Terms of use l Contact us l Staff



Vanessa Sanchez
A Candid Conversation About What Went Wrong with WCW

By now most of the world knows that World Championship Wrestling has been purchased by the World Wrestling Federation. How quickly things change! 

When gorgeous Vanessa Sanchez sat down with YourMVP just a few weeks ago, WCW was slated for purchase by Eric Bischof, the former Creative Director - but none of that mattered to her. The week before her character "Tygress" had been released from her WCW contract and she was on the prowl for a new gig.

This cat landed on her feet, though! Flanked by four of her sexy cohorts from The Nitro Girls (Fyre, Spice, Storm, and Chae), Vanessa was readying the launch of Diversity5 - a musical "girl-group" with unique credentials. In addition to her singing aspirations, Sanchez is looking to return to her acting roots. If all else fails, the sexy CPA could always return to the world of corporate accounting, which she did for several years with Deloitte & Touche, LLP.

Join YourMVP as we explore the inside story behind WCW's disintegration, the final weeks before its purchase by WCW and why it appears female wrestling talent is undervalued in the industry. We also grill Vanessa about her upcoming plans, whether or not playing "Tygress" supported a negative ethnic stereotype, and what it means to be "subtly sexy." 

YourMVP: Until recently, you were working with WCW in an on-air role. Did you feel that ended abruptly?  

Vanessa: I think we all thought it was a possibility. Everyone at the company is walking on eggshells. That's just how the nature of the business is. Whenever someone comes over, and there's a change of management, it's always a possibility. I think the timing of it was really surprising. There were talks of the company going "dark" for a little while, and that's when we anticipated the phone calls would go around. So it was a little early. It's never good to be let go - it's

Vanessa Sanchez

not a great feeling. At the same time, the entertainment industry is what I chose to do, and I know it's very, very unstable, so it goes with the territory.

Had your "Tygress" character developed in ways that you were enjoying?

Absolutely! I loved what I did. As bad as the company was - or as bad of a position as the company was in - often everyone's morale wasn't very good and the ratings weren't so well. There was no stability at WCW for a very long time. Even as bad as all that was, I always said to people, "I'm still my happiest when I come to work." I think it was a lot of my work I [enjoyed], but it was also the people. You build strong friendships. But my character definitely developed into somebody I loved to play because she's totally opposite the person I am. Tygress is full, full, full of attitude, and she's ready to throw anybody down in a split second, and she talks with this obnoxious Latino accent and all this fun stuff. The moves I ended up doing are usually compliments of Rey [Mysterio, Jr.] or Konnan or somebody and really gave my character definition. Like "The Face Full of Stuff" - which is Rey Mysterio's "Bronco Buster" only, you know, Tygress's legs. 


<LOL> Then the face buster - when Konnan does it, but it's the "Stuff Buster" when I do it. Thanks to those guys, it really helped me come up with a character that's really fun to play.

Who came up with the name "Stuff Buster"?  

Actually, "Stuff Buster" was named by Jamie Noble (of "Three Count"), but "Face Full of Stuff" Konnan came up with, and that kind of came first. So it started with that. Then I learned how to do the "Face-Buster" at the Power Plant, and Jamie said, "You could call it the 'Stuff Buster'" and I was like, "I love you! That's great!" So that's how it kind of came about.

How did you actually get into a role working with The Filthy Animals? And did you find think that was . . . It had kind of a Latino Gang feel to it.

Yeah, that was kind of the feel of it. 

What did you think about that? 

Well, I guess I got into it about six months before I actually moved into that role. That was when they were first incorporating The Nitro Girls into the story - back in the day. I pulled Vince [Russo] aside and said, "I've got an acting background. I'm a trained actress and I'd be interested in doing more things within storylines." So all the girls would talk and be like, "If you could be a valet, who would you want to work with?" And I said I'd actually like to be hooked up with Rey. I think we look good together and have that Latin thing going on. Besides, I'm a fan of Rey and his work. I didn't say anything to anyone, but about six or so months later, Vince called me up and said, "Guess what? You're going to be Rey's girlfriend." That's pretty much how it happened.

