411’s Wrestling Hall of Fame Class of 2008: Sensational Sherri Martel
Name: Sherri Martel (AKA Sensational Sherri, Scary Sherri, Sister Sherri, Sensuous Sherri, Queen Sherri, Peggy Sue; Real Name: Sherri Russell)
Promotions: AWA, WWF, WCW
Titles: AWA Women’s Champion, WWF Women’s Champion, WWE Hall of Famer
Wrestlers Managed or Associated With: Playboy Buddy Rose, Doug Sommers, Randy Savage, Ted Dibiase, Shawn Michaels, Rick Martel, Harlem Heat, Robert Fuller, Ric
Flair, Jim Cornette, Shane Douglas, Honky Tonk Man, Rob Conway
Career Summary: Sherri Martel was born on February 8th, 1958 in New Orleans, Louisiana. She grew up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and was taken to wrestling matches at a young age by her mother and older sister. She ran away from home to become a clown and join the circus as a teenager. When that didn’t pan out she joined a wrestling school in Memphis, Tennessee in late 1978 ran by Butch Moore. In early 1979 she trained with the Fabulous Moolah and Donna Christanello for several months before continuing her wrestling education in Japan.
Sherri joined the AWA in 1985 and feuded with Candi Devine over the promotion’s Women’s Championship while also managing tag team champions Doug Sommers and Buddy Rose. Martel entered the WWF in the summer of 1987 and defeated her former mentor Fabulous Moolah for their version of the Women’s Title on July 24th 1987 in Houston, Texas. Sherri’s star took off in the WWF in 1989 when she became the manager of the “Macho King” Randy Savage. She split from Savage at Wrestlemania VII when he lost a retirement match to the Ultimate Warrior and became the “Million Dollar Woman” to Ted Dibiase’s “Million Dollar Man.” In 1992, Sherri made Shawn Michaels her ‘boy toy’ and he fought with Rick Martel for her love. Sherri Martel left the WWF in 1993 for a brief tenure in ECW managing Shane Douglas.
Martel arrived in the WCW in 1994 and managed Ric Flair against archenemy Hulk Hogan; helping him to one of his many title reigns. Martel would continue to be the manager of champions as she took the team of Harlem Heat, comprised of Booker T and Stevie Ray, to many reigns as the WCW Tag Team Champs. In storylines, Martel became the love interest of manager Colonel Rob Parker (Robert Fuller) and the two co-managed Harlem Heat while Sherri warred with Medusa Micelli for Parker’s attentions.
In February of 1996, Martel entered drug rehab for addiction to pills. She reportedly kicked the habit for good and was welcomed back to WCW after ending her rehab stint. From there she went on the independent circuit and was awarded the reformed AWA’s Women’s Title in May of 1999. In 2002, she made several appearances in Ohio Valley Wrestling feuding with Victoria and managing Rob Conway. In 2005 she appeared on an episode of Smackdown with Kurt Angle leading up to his Wrestlemania match with her former charge Shawn Michaels. Martel’s last television appearance was for TNA on September 21, 2006 offering her managerial services to Robert Roode.
Ted DiBiase inducted Martel into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006. Martel passed away on June 15, 2007 at her mother’s home in New Orleans, which was ruled an accidental overdose.
Why Sherri Martel was selected…
Sherri Martel exuded sex appeal through the sheer fact that she knew she was the sexiest woman in the wrestling world. She was confident inside the ring and out and could be based on a mind and talent that rivaled any man in the sport. Martel just wasn’t a valet, she was a manager. She made bad wrestlers passable and great wrestlers legends. She helped create a character for Shawn Michaels that has led him to be one of the greatest grapplers of all time. Sherri taught him the attitude and smug confidence that he displayed as the “Heartbreak Kid.” While never the most attractive of women, Martel had a tight athletic body and revolutionized what a wrestling woman could be. Before her, the women of the squared circle were either hulking brutes or waifish, weak cheesecake. Sherri walked the line between wrestler and eye candy that all women in the sport attempt to do today.