WCW Nitro Revisited
Top 10 Valets List...
The valet can be a critical tool for the professional wrestler. She will often be seen at ringside cheering on her guy, but can also serve as a distraction to the opponent and often to the referee as well as being available to pass illegal objects to her guy in order to shift the match in his favour. Often, the valet is demure and is seen but not heard. She is very different from a diva (female wrestler) because she will only fight under duress. WCW had an illustrious array of valets, especially during the Monday Nitro years. Since 1999, professional wrestling has put an undue emphasis on female wrestlers leading to women in the industry being known more for their brutality than their grace. In my opinion this has not been a positive complement to the male wrestlers. I would like to see the return of the valet and a shift away from the diva because I cannot fathom how professional wrestling will ever attract the dilettante viewer again and gain mass appeal when it has the qualities of a trailer park soap opera. Hopefully, in the future there will be a return of feminine wiles instead of female savagery, as that was critical to male viewers being self-reflexive about their own id-motivations for watching the simulated violence in wrestling. This list is the top 10 WCW valets during the Monday Nitro era. Worth noting is that a couple of the selections are arguably more diva wrestler or manager than valet per se, yet during Nitro everyone on the list exemplified the role of the valet more than anything else.
N.B. more archival photos of these valets can be found at the following websites...
N.B. more archival photos of these valets can be found at the following websites...
*|*NSFW warning: the photo galleries include FULL nudity*|*
10. Gorgeous George (Stephanie Bellars)
Gorgeous George popped up once Macho Man Randy Savage had been stripped of Miss Elizabeth and temporarily chased out of the nWo and WCW. When Savage returned he was promoting himself as a stylish pimp type boasting three female escorts to his matches. Two of the women were wrestlers and then there was George. She really wasn't a wrestler which was proven when she was pitted against referee, Charles Robinson. She did wrestle but there was nothing very impressive about her performances. She was billed as Savage's manager, but really didn't provide any "training" or tactics and strategy suggestions during matches and there was no sense that she had stroke as a booker - so the manager title was a misnomer. The reality is that she was a striking, buxom valet with an exotic face, alabaster white skin and flowing golden hair. Her fitness model status is likely what led to confusion about her being a wrestler.
9. Sista Sherri (Sherri Martel)
Sherri had a long career in professional wrestling and her persona was truly remarkable. She was wild and savage, but cunning and clever and had the looks to match. She could also be demure when it suited her needs. The truth is that she really was a manager sooner than a valet. She coached her wrestlers and made herself available at ringside to offer advice during matches. There was a sense that she controlled her stable the way a vaunted booking agent might and that she would be negotiating in the back on behalf of her wrestlers looking for a better shake. That was the persona though and she carried herself accordingly to promote the role. Besides that she actually began her career in the industry as a successful female wrestler winning several titles. She was inducted into the hall of fame in 2006 but passed away a year later.
8. Queen of WCW (Debra Marshall, formerly McMichael)
Debra's persona at WCW was obnoxious and really jarring on the fans. Much like Sherri, Debra was actually more of a manager than a valet during the 1990s, however, for the Nitro episodes at WCW, Debra had little stroke. She played the role of a strumpet wife to her husband, Steve "Mongo" McMichael, internally destroying the popular Four Horseman faction through her support of the annoying usurper, "Double J" Jeff Jarrett. She acted as if she was building a stable, but appeared to be merely bed-hopping (later to Alex Wright). She eventually followed Jarrett back to the WWF where she went on to have a successful run as his manager.
