the real estate business after retiring from wrestling and also was a licensed superintendent for American Kennel Club.

The Milwaukie, Ore., resident had been in poor health as of late and passed away just as his son was leaving home to board a flight to Dallas. Borne had never fully recovered after having a pacemaker placed in his heart earlier this month.

-- Johnny “Mr. Wrestling No. 2” Walker arrived in Charlotte more than three weeks ago for what he assumed would be a weekend stint at the annual NWA Wrestling Legends Fanfest.

Sign some autographs, take part in some photo-ops and receive an honor at a Hall of Heroes banquet. That’s what the job required.

Unfortunately for the 76-year-old Walker, who had endured a long plane ride from his home in Hawaii, the weekend turned into a medical crisis that is now going on four weeks.

Walker experienced feelings of tiredness during Fanfest, and on Sunday, the final day of the festivities, was taken to a nearby hospital after reportedly suffering a heart attack.

Several surgeries were postponed over a near three-week period due to complicating issues, but Walker finally underwent a triple bypass operation on Friday morning, and initial reports were that the procedure was a success.

Walker likely is looking at another five to six days of recovery in the hospital.

Fans can send get-well wishes to: Johnny Walker, c/o Carolinas Medical Center, 1000 Blythe Blvd., Charlotte, N.C. 28203.

Sixteen-time world heavyweight champion Ric Flair will be part of a TNA show Oct. 3 at Blackbaud Stadium on Daniel Island.

The Sunday show, which starts at 6 p.m., also will feature such names as Jeff Hardy, A.J. Styles, Jeff Jarrett, The Motor City Machine Guns, D’Angelo Dinero and Angelina Love.

Tickets are on sale at www.charlestonbattery.com, or charge by phone at 1-843-971-4625. Tickets also are available for purchase at the Blackbaud Stadium box office. For more information, visit www.tnawrestling.com.

“Scott is under care in the WWE’s wellness program,” Kevin Nash said recently. “God bless Ann (Russo) and Vince (McMahon) for taking care of my friend.”

WWE has an ongoing policy in which it covers the costs for current or former wrestlers who were employed by the company to enter a rehab facility.

-- Former WWE performer Charlie Haas, who served as a pallbearer at the recent funeral of Lance Cade (Lance McNaught), told the Right After Wrestling radio show that Cade, along with the late Umaga (Eddie Fatu), were the two people who were with him when he found his brother, Rusty Haas, dead in his apartment on Dec. 14, 2001.

“It’s been a rough year for me,” he said. “Now I look at that as both of those gone in six months — my two best friends.”

Cade’s father launched a verbal assault against his son’s former employer in an article published last week in TheDay.com.

Harley McNaught responded to remarks made by former WWE CEO Linda McMahon that she “may have met him once” in regard to Cade. The wrestler, who had struggled with an addiction to painkillers before being released by the company earlier this year, died of heart failure several weeks ago at the age of 29.

“I’ve been with him on two different WWE functions where she came up to him and knew him by name,” said McNaught. “She disrespected him. She disrespected my family.”

“Vince’s stance (is) they do all this because they care about the talent,” Cade said in April during a wrestling podcast with manager Kenny Bolin. “Bull----. They care about the image of the WWE and you care about the fact that Congress was having ... hearings about this. That’s what this comes down to.”

“WWE has nearly 600 employees and about 140 performers, and I think it’s understandable that Linda may not recollect every interaction she’s had, particularly given the fact that she’s personally met with thousands of voters since resigning her position at WWE in September. Linda’s a very kind and sympathetic person, but she is human,” said Ed Patru of McMahon’s political campaign.

Patru noted that it “certainly wasn’t Linda’s intent to diminish any additional interaction she may have had.”

McNaught said his son “would have cut his arm off for Vince McMahon, but it wasn’t there in return. (Vince McMahon) don’t care any more than the man in the moon for them, other than as dollar signs.”

Linda McMahon, who is running a close race in Connecticut for a U.S. Senate seat, had come under attack several days earlier from former WWE performer Chris Nowinski.

Nowinski, who left WWE. after a concussion and now serves as an advocate and as a consultant on head injuries, accused her of “kicking dirt on the guy’s (Cade’s) grave” after McMahon told reporters that the company could no more be held accountable for the death of Cade “than a studio could have prevented Heath Ledger’s death.”

“Who knows what causes people to have addictions and do what they do,” she added.

