Historically Speaking: Simply Sensational

“History is the essence of innumerable biographies.” – Thomas Carlyle

The Opening Chapter
I really didn’t want to use this column as a way to write obituaries for wrestlers who have gone on too soon, but this week I couldn’t help myself. With this ridiculous “Mr. McMahon is dead” angle going on it only seemed like some sort of karma that an actual wrestling legend would die shortly thereafter. I am of course talking about on Sensational Sherri. I find it terrible horrible and in bad taste that they would continue to run this angle on Monday night while giving Sherri just a quick screen shot right before the women’s match of course. That way it wouldn’t take up precious time at the beginning of the broadcast and would be just a wonderful segue to talk about the current crop of RAW women.

And another thing, the 10 bell salutes for “Mr. McMahon” on ECW and SmackDown! were revolting. I didn’t get too wound up when they used Eddie Guerrero in storylines but the bell salute was a bit much for me to take. The way the announcers had to stay in character while the fans booed the salutes was terrible. God if they do this much crap when “Mr. McMahon” dies, what the hell is going to be like when the old man actually croaks.

Anyways, let’s get back to the task at hand and take a look back at the career for one Sherri Martel.

The Early Years in a Man’s World
Sherri, like most females in her day, was trained by the Fabulous Moolah. She was a solid wrestler and trained to be tough, not just eye candy or a valet like the “Divas” we see today. She really made her mark in the business starting in 1985 when she won the AWA Women’s Championship. In between and during her three reigns as Champion she also took to managing some of the men on the roster as well. Hey, might as well get your face out there as much as possible. She was in the corner of Buddy Rose and Doug Somers during their semi-famous feud with The Rockers over the AWA Tag Championships. She then moved on to managing Kevin Kelly, the guy who would go on to later fame as “Nailz” in the WWF. In the summer of 1987 Sherri made history when she, still as AWA Women’s Champion, jumped to the WWF and beat the Fabulous Moolah for the WWF Women’s Championship. She was champion of both national promotions briefly before dropping the AWA belt and moving on the WWF full time.

Becoming a Legend in the WWF
Now in the WWF she rechristened herself “Sensational” Sherri and held the ladies belt for fifteen months before dropping the belt to Jake “the Snake” Roberts’ sister Rockin’ Robin in October 1988. During that time the WWF had a fairly strong women’s division as they were featured at the 1987 Survivor Series in 10 women tag with Sherri captaining one team while Moolah captained the other. While the Champion she also doubled in disguise as “Peggy Sue,” Honkytonk Man’s valet.

Scary Sherri
By 1990 the women’s division had been thoroughly phased out and the Sensational one moved on to being a full-time manager for Randy Savage. She became Queen Sherri in 1989 once Savage won the King title from Hacksaw Duggan. The pair spent ’89 and ’90 battling with Miss Elizabeth, Hulk Hogan, Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake and Dusty Rhodes and his manager Sapphire. Their feud with Rhodes culminated with a mixed tag at WrestleMania VI that saw Elizabeth in Rhodes and Sapphire’s corner. The pair then moved on to a run against the Ultimate Warrior that ended in a career match at WrestleMania VII. Once Savage lost, Sherri realized her meal ticket was gone and attacked Savage, prompting Miss Elizabeth to run in an make the save.

The Million Dollar Baby
By the end of the night at WrestleMania VII, Sherri had already found a new client in “Million $ Man” Ted DiBiase. This partnership only lasted into early 1992 when DiBiase took up Jimmy Hart as his manager, leaving Sherri to find herself another meal ticket

Bringing Sexy Back
She wasn’t out of work long as she quickly hooked up with a newly-turned heel Shawn Michaels and became that spark to this character that he desperately needed. She was a big part of sending his singles career in the right direction. The pair worked together through 1992 as she helped through runs with Bret Hart and Rick Martel. She turned face for the first in time in her WWF career in early ’93 during Michaels’ first run with his old partner Marty Jannetty. When Jannetty flaked out shortly after the Rumble Sherri would act as valet for whoever Michaels was running with at the time. She was in the corner of Tatanka for his Intercontinental Title match against Michaels at WrestleMania IX. Michaels countered by bring Luna Vachon with them. This led to the first full-fledged women’s feud in the WWF in years. Sherri spent most of the spring and summer of ’93 fighting with Tatanka against Luna and Bam Bam Bigelow. Sherri then left the company shortly before SummerSlam ’93, ending a successful six year WWF run.