7. Miss Hancock (Stacy Keibler)
Stacy entered WCW when it was in the process of being tanked by its future owner, Vince McMahon. She supposedly was "discovered" in the crowd (recalls Pam Anderson) and later joined a talent search contest for the new Nitro Girl. I believe that it is more likely she was represented by a powerful model agency and they introduced her to WCW executives. The Nitro Girls angle was likely in anticipation of developing story lines with some of the other Nitro Girls dancers who had been thrust into the position of valet in 1999. Stacy became the stuffy stripper, Miss Hancock, but the allure of her character degenerated quickly. She was soon on the arm of a variety of men in wrestling while psychologically torturing David Flair. There was a terrible angle where she pretended to have a miscarriage during a mud fight match with Major Gunns (Tylene Buck). The whole thing was very confusing and inappropriate. I hated to see the shift toward trailer park soap opera drama and she was a critical tool in that experiment that went on to become status quo for professional wrestling. She wasn't a great wrestler or valet, but if the valet also serves the role of eye candy for fans, then she was exemplary. Stacy had gams that rivaled Marlene Dietrich. It's a shame Keibler wasn't gifted at acting because she was striking onscreen.
6. Torrie (Torrie Wilson)
Torrie - like many in this list - was actually a successful fitness model sooner than a wrestler, manager or valet. They came in during the late 90s not knowing about the business and had to roll with the punches, so to speak. Torrie began on Nitro in one of the most contrived segments for the history of professional wrestling. A "hidden" camera followed her as she welcomed herself into David Flair's private life. Her role was to seduce David into being loyal to Hollywood Hogan and the nWo and have him turn against his father, Ric Flair. Torrie as "Samantha" was the succubus to accomplish the task and she did that. The angle was so hokey and poorly orchestrated that it exemplified the terrible shift toward trailer park soap opera drama that soon became the status quo for professional wrestling. Torrie got awkwardly shuffled around after that eventually landing with "The Franchise" Shane Douglas. Douglas, like most of the ECW imports, never fit in well with WCW and this hurt Torrie's appeal. She turned into an obnoxious brat to draw the ire of the fans. It was a paltry attempt. Torrie was certainly not a wrestler or a manager. She was a valet and could have been used more effectively at WCW, but then that wouldn't have been part of the McMahon master plan.
5. Kimberly (Kimberly Page, nee Bacon)
Kimberly was a talent utilized very well in the WCW. She had multiple roles as valet to Diamond Dallas Page (as the Diamond Doll), Johnny B. Badd and The Booty Man (as the Booty Babe). She epitomized the role of the valet, as she cheered for her guys and feigned shock when they were being beaten or injured. She had high energy when entering the ring area. Once the nWo formed, Kimberly was ready to inaugurate the Nitro Girls where she would fit in nicely. However, Macho Man Randy Savage began harassing Kimberly attempting to force her membership into the nWo. DDP took exception to this affront and an entertaining feud began between the two couples of Savage and Miss Elizabeth with DDP and Kimberly. For a time Kimberly would valet for DDP and her entrance with him had great energy and was iconic for the Nitro era of WCW. Later, Kimberly was in a story line with Scott Steiner where his fragile ego had him stalking women that spurned his advances. Kimberly was one of those coveted women. Kimberly heel-turned in 2000 and the whole angle was totally pointless and embarrassing. It was another example of how effectively WCW was tanked.
4. Midajah (Melinda Midajah McCallum)
While WCW was doing everything wrong from 1999-2001, Midajah was a shining beacon for a winning formula. She was the valet for Scott Steiner during his extended run as World Heavyweight Champion. His title reign closed out the promotion and Midajah was loyally with him the entire time. She was in the same class as a Miss Elizabeth, but the darker, "attitude" version. She was often seen and not heard. She was at Steiner's side during matches and helped distract refs, attack refs and find weapons for Big Poppa Pump to use and secure his title defense. She wasn't wrapped up in any hokey dramas, but she could be attacked backstage putting Steiner into a dramatic and frightening rage when he discovered her incapacitated. Midajah had a dramatic look with long, raven black hair and puffy lips that recalled the sensational, Angelina Jolie.