So, did you feel you were playing an ethnic stereotype? 

I guess I did. I guess I didn't have a problem with it, though, because I am still the person who I am. I still do interviews and everything. I think people realize it's just a character on a show. Within movies and TV and life, there are stereotypes and I think it's just portraying a character - that's all.

Overall, how did you feel about working with Rey and Konnan and that group? It seemed like a pretty dynamic group always involved in stories. 

I was very happy to be paired up with that group. A lot of the valets, you can be put in bad situations. You can be paired up with top guys, and then it's all about them and they don't utilize the valets. Or you can work with brand new guys that just came

into the company, who are working so hard to impress all the powers that be, they never give their valet any spots. I was put in a great position. Those guys have been around, they're very established, so they allowed me to be used in the capacity that a lot of valets don't get to be used. 

Why do you feel WCW's roster of female talent was the first to go?

Basically, wrestling is a male-dominated industry, and that's not going to change, I don't think. From what I understand, it was a budgetary thing. We were told that, in order to bring other people on, they had to make other cuts. Unfortunately, they value the male talent more than the female.

Luckily you had side-projects like Diversity5. 

Yes! Yes. And it's so fun. Diversity5 is made up of five girls who all found each other working at WCW as Nitro Girls. Myself, Sharmell (Sullivan),  formerly Paisley, Chae - who is still a Nitro Girl, Melissa Bellin - Spice, and Teri Byrne, Fyre. Basically we fell in love with each other, we can't get enough of each other. We would always try to come up with things we could do. We would go to get coffee and people would come up and be like, "Are you a group?" and we'd say, "No, but maybe we should be." That's kind of how the idea came about being a singing group.

Are you doing any of the writing? What role are you actually taking in the group?

I'm one of the lead singers. Also, from a business aspect, I'm also a CPA so I'm handling the financial issues. I don't write the music, but Melissa has written some of the songs, as has Sharmell. We haven't gone into the studio with those, but we plan on it in the next month or so.

What does Diversity5's schedule look like? 

We work every day for about three to four hours. In fact, when I get off the phone with you I have to run to rehearsal. We do that everyday. We also have vocal lessons, and we work with her once or twice a week. We also have meetings in the evening to discuss the business issues. Then we're meeting with radio stations and program directors. There's always something. It's amazing. Basically, we own our own business, and business is an eight- to ten-hour day, which is what we're finding out.

I know each of you has side projects. Teri has her comic books and fantasy art. What are you doing in addition to Diversity5?

I'm also an actress as well, as I've mentioned. My agents right here in Atlanta have been putting me to work. I do a lot of print work. I just finished doing a project for IBM. I did a print brochure for them - some kind of new software, I'm not even sure what it is. I'm also on their Internet website. I'm constantly auditioning. I just auditioned for a production of "West Side Story." I'm constantly trying to expand on my acting ability.

Is that what you will fall back on? Your acting ability?

I'm thinking it will be. I kind of had to sit back when I turned a certain age - I won't mention it, since that would give my current age away - and say, "OK, I love the arts and entertainment, so what's going to keep me in it long-term?" And I like the performing aspect. The only thing I could think where people are very receptive to you for long periods of time is acting - and you

can act until you're dead. There'll always be parts for older people. So I would say yes, long-term, it's always going to be a part of my life.

Your WCW character had a very sexy edge to it. Do you think that's very representative of who you are as a person?

Mm-hmm. I would say. I'm not overly sexy, I don't think. <LOL> That's my personal opinion of myself. I always go out and have fun, dress myself in a kind of classy manner with a subtle, sexual cue to it. That's more me than the Tygress you see on TV who's wearing a little skimpy skirt and little skimpy top and all that. I don't really dress that way on a day-to-day basis. I would say I'm subtly sexy. 

