|Birth name||Sherri Russell|
|Ring name(s)||"Sensational" Sherri
|Billed height||5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)|
|Billed weight||132 lb (60 kg)|
February 8, 1958|
|Died||June 15, 2007
|Billed from||New Orleans, Louisiana|
|Trained by||Donna Christanello
The Fabulous Moolah
Martel began her professional wrestling career as a manager. She joined the American Wrestling Association (AWA) in the mid-1980s and held its AWA World Women's Championship three times. In the late 1980s, she joined the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), where she held the WWF Women's Championship. Also in the WWF, Martel continued to act as a manager to wrestlers such as Randy Savage, Ted DiBiase, and Shawn Michaels. She appeared in Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in the 1990s. In the latter, Martel acted as the manager for the tag team Harlem Heat. After leaving WCW, she made a few wrestling related appearances until her death in 2007.
- 1 Professional wrestling career
- 1.1 Early career
- 1.2 American Wrestling Association (1985–1987)
- 1.3 World Wrestling Federation (1987–1993)
- 1.4 Extreme Championship Wrestling (1993)
- 1.5 World Championship Wrestling (1994–1997)
- 1.6 Later career
- 2 Personal life
- 3 In wrestling
- 4 Championships and accomplishments
- 5 Footnotes
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
Professional wrestling career
Martel was first introduced to professional wrestling as a child, when her mother took her and her sister to shows in Mississippi. In 1974, Martel approached Grizzly Smith for advice on becoming a wrestler, but he questioned her conviction and told her to come back to him in five years when she was an adult. She eventually married her second husband and gave birth to a son named Jared, but she soon divorced her husband. During this time, she again became interested in becoming a professional wrestler and sought training from "Mr. Personality" Butch Moore in Memphis, Tennessee. She started wrestling as Sherri Martine, but decided she needed more training. She continued to train at The Fabulous Moolah's school, where Moolah changed her name to Sherri Martel and sent her to wrestle in Japan in 1981. Moolah claims that Martel frequented night clubs and liked to party, which resulted in Moolah kicking her out of the school.
After leaving the school, she traveled back to Tennessee. In Memphis, she was managed by Jim Cornette. During a mixed battle royal, Martel suffered an injury that removed her from wrestling temporarily. She then worked as both a wrestler and manager to the Heavenly Bodies Pat Rose and Tom Prichard).
American Wrestling Association (1985–1987)
Women's Champion (1985–1986)
After recovering, Larry Zbyszko helped her join the American Wrestling Association (AWA). She eventually debuted in the AWA and, on September 28, 1985, at SuperClash in Chicago, she defeated Candi Devine for the AWA World Women's Championship. She traded the belt with Devine, and on June 28, 1986, at "Battle by the Bay," Martel defeated Devine to win the AWA World Women's Championship for a third and final time. Martel, however, only held the title briefly before vacating it.
Managerial roles (1986–1987)
During this time, in addition to wrestling, Martel acted as the manager for the team of "Playboy" Buddy Rose and "Pretty Boy" Doug Somers, whom she managed to win the AWA World Tag Team Championship. Rose and Somers then engaged in a lengthy feud with The Midnight Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty), who defeated Rose and Somers for the tag team title on January 27, 1987, in St. Paul, Minnesota. She also managed Kevin Kelly, and suffered the first of what would be several in-ring embarrassments when she led Kelly into the ring against Tommy Rich for an arm wrestling match. Martel couldn't resist slapping Rich, who threw the table on Kelly. Rich cornered Martel and tore her dress off to reveal a skimpy pink teddy and black hose. Kelly covered a tearful Martel with his robe, and hustled her back to the locker room.
World Wrestling Federation (1987–1993)
Debut & Women's Champion (1987–1988)
After former AWA wrestler Jesse Ventura referred her to the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), she debuted on July 24, 1987, defeating The Fabulous Moolah for the WWF Women's Championship. Renaming herself Sensational Sherri, she reigned as WWF Women's Champion for fifteen months before losing it to Rockin' Robin. At the Survivor Series in 1987, Martel's team consisting of Martel, The Glamour Girls (Leilani Kai and Judy Martin), Dawn Marie, and Donna Christanello lost to The Fabulous Moolah's team consisting of Moolah, Velvet McIntyre, Rockin' Robin, and the Jumping Bomb Angels (Noriyo Tateno and Itsuki Yamazaki). It was on October 8, 1988 that she was defeated for the title by Rockin' Robin. When the WWF phased out its women's division in 1990, Martel remained with the company and turned her attention to managing male wrestlers.
During the late 1980s Sherri often donned a blonde wig and sunglasses and played the role of then WWE Intercontinental Champion the Honky Tonk Man's girlfriend "Peggy Sue" and accompanied Honky and his manager "The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart to the ring for his matches, including his match with Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake at WrestleMania IV.
Managing Randy Savage (1989–1991)
At WrestleMania V, Martel confronted Miss Elizabeth, which led to a brawl between Elizabeth's ally Hulk Hogan and her former ally Randy Savage. Throughout the remainder of 1989, Martel and Savage feuded with Hogan and Elizabeth. At SummerSlam, Hogan and Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake defeated the team of Savage and Zeus. After the match, Elizabeth knocked out Martel with Martel's purse, and she, Hogan, and Beefcake cut Martel's hair.
