WENDI RICHTER…greatest female wrestler of all time! (click here to read the entire story)

“THE BRAWL TO SETTLE IT ALL”

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“145 LBS. OF TWISTED STEEL AND SEX APPEAL!”

Alright- of all the things I’ve ever been obsessed with, Wendi Richter was the first…and I was only 12! 

1984 was a great year for two of my favorite things at that time- Music and Professional Wrestling.  It got even better when they joined forces and the “Rock-N-Wrestling Connection” was born.  It all started on “Piper’s Pit”….I’m sure hardcore WWF fans will remember that!

 

In case you weren’t around in the mid-1980s’- (or for some reason you can’t remember the mid- 80’s) it went something like this…. (and make sure you watch all the video’s, it’ll make more sense)

and the story line to change Wrestling History forever was set…..

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August/Septmeber issue of the “WWF Magazine”

After the dust settled, Cyndi decided to challenge Captain Lou at his own game.  They’d settle it in the wrestling ring.  Each finding a female wrestler to battle it out.  Lou of course, went and found the Champion- The Fabulous Moolah.  Cyndi went and found the number one contender for Moolah’s belt…a young lady from Texas named Wendi Richter. 

Now…not only is this a Main Event for the night of wrestling at Madison Square Garden, but it was also broadcast LIVE on MTV.  It was promoted constantly and had fans tuned in as if it were a Heavy Weight boxing match featuring ALI!  The Fabulous Moolah (according to the WWF) had held the Women’s Title for 27 years and 8 months.   That gets kinda tricky…. I’ll explain that later.

Then- on July 23, 1984 in New York’s MADISON SQUARE GARDEN- Wendi Richter and Cyndi Lauper changed all that…..

(PART ONE….Moolah vs. Richter)

(PART TWO….Moolah vs. Richter)

I became instantly hooked!  I had occasionally watched wrestling up until then and even people that had NEVER watched professional wrestling, started to tune in.  These were the glory days of the WWF.  Hulk Hogan, The Iron Shiek, Classy Freddie Blassie, The Junk Yard Dog and the entire list of stars of the WWF became house hold names.  And I loved how Wendi’ always entered the ring to the song Girls Just Wanna Have Fun“.

I watched faithfully a couple of times a week and got to know all the wrestlers by name.  Up until The Fabulous Moolah and Wendi Richter battled it out against each other that Summer, Women’s Wrestling was pretty much the time when the fans went and got a hot dog or smoked a cigarette.  It really had no fan base in the arena or on TV.  Moolah dominated all her opponents for almost 30 years and there wasn’t the same admiration for her as some of the Heavyweight male wrestlers like Bruno Sammartino, Buddy Rogers, Lou Thesz, Pat Patteson and Bob Backlund.

  Wendi Richter changed all that and became a Wrestling Superstar. 

MAKE SURE YOU WATCH THE VIDEO’S UP THERE!!!

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Wendi enters the ring to defend her WWF Women’s Championship.

The cross promotion for Cyndi’s career and the world of Professional Wrestling was huge.  Intially, Captain Lou had been used in Cyndi’s first video and there was more to come.  Wendi’s continued success only added more popularity to the sport and also gave Cyndi’s music a new audience.  Cyndi’s next video for her hit single of “SheBop” was played heavily on MTV (for all you youngsters out there…at one time- probably before you were born- MTV played ALL MUSIC ALL THE TIME!…ask your parents!) 

In the newest video, Captain Lou Albano and Cyndi’s mother were again featured in the video as well as Cyndi’s then boyfriend/manager.  Even Wendi had a part as the waitress at the beginning of the video.  The WWF even used the photo as part of their trading cards/sticker promotion.  Wendi had several in the collection.  I’ve got a complete set- somewhere.

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WWF Trading Card and Sticker featuring Wendi Richter.

Of course, The Fabulous Moolah was granted a rematch….several infact.  I was fortunate enough to see Wendi and Moolah battle it out in my hometown once.  I finally pestered my dad long enough that he took me to see them wrestle.  It was probably the single greatest moment of my youth.  How often do you get to see one of your childhood hero’s right there in front of you?  I remember fans cheering really loud when Wendi made her way to the ring as her theme song played.  It was even louder when she kicked Moolah’s ass and won!  I’ll remember it forever.

