Luna Vachon | A Caterpillar in a World Full of Butterflies

With her guttural growl and imposing presence, Luna Vachon was a force to be reckoned with. While she later would develop one of the most outlandish and colorful characters in wrestling, growing up as a Vachon, all she longed for was to become a wrestler like her Aunt Vivian and to make her father and uncle proud. She did just that.

While she would defeat many imposing adversaries in the ring, it was her battle with the biggest foe of all, her demons, that became too hard to overcome.

Luna Vachon | A Caterpillar in a World Full of Butterflies
[Source: WWE.com]

“This is the sport of kings and gentlemen. It’s not the sport of bimbos and boob jobs. So if you can’t wrestle, you ought to keep your (bleeping) ass out of the ring!” Luna Vachon


Luna Vachon – Upholding Wrestling Tradition and Family

“I grew up wanting to be part of this business so badly,” Luna once remembered. “My family discouraged me at first. My Aunt Vivian was a wrestler, so they knew the kind of toll wrestling could take on a woman’s body. I didn’t let that stop me, though. It was in my blood, and all I wanted to do was become a wrestler.”

Born Gertrude Wilkerson on January 12th, 1962, in Atlanta, Georgia, Luna Vachon patterned her ring style, promo delivery, and personality after her adoptive father, Paul “The Butcher” Vachon, and especially her Uncle Mad Dog Vachon. From an early age, she was always exposed to the business and wanted to become a wrestler herself.

After being taught the basics by her adoptive father and uncle, and her aunt Vivian Vachon, who Luna remembers “started coaching her in Minnesota on a mattress,” Luna was sent to The Fabulous Moolah’s Camp in Columbia, South Carolina. “They told me that I was too skinny to be a heel,” recalls Luna, who only weighed 110 lbs. “But I wanted my aunt to be proud of me, so I persevered.”

In a 2008 shoot interview with On The Mat Television, Luna’s admiration for her aunt was evident. “She was known as the ‘Wrestling Queen,’ and was one of the greatest female wrestlers in history. She wrestled like a man and was one tough hombre. I used to be very close to her because she was only 11 years older than me. That’s all I wanted to do, be like my Aunt Vivian.”


Did you know? Vivian Vachon was heavily featured in the 1973 film aptly titled, “Wrestling Queen.” Wrestling Queen offered a unique snapshot of the unruly and exciting world of wrestling from the early ’70s when the territories were still dominant, and Hulkamania was more than a decade away. You can read more about Vivian and this film here.


Seen here with her uncle Mad Dog Vachon, Luna Vachon once joked that she and her uncle were the only two in the family not allowed to sing due to their abrasive, gravelly voices.
Seen here with her uncle Mad Dog Vachon, Luna Vachon once joked that she and her uncle were the only two in the family not allowed to sing due to their abrasive, gravelly voices.

Championship Wrestling from Florida (CWF) became her next stop, where she met and became roommates with future wrestlers Peggy Lee and Lady Maxine. Luna had a couple of matches calling herself Angelle Vachon, a name Moolah had given her. She later would become a “sports journalist” named Trudy Herd, who presented Kendall Windham with an award for “Wrestler of the Month.” In one of wrestling’s most deplorable angles, the unpredictable Kevin Sullivan attacked Kendall and his accompanying father, Blackjack Mulligan. Vachon tried to intervene, but Sullivan thwarted her attempted act of heroism by slapping her hard, twice in the face.

Peggy Lee, a young Luna Vachon, and Lady Maxine in Florida. [Original photographer: David Audet]
Peggy Lee, a young Luna Vachon, and Lady Maxine in Florida. [Original photographer: David Audet]
During a shoot interview with Devon Nicholson from The Hannibal TV, Sullivan spoke about the aforementioned infamous angle and praised Luna Vachon for her talent. He considers her an intricate part of the Army of Darkness storyline. “She was so good. I slapped her, and when we got back to the dressing room, she told me, ‘Is that all you got, pussy?! I’m a Vachon!’ Luna was tough as nails.”

 

Kevin Sullivan was banned for two weeks from any television appearances until apologizing to Trudy Herd. To the fan’s surprise, when he did try making amends, the situation took a strange turn when nineteen-year-old Trudy wanted to join his Army of Darkness due to Sullivan’s slaps making her “feel something she had never felt before.” Sullivan explained that to join him and his Army of Darkness, she needed “to sacrifice something.” Luna agreed to obey his commands and became one of his slave girls, along with Lock (Winona Little Heart). The Fallen Angel (Woman) later initiated Trudy into the AOD by shaving her hair and just leaving a mohawk similar to Lady Maxine’s (aka Mad Maxine). The transformation from mild-mannered journalist to the eerie she-devil Luna Vachon commenced.

