Pro Wrestling
Pro Wrestling

Gertrude Elizabeth Wilkerson (January 12, 1962 - August 27, 2010) was an American professional wrestler better known by the ring name Luna Vachon.



As a child, Gertrude Vachon wanted to continue her family's wrestling legacy. Attending wrestling events she used to play in the ring, which often resulted in training with various World Wide Wrestling Federation stars. Her family objected to her entering the wrestling business and tried to dissuade her, as they considered a wrestler's life at that time too harsh for a female. André the Giant, with whom she was close and who took her on a trip to Paris in 1974, also tried to dissuade her. Around the age sixteen, she began training under her aunt Vivian and then The Fabulous Moolah.

Early career (1985-1992)

Gertrude started her professional career wrestling for Moolah's all-women's promotion. She then moved to Florida, where she shared residence with wrestlers Scott Levy and Denny Brown.

In 1985, Luna debuted in Championship Wrestling from Florida, as a young, soft-spoken reporter named Trudy Herd, who was giving Kendall Windham an award. A melee ensued and she was knocked unconscious by Kevin Sullivan. The angle had her driven mad by Sullivan's treatment and she ended up joining Sullivan's Army of Darkness stable. As part of her new gimmick, she shaved one half of her head, which was the first step to her trademark Mohawk hairstyle, covered her face in bodypaint, and continuously sneered. Looking back, she has expressed her uneasiness about some elements of the Satanism angle.

During her time in Florida, Luna first wrestled Madusa Miceli, beginning a long-lasting in-ring rivalry. Beginning in Florida, Luna teamed up with The Lock as the Daughters Of Darkness, a part of Sullivan's Army. The duo also provided back-up vocals for the trash metal band Nasty Savage. During the next three years, Luna also traveled to Japan, where her father Butcher Vachon acting as her manager, as well as Puerto Rico. She also wrestled in David McLane's Powerful Women of Wrestling (POWW) and, during POWW's alliance with the American Wrestling Association (AWA), participated in the latter's only pay-per-view event, AWA SuperClash III in Decemer 1988, competing in a Battle royal.

In the early nineties she took over management of The Blackhearts, a masked tag team coming out of Stu Hart's Stampede Wrestling. The team consisted of Tom Nash — a childhood friend of Luna and her then-husband — and David Heath, her future husband, under the names "Apocalypse" and "Destruction", respectively. Luna worked with them in Joel Goodhart's Tri-State Wrestling, in Herb Abrams' Universal Wrestling Federation, and finally Giant Baba's All-Japan, where the team split up. Luna also worked at Wild Women of Wrestling, as a competitor, commenter and booker.

World Wrestling Federation (1993-1994)

In 1992, while wrestling in Puerto Rico, she tried to get David Heath a job with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), which resulted in the WWF developing an interest in her. They hired her, but not without some complications. No one actually knew exactly where she was; even her father only knew that she was staying in Florida. The WWF actually hired a private investigator to find her. When she was found, she was working as a waitress at a restaurant.

Luna's first WWF appearance was in April 1993 at WrestleMania IX, accompanying WWF Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels in his match against Tatanka, who was accompanied by Michaels' former valet Sensational Sherri. After the match, Luna attacked Sensational Sherri at ringside and later in the first aid area, starting a vicious feud between the two.

At the same time 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 (kayfabe) announced that he had fallen in love and presented Luna as his "main squeeze". He also endearingly called her his "Tick", which fans combined with her name to the chant "Luna-tic". From then, Bam Bam was seen blowing kisses to Luna at the end of matches, and in her honor even included the Moonsault, redubbed Lunasault, into his repertoire. A mixed tag team match between the two pairs was planned for SummerSlam in 1993, but had to be canceled because Luna legitely injured her arm and then Sherri left the WWF. Instead, Bigelow and The Headshrinkers fought and lost to Tatanka and The Smokin' Gunns in a six-man tag team match. In the autumn of 1993, Bam Bam and Luna ran afoul of some practical jokes from Doink the Clown, leading to a Survivor Series style match at the 1993 event of the same name pitting Bam Bam, The Headshrinkers, and Bastion Booger against four Doinks (actually Men on a Mission and The Bushwhackers in clown makeup). During this time Luna was the cause of dissension between Bam Bam and his part-time tag team partner Bastion Booger, who had also (kayfabe) fallen in love with her. At WrestleMania X, Bam Bam and Luna finally got their revenge on Doink by beating the Clown and his side-kick Dink in a mixed tag team match.

When the WWF's women's division was revived, Luna's old rival Madusa, who had entered the WWF under the name Alundra Blayze, won the Women's Championship. Luna set her eyes on the title and had a series of matches with Alundra, all resulting in victories for Blayze. It was during this time the relationship between Luna and Bam Bam first showed cracks after interference in a match backfired. In the summer, Luna sold Bam Bam's contract to Ted DiBiase, who was beginning to build his "Million Dollar Corporation". Luna then picked Japanese wrestler Bull Nakano to win the Women's title from Blayze, which she eventually did. Luna, however, left the WWF shortly after this title match.

