A while back this blog had a piece on the life and death of Miss Elizabeth which prompted one reader to request a similar piece on Nancy Toffoloni, better known as Woman or the late wife of Chris Benoit and here is that piece.
Nancy Toffoloni wasn’t born a wrestling fan…her plans in life started out simple enough. She was going to marry her high school sweetheart Jim Daus…perhaps have some kids and work a 9 to 5 job. It all started out that way…but as the old saying goes…”The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”
After Nancy and Jim wed…Nancy worked a job for an insurance company in Florida and did some modeling on the side. Her husband Jim was a fan of pro wrestling and often attended local shows with his wife. According to Nancy in an interview in the 1990’s, she first thought pro wrestling was “something dumb.” That of course, would all change for her in the early to mid 1980’s.
After her divorce from Jim Daus..the 20 year old Nancy Toffoloni continued her modeling career. A freelance photographer who had ties to George Napolitano (editor for the wrestling magazine Wrestling All-Stars) used her for a photo shoot. To her luck, the photo shoot helped her land on the cover of the June ’84 issue of Wrestling All Stars.
It was that magazine cover photo that grabbed the attention of Florida wrestler/booker Kevin Sullivan. George Napolitano introduced the Nancy to Kevin and the couple instantly hit it off. Sullivan wanted a woman of her beauty to join his faction called ‘The Satanists.’ Nancy agreed and was dubbed “The Fallen Angel” in the group.
While all this was going on…Nancy and Kevin fell in love and a little over a year after they initially met…the couple got married. The Satanists were red hot in the Florida territory and would soon take their gimmick on the road to other territories. Then, in 1987, Jim Crockett Jr bought the Florida promotion and Kevin Sullivan went to work for the perhaps the second largest U.S. promotion behind the WWF.
Sullivan quickly rose the ranks behind the scenes of Jim Crockett promotions and 2 years later in 1989…Sullivan convinced Nancy to join him in the new Ted Turner owned WCW. A very interesting angle was devised to introduce her to a much larger…national audience.
Nancy was shown multiple times on camera in the audience as a big Rick Steiner fan named Robin Green. For weeks Robin was shown in the crowd cheering loudly during Rick Steiner matches. Before you knew it, Steiner asked Robin out on a date…Missy Hyatt (Who was managing the Steiners at the time) agreed to give Robin a full makeover from head to toe. The results were shown on the August 26th, 1989 edition of WCW Saturday Night. Robin Green turned from ugly duckling to red hot swan!
With the new look, came a new attitude for Robin. She became more self confident and more aggressive. The angle all culminated on September 23rd, 1989 when Robin lured Rick’s brother Scott Steiner into a waiting limo.
When inside the vehicle, Scott was beaten and brutalized by a number of unknown assailants. Robin had turned heel and aligned herself with Kevin Sullivan and her new charges…the masked tag team called Doom. (Butch Reed and Ron Simmons) She renamed herself ‘Woman’ and came along with a 7 foot tall bodyguard named Nitron.
Nancy and Kevin left WCW in 1992 and ended up in a fledgling new promotion called ECW. Nancy really became a shining star with the Philadelphia based promotion as the valet and manager of the Sandman.
Kevin Sullivan, who by this time had returned to WCW as a booker had his wife follow him back. This time, Woman was used as the manager/valet of Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen.
It was there where Nancy befriended fellow Horseman Chris Benoit. It was Kevin Sullivan who devised a feud between himself and Benoit with Sullivan’s wife Nancy as the ignition. In this case, art did indeed imitate life and Nancy and Benoit began having an affair. After Nancy and Kevin divorced…many state that Benoit became somewhat paranoid that Sullivan (who was a booker) would screw with his career.
Despite efforts from Sullivan to prove it was business as usual and awarded Benoit the WCW world title…Benoit would depart the company and head to the WWE. Nancy’s wrestling career ended at that point as she became a mother giving birth to a son named Daniel. The last we saw Nancy in a wrestling backdrop was Wrestlemania 20 when she and her son celebrated with Chris Benoit after winning the World Heavyweight title.
The rest is a truly tragic story of murder..which I’d rather not get into…but is covered in other places here on the blog. Looking back at the career of Nancy Toffoloni she was certainly more than just a Woman. Rest in Peace.