|Birth name||Nancy Elizabeth Toffoloni|
May 17, 1964|
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
June 22, 2007 (aged 43)|
Fayetteville, Georgia, U.S.
|Cause of death||Asphyxia by strangulation|
(m. 1982; div. 1985)
(m. 1985; div. 1997)
Chris Benoit (m. 2000)
|Professional wrestling career|
|Debut||July 7, 1984|
|Retired||May 26, 1997|
Nancy Elizabeth Benoit (née Toffoloni, formerly Daus and Sullivan; May 17, 1964 – June 22, 2007) was an American professional wrestling valet and model. She was best known for her appearances with Extreme Championship Wrestling and World Championship Wrestling in the mid-1990s under the ring name Woman.
After graduating DeLand High School, Nancy got a job answering phones at State Farm Insurance. When George Napolitano needed a beautiful young girl for the cover of the June 1984 edition of the pro-wrestling magazine Wrestling All Stars, fellow photographer Bill Otten suggested the 20-year-old Nancy Toffoloni Daus for the role. Nancy, who had worked as a model, often sat alongside her then-husband Jim. She had also been selling programs at the Orlando shows and appeared as Para in the old "Apartment Wrestling" features. It was on this shoot where she met Kevin Sullivan, who eventually wanted her to be a part of his wrestling entourage. After months of convincing, Nancy finally became an on-air valet, taking the ring name "Fallen Angel".
Professional wrestling career
Early career (1984–1989)
She made her in-ring debut on June 30, 1984 in Miami, Florida for Florida Championship Wrestling.
She became a part of Kevin Sullivan's stable of kayfabe "Satanists", which also included wrestlers The Lock, Luna Vachon, The Purple Haze, and Sir Oliver Humperdink. Nancy and Kevin Sullivan traveled throughout the United States using the "Satanist" gimmick for promotions such as Angelo Savoldi's ICW and Southwest Championship Wrestling. The two married in 1985.
World Championship Wrestling (1989–1990)
She first appeared in WCW as a "fan" of Rick Steiner named Robin Green, wearing a Steiner T-shirt and large glasses. She would sit in the audience and would interact with Steiner whenever he appeared. She eventually turned on him, aligning herself with Kevin Sullivan and adopting the name Woman and became the manager of Doom (Butch Reed and Ron Simmons). After leaving Doom, she aligned herself with Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen.
Extreme Championship Wrestling (1993–1996)
In late 1993, Sullivan and Nancy joined the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based promotion Extreme Championship Wrestling, where Nancy reverted to the ring name "Woman". In December 1993, Sullivan and The Tazmaniac won the ECW Tag Team Championship. They held the championship until March 1994, when they were defeated by The Public Enemy.
After Sullivan left ECW in spring 1994, Woman began managing The Sandman. The Sandman's character was estranged from his wife and valet, Peaches, who had left him after The Sandman accidentally struck her during a match while temporarily blinded. Woman drove a wedge between The Sandman and Peaches, convincing him that Peaches was cheating on him with Tommy Cairo. In keeping with The Sandman's character, Woman would open his beers and light his cigarettes prior to matches. She began carrying a Singapore cane with which she would strike The Sandman's opponents. At When Worlds Collide on May 14, 1994, Woman and The Sandman lost to Cairo and Peaches in a Singapore Cane match, after which Peaches caned The Sandman in the groin until Woman threw salt in her eyes, enabling The Sandman to regroup and cane Cairo and Peaches.
In mid-1994, The Sandman began feuding with Tommy Dreamer after he kissed Woman. The feud culminated in an "I Quit" match on October 1, 1994, during which The Sandman was seemingly blinded when Dreamer pushed a lit cigarette into his eye and then caned him in the face. Following the bout, Woman announced that she was leaving The Sandman as he was now "useless". After Tommy Cairo mocked The Sandman, a guilt-stricken Dreamer challenged him to a match at November to Remember on November 5, 1994. At the same event, Peaches attempted to reconcile with The Sandman. Woman interrupted the reconciliation, caning Peaches and threatening The Sandman. After Dreamer came to the ring to stop Woman, The Sandman revealed that he was not in fact blinded and attacked Dreamer, with his estrangement from Woman a ploy to pit Dreamer and Cairo against one another.
