Ringside Remembrances — Luna Vachon
By Jay Shannon
Jay Shannon draws upon his 4 decades of experience as a devout wrestling fan to look at the past, present and future of professional wrestling.
“Death is the last voyage, the longest and the best.” — Thomas Wolfe
As I woke up on Saturday morning, I did my regular routine. Take the pups outside, grab a fresh glass of milk and start going through my various e-mails. There was a note from my friend, and fellow 1Wresling.com scribe, Sal La Sardo, Jr. In that e-mail was the shocking revelation that Luna Vachon was gone. She was one of the most unique, yet lovely, people in the business. I immediately scouted out several web sites, hoping that Sal had heard incorrectly about the death. Sadly, he was 100% correct. Luna has joined so many that have passed this year: General Skandor Akbar, Lance Cade, Toni Adams, Chris Kanyon, Gene Kiniski, Ludvig Borga, Jack Brisco and far too many others. While I never met Luna, I was a major fan of hers since her earliest days. With a heavy heart, I look back at the odd and wonderful career of Luna Vachon.
GETTING HER START …
Luna, who’s real name was Gertrude Angelle Vachon, wanted to wrestle from the time she was a child. Her adoptive father was Paul “Butcher” Vachon. Her uncle, “Mad Dog” Maurice Vachon, and aunt, Vivian Vachon, also worked the ring wars. The Vachon family tried, over and over, to suggest different job options for the impressionable young girl. The three wrestlers knew that women’s wrestling was, back then, a really tough business with few breaks. Gertrude was persistent in her desire to perform. She often played in the rings of the then-WWWF as her father and uncle were performers there. She began to pick up wrestling moves from the women and men who plied their trade. When Gertrude refused to give up on her dream, Paul, her dad, began to train her. He turned her over to Vivian (the aunt) to learn how women’s wrestling was different from the men’s side. Vivian would eventually send Gertrude to the greatest female wrestler of all time, The Fabulous Moolah, to finish her “education”. Gertrude began her wrestling career working for Moolah’s all-female organization. She went under the name, Angel Baby, due to her youthful appearance and the fact that her middle name was Angelle.
FROM AN ANGEL TO A DEVIL …
In the mid-80s, Gertrude moved to Florida. She portrayed a shy, reporter named Trudy Herd. She was brought out to present an award to Kendall Windham. Kevin Sullivan crashed the presentation and Trudy was accidentally struck. Over the next few weeks, Sullivan took Trudy into his Army of Darkness fold. The story was that his semi-Satanic rituals corrupted her mind. She eventually shaved half of her head (much like Bob Roop) and began painting her face in vein-like lines. She joined forces with The Lock (Winona Littleheart) as the Daughter of Destruction. The demented troupe would travel the Southern Corridor over the next few years. Eventually, Luna would become The Lock (in the Houston/San Antonio market). Sullivan replaced Winona with his real-life wife, Nancy (The Fallen Angel). I remember seeing her on the local Dallas station that carried Paul Boesch’s Houston-based group. While we all stared at the scantily-clad Fallen Angel, I always noticed Trudy, in the back. Eventually, she would shave her head into her trademark Mohawk.
By the late 80s, women’s wrestling had undergone a major revival. The WWF and Japan (as well as other groups) had incorporated women into their product. Before heading to the WWF, Gertrude made several tours of Japan,as Angel, Angel Baby and Angel Vachon. By the early 90s, she had accepted a position in the Stampede organization in Canada. She served as the manager/valet to the masked Blackhearts tag team. The team was composed of her then-husband, Tom Nash, and her future husband, David “Gangrel” Heath. She would take the duo down to Puerto Rico for a tour. During that tour, she touched base with her contacts in the WWF to try and get her men (especially Heath) a job. They were interested in Heath. They were also very interested in the unique-looking second generation star.
WWF TOUR NUMBER ONE …
Vachon had an unusual start in the WWF. She was hired, over the phone. When it came time to send her the contract and such, no one could find her. She had relocated to Florida and even her immediately family was unsure of exactly where she had done. The WWF took the unusual step of hiring a private investigator to search for her. They found her working as a waitress. (Why they didn’t incorporate that into a series of vignettes still baffles me). Vachon, now renamed Luna, was kept under wraps until Wrestlemania IX. She was Shawn Michaels’ mystery valet in his Intercontinental title defense against Tatanka. Tatanka had Shawn’s former valet, Sensational Sherri (Martel) in his corner. The two women got into a fight, after the match. This kicked off a nasty feud between the two women. Luna would eventually leave Shawn Michaels to aid Bam Bam Bigelow. Bigelow started calling Luna “Tick”, based on the term Lunatic. The fans started chanting Luna-Tick at any opportunity. The feud with Sherri came to an end when Luna hurt her arm. Before Luna returned from the injury, Sherri had left the WWF.
Upon her return, Luna and Bigelow finished up their feud with Tatanka. From there, they went after the now-face Doink the Clown. Doink would enlist numerous other “Doinks” to help him. Eventually, Doink brought in an aid to counter Luna, Dink. Dink was a midget clown. The four would square off at Wrestlemania X. Not long after that match, the WWE brought back the Women’s title. Luna was thrust into a program with Alundra Blayze (Madusa Miceli). Luna tried, several times, to wrest the title from Alundra but failed. Luna eventually brought in Bull Nakano to fight Alundra. Nakano did take the title from Alundra. During this time, Luna sold the managerial contract of Bam Bam Bigelow to Ted DiBiase, Sr. Soon after the sale and Nakano’s win, Luna disappeared from the WWF.