She showed up in ECW in the late fall of 1993 as a valet for Shane Douglas. She also did some shots with WCW in early 1994 while still doing dates for ECW. She officially joined WCW in May 1994 and dubbed herself Sensuous Sherri. She sided with Ric Flair that summer during his runs with Hulk Hogan and Sting.

Once Flair “retired” that fall she was moved on to Harlem Heat, giving them a much-needed career boost, much like she had done for Shawn Michaels years earlier. She now went by the moniker “Sista Sherri” while Harlem Heat dropped their generic “Kane” and “Kole” names and went by the now famous Booker T and Stevie Ray names. She gave the duo guidance and led them to their first of many WCW Tag Championships. In the summer of 1995, the duo had a long run with Col. Robert Parker’s team of Dick Slater and Bunkhouse Buck. It all somehow ended up with Sherri getting amnesia and falling in love with Parker. The feud finally blew off in November 1996 when Sherri beat Col. Parker at World War 3. She continued to manage the Heat until the summer of ’97 when she was released from WCW.

From there she floated through the indys through the end of ‘90s and even made a couple appearances in WCW again in early WCW. She made a couple of notable appearances recently in the WWF, in 2005 during the build up to the Kurt Angle-Shawn Michaels feud that saw Angle put her in the ankle lock and her infamous acceptance speech at the 2006 WWE Hall of Fame ceremonies. Her last national exposure was on the September 21, 2006 episode of TNA IMPACT where she tried to get the managerial services of Robert Roode.

She died on June 15, 2007.

The Perspective
I am really not a big fan of women’s wrestling, but Sherri (along with Trish Stratus and Moolah) have to be considered the greatest and/or influential women in the North American wrestling business. As a wrestler she was one of the best in her league. As a manager she was better than the other women and better than a lot of the men. She wasn’t afraid to be a part of the action or take a bump for the good of the story. She was a great heel and often worked with men that didn’t really managers or mouthpieces, but her presence only made their act better. She wasn’t called upon to get a new act over, she was called upon to get a good act even more over. Whether she was sensational or sensuous, a queen or a sista, she was ntertaining. And that’s what we could ask for

For this week the vault is closed

Linked to the Pulse
GRUT has a phenomenal little piece on a couple guys named Matt and Adam. It’s truly worth a look.

David B. takes a look at some famous swerves, and whether they worked or not.

Big Andy Mac continues his quest to get everyone on the planet to like Ring of Honor. I think is plan is working.

This Day in History
I figured if we are talking history around here we should pay homage to what has happened on this very day in the years gone by. It will either make you long for the old days or be happy for what we have now.

1981 – Dusty Rhodes defeated Harley Race for the NWA Heavyweight Wrestling title
1982 – Junkyard Dog defeated Bob Roop for the Mid-South North American Heavyweight title
1993 – Owen Hart defeated Papa Shango for the USWA Unified Heavyweight title
1993 – New Jack & Homeboy defeated Rex King & Steve Doll for the USWA Tag Team title

The Assignment
It’s important to know your history to know where you have come from and where you are going. Nova implemented history assignments for the students of the developmental territories months ago so they would know pro wrestling’s history and they would learn just how many moves Nova did create. I feel this is a smashing idea and every week I will assign a book or DVD for you to check out and learn from. They are not only educational but very entertaining.

This week I want to highlight Mick Foley’s third autobiography The Hardcore Diaries. If you liked any of Foley’s other books, you’ll like this one. He takes the reader through his mind as he prepares to come back after WrestleMania to put the ECW One Night Stand 2 PPV together. The majority of the book talks about his “can’t miss” angle to get a 60 year old Terry Funk over with today’s RAW audience and how he was foiled at every turn. He really spends a lot of time griping about how his vision isn’t followed through and his thoughts of taking his ball and going home. But it has got a lot of good backstage information about the ECW angle, the Flair angle, the Melina-Kiss My Ass Club angle and even goes back to talk about the Randy Orton angle from 2004 in great detail. There’s also a lot sprinkled in about his charity work and family. At some points he does seem to develop an ego and really tout himself as something special, but overall it’s a good read, but it doesn’t hold a candle to Have a Nice Day and lacks some of the humor and road stories of Foley is Good but it is definitely worth the read. Plus the Test and Al Snow jokes return and who doesn’t love those?

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