If you're saying you're subtly sexy, would you say Teri [Byrne, aka, Nitro Girl Fyre] is more "overtly sexy"? I'm just trying to get a gauge on this.

I think she'd agree with that! <LOL> She's total flaming sex appeal. All the time. Daily. She's always beautiful. She always looks great. She dresses to the nines all the time. I'm in sweats and a baseball cap half the time and just don't care. She's a little sex kitten in my opinion!

It seems you definitely have a little diversity in the group - in personalities, nationalities. 

Yeah, absolutely! We go from one end of the spectrum to the other. We all just really get along. We often have differences of opinion, but, when you're friends with somebody, you take the good with the bad and respect their opinions. We've never gotten into any huge, heated arguments or anything like that. We have disagreements, realize we don't see eye-to-eye, and then move on.

It's funny to me that you refer to Teri as a Sex Kitten. Melissa referred to Teri as a "Sex Kitten," too. 

That's so funny! 

Teri referred to Melissa as a Power Puff Girl. 

She's sooo a Power Puff Girl! She's "Bubbles"! Melissa's so many things. She's a ball of energy. She's so funny. She's always making these sounds and noises. She's a very energetic person.

If Melissa is "Bubbles" and Teri is a "Sex Kitten," who are you? 

Hmm . . . So "Subtly Sexy" won't work? 

It can if you want. 

OK, then I'm going with that.  

And who is Sharmell?

I'm trying to think of a character in existence, but I don't think there is one! She's her own person. She's the extravagant, over-the-top type of girl. She'll go to the bar around the corner in a huge afro and giant stacked heels. You know what I mean? She's way over the top. It's the only way I can describe it.

Of the members of the group, Chae seems to be the least spoken about. Is she the silent member of the group? What's going on there?

She's . . . she is just like, "You girls lead, and I'll follow." She's the quieter one when it comes to decisions within the group, but when it comes to anything else, she's just as loud as the rest of us. She's what I'd call the "Classy Biker Chick." She's kind of got that edge to her, but she's always very classy with what she wears.

She's in a fairly well-publicized relationship with a well-known wrestling star [Kevin Nash]. Are any of the rest of you dating wrestlers - or would you?

Mmm . . . No. I'm not for two reasons. One, I already have a significant other who is not involved in the wrestling business. 

Oh, well . . . that would . . . 

And even if he didn't exist, I wouldn't because it's just too much drama involved in a situation like that. I consciously kept all my relationships with men in the company on a friendship, platonic level - not even really, really close. I don't have any close male friends in WCW just because it was a conscious thing I wanted to do. You know, it was funny. You could just walk down the hall, say hello to somebody, and walk away. Before you know it, there are rumors flying about the two of you! That's the business we're in, unfortunately, so I chose to keep all relationships at purely friendship level.

Are there any plans on your part to pursue other opportunities in wrestling?

Yes, I'm definitely going to pursue any other opportunities that come my way. We'll see what happens. It's kind of ironic. We had gotten the phone call that we were not going to be on WCW on a Thursday and the next Monday [WWF] RAW was in Atlanta, and so was I. I stopped by and said hello, and who knows what will come of it. I don't know. If I were given an opportunity, I feel it would be silly not to take it.

It seems WWF is doing a lot more in-ring activity with its women, and toward the end in WCW, you were doing a lot of in-ring work. How did you feel about wrestling?

I loved being utilized in that capacity. When I first started the whole wrestling thing, I was really unsure of whether or not that's what I really wanted to do. Then the more I did it, the more you find out how much you enjoy it. It's the performer in me, it doesn't matter what realm of performance it is. As long as I'm entertaining the crowd and utilizing my talents, it's a rush to me, so I definitely enjoyed it. 

You were put through a formal training process at The Power Plant. How was that?

