Ivory to be inducted into WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2018

Lisa Moretti, known in the wrestling world as Ivory, has been named to the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2018. Courtesy WWE

She was a WWE women's champion, a trainer on WWE Tough Enough, one of the original members of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW) cast -- and now Lisa Moretti, popularly known in the wrestling world as Ivory, will be a WWE Hall of Famer.

Ivory will join other WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2018 inductees Bubba Ray, D-Von Dudley and Goldberg (and several others yet to be announced) on April 6 at New Orleans' Smoothie King Center, where they'll be enshrined in the WWE Hall of Fame.

"[This Hall of Fame recognition] means that it's a full circle in your career, in your wrestling chapter," Ivory said to espnW.com shortly after she heard the news. "It's great bragging rights for your family that have seen you go through the eras and I also feel like it's an awesome tribute to the women in wrestling as a whole."

Ivory's career officially began in 1986 when she made her debut under the ring name "Tina Ferrari," in the original GLOW. After several other stops along the way, she joined the WWE in 1999 and won the women's championship twice in her first year with the company. She'd ultimately spend more than six years with the WWE, including a stretch as one of the trainers on the WWE reality show "Tough Enough."

The 57-year-old former wrestler played a major role in helping to change the landscape of women's wrestling in the United States. Though the in-ring performances still had to grow, women's wrestlers went from being on the backburner to wrestling on television every week with unique characters and plot lines. Apart from wrestling and training, Ivory also joined commentator Todd Grisham on WWE Experience, a weekly syndicated show that airs to this day outside the U.S.

Even though the Hall of Fame Induction ceremony is more than a month away, Ivory is already excited about the event, comparing it to "getting married."

"I liken it to almost getting married, it's my wedding day, which I've never had one, so, this is probably as close to a wedding production as I'll ever get," Ivory said. "Hair and makeup, I will be speaking my vows -- with regards to my wrestling career -- to all these people I adore and love and we want it to all happen without a hitch."

She already has ideas for her induction speech, in which she wants to recap some of the highlights of her time at WWE. At the top of the list is helping to save UPN, a television network that was struggling until WWE SmackDown was launched in 1999 (the network eventually shut down in 2006).

It was a match made in heaven and the network's ratings shot through the roof, Ivory said. That resulted in Ivory and Stone Cold Steve Austin making the cover of Entertainment Weekly, which offered the opportunity to work with celebrated photographer Mary Ellen Mark for the cover shoot.

"I don't think either one of us at the time knew what an honor that was -- to be having her take our photograph," Ivory said. "That was a highlight for me -- it's small because it's not taking bumps or a big pay per view event or a big championship, but that was one of those amazing sidebar things that I got to do."

Traveling across the world as part of WWE was another highlight for Ivory, who particularly enjoyed her visits to India. Now that women like Kavita Devi and Shadia Bseiso, among many others, have joined the ranks of the WWE, it's been exciting for Ivory to see women from that region and from all over the world thriving.

"Women who decide to wrestle are a special type of women. We are tomboys, we are women that can hang in a locker room. I am just grateful that there are outlets for that," she said. "It's not about having a certain body type and looking picture perfect beautiful. It's about having the drive and some kind of wacky attraction you have to the physicality, the test of learning how to wrestle and being to do it believably. It's not easy theater to do. You can watch plenty of wrestling matches where the performers are not buying it. And it makes it boring for you to watch. There is a huge testament to the talent of the people who are engaging the fan or viewer."

Apart from the expansion, Ivory is also thrilled that WWE is paying more importance to training and development of wrestlers, through NXT, its Performance Center in Orlando and other ventures. One of her goals is to visit these training camps and watch the next generation of wrestlers gain confidence and skills firsthand in a way that wasn't available when she was with the company.

"I am a perfect example of somebody who'd have benefited from much more training before I got to be on TV. I have always been lousy at my craft and a lot of people are watching all over the world," she said.

Despite some self-deprecation and sarcasm, Ivory made an undeniable impact on the WWE and the wrestling business in general over the course of her career, and the Hall of Fame recognition is a "nice exclamation mark on all of that," she said.

"I always felt embraced by the family. I didn't chat with Vince McMahon all the time, but he always gave me great opportunities. I always felt like I had his seal of approval like, 'Yeah, give it to Ivory, she will do it right,'" she concluded.