In April 1995, Woman again left The Sandman, aligning herself with Shane Douglas. At Hostile City Showdown on April 15, 1995, she helped The Sandman defeat Douglas for his second ECW World Heavyweight Championship by striking him in the knee with a Singapore cane, revealing the turn to have been another ruse.
Following The Sandman's victory, Woman began carrying the ECW World Heavyweight Championship to ringside. Throughout mid-1995, she helped The Sandman defend his championship in a series of bouts with Cactus Jack. In September 1995, she began also managing The Sandman's ally, ECW World Television Champion 2 Cold Scorpio. In late 1995, The Sandman began feuding with Mikey Whipwreck, during which a controversial storyline began in which Woman became visibly aroused while watching The Sandman cane Whipwreck. The Sandman's reign lasted until October 28, 1995, when he lost to Whipwreck in a ladder match after Stunning Steve Austin prevented Woman from interfering.
On October 28, 1995, 2 Cold Scorpio defeated Rocco Rock in a singles bout to win the ECW World Tag Team Championship, then selected The Sandman as his partner. The Sandman regained the ECW World Heavyweight Championship in a three-way dance with Whipwreck and Austin at December to Dismember on December 9, 1995, giving Woman control of all three championships.
On December 29, 1995 at Holiday Hell, Mikey Whipwreck defeated 2 Cold Scorpio in a singles match with the ECW World Tag Team Championship on the line. The Sandman's third reign as ECW World Heavyweight Champion lasted until January 27, 1996, when he lost to Raven. On the January 27, 1996 episode of ECW Hardcore TV, Woman announced that she was returning to World Championship Wrestling, parting ways with The Sandman and 2 Cold Scorpio.
World Championship Wrestling (1996–1997)
Woman made her return to WCW on the January 22, 1996 episode of WCW Monday Nitro as one of many women who stood in the aisle and waved as Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage came to the ring. On the February 5 episode of Nitro she turned on Savage during his match with Chris Benoit and rejoined Flair, Arn Anderson, Brian Pillman, and Benoit in the then-current incarnation of the Four Horsemen. Miss Elizabeth also managed the stable.
In 1996, Pillman had left the Horsemen, but they added Steve McMichael and his wife Debra in June, which didn't sit well with Woman. In her next angle, the two bickered, not getting along in general. The Four Horsemen were often given interview time on Nitro and when it came time for Debra to speak on the mic, she'd often go into a soliloquy regarding Woman's looks and fashion sense — usually when the two weren't within the vicinity of each other. Despite the heavy tension, the two managers never had a physical altercation.
At the same time, she started an on-screen relationship with Benoit, who at the time was involved in a feud with her real-life husband, Kevin Sullivan. On December 7, on WCW Saturday Night, during a post-match interview with Sullivan, a home movie of the couple canoodling in a kitchen was played in front of him. Woman taunted Sullivan by saying, "You can't find me" and "I'm my own woman," while Benoit added: "You consider yourself the master of human chess. Well, my bishop just took your queen". After the video, Sullivan stood there speechless, and his manager Jimmy Hart led him off stage. This feud between Benoit and Sullivan saw Woman clashing with Sullivan's then-valet Jacquelyn at ringside. In one match, the two ladies were strapped together, took shots at each other, and used the strap connecting them as a weapon against the men.
Eventually, the Benoit-Nancy on-screen relationship developed into a real-life affair off-screen. Because of this, it is often joked that 'Kevin Sullivan booked his own divorce.' The two were indeed divorced in 1997. What's more, Sullivan lost a retirement match to Benoit. His intent had been to retire from in-ring action and focus on booking.
Nancy's final WCW appearance (and professional wrestling appearance as Woman) took place on May 26, 1997 on Monday Nitro as she accompanied Benoit to the ring for a confrontation with Jimmy Hart regarding the whereabouts of Sullivan, who wasn't in the arena. On the following week's show, Benoit came alone to ringside without her by his side. After managing him for a little over half a year, no reason was given for Woman's sudden disappearance, and she was never mentioned on WCW programming again.