It was . . . interesting. It was difficult. It was strenuous. The first time we went in there, the first week, the amount of pain my body went through . . . You don't know what you're doing, so you're doing everything wrong! I didn't know if my body would be able to continue. Medusa really put us through the wringer. Then, as you

slowly learn what you're doing, the pain gets less and less. Also, the travel schedule was really, really hard. I've got a place out in LA, and I was flying from the show to Atlanta to get beat up for a few days and then back to LA by Thursday. I'd be there Friday and Saturday and then back on the road Sunday. It was just a lot of work, traveling and stuff like that.

The traveling must be really strenuous. 

It is. It is. If there had been a Power Plant in LA, then it wouldn't have been so bad. The traveling . . . everyone thinks it's a glamorous thing, but it's not. Finding that you spend more time in traffic and on the plane than you do working . . . it's not that glamorous at all.

As we mentioned, Teri is doing - and has done - things for Playboy.com and has some very sexual fantasy art out there. Are those realms you have considered?

Yeah, I'm not opposed to doing any of that. Personally, I wouldn't do any nudity - but that's just not my thing. Then again, I don't know that I'd do Playboy.com either. I think all of the stuff Teri did was very tasteful, and she looked great in it. It also got her a lot of publicity, which ultimately is the point.

Why wouldn't you even do Playboy.com? 

I kind of have this thing - at least where I think I am now, and your opinions change all the time . . . I'm trying to figure out how to say this without sounding vulgar.

C'mon. Be vulgar! 

<LOL!> For me, I would do like some really cool nude photographs by some artistic photographer that were going to be in some coffee table book.


But, at the same time, I wouldn't do it for Playboy or any of the other magazines of that nature, because I know what people are going to do to those photos! You know? <LOL> That's the part that doesn't sit well with me. <LOL> And while they might still do it with the coffee table book . . . the other way it's a sure thing! People who buy the coffee table book are coming from a different place. They're buying it for the artistic value.

OK, so I might have to be vulgar here - because this is really funny to me.


So, because of what happens after people buy the magazine . . . 

It's the intention behind it.  

Right, right. So it's the intention . . . OK, this sounds like a very "female perspective" type of thing. I don't think men think about it that way. Is this like how if a guy compliments you, it doesn't always come across that way because he thinks it's a great compliment and you think he's looking at you sexually?

No, no. It depends on how they compliment you. If they're just, "You look nice today", it's OK. If they're all, "Hey, baby! Gimme some of that!", then it's not. 

So since most people that would buy a magazine do it for sexual gratification, it makes the difference.

Mm-hmm. There you go. Again, I'm not saying I never, ever would in my whole life, because opinions change. But as it stands today, that's how I feel. I'm just leaving myself this out.

Professionally, where should we look to find you, Vanessa? 

Definitely at Diversity5.com - where you can purchase our two-song CD. We'll have to keep you posted where to see us next. We're looking to do some actual shows in the Atlanta area and we'll see where that takes us. You can also go to my website - VanessaSanchez.com - to find out my whereabouts.

Anything you'd like to say to your fans? 

Thank you so much for all of the support in the past two-and-a-half years I was at WCW. I want to promise you that you haven't seen the last of me. I won't disappoint you in what I'm doing in the future.

Interview by Paul E. Pratt

For more information on Vanessa, visit: www.Diversity5.com

Most images on this page can be purchased 
with an autograph at: 


Back to top


This Issue!!

In the Mix
Locker Room
Film Review

Got a comment on our content, or have questions?

Contact Us


Madison Avenue

Rena Mero

Kaila Yu

Deborah Gibson

Maya Days

Danni Ashe

Shae Marks

Barbie Benson

Melanie Thornton

Julie Strain

Elke Jeinsen

Samantha 7

Kristine W

Erin Gray

Shawna Kenney

Lina Koutrakos

Neriah Davis

Sharmell Sullivan

Jocelyn Enriquez

© 2001 by PEP3 Entertainment – – All Rights Reserved