The WWE’s Women’s Revolution that began in 2015 certainly changed how fans of the company perceived women’s wrestling. They were no longer former models and cheerleaders turned ‘Divas’ and having lingerie pillow fights. They were now competing in matches usually reserved for ‘the boys’ like the Royal Rumble, Money in the Bank and Hell in a Cell. Women’s wrestling in WWE is now accepted and expected on their programming. Before the Divas era, women’s wrestling was more of a sideshow of Vince McMahon’s overall product. The women were not glamor models, but were tough as nails and featured names like The Fabulous Moolah, Rockin’ Robin, Judy Martin and Leilani Kai.
In the WWF’s Rock N Wrestling era of the 1980’s, Wendi Richter became a bonafide superstar with the help of musician Cyndi Lauper…but her popularity faded pretty quickly. In the early 1990’s, Vince McMahon attempted to bring back some legitimacy to female wrestling with Alundra Blayze and Bull Nakano…but again fizzled out. The emergence of Chyna certainly changed things for women in the WWF/WWE….but ultimately Chyna became the star and the other women were more of an afterthought. Before Chyna, however, there was another woman looking to change the way women’s wrestling was viewed in the company. Her name was Lisa Sliwa.
If the name sounds vaguely familiar, Sliwa was the wife of Curtis Sliwa (The founder of the Guardian Angels). No, not the gimmick Ray Traylor had briefly in WCW…rather the anti crime organization that Vampiro was once legitimately a member of. Lisa was a former model, turned vice president of the Guardian Angels. She earned a black belt in both Karate and Jiu-Jitsu. Lisa was relatively small in stature , but made up for it in toughness. In the mid 1980’s, Sliwa was looking for another outlet for her competitive nature. That’s when the World Wrestling Federation came calling.
Lisa Sliwa negotiated a deal to become a professional wrestler for the WWF. In her mind, she would earn a lot of money to help fund her and her husbands Guardian Angels organization. The media picked up on Lisa’s wrestling aspirations and looked to her for interviews. It was becoming a win/win situation for both Sliwa and Vince McMahon. The publicity was brining attention to both the Guardian Angels and the WWF. Sliwa wanted to change the way women’s wrestling was looked at in 1985.
She wanted to make a positive impact in the business using her beauty and her martial arts skills to become a wrestling superstar. She wanted to show fans that women could be both beautiful and tough. Her ultimate dream in becoming a pro wrestler was to eventually have intergender matches. To achieve these lofty goals, Sliwa traveled down to South Carolina and enrolled in the Fabulous Moolah’s school. Her class consisted of her and other wrestling hopefuls named Candice Pardue, Teressa Dubose and Angie Minelli.
During her training, Moolah was not exactly a big fan of Lisa’s. She would describe Lisa Sliwa in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel in 1987….“Well, she’s a beautiful lady and has personality plus, but she was just an ox in a glass factory. She didn’t have the coordination.” Despite Moolah’s lack of confidence in her…Vince McMahon made sure to give Sliwa every opportunity to become a star. She appeared with Vince on the WWF talk/sketch show Tuesday Night Titans.
She would show both Lord Alfred Hayes and McMahon her skills and techniques in self defense. It included Sliwa throwing Vince to the ground. The WWF was making sure fans remember Sliwa’s name and her toughness. After all, the company had a lot invested in the Guardian Angel. She was going to change the face of women’s wrestling.
The late, great ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund even traveled to a location where Sliwa was training with enhancement talent Mario Mancini and interviewed her. Mancini would first go on and say how tough she was and that she was natural inside the ring. Lisa then talked about how grueling her training was and that she found so much respect for the wrestling business. Grueling indeed, as Sliwa would injure her back and be sidelined for a period of time.
After a period of time off from wrestling, Sliwa continued her work as a Guardian Angel…as that was paramount to anything else she did. That didn’t mean that her dreams of changing the world of women’s wrestling wasn’t still there. On August 23rd, 1985, Sliwa appeared for an independent wrestling show that took place at the once famed New York City nightclub called Studio 54. The event would become infamous for a few reasons. It was the debut match for a young wrestler named Bam Bam Bigelow and it featured NWA stars like Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes. The event was promoted by a 19 year old named Paul Heyman. His first ever promoted wrestling event.
Lisa Sliwa would finally have a WWF match in 1986. It was a dark match during TV tapings at the Mid Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, New York. She wrestled against a veteran in Velvet McIntyre to a no contest. That would turn out to be her first and last match with the company. For whatever reasons, Sliwa never made the impact that she envisioned for herself as a pro wrestler. Did she call it quits on her own or did McMahon cut ties?
Regardless, Sliwa still made an impact in the world…just not in a wrestling ring. Her work with the Guardian Angels continued and that led her to hosting radio shows, writing books and become a TV news reporter in the New York City area. She and Curtis Sliwa divorced and now goes by the name Lisa Evers. (No relation to Lance Storm Evers)
3 thoughts on “The WWF’s Guardian Angel: The Woman Who Was Going to Change Wrestling (But Didn’t)”
Reblogged this on Christopher Fitzgerald TV.
They may have had the best intentions, but over the years both Lisa and Curtis struck me as folks whose egos became too big for their own good. At least she seems to have gotten her head screwed on straight again. Curtis still seems to be a dick.
Lisa Evers grew up in Wayzata, MN. She went to the U of MN and Lake Forest College. She lived in NYC with an artist, Brant Klingman, who was shot by the Penn Station sniper. Then she hooked up with Sliwa and thought she was on the path to fame and glory.
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