THE EXTREME LUNA-TIC
After leaving WWF, Luna was contacted by Nancy Sullivan-Benoit. Nancy was working in ECW and felt it was the right environment for her old friend and stablemate. She was brought in as a special mystery valet for Tommy Dreamer. She was announced as someone from Raven’s past, as Dreamer was in the middle of a nasty feud with Raven and his flock. The “past” in question was that Raven and Luna had both worked as managers in WWF at the same time (Raven as Johnny Polo). Luna would focus her wrath on one of Raven’s most trusted henchmen, Stevie Richards. They had several brutal battles, including a steel cage match, won by Luna. After that feud, Luna left, with a few other ECW stars, to head over to WCW. She feuded with Madusa, again. Luna never actually won against Madusa, even though she was in control of 90% of the matches. When WCW powered down its female division, Luna returned to the WWF.
WWF — Tour Number Two
When Luna returned, she joined forces with Goldust. Their teaming was bizarre. Luna helped to recreate Goldust’s character, several times over. She aided Goldust in his feud with Vader. The trio went through several identities during the feud, including Santa Claus (Vader) and a Christmas Tree (Goldust). The feud finally ran it’s course after Vader dominated Goldust. From there, they moved on to Marc Mero and Sable. Mero and Goldust were originally set to be tag team partners but the jealousy between the two women led to them feuding. Marc and Goldust were pulled into the feud. The two couple had a huge battle at Wrestlemania XIV. After that, the two women competed in an Evening Gown Match at that year’s Unforgiven. It was later revealed that the hard feelings between Luna and Sable weren’t all scripted. The more the women fought, the nastier the matches got. Luna was actually warned that if she got too rough with Sable, her job would be in peril. Luna had major resentment to Sable’s push but remained professional.
Luna appeared to “bury the hatchet” with Sable by the summer of 1998. Luna even brought Sable into the Oddities group that she headed. The alliance fell apart when Sable won the restored WWF Women’s title. Luna came out under a mask as the Spider Lady. This was the second time a Spider Lady had attacked the Women’s Chamnpion (the first Spider Lady was Luna’s mentor and friend, Fabulous Moolah). Luna ended up feuding with both Sable and her “fan”, Tori. The longer the feud went on, the more irate Luna became. Luna lost a title opportunity after she was suspended for fighting, backstage, with Sable. Luna was kept off WWF TV for approximately six months. When she returned, she set her sights on Ivery, the new Women’s champion. Luna never managed to win the title and eventually decided to return to management.
The WWF brought in Luna’s husband, David “Gangrel” Heath. She was placed at his side. They had a few mixed tag matches but the chemistry just didn’t work for the fans. Luna returned to Women’s action at Survivor Series 1999. She teamed with Ivory, Terri (Runnels) and Jacqueline (Moore) to battle Tori, Moolah, Debra and Mae Young. Her next big event was a swim suit competition at the 2000 Royal Rumble. Luna, who despised the way WWF had turned its women competitors into mere sex objects, refused to remove her robe. Her attitude against WWF continued to worsen as she was again passed over for championship gold and her husband, Gangrel’s, push was decreased. After a small feud with Jacqueline and Prince Albert, Luna got into another backstage altercation with persons unnamed. The WWF released Luna, due to her negative attitude.
The Final Few Years
Not long after she was released from the WWF, her husband, Gangrel, left the WWF. They worked the independent scene together, until their marriage fell apart. Luna worked with several other stars. She also wrestled against various men and women around the U.S. and Canada. She became the very first Great Lakes Ladies Champion, on June 9, 2007, when she defeated Traci Brooks. Six months later, Luna announced her retirement. Her final battle was a title defense against Traci on December 7th. She successfully defended the title and then retired, as champion.
After wrestling, Luna opened a Wrecker Service in Florida. Luna made a rare appearance at the Cauliflower Club in Las Vegas. She was given the Ladies Wrestling Award in 2009. Sadly, that award, along with almost everything Luna owned, was lost in a fire, earlier this year. Luna had moved in with her mother after the fire. On August 27th, Luna’s mother called police after her daughter wouldn’t respond. The cause of Luna’s death was still unknown as of the time I write this.
Gertrude Angelle “Luna” Vachon was a very spirited woman who believed women deserved to be treated as equals by their male counterparts. “Trudy” did a lot of charity work, including her favorite charity, Make-a-Wish Foundation. She helped mentor several lady wrestlers, including Natalya (Nattie Neidhart). While she had temper issues that cost her her WWF career, Trudy was a wonderful woman that was willing to help others. She had two sons and two granddaughters at the time of her death. She certainly deserves a spot in the WWE Hall of Fame. She was one of the most unique performers to ever work inside the ring. She will never be forgotten.
I never got to meet you Miss Vachon. Being of a strong religious conviction, I truly believe that you can now claim that name, Angel Baby, as you have earned your place in the celestial kingdom. God Bless and may your eternity be blessed with happiness.