Managing at all levels suits Liz fine

By JIM VARSALLONE
Herald Sports Writer

When Elena Fraga needs help at her fashion boutique, Vertigo South Beach, she turns to one of pro wrestling's hottest stars.

Though, for some reason, just can't picture Hollywood Hulk Hogan, The Rock or The Giant knowing much about women's retail apparel; unless, of course, it's loading and unloading a heavy shipment of clothes.

Actually, Fraga calls her best friend Elizabeth Hewlett to lend her expertise. Hewlett is better known to pro wrestling fans worldwide as the lovely Elizabeth, the former manager of the Macho Man Randy Savage.

"It's a beautiful store," Elizabeth said. "I used to manage and run the store for her. I like it."

Elizabeth has been managing in some capacity since 1985, whether with the Macho Man or at Vertigo South Beach, 751 Collins Avenue in Miami Beach. When her schedule for World Championship Wrestling permits, Liz can be found in her new home in Aventura, working out at the local gym, golfing or assisting Fraga.

"Whenever she needs me now, and I'm available, I'll go do whatever," Elizabeth said, "work the register, stock, a little sales, run the store."

As word spread of Elizabeth's `moonlighting', wrestling fans tried to take advantage of the situation.

"People would call here and ask for her," said one of the store's associates. "We have to screen the calls because there are some strange ones. She even gets fan mail here."

As for the actual clientele.

"A lot of women that come into the store don't really watch wrestling, so they don't know who she is," the associate said. "But every once in a while someone will say she looks familiar."

On the road a couple of days a week for WCW and spending time with her new husband Cary Lubetsky, a South Florida attorney, has limited her availability to work at Vertigo South Beach.

"She used to come in weekly," the associate said, "but she's been really busy, so she hasn't been around as much."

Elizabeth married the Macho Man Randy Savage in 1982. They became a popular pair worldwide courtesy of the World Wrestling Federation from 1985 to 1990.

Elizabeth actually helped change the face of pro wrestling, opening the door for ladies to become valets or managers.

Previously, if a woman wanted to participate in pro wrestling, she would have to step in the ring. These ladies, averaging anywhere from 170 to 350 pounds, would train hard to become pro wrestlers. A grimace or scar on their face and some form of muscle mass would be a plus.

But as a valet/manager, a woman didn't have to look mean, lift weights or weigh a ton to have a shot at the big time. To name a few, former or current managers Baby Doll, Sunny, Woman, Francine, Precious, Beulah, Sable, Debra McMichael, Missy Hiatt, Jacqueline and Marlena have Liz to thank to some degree for their place in pro wrestling history.

"I really didn't know anything about pro wrestling," Elizabeth said. "I hadn't seen that many women involved in it, other than the hard core female wrestlers, something I really never aspired to be."

She continued: "All of a sudden it seemed to happen, and I was in it, and it became bigger than I ever imagined."

After five years of touring around the world, five to sometimes even seven days a week, Elizabeth decided to settle down. The first couple of pro wrestling split amicably in 1990. Savage continued wrestling, while Elizabeth began her new life and found work on a motorsports show on the popular cable sports channel ESPN.

In 1992, she moved to South Florida.

"I want to have kids," Elizabeth said. "I wanted to lead a normal life."

A year later, her friend Fraga opened a women's retail clothing boutique on South Beach titled Succa. Single and away from pro wrestling, Elizabeth had plenty of time on her hands. So she devoted a portion of her day to the store which in May 1997 became Vertigo South Beach.

Elizabeth returned to pro wrestling three years ago with a limited working schedule for WCW. Through a mutual friend, she later met Lubetsky while working out at Olympia Gym in Aventura.

Living in Aventura, they were married in December 1997 at the Cuban Hebrew Temple in Miami Beach.

"My life right now is better than I ever dreamed it could be," said Liz, currently a member of the Scott Steiner-led new World order in WCW.

"The idea that I have a really nice, wonderful, stable home life with a great family, and I can go away and do the fun stuff once or twice a week, then come home and have a normal life is incredible."