-- Lanny Poffo told the Right After Wrestling show that his brother, “Macho Man” Randy Savage (Randy Poffo), would, “without a doubt,” accept an invitation into the WWE Hall of Fame if asked.

“But I think he would do something else. He would barter to get my father (Angelo Poffo) in there,” Poffo added. “That would be the classy thing to do. If the WWE asked my brother, I absolutely think he would say yes. He’s in a different place now that he has married Lynn.”

Savage, 57, married longtime girlfriend Lynn Payne, 55, on May 10 in Sarasota, Fla. The two met in Sarasota in 1974 when Savage was playing minor league baseball for the Tampa Tarpons and Payne was attending school at the Ringling School of Art and Design.

They dated for two years before parting ways. The couple reunited in 2001.

“Thirty-six years ago, Lynn and I met on Lido Beach,” said Savage, who was married to the late Liz Hulette (WWE’s Miss Elizabeth) from 1984-92. “I feel so fortunate that I had a second chance to marry my first love, here where it all began.”

WWE recently put out a Savage DVD, and Mattel included him in its latest WWE toy line.

-- Straight Edge Society member Serena has been released by WWE.

The 24-year-old Serena (Serena Deeb) was a six-time Ohio Valley Wrestling champ.

-- WWE Hall of Fame announcer Jim Ross gave a nice tip of the hat to late friend Gen. Skandor Akbar in a recent blog.

“In my over four decades in the wrestling biz, I don’t think I can name one man who unselfishly done more to help young wrestlers and who was more dedicated to his profession that Jim Wehba aka General Skandor Akbar,” said Ross. “Ak passed away suddenly last Thursday at the age of 75 after living a wonderful life doing what he loved more than any thing and that was being a viable and timeless participant in the world of pro wrestling. Everyone should be so lucky to have such a long, distinguished career in their chosen vocation.”

Ross attended Akbar’s funeral on Tuesday.

“It was good to see several of ‘the boys’’ at the Catholic service in Ak’s birthplace of Wichita Falls including the great Danny Hodge, Johnny Mantell, and former referees James Beard and David Manning, among many others. The drive home was equally as challenging again not because of the miles, but because I had to come to grips that I would never see my dear friend again in this life.”

-- Hardcore icon Mick Foley, promoting his book “Countdown to Lockdown: A Hardcore Journal,” told MTV News that Vader and Steve Austin were the two stifffest men he ever worked with.

“I could say Vader, though a lot of people don’t remember Vader,” Foley said. “There were some things where he was hitting me so hard, and you wanted to say, ‘Did you not get the memo?’ It was just ridiculously hard.”

Foley also said Austin let the crowd work him up.

“Stone Cold in his prime was no day at the park when he was firing up for his big comeback,” said Foley. “The crowd would be so enthusiastic, and he would feed off that enthusiasm. Everyone would benefit except me.”

-- Monday Night Raw is celebrating its 900th episode this week with a show featuring performers from both brands.

-- Stephanie McMahon-Levesque gave birth to her third child Wednesday, a baby girl, making it three daughters for her and husband Triple H (Paul Levesque).

-- Birthday wishes go out to Jody “The Assassin” Hamilton, who turned 72 last week, and Lowcountry native Burrhead Jones, who turns 73 Wednesday.

Jones (Melvin Nelson), who moved to New York City four years ago, invites his fans to call him at (843) 607-5482.

Jones officially retired from Standard Warehouse in Moncks Corner in 2004. He last stepped into a wrestling ring that same year at a show in St. Stephen.

The inimitable Jones, borrowing some lines from Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Sixteen Tons,“ sends out the following message to his Lowcountry following:

“I’m another year older and deeper in debt. Saint Peter, don’t you call me, ‘cause I can’t go; I owe my soul to the company store.”

-- Old School Championship Wrestling will present “Tag Team Wars 5” this evening at the Omar Shrine Auditorium, 176 Patriots Point Road, Mount Pleasant.

Former WCW and WWE performer Hugh Morrus will meet Josh Magnum in a featured bout. Also on the bill will be the annual “Team Wars” tournament in which the winners will get a shot at the tag-team title.

Bell time is at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5. Adult admission (cash at door) is $10; kids 12 and under $5. For more information, visit www.oscwonline.com or call 743-4800.

Reach Mike Mooneyham at (843) 937-5517 or mooneyham@postandcourier.com.

(Credit: The Post And Courier)

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