Moolah eventually gave up trying to win back her title and focused on finding someone who could beat Wendi.  It seemed to get to the point where it didn’t matter if Moolah herself was no longer champion, just as long as Wendi was defeated.  The Fabulous Moolah kicked, scratched and cheated as often as she could get away with it while “Managing” several wrestlers such as Judy Martin, Donna Christiantello and The SpiderLady (pay attention to that name).  Moolah (or Shmoolah- as Cyndi liked to call her) eventually found a wrestler who fought just as dirty as she always had….

Leilani Kai

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The Fabulous Moolah and Leilani Kai pulled out all the stops that night.  Moolah even choked Cyndi Lauper at ringside- Wendi came over to rescue her and Moolah sucker punched her in the jaw.  Leilani then went for a pin and snagged the title away from Wendi.

Wrestling fans across America (including myself) were shocked at the way the Women’s Title changed hands.  Not only did Wendi lose that night but Moolah had (in a sense) taken the title back from Wendi.  But as with anything in the WWF…its all about promotion.  The re-match was set for what would become the greatest event in the history of Professional Wrestling…

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The Original…Not like the bullshit McMahon produces now.

This was hype at it’s all time finest.  Not only did the stars of the WWF compete but there were also lots of famous faces in the audience and as well as guests for the Co-Main Event featuring Mr. T and Hulk Hogan.  Stars like Billy Martin, Liberace  and Muhammad Ali were all part of the entertainment for the final match of WRESTLEMANIA.  Just prior to that match though, was what many fans considered to be the real Main Event.  The battle for the Women’s World Wrestling Championship Belt...

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Photo from the Original “WrestleMania” program.

Cyndi and Wendi entered the ring and every fan in attendance was on their feet.  Women’s Professional Wrestling had finally created a loyal fan base that was able to- as they say in Wrestling- “put asses in the seats!”  Wrestlemania was also shown via closed circuit television across the country.  The only reason I went was to see Wendi Richter become champion again and hopefully see Cyndi get some revenge on Moolah.

Shmoolah and Lani Cow” (as Cyndi often called Moolah and Kai) did what they could to keep Wendi from getting the upper hand during the match.  Moolah of course got involved and pulled Wendi’s hair from outside the ring as Leilani distracted the referee.  Cyndi had to go over and smack Moolah on the head.  The action was great!

When it was all over- Wendi was once again WWF Women’s Champ. 

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Wendi and Cyndi celebrate their victory at WrestleMania-

“THE WAR TO SETTLE THE SCORE”.

Moolah kept trying to get the WWF Women’s Title back from Wendi any way she could.  She found some tall goon named “The Spider Lady” who was big but didn’t have a whole lot of wrestling skills.  Wendi and The Spider wrestled on several occasions.  The only time she ever got close to getting the upper hand on Wendi is when Moolah got involved in the match.

Around this time- there was even a Saturday Morning Cartoon called “Hulk Hogan’s Rock-N-Wrestling” that had several of the WWF Stars included in this short lived animated series.  Wendi and Moolah were both featured as cartoons.  Wendi’s likness as a cartoon was just as cute as the lady herself……

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Now…as “Gorilla Monsoon” used to say- this may have been the begining of the end.  Wendi Ricther was a household name.  Her likeness was used in a cartoon series, a line of wrestling toys and she was able to fill arena’s as a “Main Event”.  Yet she never got the pay or even some of the recognition the men in her field receieved.  She was a Co-Main Event at WrestleMania and appeared on weekly televised matches defending her WWF Women’s Championship.  Wendi was indeed popular with the fans- so much so that an issue of ProWrestling Illustrted featured her on the cover and dared to ask the one question out loud that all the promoters and booking agents were already silently asking themselves….

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“IS WENDI RICHTER MORE POPULAR THAN HULK HOGAN?”