While chatting with fellow readers on the Pro Wrestling Stories Facebook page, a reader asked Jeannine Mjoseth (Mad Maxine) if Luna copied her distinctive look. To this, she clarified, “I started it with my mohawk, and she took it and made it her own while she was with Sullivan’s Army of Darkness.”

“At the beginning, they wanted to call me Moaning Mona,” Luna would recall. “But Nancy Sullivan, Kevin’s wife, said that I didn’t look like the moaning type. So she proposed Luna, short for lunatic. Nancy was one of the rare female friends I ever had.”

Years later, Sullivan remembers Luna teaching someone a lesson they’d be hard-pressed to forget.

“I’m at a spot show, and Luna is with Gangrel, and there was a manager that screwed up a spot. Mike Graham and I were in the dressing room, getting ready to work together. We’re tying up our boots, and suddenly I hear this screaming. The manager came in crawling on his hands and knees! Luna’s kicking him in the ass and slapping his head! One of the guys looked at us and said, ‘Hey, aren’t you gonna help him?’ And while smiling, I said to Mike, ‘Oh, we’ve seen this act before!’”

Luna Vachon fitted in perfectly with Kevin Sullivan’s Army of Darkness of misfits and unique personalities.
Luna Vachon fitted in perfectly with Kevin Sullivan’s Army of Darkness of misfits and unique personalities.

In a 2008 shoot interview, Luna Vachon summed up her thought process behind her striking look. “In a world full of butterflies, it takes balls to be a caterpillar,” said Luna. “When I entered the sport, I wanted to attract as much attention to myself and women’s wrestling as possible. There were pretty girls and cowgirls, but nobody had a look that stood out. I wanted to take that to the extreme.”

Gangrel, who was married to Luna Vachon from 1994-2006, remembers how Luna always strived to be like her Aunt Vivian and Uncle Mad Dog. Because she saw how her Uncle always protected wrestling, Luna took exception to anyone who questioned its validity.

“Luna admired her aunt but loved how people respected her uncle’s toughness,” says Gangrel. “She permanently damaged her vocal cords trying to talk like the Mad Dog all the time. She went above and beyond, trying to be like her uncle. We’d be in a Denny’s, and someone would say, ‘Oh that wrestling [is fake] and boom, she’d be across the table running trying to pull somebody’s eye out because at some point she heard that her uncle had done the same thing.”

He remembers the most extended conversation he had with her uncle was him issuing a warning, “If you ever hurt my niece, I’ll rip your head off!” To this remark, Gangrel could only lower his head and adhere to his counseling.


Trivia: In 1986, when the thrash band Nasty Savage was looking to do a photoshoot, the Daughters of Darkness (Lock and Luna) were chosen because of their wild appearance. They also sang background vocals for the song “XXX” because their angry-sounding voices seemed like a good match for the aggressive music style.

Listen to Luna Vachon do backup vocals for the song “XXX” by Nasty Savage:


Luna Vachon and Her Rivalry with Sherri Martel and Alundra Blayze

Luna Vachon debuted in the WWF on April 4th, 1993, at WrestleMania IX. She escorted Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels to the ring against Tatanka, who had Sherri Martel in his corner. Chaos followed at the match’s conclusion when Luna attacked Sherri and continued her heinous assault backstage in the first aid area.

Watch Luna Vachon’s Vicious attack on Sherri Martel and more!:

During that same year, the WWF wanted to resurrect the vacant Women’s Championship. The newly planned women’s division centered around Alundra Blayze (Madusa Miceli) after she had defeated the feisty high-flying Heidi Lee Morgan in a six-woman tournament.

Without missing a beat, Luna Vachon set her sights on winning the title from the newly crowned Alundra Blayze, and a feud between the two ensued.

While Luna and Sherri were at odds, Bam Bam Bigelow had a confrontation with Sherri. This led to him being attacked by Tatanka and the two of them feuding. Soon after, Bam Bam would announce that he had fallen in love with his “main squeeze,” Luna. He also endearingly called her his “Tick.” Fans latched onto this, and it wasn’t long before they began mockingly chanting “Luna-tic.” During matches, Bam Bam could be seen blowing kisses to Luna, and in her honor, he even redubbed his moonsault the “Lunasault.”

