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Black Fridays continue for WWE
Holly released, Victoria retires
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling


Victoria is one of the latest wrestlers to leave WWE, as her retirement was made official during Friday's Smackdown broadcast. Photo courtesy of World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.

Just one week after WWE officially announced the releases of superstars Val Venis, Bam Neely and D-Lo Brown, two other names joined the list of former employees.

Hardcore Holly and Victoria both are now no longer part of the WWE roster, albeit in different manners.

Holly, real name Robert Howard, was released amid what has been a period of major cutbacks for the Fed, which included several other releases which were not formally announced through WWE.com, including former referees Jimmy Korderas and Tim White and former talents such as Ron Simmons and Sgt. Slaughter among many others. Holly's departure however, was publicly announced.

"World Wrestling Entertainment has come to terms on the release of Raw Superstar Bob 'Hardcore' Holly as of today, January 16. WWE wishes Bob the best in all future endeavors," WWE stated on their website.

Howard first came to WWE as Thurman "Sparky" Plugg, but was soon after renamed Bob "Sparkplug" Holly. Billed as being from Mobile, Alabama, Holly was initially given the gimmick of being a NASCAR driver who ambitioned to be a two-sport athlete. This initial run did include a brief (one-day) stint as WWF Tag Team champion alongside the 1-2-3 Kid, as well as a seeming Intercontinental Title run after pinning then champ Jeff Jarrett (the title win was over-ruled when it was discovered, upon review, that Jarrett had his foot on the ropes while pinned and the title was declared vacant).

Holly would continue in the gimmick until 1998, when he would assume the name of "Bombastic" Bob Holly and was aligned with "Bodacious" Bart Gunn as the New Midnight Express. The two were guided by Jim Cornette during the brief NWA invasion angle, and would hold the NWA World Tag Team Championships after defeating The Headbangers.

Holly and Gunn would part ways shortly thereafter and the now former racer would change his career forever as he adopted the moniker "Hardcore" Bob Holly. Here, Howard would enjoy his greatest WWE success in the newly formed Hardcore division, holding its title on numerous occasions while fighting against the likes of Al Snow and Road Dogg Jesse James. Holly would also have an on-again, off-again feud with storyline cousin Crash Holly during this period as well. The two, who would later be joined by Molly Holly, would also hold the Tad Team titles.

Amidst this run, Holly would sustain an arm injury, the first of what became a rash of recovery times in his career, in 2000 in a match against Kurt Angle. He would later suffer injuries that put him on the sidelines (either in storyline or legitimately) during matches against Brock Lesnar, Rob Van Dam and Snitsky.

As Holly gained more veteran years, he began to be placed in more feuds versus up-and-comers, particularly after being a trainer in the Tough Enough series. Holly would be one of the first feuds for the likes of Lesnar, Randy Orton and Cody Rhodes among others. It was in the midst of a championship tag team run with Rhodes, in fact, that Holly would be in his last WWE match, as Rhodes turned on him at Night of Champions, aligning himself with Ted DiBiase Jr., who squared off against the champs that night. Holly had not appeared on WWE TV since that bout.

Victoria, real name Lisa Marie Varon, meanwhile, formally announced her retirement on Friday's Smackdown broadcast (taped the prior Tuesday).

Varon, a former bodybuilder, first appeared on WWE TV as one of the Godfather's Hos. During this time, the Godfather transitioned to become "The Goodfather", during one segment giving Victoria a dramatic wrestling bump. Following this, Victoria would move to Ohio Valley Wrestling (having previously been assigned to the Memphis area).

Varon would re-emerge in her new gimmick in 2002 and would immediately be embroiled in a feud with Trish Stratus. Victoria claimed that Stratus had betrayed her while the two were fitness models, and would eventually capture the Women's Title from the Toronto native. During this run, Victoria would be aligned with Stevie Richards. Their feud would continue while other Divas, such as Jazz and Lita, were inserted into the mix.

Later, Victoria would turn babyface and have a second run with the title. During this period, Victoria would enter into a feud with Molly Holly, which included a title vs. hair match at WrestleMania XX, which Victoria would win.

Victoria would continue as a babyface until 2005, when she would turn heel by attacking Christy Hemme. Soon after, she would be aligned with Torrie Wilson and Candice Michelle as part of the Ladies in Pink (or Vince's Devils). Through the end of her WWE run, Victoria would continue to work as a heel, either in singles competition or in tag team action, most recently alongside Natalya Neidhart. Victoria's final WWE match was a loss to Michelle McCool on the Friday Smackdown broadcast.

Related Links:

  • SLAM! Wrestling's Bob Holly biography

  • Victoria talks ankle, divas and weddings

  • SLAM! Wrestling's News and Rumours board

    SLAM! Wrestling will have more on WWE roster moves as news breaks.