Before Barbara Minerva, there were 2 Pre-Crisis Cheetahs: Priscilla Rich, and Deborah Domaine. What did they have in terms of powers and abilities to put them on the level of the superpowered warrior princess known as Wonder Woman?
Well......um.........they.....ya see, they.......wow.......hold on here, I'm sure I can dig up............ok, I.....um........yeah, nevermind. Truth be told, Rich and Domaine were just a poor man's version of Catwoman, dressing in dumb cheetah themed costumes. Now, you would think, surely if they are cheetahs, they at least possess great speed to rival the Amazon princess. The truth...is damning. They both sucked and had no powers, let alone any reason to be Wonder Woman's arch nemesis.
So, now let us look at Wonder Woman's world Post-Crisis. There is more of a mythological edge, very much akin to the current Azzarello run. Diana's old foe, the evil god Mars, has been given a facelift and rewritten as the mythologically accurate Ares. The whole mythos of Wonder Woman was more accurate to Greek myth, so how would George Perez handle her non-mythological foes? Well, by making one of them mythological!
So, does Perez update the lame debutante Priscilla Rich, or the two-bit tigress Deborah Domaine? Neither, thank God! Instead, he creates Barbara Minerva, who is essentially an evil Lara Croft. Okay, a bit more "edgy", but how will he deal with that costume? What justification could he possibly create for such a lame attire?
Well, when Barbara Minerva undergoes a pagan ceremony, she is cursed by the nature goddess Urtzkartaga to become The Cheetah, a powerful yet feral beast with strength and speed to rival Wonder Woman! Finally, a reason for her to be Diana's arch foe! Her appearance is (give or take) a humanoid version of the animal whose name she bears.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you successfully update Golden/Silver Age crap.