At WrestleMania VI in 1990, Martel and Savage lost a mixed tag-team match against Sapphire and Dusty Rhodes after Elizabeth, who was in the corner of Sapphire and Rhodes, interfered and shoved Martel. During that same year, Martel and Savage appeared on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous with Robin Leach. Martel ran in the ring to aid Savage in a steel cage match in Memphis against Jerry "The King" Lawler, but after accidentally knocking Savage from the ring, she had her dress yanked off by Lawler as she climbed the cage to escape. During a steel cage match at Madison Square Garden, Martel would suffer a similar embarrassment at the hands of The Ultimate Warrior, who pulled off an escaping Martel's miniskirt to reveal matching black garter belts and lace underpants. Practically in tears, Martel raced back to the locker room. At WrestleMania VII, Savage lost a "retirement match" against The Ultimate Warrior, where the loser would be forced (Kayfabe) to retire. After Savage lost the match, an irate Martel attacked Savage but was thrown from the ring by Elizabeth, who had been watching from the audience. Later on the WM7 card after she and Savage parted ways following the career match, Martel came to the ring to help "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase in his assault on an injured Rowdy Roddy Piper, following which she managed DiBiase until 1992.
Pairing and feuding with Shawn Michaels and departure (1992–1993)
Subsequently, Martel began managing Shawn Michaels after Pat Patterson convinced Michaels to participate in the storyline. She also sang Michaels theme song called "Sexy Boy". Michaels still uses this theme to this day. As part of his gimmick, Michaels would admire himself in a full-length mirror before his matches. In 1992, before a match, his former partner Marty Jannetty grabbed the mirror and attempted to hit Michaels with it, but Michaels pulled Martel in front of him. After being hit with the mirror, she was absent from television until the Royal Rumble in January 1993. At the Rumble, she was in a neutral corner for the match between Michaels and Jannetty, but she turned on Michaels during the match. Backstage, Michaels confronted her, and Jannetty came to her rescue. The storyline, however, was cut short as Jannetty was released from the company in the midst of the feud. Martel spent the remainder of the year aligned with Tatanka, who aided her in her feud with Luna Vachon and Bam Bam Bigelow. She was released from the World Wrestling Federation during the summer.
Extreme Championship Wrestling (1993)
World Championship Wrestling (1994–1997)
Martel appeared in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in 1994 under the name Sensuous Sherri. In WCW, Martel managed Ric Flair in his feuds with Sting and Hulk Hogan. At Bash at the Beach, she tried to help Flair to defeat Hogan in a match by giving him brass knuckles but failed. At the feud's climactic battle, a steel cage match at Halloween Havoc, Martel climbed the cage to aid Flair and in the process had her dress pulled off by Jimmy Hart, Hogan's manager, leaving her dangling from the cage in black lingerie.
Next, Martel began managing Harlem Heat (Booker T and Stevie Ray) using the name Sister Sherri. She managed the team to seven WCW World Tag Team Championship reigns. In late 1994 (while still managing Harlem Heat in WCW), Martel made a return appearance in ECW managing Shane Douglas and Brian Pillman against Ron Simmons and 2 Cold Scorpio. Back in WCW, Martel had a brief on-screen romance with Col. Robert Parker until October 1996 when Harlem Heat fired him and Martel had a match with him at World War 3 in November. She continued to manage Harlem Heat until she got fired from the group on the July 7, 1997 edition of Nitro.
Early in 1999, Martel competed in a mixed-tag team match for the Apocalypse Wrestling Federation's Heavyweight Championship, a title held predominately by men. Missy Hyatt pinned Martel to win the title. In October 1999, she appeared on the Heroes of Wrestling pay-per-view managing George Steele in a match against Greg Valentine. Also in 1999, she was awarded the AWA Superstars Women's Championship.
In 2000, she made three wrestling television appearances with World Championship Wrestling (WCW). The first was at the WCW Souled Out 2000 pay-per-view event, watching at ringside along with other superstars, the Chris Benoit vs. Sid Vicious matchup for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. The second was on the January 19, 2000 edition of WCW Thunder where she had a match with Madusa, which she lost. In her third and final appearance in World Championship Wrestling, she had a match with Mona, which she also lost.
In 2005, she took part in a World Wrestling Entertainment (formerly the WWF) storyline with Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle shortly before WrestleMania 21. She made a return to SmackDown!, singing a parody of Michaels's theme song with Angle.
She was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by Ted DiBiase in April 2006. Later that year, she worked for TNA Wrestling, taping a backstage vignette trying to offer her managerial services to "free agent" Bobby Roode that aired on the September 21, 2006 TNA Impact!; it was her last wrestling television appearance.
By 2003, she and her husband Robert lived in Tennessee, where she helped him renovate homes. She was married and divorced at least twice during her life, and Booker Huffman gave her away at one of her weddings. She had one son.