In the mid-1990s while Nancy was married to Sullivan, she was having an extramarital affair with Chris Benoit. Nancy and Benoit became engaged in 1997 after her divorce from Sullivan that same year, although Benoit referred to Nancy as only his fiancée even after they were married. She managed her husband's career from their home in Atlanta.
She gave birth to their son Daniel Christopher Benoit on February 25, 2000. Nancy married Chris Benoit on November 23, 2000. However, in 2003, she filed for divorce, citing the marriage as "irrevocably broken" and alleging "cruel treatment." She later dropped the suit, as well as a restraining order filed on her husband.
After Nancy's death in 2007, Hustler published nude photographs of Nancy from a shoot taken when Nancy was 20 years old. The length of time between the events caused controversy, causing critics to claim that Hustler owner Larry Flynt was attempting to capitalize on the event. The family of Nancy Benoit took legal action against Hustler. The appellate court ruled that, "The photographs published by [Flynt] neither relate to the incident of public concern conceptually [the murders] nor correspond with the time period during which Benoit was rendered, against her will, the subject of public scrutiny".
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On June 25, 2007 Benoit, her husband Chris, and their son Daniel were found dead in their home in suburban Atlanta at around 2:30 p.m. It first was reported by the WWE Mobile Alerts service and posted to their official website soon after.
Lieutenant Tommy Pope of the Fayette County Sheriff's Department told ABC News it was being investigated as a double murder-suicide, and the police were not searching for any suspects outside of the house, as the instruments of death were located at the scene of the crime.
During a press conference on June 26, Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard reported that Chris Benoit had killed his wife and son and committed suicide. A Bible was left by Nancy's body, and she died of asphyxiation. She had bruises on her back and stomach consistent with an attacker pressing a knee into her back while pulling on a cord around her neck. Daniel also died of asphyxiation, without signs of restraint. He had internal injuries to the throat area, but no bruises, indicating he may have been killed by a choke. Chris killed Nancy on Friday, Daniel on Saturday, then asphyxiated himself with the cord of a weight machine in his basement early Sunday morning.
A memorial for Nancy and Daniel took place in Daytona Beach, Florida, on July 14, 2007. Both were cremated and their ashes placed in starfish-shaped urns for Nancy's family. Chris was also cremated, but what was done with his ashes is not public knowledge.
- Chris Benoit double-murder and suicide
- The Four Horsemen
- List of premature professional wrestling deaths
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- Thom Loverro (22 May 2007). The Rise & Fall of ECW: Extreme Championship Wrestling. Simon and Schuster. pp. 60–. ISBN 978-1-4165-6156-9.
- Steven Johnson; Heath McCoy; Irv Muchnick (1 November 2007). Benoit: Wrestling with the Horror That Destroyed a Family and Crippled a Sport. ECW Press. pp. 48–. ISBN 978-1-55490-315-3.
- Scott E. Williams (13 December 2013). Hardcore History: The Extremely Unauthorized Story of ECW. Skyhorse Publishing Company, Incorporated. pp. 52–. ISBN 978-1-61321-582-1.
- Thom Loverro (22 May 2007). The Rise & Fall of ECW: Extreme Championship Wrestling. Simon and Schuster. pp. 66–. ISBN 978-1-4165-6156-9.
- Scott E. Williams (13 December 2013). Hardcore History: The Extremely Unauthorized Story of ECW. Skyhorse Publishing Company, Incorporated. pp. 89–. ISBN 978-1-61321-582-1.
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- "This Week In WCW (05/24/97 – 05/26/97)". ddtdigest.com. June 27, 2007. Retrieved June 27, 2007.
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- Bill Mears (May 2, 2012). "Family of slain wrestler loses privacy appeal over nude pictures". CNN. Retrieved May 14, 2012.
- "Nancy Benoit, Hustler Photos". News.gather.com. March 10, 2010. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
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- "Officials: Wrestler Strangled Wife, Suffocated Son, Hanged Self". Fox News. June 25, 2007. Retrieved June 25, 2007.
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