In 1994, Luna was the first woman to appear in a WWF video game, when - despite objections - she was included in WWF Raw.

Independents and Extreme Championship Wrestling (1994-1996)

After leaving the WWF, Luna wrestled on the independent circuit. Upon the recommendation of Kevin Sullivan's wife Nancy, she entered Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). She was brought as Tommy Dreamer's new valet in his long running feud with Raven. Dreamer announced Luna as "someone out of your past", as Luna had been housemate to Levy in her Florida days and both had simultaneously worked in the WWF. While in ECW, Luna would stand with Tommy, feuding with Raven and his lackeys, which included Stevie Richards, and even her husband The Vampire Warrior (who, in kayfabe, had become jealous of the time she was spending with Dreamer). She had more than a few physical confrontations with Richards, including a Steel Cage match, which she won.

In the same year, she was rated #306 in the PWI 500 - the second woman to be included in that list.

In 1996/97, she competed in the American Wrestling Federation, using the name Angel Baby, and the IWA Mid-South.

World Championship Wrestling (1997)

In early 1997, Luna had a short run with World Championship Wrestling (WCW), again going after her rival Madusa. Luna interfered in Madusa's matches against WCW Women's Champion Akira Hokuto, preventing a title win by Madusa. Luna and Madusa met each other in a series of matches, including a match at the 1997 Slamboree. Although Luna dominated the matches, Madusa managed to get the pinfall every time.

World Wrestling Federation (1997-2000)

Later in 1997, Luna returned to the WWF, first as Goldust's manager, helping him to reinvent himself as "The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust". The pair sported a variety of different outfits and roles, including a dominatrix, a slave, a "New Year Baby", and his nurse. Their first feud was against Vader. Luna's first appearance had her wheeling the allegedly paralyzed Goldust to the ring and then blinding Vader with some "medical fluid". Later when Goldust, dressed like a Christmas tree, recited poems in the ring, he was attacked by Santa Claus, who turned out to be Vader. Vader eventually defeated Goldust at the 1998 Royal Rumble. The Goldust/Luna pairing also took to imitating other wrestler's gimmicks, often those of Goldust's opponents. At one point Goldust and Luna impersonated WWF European Champion Triple H and Chyna in a title match against Owen Hart. What Triple H had intended as a "joke" resulted in Owen beating Goldust and Commissioner Slaughter awarding the title to Hart, considering Goldust to be a legit replacement.

At this time, Goldust also teamed up with Marc Mero, which led to another feud, as Luna and Mero's valet Sable started to fight outside of the ring. The feud culminated in a mixed tag team match at WrestleMania XIV, pitting the two couples against each other. After this, Luna challenged Sable to an Evening Gown match at Unforgiven and scored the victory by stripping her opponent down to her underwear. The animosity between Luna and Sable was not entirely kayfabe. As Sable's popularity increased, she adopted a presumptuous attitude towards other competitors. According to Luna, as the two trained in the preparation for their WrestleMania match, Sable refused to learn how to "take bumps", while Luna was threatened by WWF officials that hurting her opponent in the ring would put her job in jeopardy. Sable also annoyed Luna with bragging about being promised the Women's Championship, a goal that had hitherto eluded the veteran Canadian. Luna was also hurt after she had carried Sable in their match, as Sable was universally congratulated while Luna was only consoled by Owen Hart. Still, Luna described the match as a highlight in her career.

In August 1998, Luna had apparently patched up her differences with Sable, as the latter, now split from Marc Mero, introduced her as the newest member of the Human Oddities stable. Luna attacked Marc Mero's new valet Jacqueline. Luna scored a pinfall victory in August, but lost a rematch in September. In December, Sable, who had won the reinstated WWF Women's Championship, was attacked by the masked "Spider Lady", who turned out to be Luna. She justified attacking her partner with the words: "It's about me, it's about what I deserve." In this feud against Sable, Shane McMahon personally supported Luna's efforts to win the championship after taking personal offense to Sable's attitude towards him and booked a Leather Strap match at the Royal Rumble. Leading up to that event, in the storyline, Luna was repeatedly attacked by an obsessed Sable fan. At the Royal Rumble, Sable successfully retained the title thanks to the interference of that fan, who now entered WWF competition as Tori. During the weeks prior to the Royal Rumble, Luna also defeated Gillberg, a WWF parody of World Championship Wrestling's star Goldberg. Luna was due to challenge Sable for another title shot several weeks later at St. Valentine's Day Massacre, but the match was canceled due to Luna's suspension for fighting with Sable backstage.

Six months later, Luna returned at SummerSlam, chasing then Women's Champion Ivory backstage after a successful title defense against Tori. This started a feud between the two with Luna even scoring a pinfall victory during an impromptu, non-title match. At Unforgiven, however, she lost to Ivory in a Hardcore Rules match. During that feud, Luna also answered a challenge from then Intercontinental Champion Jeff Jarrett and defeated him via disqualification, thanks to Ivory's interference.