On the morning of June 15, 2007, Martel died at her mother's residence in McCalla, Alabama, near Birmingham. She was 49 years old. On September 11, 2007, homicide investigators in Tuscaloosa, Alabama released the toxicology report stating that she died of an overdose with multiple drugs in her system, including high amounts of oxycodone.
- Wrestlers managed
- Dave Sullivan
- Greg Valentine
- Ian Rotten
- Jake "The Snake" Roberts
- Jeff Jarrett
- Johnny Swinger
- Kevin Sullivan
- Lenny Lane
- Marty Jannetty
- Randy Savage
- Ric Flair
- Rob Conway
- Salvatore Bellomo
- Shane Douglas
- Shawn Michaels
- Ted DiBiase
- Terry Funk
- The Honky Tonk Man
- Tracy Smothers
- Tag teams managed
Championships and accomplishments
- American Wrestling Association
- AWA Superstars of Wrestling
- Cauliflower Alley Club
- Other honoree (1994)
- International Wrestling Association
- IWA Women's Championship (1 time)
- Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame
- Women Superstars Uncensored
- WSU Hall of Fame (2009)
- World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
- Manager of the Year (1991)
- Spears, Jim (January 4, 2005). "Women's wrestlers today are tougher, better". The Times and Democrat. Retrieved 2009-05-23.
- Greenberg, Keith Elliot (2003). "Still Sensational". RAW Magazine. October: 26–29.
- Shields, Brian. Main Event: WWE in the Raging 80s, 136–138.
- Oliver, Greg (June 15, 2007). "Sherri Martel dead at 49". SLAM! Wrestling. Retrieved 2009-06-08.
- Ellison, Lillian. First Goddess of the Squared Circle, p.111.
- Ellison, Lillian. First Goddess of the Squared Circle, p.196–197.
- "Sherri Martel's bio". World Wrestling Entertainment. Retrieved 2011-03-31.
- Michaels, Shawn. Heartbreak and Triumph, p. 97.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "AWA World Tag Team Championship". Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- Shields, Brian. Main Event: WWE in the Raging 80s, 164.
- Powell, John. "WrestleMania 5: The Mega Powers Explode". SLAM! Wrestling. Retrieved 2010-02-09.
- Shields, Brian. Main Event: WWE in the Raging 80s, 192.
- Shields, Brian and Kevin Sullivan (2009). WWE Encyclopedia. DK/BradyGAMES. p. 265. ISBN 978-0-7566-4190-0.
- Mazer, Sharon (1998). Professional wrestling: sport and spectacle. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 137. ISBN 1-57806-021-4.
- Michaels, Shawn. Heartbreak and Triumph, p. 159.
- Michaels, Shawn. Heartbreak and Triumph, p. 166–167.
- "Biography". FranchiseFanSite.com. Retrieved 2010-04-23.
- "November to Remember". Extreme Championship Wrestling. November 13, 1993. pay-per-view.
- Flair, Ric (2005). Ric Flair: To Be the Man. Simon and Schuster. p. 326. ISBN 0-7434-9181-5.
- Williams, Scott E. (2006). Hardcore History: The Extremely Unauthorized Story of the ECW. Sports Publishing LLC. p. 42. ISBN 1-59670-021-1.
- Shields, Brian. Main Event: WWE in the Raging 80s, 208.
- "AWF Championship: Missy Hyatt". Apocalypse Wrestling Federation. Retrieved 2010-04-22.
- Oliver, Greg (October 11, 1999). "Heroes PPV a disappointment". SLAM! Wrestling. Retrieved 2010-04-22.
- "Sherri Martel autopsy results reveal drugs". SLAM! Wrestling. September 11, 2007. Retrieved 2010-02-08.
- WCW Results 1994
- WWF Results 1993
- Heroes PPV a disappointment
- Heroes of Wrestling - Sunday, October 10, 1999
- East Tennessee Wrestling Highlights
- INDY KINGDOM: MORE ON SHANE, ZACH, GREAT WOMEN'S MATCH, ROCK 'N' ROLLS, JARRETT, AND TONS MORE
- Johnny Parisi profile
- Ellison, Lillian. First Goddess of the Squared Circle, p.198.
- Rob Conway profile
- Eastern Championship Wrestling Ultraclash
- Remembering a good friend, Sherri Martel
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- Caldwell, James (2013-11-26). "News: Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame announces 2014 HOF class". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- Ellison, Lillian (2003). The Fabulous Moolah: First Goddess of the Squared Circle. ReaganBooks. ISBN 978-0-06-001258-8.
- Michaels, Shawn (2005). Heartbreak & Triumph: The Shawn Michaels Story. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-7434-9380-X.
- Shields, Brian (2006). Main Event: WWE in the Raging 80s (4th ed.). Pocket Books. ISBN 978-1-4165-3257-6.
- Holliday, Bob (March 24, 2007). "Scary Sherri gets what she wants". SLAM! Wrestling.
- http://www.facebook.com/thesensational1 - Sherri Martel Appreciation Page
- WWE Hall of Fame Profile
- Sherri Martel at the Internet Movie Database