3. Major Gunns (Tylene Buck)
The valets in the late 90s seemed more like strippers than anything else. In reality, they were a mix of wrestlers, fitness models... and strippers. Tylene went on to become a porn actor and the last time I checked she had a webcam service. I can't say that I expected otherwise, but I will give her credit for being one of the better valets in WCW. She was primarily seen and not heard. Tylene had an incredibly sexy body which was showcased in a variety of flattering outfits without looking slutty. She had high energy when she was with MIA and you honestly got really excited when you heard their entrance music start up because you knew Major Gunns was going to be showing off in the ring cheering for her team. When she was forced to join Team Canada it was really cute and she handled the duties perfectly. The segment of her being "trained to be Canadian" was priceless. In truth, Tylene wasn't a bad actor, especially compared to many of the other talent in the industry. When the creative team decided to have her heel turn and stay with Team Canada it was a brilliant choice. Tylene had the naughty minx look and where she had been once pouting and complaining that being forced on Team Canada was unfair, she now turned that attitude into moxie servicing the high morale of Team Canada and its leader, Lance Storm. Tylene will always be one of my favourite valets for her bubbly personality... and bodacious body.
2. Woman (Nancy Benoit, Nee Toffoloni)
The story of Nancy Benoit is a tragic one, but her professional wrestling career was a huge success. She mixed the roles of manager and valet, but by the time of Monday Nitro she was primarily a valet. When she joined the Four Horsemen there was a great dynamic of "too many cooks in the kitchen". The Horsemen were accompanied by three powerful valets in Miss Elizabeth, Debra and Woman (Nancy). Woman and Debra butted heads and eventually things got awkward because Nancy had started an extramarital affair in real life with Chris Benoit. Her husband, Kevin Sullivan, was still wrestling in WCW. This led to one of the best impromptu story lines in the history of professional wrestling as Sullivan acquired a new valet in the powerful female wrestler, Jacqueline. Soon after, Woman and Benoit disappeared from WCW. Benoit returned later but Woman did not accompany him. Due to the awkward drama, Woman was an enigmatic figure in WCW during the early Nitro years. Ric Flair provided one of the epic lines in wrestling when he referred to her as, "Woman, oh Woman won't you marry me now". The line had a bitter irony and its hard to believe this was lost on the eternally clever Flair.
1. Miss Elizabeth (Elizabeth Hulette)
Miss Elizabeth was magic. Her demure and coy personality was a perfect complement for the wild, madness of Macho Man Randy Savage. They were truly the first couple of wrestling and it made perfect sense for them to be reunited in WCW. Miss Elizabeth was getting older when she joined the nWo, but she still had a delicate and graceful beauty. She epitomised the role of the valet. Miss Elizabeth was present at ringside almost entirely for the morale of Savage, Hogan or other wrestlers she was supporting. However, she had a knack for distracting referees and the refs were very eager to chat with her on the apron. During the Nitro years, Miss Elizabeth became more ruthless, but never turned heel in the mind of the fans. What I appreciate about Elizabeth's character was that her silence, mystery and privacy allowed her to serve as a surrogate for male viewers. Boys and young men could project their imagination's ideal of femininity onto Elizabeth and this allowed them to reflect on their own urges toward brutality and motivation for a desire in physical violence. Now that we have shifted from the stripper-whores of the attitude era promoting trailer park soap opera drama to the current movement of nasty, brutish and short diva wrestlers we have also lost the magic and the balance of professional wrestling. Professional wrestling has always been an alternative to real brutality and violence. We watch to play out our guilt for desiring violence. The valets helped with that process and they were most effective when demure, coy, clever and physically graceful. Elizabeth exemplified all those qualities and she will truly be missed because we lost her far too early given what she gave us as an entertainer.
BONUS: Pamela Paulshock
Pamela was a backstage interviewer with WCW in the last few years of the promotion's existence. Pamela would have made a great valet because she let the chaos swirl around her without getting herself implicated in the mess that ensued. She had a liveliness and when she won the bikini contest it underscored her potential for the promotion. Pamela was the good girl, but it would have been nice to see her range by having her turn heel.