On This Date in WCW-WWF History (May 1): Gone but not forgotten - The First Lady of Wrestling, Miss Elizabeth

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This is going to be an epic edition of our Cageside Seats This Date in Pro Wrestling History Series, remembering a woman commonly referred to as The First Lady of Wrestling, because she deserves not to ever be forgotten.

It was on May 1, 2003, a decade ago today, that tragically sad news hit the airwaves, and this Cagesider wept openly. Miss Elizabeth, aka Elizabeth Ann Hulette, born on Nov. 19, 1960, who was a role model to many women and girls, myself included, was gone. A woman who was beloved by all, had lost her apparent struggle to find inner peace in this world at the all too young age of 42, when she was pronounced dead due to a drug and alcohol overdose.

Many of us older Cagesiders fondly remember her debut in the mid-1990s in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in her role as the Manager to the now infamous "Macho Man" Randy Savage, aka Randall Poffo (her in real life husband whom she met years prior, while working in International Championship Wrestling (ICW) together, they married in real life in Dec. of 1984). During her time in WCW and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) throughout the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties she gained international fame.

Take a look at Miss Elizabeth's memorable in-ring debut from July 30, 1985, which aired on the August 24, 1985, edition of WWF Prime Time Wrestling, where she won a managerial competition giving her the right to manage Savage:


Wrestlers she managed over the course of her career included: Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Eric Bischoff, Scott Hall, Lex Luger, Chris Benoit, Sting, Dusty Rhodes, and Brutus Beefcake. To this day, there is no debate to be had about it, not one other woman in the history of wrestling was ever, or ever will be, as beloved, or as classy, or so wholly dedicated and devoted to the business as Elizabeth was.

Feuds she was involved in with Savage in the 80's range from Steen, to Hogan, to Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, and even the Honky Tonk Man. The latter culminating in Hogan coming to Savage and Liz's rescue from Honky Tonk and the Harts during their match, which aired on the October 3, 1987, edition of NBC's Saturday Night's Main Event. This feud likely played a strong part in helping her secure a Slammy Award as Woman of the Year that year (1987).

As per Wikipedia, the match went down like this:

During the match, Honky shoved Elizabeth to the mat before assaulting Savage with a guitar. Elizabeth ran backstage and persuaded Hogan to rescue Savage to form The Mega Powers, running off Honky and his allies, Bret "The Hitman" Hart and Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart.

See it for yourself right here:


Being a pawn between Savage and the many other top tier wrestlers in many a feud, was the trademark of her career. She went on to play a pivotal role in many angles throughout her time as a manager and valet.

Some of the choicer ones involved her being stalked, flirted with, fought over, hand-cuffed, frightened by a snake, proposed to, made to beg, coerced into revealing her underwear at ringside, having a massive Kayfabe wedding at Madison Square Garden, nearly being beaten with a chair, having the threat of nude photos released, having doctored photos of her with Flair released, being accused of an alleged affair with Flair, having Flair force himself on her in ring before receiving a beat down, and even her voice being impersonated, just to name a few.

Watch Elizabeth accept Macho Man's kayfabe proposal to his wife in ring, the two part wedding video and highlights of their romance, including footage of when they reunited in the ring, in the following video playlist:


(For those of you experiencing technical difficulties with this playlist go here.)

Elizabeth's final WWF appearance took place on April 19, 1992, during an overseas tour of England, although storylines referencing her character continued for some time thereafter. Unfortunately, life in the business and on the road together took its toll and Savage & Liz divorced shortly after her final WWF appearance. The couple continued to keep their marriage alive for kayfabe purposes until later that summer, after their divorce decree was finalized.

The divorce announcement was actually an extremely rare break in kayfabe at the time:

"Savage issued a statement that was printed in WWF Magazine revealing that he and Elizabeth were no longer together, and thanking the fans for their support through the years. The publication of Savage's statement marked, at the time, a rare acknowledgement of the wrestlers' private lives for both the WWF and its flagship publication. Savage continued with the WWF for two more years, and except for the statement in WWF Magazine, his divorce from Elizabeth was neither referred to nor figured into any of Savage's future feuds."

For a brief period, Elizabeth attempted to stray from her wrestling roots after her run in the WWF, working as a Speedboat racing commentator for ESPN, but she couldn't stay away for long. In Jan. 1996, she made her comeback to the world of professional wrestling, by joining the WCW as a valet for her ex-husband, Savage.