From then on, Luna reassumed her role as manager for her husband, now working for the WWF under the name Gangrel, participating in several mixed tag team matches and helping Gangrel beat his opponents.

At Survivor Series in 1999, she joined forces with her former rivals Ivory, Jacqueline, and Terri Runnels, against Tori, Debra, The Fabulous Moolah, and Mae Young. Luna's team was defeated when Moolah pinned Ivory. At the Royal Rumble in 2000, she participated in the Swim Suit Contest, though in protest against the whole event she refused to take off her gown. This angle reflected Luna's legitimate dissatisfaction with the "sexualization" of the WWE's women's division. Vachon then became involved in a brief feud with Jacqueline after the latter had pinned Harvey Wippleman to capture the Women's title. She was the first person to challenge Jacqueline on the February 7 edition of "Raw", but failed following a DDT. Gangrel, who accompanied her to ringside, responded by executing his Impaler DDT on the champion. This led to a mixed tag on the following episode of SmackDown, in which Vachon and Heath defeated Moore and her partner Prince Albert. She was later released from the WWF in early 2000 due to another outburst backstage.

Independent circuit (2000-2007)

After leaving the WWF, Luna continued to manage Gangrel during her independent tours all over the world, as well as wrestling on her own. Venues included the IWA Puerto Rico in 2000, the Australian World Wrestling All-Stars in 2001, the German EWP in 2003, the British ASW in 2006 and WSU in 2007.

On June 9, 2007, Luna became the first Great Lakes Championship Wrestling's Ladies champion defeating Traci Brooks. On December 5, 2007, Luna Vachon announced her retirement; her last match took place on December 7 for Great Lakes Championship Wrestling in Milwaukee. She successfully defended her GLCW Ladies Championship against Traci Brooks and then retired as champion.

Personal life

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Luna was adopted by Butcher Vachon in 1966, when he married her mother Van, his second wife, and continued to raise her as his daughter after the marriage split. By virtue of the adoption, Luna is also the niece of "Mad Dog" Vachon and Vivian Vachon. She was also close to André the Giant.

Luna was married three times: First to Dan Hurd, with whom she had two sons, Joshua (born 1980) and Van (born 1982), who competed on the sixth season of Fox's reality cooking show Hell's Kitchen. After breaking up, she dated Dick Slater for a while until Slater began physically abusing her. She then married childhood friend Tom Nash. After Nash and Vachon split, David Heath, Nash's tag team partner in The Blackhearts, took Nash's place, and Vachon married Heath on October 31, 1994. During this marriage, she was stepmother to David's sons, David Jr. and Donavan. The two divorced in 2006 but, according to Heath, remained best of friends. She was also a grandmother to Van's daughter, Lauren.

She was featured in both Playboy and Hustler. Luna was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She became a born again Christian in 2004, after attending an Athletes International Ministry conference. She was baptized not long after by fellow wrestler Nikita Koloff along with her then-husband David Heath. In 2007, she worked as a tow truck operator in Port Richey, Florida.

Final years and death

Luna was honored in April 2009 at the 44th annual Cauliflower Alley Club reunion, given the "Ladies Wrestling Award" in Las Vegas, Nevada. One of her fondest memories about the wrestling business was being able to visit children as part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. After her retirement, Luna took an interest in fellow Canadian wrestlers and especially monitored the career of Nattie Neidhart, the daughter of friend and fellow wrestler Jim Neidhart.

Around Christmas 2009, Vachon's house was destroyed by a fire in which she lost her wrestling-related memorabilia and other possessions. After the fire, she stayed at her mother's home and joined her father and his third wife Dee on a cruise in February 2010. The fire prompted a call from fellow wrestler and friend Mick Foley (and others) to fans to send Luna-related memorabilia to Vachon's post office box. Foley also suggested that TNA bring her in to manage Tommy Dreamer at the Hardcore Justice pay-per-view in August 2010, but Luna turned down the offer, stating that she had retired.

On the morning of August 27, 2010, she was found dead at her Florida home, when her mother called on her. Investigators found oxycodone and multiple prescription drugs in her bedroom. The Medication was due to her many injuries suffered during her career as well as her bipolar disorder. Luna became addicted to medication at some point and underwent rehabilition, paid for by WWE, which she completed in June 2009.

She was buried in a ceremony open to immediate family only, at the ranch formerly owned by her close friend and godfather Andre the Giant.

In wrestling

Championships and accomplishments

  • Ladies' Major League of Wrestling
    • LMLW Women's Championship (1 time)
  • Sunshine Wrestling Federation
    • SWF Ladies' Championship (1 time)
  • Wild Women of Wrestling
    • WWOW Television Championship (1 time)
  • WSU Hall Of Fame (Class of 2011)

External links

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