Bam Bam Bigelow and Luna Vachon backstage with Sean Waltman's son, Jesse.
Bam Bam Bigelow and Luna Vachon backstage with Sean Waltman’s son, Jesse. [Source: @realxpac on Instagram]
Vachon considered Sherri Martel her favorite wrestler to work with and Miss Texas (Jaqueline Moore), who she defeated in 1993 to become the USWA Women’s Champion, a close second. “You couldn’t hurt Sherri. The people would be going nuts. One night I broke her nose, and I told her, ‘I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry!’, and I couldn’t even touch her. With blood gushing out of her nose, she replied intensely with a sneer, ‘It’s good for business, say ‘I’m sorry in the locker room,’ ‘Keep going!’”

Luna Vachon considers Sherri Martel her favorite opponent. They had a brief but memorable feud in 1993, where they pulled all the stops to entertain the fans.
Luna Vachon considers Sherri Martel her favorite opponent. They had a brief but memorable feud in 1993, where they pulled all the stops to entertain the fans. [Source: fishbulbsuplex.tumblr.com]

“I’ve been waiting for this match for a long time. Beauty and the Beast, and there’s beauty right there!” – Jerry “The King” Lawler, referring to Luna Vachon in a match versus Alundra Blayze


After several unsuccessful attempts of dethroning Alundra Blayze of the WWF Women’s Championship, in storyline, Japanese star Bull Nakano was brought in by Luna to defeat Blayze once and for all. Nakano became Alundra Blayze’s most formidable opponent during her championship run in the WWF during the mid-’90s. She would later drop the title to Nakano at the Big Egg Wrestling Universe on November 20th, 1994, only to regain it five months later.

Watch: Luna Vachon takes on Alundra Blayze for the WWF Women’s Championship

In the book Sisterhood of the Squared Circle by Pat Laprade and Dan Murphy, Madusa claims that she wanted to drop the title to Luna Vachon. Regrettably, management didn’t share her enthusiasm. “I told Luna that I wasn’t going to kick out or anything and that she should just take the belt. She sat there and cried, telling me nobody had ever suggested or done anything like that for her. We went to wrestle and, I knew the repercussions I would get later; still, I laid there, but the referee wouldn’t count. It was deplorable.”

Luna Vachon didn’t mince words when speaking about Madusa or the then-current state of women’s wrestling in what we estimate is a shoot interview from around 2005. “We had our best matches in the locker room. [Madusa] was very underhanded, very sneaky, smart, and dangerous. Sadly, women that get involved in this sport aren’t trying to help female wrestling. It’s nice to see Molly [Holly] doing all she’s doing. Madusa was mad because I was in a video game and she wasn’t. Sable was mad because my hair was better than hers on a doll. These things are petty. It was hard for me to understand that other women weren’t happy when nice things happened to me.”

Luna continued, “I wanted to see good things happy to women as a whole, but we keep allowing women to get into our sport who believe their shit. The promoters don’t put them in their place, and this is the case with many of the women who’ve made it to the top.”

Luna Vachon – Her Second WWF Stint and Altercations With Sable

After leaving the WWF in ’94, Luna wrestled on the independent circuit before returning to the WWF in 1997. Her second stint in the WWF seems to be almost forgotten by many fans. Yet strangely, it is when we may have witnessed her peak as a wrestler and a sports entertainer.

In 1997, Luna Vachon became manager for the eccentric and already highly controversial Goldust, helping him reinvent himself as the even stranger “Artist Formerly Known as Goldust.” At the beginning of the Attitude Era, the twisted enigma that is Goldust caught his wife and valet Marlena (Terri Runnels) entirely by surprise in a shoot-style interview. He admitted that he no longer loved her and was tired of continually being scorned and disciplined. Fed up with living for her and his father, Dusty Rhodes, Goldust felt suffocated, and couldn’t be who he was on the inside.

Here is where Luna Vachon’s most multifaceted character arose, proving her ability to take on any role and make it work. She seemed to enjoy working with Dustin Rhodes genuinely, often mocking their opponents by dressing up as them and having promos that were pure over the top entertainment that significantly diverged into the sick and absurd. Luna Vachon became a dominatrix, a nurse, and the perfect partner for Goldust and his outrageous antics.

Watch: Luna Introduces “The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust”

Over the years, there have been stories on Sable being aloof with the other women in the company, but her husband at the time Marc Mero has no problem with Vachon and even puts her over.

