Sapphire (wrestler)

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Sapphire
Sapphire (wrestler).jpg
Ring name(s) Sapphire
Princess Dark Cloud
Billed height 5 ft 2 in (1.57 m)
Billed weight 155 lb (70 kg; 11.1 st)
Born (1934-10-24)October 24, 1934
St. Louis, Missouri[1]
Died September 10, 1996(1996-09-10) (aged 61)[1][2][3]
Debut 1989
Retired 1990

Juanita Wright (October 24, 1934 – September 10, 1996) was a professional wrestling valet and wrestler best known as "Sweet" Sapphire in the World Wrestling Federation where she managed Dusty Rhodes in 1989 and 1990. She also wrestled on the independent circuit as Princess Dark Cloud.

Early life[edit]

Juanita Wright was born on October 24, 1934 in St. Louis, Missouri. She became a huge wrestling fan and began to drive wrestlers to arenas in the St. Louis area.[4] Wright gained a wrestling referees license, the first woman in Missouri to do so, before entering the ring as a wrestler. She appeared under the name Princess Dark Cloud and once wrestled a bear.[5] Prior to signing a contract with the World Wrestling Federation, Wright worked as a saleswoman for a clothing company in St. Louis.[6]

World Wrestling Federation[edit]

On November 25, 1989, Wright debuted at WWF Saturday Night's Main Event as a fan cheering on Dusty Rhodes in his match against Big Boss Man. Sapphire began to manage Dusty Rhodes, both adorned in black outfits with yellow polka dots. Sapphire along with Rhodes later on entered into a feud with Randy Savage and Sensational Sherri as Sapphire teamed with Rhodes to take on Savage and Sherri in a tag team match at Wrestlemania VI. Sapphire pinned Sherri, with some help from Miss Elizabeth, who had allied herself with Sapphire and Rhodes after a previous incident that precipitated the match.[7] Sapphire and Sherri would continue their feud competing against each other in singles and tag team matches, across the country from April 21, 1990, at the Richmond, VA, Coliseum where she lost to the Queen in a one on one encounter, right up til August 25. at the Palace of Auburn Hills, where she and Rhodes emerged victorious as a tandem. In the Spring and Summer of 1990, Sapphire began to receive gifts from a mysterious benefactor. At the 1990 SummerSlam pay per view, Sherri defeated Sapphire via forfeit after Sapphire failed to show. Seconds before Rhodes' match against Randy Savage, Ted DiBiase revealed that he had bought Sapphire. A puzzled Rhodes lost to Savage because he did not have the heart to continue. Sapphire began appearing in segments where she would do favors for DiBiase, including ironing his money. Sapphire would then shortly leave the WWF. Although it was never explained why on WWF programming, Virgil revealed in an interview with WWF Magazine several months later that the (kayfabe) reason for Sapphire leaving was that DiBiase took all the gifts back.

In a later shoot interview, Sherri Martel revealed that Wright's admiration for Rhodes was legitimate, and that Wright literally broke down crying when the office told her that they were severing her and Rhodes' on-screen partnership. Martel believes that Wright lost complete interest in the wrestling business after this, which is why she left the company not long after SummerSlam. Rhodes revealed on his WWE DVD The American Dream: The Dusty Rhodes Story that he once went into Vince McMahon's office and said that he liked Sapphire, but having her around was pointless and that she should be released. McMahon told Rhodes that she "made" Rhodes' character and that she should stay. After extensive thought, Rhodes agreed.

Personal life[edit]

Wright had two children, named Wanda and Ricco.[1] Little is known about Juanita from the time she left the WWF except that she worked at GrandPa Pidgeon's in University City, MO., where she enjoyed telling old wrestling stories to her co-workers' children. She died in St. Louis, Missouri from a heart attack on September 10, 1996.[2]

In popular culture[edit]

A character called "Sweet Sapphire" was adopted by Earl Douglas, a radio producer for XM Radio's Ron and Fez Show due to his uncanny resemblance to Juanita, and his pairing with the new show producer, The Midnight Rider. Dusty Rhodes, whom Sapphire had managed in the WWF, has wrestled under the name The Midnight Rider.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Sapphire Online World of Wrestling profile". 
  2. ^ a b "Gary Will's Wrestling History: Deceased Pro Wrestlers". 
  3. ^ Find A Grave profile
  4. ^ Rhodes, Dusty; Howard Brody (2005). "Dusty: Reflections of an American Dream". Sports Publishing LLC. p. 128. ISBN 1-58261-907-7. 
  5. ^ http://www.obsessedwithwrestling.com/profiles/s/sapphire.php.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ Dave Meltzer article in The National, late 1990
  7. ^ Shields, Brian and Kevin Sullivan (2009). WWE Encyclopedia. DK/BradyGAMES. p. 265. ISBN 978-0-7566-4190-0. 

External links[edit]