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   Thu, April 15, 2004



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Victoria's secrets
By SCOTT ZERR - EDMONTON SUN


Victoria is not your run-of-the-mill wrestling diva. She doesn't sport the typical look - her long, luxurious jet-black hair in stark contrast to the bevy of bleached-blond babes on the World Wrestling Entertainment roster. She has also found a rather unique way to combine her obvious beauty with a chiselled physique that once gained her heaps of praise in amateur bodybuilding contests.

Victoria, who will defend her women's championship against Lita Sunday during the pay-per-view Backlash event at Rexall Place, has been somewhat of a mystery since stepping into the WWE ring.

While there's plenty of info circulating about the lives - in and outside the ring - of Lita, Sable, Torrie Wilson and other divas, Victoria has been somewhat shrouded in secrecy. Until now.

"I love riding sport bikes and I love hip-hop dancing. I've always wanted to be a backup dancer for someone like Usher or Jay-Z," said Victoria (real name Lisa Marie Vachon), from her home in Louisville, Kentucky.

"I've always very much been a tomboy. I was never a girl who played with dolls. My mom bought them for me but they stayed on the shelf."

It seems as though there are few places Victoria would rather be than watching the dirt fly at the local motocross track.

"I'm a huge fan. I just bought myself a new bike," said the 33-year-old, who recently volunteered to hand out trophies to deserving peewee-aged riders. "I love skiboats and SeaDoos. I've got a lot of passions that people don't know about."

Which begs, of course, the obvious question. Just what else don't fans know about the real Victoria?

"I'm very interested in supporting tissue banks and organ donation. I used to surgically remove body parts for transplantation."

Not exactly the response one might expect from a glamorous wrestler.

There is, however, one part of her life that is very girly. It's virtually a slumber party every night on the road when Victoria piles into a WWE vehicle with Stacy Keibler, Nidia, Jackie Gayda and Gail Kim, trekking from one city to the next.

"Travelling with that group of girls, it's like going to getaway camp," laughed Victoria.

"I leave one family and go on the road with another. And we have a lot of luggage. A minivan is too small for us. We share a car, share a room, eat together.''

And then there's the ritual of the two-day break during the week. It's almost as demanding as the nightly grind in the ring.

"I'm used to it by now, but at the beginning it was tough to fit in my workouts and tanning and then, of course, there's being a woman so that means facials and hairdos. And we're always watching our diet. It's really hard to eat clean on the road and sometimes McDonald's is calling my name."

Victoria and cohorts like Canada's queen of the ring, Trish Stratus, have taken female wrestling to a new level.

Not only are the women engaging in matches in which the level of wrestling is higher than it's ever been, but those tangles now regularly feature more daring falls.

"I think our definition of a diva is different. I think in wrestling terms we're all athletic Barbie dolls," explained Victoria, who studies tapes of high-flying Japanese and Mexican matches along with classic Ric Flair contests during her down time.

"We're all muscular, not the barebones, rail girls. We keep our bodies in tip-top shape so we can take those vicious bumps. Trish and I are always pushing the level.''

Former wrestler Fit Finaly was put in charge of the women's division. At the time it was considered a "rib" (joke) by insiders, but his goal was to turn his divas into serious fighters.

Victoria, for one, accepted the challenge.

"I didn't want to be just T&A. I think a lot of the girls are willing to put their bodies on the line for the entertainment and the natural high. I always wanted to jump off the top rope to the outside.

"I remember Fit telling one girl that he didn't think she should do a particular bump (fall) and the next minute he's telling me to do the same bump. I tend to push myself a little bit more.

"I'm the crazy one. I guess being crazy in the past was not just a gimmick."