“She played that role so well. Luna being a top wrestler that she was, working with someone who had never wrestled. Maybe there were egos or animosity involved; maybe Sable was aloof to her in the dressing room, but there was friction whatever it was. But Luna never brought it into the ring or hurt Sable. She was never unprofessional, but she voiced her opinion backstage, and it was an unfortunate situation back then.”

Vachon, never one to mince her words, didn’t pull punches when speaking about Sable, who she felt hadn’t paid her dues and was getting unfair preferential treatment.

“I wanted to help her initially, but she told me that she didn’t need to learn how to fall, as she was going to become champion anyways. She started to believe she could wrestle anybody!” Vachon continued, “[Sable] had not paid her dues, or trained. I grew up protecting the wrestling industry. I was used to the old school mentality, not the entertainment one.”

Luna Vachon’s family members and later peers taught her to protect and respect the business from a very young age. She believed that wrestling talent should always be a more critical factor than looks. “There are girls with talent who are very beautiful, but there are also girls that arent’s so beautiful that maybe aren’t getting the opportunities because of their weight or their [lack of] beauty is holding them back. This is the sport of kings and gentlemen. It’s not the sport of bimbos and boob jobs. So if you can’t wrestle, you ought to keep your (bleeping) ass out of the ring.”

When part of The Oddities faction, Luna Vachon remembers most not wanting to work with them because they were stereotyped as gimmick workers, but she applauds people like Jeff Jarrett. The latter looked past appearances and always thought about how to have a great match with them.

The Death of Luna Vachon

During her last years, Luna Vachon became a born again Christian after being baptized by Nikita Koloff. She tried to clean herself up from her drug addiction, but sadly, disaster struck around Christmas 2009 when her house burned down, destroying all of her belongings. The months that followed would be difficult for her, and on August 27th, 2010, at the age of 48, in the area of Pasco County, Florida, she would die from an accidental overdose of oxycodone and benzodiazepine. Her mother, who was coming by to visit, had discovered her body. Investigators previously found crushed pill residue and snorting straws at multiple locations inside her home. Vachon became addicted to medication at some point and underwent rehabilitation, paid for by WWE, which she completed in June 2009.

Three years before her death, she was still active in wrestling. Vachon defended and retained her Universal Women’s Hardcore Championship after defeating Jessika Havok in August of 2007. And on December 7th, her last match was for Great Lakes Championship Wrestling in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with a win over Tracey Brooks.

Luna Vachon with her uncle Mad Dog, and father Paul The Butcher Vachon.
Luna Vachon with her uncle Mad Dog, and father Paul The Butcher Vachon. [Source: @WrestlingIsKIng]

Remembering Luna

Fierce, ruthless, wild, and crazy are all words that many employ to describe Luna Vachon. But she also had a smile that could disarm even the most jaded cynic. She was smarter than most people gave her credit for and had a deep-rooted love for the sport.

In her autobiography, Lita would write, “Luna was a definite inspiration for me-she had a wild look and was a genuinely tough female wrestler. She had a reputation for being kind of crazy, but I found her to be as sweet as could be. She was always very encouraging, telling me to stay true to myself.”

“She was willing to beat up a drunken New Jack for disrespecting me,” Miss Hyatt would remember. “I would like to think that Luna is in heaven since the devil was afraid that she would take his spot.”

In 2008, Luna’s advice to anyone that wanted to enter the business was, “Don’t watch what is happening on Raw. Go back and watch tapes because the only thing new in wrestling is what’s been forgotten. And what’s been forgotten, is the good old basic wrestling like the Tennessee and Mid-South style wrestling.”

In her last ever interview with WWE.com, Luna thanked the fans as if she knew it could be her last chance. “Thank you for all the years. Thank you to those who knew me back then and those that still remember me today. Thanks to everyone that ever screamed, cheered, spit on me, or threw beer on me. I want to thank them for everything.”

In 2009, Luna Vachon was presented the “Ladies Wrestling Award” by The Cauliflower Alley Club, and in 2019, she was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as a legacy inductee.

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Javier Ojst
Javier Ojst is a senior writer for Pro Wrestling Stories. He is an old school wrestling enthusiast and the creator/administrator of the Facebook page "Classic Wrestling Stars." He also has a few bylines on Pop Culture Retrorama where he shares stories of pop culture and retro related goodness. This work can be read by following the link above. He can be reached by e-mail at jojst1@gmail.com.