She then turned in order to become Flair's valet while he was in the Four Horsemen, and then turned again, only to join the New World Order (nWo) alongside Hogan. In the end, she was by Savage's side when he too joined the faction, only to flop one last time in June of 1998, to stand by Hogan in nWo Hollywood.

Outside the limelight of the squared circle, Elizabeth re-married on Dec. 6, 1997. This time, to a man outside the industry, a South Florida attorney named Cary Lubetsky. The short-lived wedding was held at the Cuban Hebrew Temple in Miami Beach. Subsequently, they were officially divorced on April 19, 1999. During this time, on the air she was prominently featured in an angle involving Lex Luger, Rey Mysterio, Goldberg, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, nWo shenanigans, and a bet involving her hair vs. Mysterio's mask.

She went on to manage a short feud between Luger and Flair as part of the trio called Team Package, created solely to take out Hogan. The most memorable moment of this feud was when Hogan returned to WCW and Elizabeth raised a baseball bat from behind him outside the ring. Hogan was easily able to exit the ring, frighten her and swipe the bat from her, then pick her up, thrusting her high above him, only to deliver his "patented atomic drop". Elizabeth shockingly no-sold the maneuver!

See it all go down here; the bat comes out about the 10:22 mark for those who are impatient:


Later, Elizabeth had a few feuds with Vince Russo and Kimberly Page before going on to wrestle in her first official singles match against Daffney on May 8, 2000 as shown below:



Other Elizabeth matches worth noting, include one against Rhonda Singh and one against Madusa, which she had just before WCW released her from her contract on August 17, 2000.

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Elizabeth and Luger stayed together after her time in-ring with WCW ended in 2000, but this time as a couple, with plans to marry in 2003. Lex owned a gym, called Main Event Fitness in Marietta, Georgia, which he had opened with Steve Borden years earlier. This was where Elizabeth would spend her days working with her patented smile, greeting patrons at the front desk. During this time, she was also advertised heavily to appear in WCW again during their World Wrestling All-Stars European tour, alongside Luger, in the fall of 2002. Although she accompanied him overseas, she never made another wrestling appearance on television.

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Despite the fact they were living together and were reportedly planning to be married in 2003, the couple never did make it down the aisle.

On April 19, 2003, Luger and Elizabeth were involved in an officially documented domestic dispute. No one knows for certain how many such instances occurred though, which went undocumented -- as most women in abusive relationships do not ever report attacks by their lovers, in order to protect them from the law. Many would theorize, and would likely be correct in having done so, that this was just the beginning of the end for her. No one saw the signs, nor knew how to help her to extricate herself from a bad situation in time to save her life.

Allegedly, Luger struck her during this "domestic dispute" in their townhome's garage. The police report from Cobb County indicated she had suffered two bruised eyes, a bump on her head, and a cut lip. Luger was released on a measly $2,500 bond after being charged with a misdemeanor count of battery. Two days later, they were involved in an auto accident in Luger's Porsche when he struck the rear end of another vehicle while driving under the influence, visibly drunk, on a suspended license for a prior offense and a 9mm handgun under his seat. As the passenger, Elizabeth was apparently unharmed.

Only a dozen days after the police report was filed about her abuse at the hands of Luger, on May 1, 2003, 911 was notified with a report that Liz was not breathing at their home.

The caller? Lex Luger.

When paramedics arrived on the scene, they reported she could not be resuscitated via mouth-to-mouth measures, so was rushed to a Marietta, Georgia hospital, where she was pronounced dead. A medical examiner listed the cause of death as "acute toxicity," brought on by a mix of painkillers and vodka.

No one will ever know if these were taken to numb and drown out the pain of living in an abusive situation for far too long, or to escape it once and for all. But it serves as a tragic reminder to always reach out to those who may be in need, to help them find a way out so they can live to see a better day.

We will continue to miss and remember Miss Elizabeth here at Cageside Seats. And now, a moment of silence in her honor.

Then, feel free to share your favorite stories, images, gifs and videos of Elizabeth or the feuds she was involved in below in the comments.

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And now, from the desk of our CSS Senior Editor; for your viewing pleasure we bring to you, additional posts dusted off from the --

1 - MAY

CSS ARCHIVES

1 May 2012

1 May 2011
1 May 2010
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