So, Wendi knows she’s filling houses around the wrestling circut and the cartoon series was picked up by a major network.  She also (and rightly so) feels she is intitled to more of the profits.  I’m sure nothing gets under Vince McMahon’s skin more than having to write a check from his bank account to anyone that is questioning his pay rates.   So, rather than deal with the situation at hand- he just gets rid of the problem….

THE ORIGINAL SCREWJOB-  November 25, 1985  New York 

Check out Wendi’s face at the :10 second mark- Is it just me or does her facial expression show that she knows something’s up? You can also hear the crowd chant “MOOLAH! MOOLAH!” at the :55 second mark- Wendi also says “THAT’S MOOLAH ALRIGHT!” at the 1:27 mark.   I can only imagine what Wendi must have been thinking at the point….

After Wendi figures it all out, she goes for blood.  The Spider Lady gets Wendi in a small package and Wendi kicks out and is on her side…but the referee STILL KEEPS COUNTING TO THREE AS IF SHE’S ACTUALLY STILL BEING PINNED!! 

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Vince McMahon and Moolah both got what they wanted.

Wendi pulled a disappearing act for a while and eventually started wrestling in Puerto Rico and made her way back to the States and won a few of the Women’s Wrestling Championship for several other organizations in various parts of the country.

She was still popular with the fans but I don’t think she got the exposure she once had during her reign in the WWF.  After it looked like she would never return to the WWF- I pretty much lost interest in wrestling.  Her name would occasionally appear in wrestling magazine publications and her stats would be listed and the opponents she beat but I never got to see any of those matches, since most were never televised on the West Coast.

Wrestling fans can FINALLY hear her version of the story by watching the video interview she agreed to a few years ago-

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I’ve seen it and it answers ALOT of questions.  It especially explains Moolah’s jealousy towards Richter.  Although I haven’t yet seen their side of the story- The Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young have done a video similar to this.  I’m sure Moolah’s version of why she wore the mask that night is what she and McMahon agreed was the truth.

Regardless, Wendi Richter is by far the single greatest female of all time.  True, it may be in the record books that Moolah was champion for nearly 30 years- but don’t believe everything you hear on TV.  If you do a little research, you’ll find that Moolah was actually DEFEATED for the Women’s Championship FOUR TIMES before she lost a fifth time to Wendi Richter.

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The Fabulous Moolah- losing her title for the fifth time.

In 1983, Moolah still owned the rights to the only recognized Women’s Title and was wrestling in the NWA.  After joining the WWF and selling the rights to McMahon- Moolah was recognized as the current champion.  However- none of the previous defeats or title changes since her original win in 1956 or any losses prior to the rights being sold were ever recognized by the WWF and thus the “Longest Reign in Professional Sports History” legend was born and Moolah took the credit, even though it was nothing more than a lie- since she had been beaten several times.

That being said- I could care less about how many years Shmoolah held the title.  Wendi was a class act.  She had more than just beauty and a Rock Star manager- she had mad skills and Women’s Wrestling would have never been what it evolved into had it not been for Wendi Richter.  Moolah may have been one of the first- but Wendi was by far, the most skilled and the most popular female wrestler of all time.

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THANKS WENDI, YOU’RE STILL THE GREATEST!!

 

special thanks to “WrestleDazzle” on youtube.com for all the great clips used here!  Check out more of Wendi Richter and other great ladies at his homepage-http://www.youtube.com/user/WrestleDazzle

UPDATE: Congratulations Wendi !

WWE HALL OF FAME IN 2010!!

25 Responses to “WENDI RICHTER…greatest female wrestler of all time! (click here to read the entire story)”

  1. [...] WENDI RICHTER…greatest female wrestler of all time! (click here) [...]

  2. Great job, nice piece of sports and entertainment history. I became a fan of Wrestling about the same time you did. I totally agree that those were the good times of wrestling (for me WrestleMania I to VI) and everything today just sucks. It was fake then and it is fake now, but then it was a good fake ;)
    Wendi re-captured my attention in the Jan 1988 issue of “Wrestling ringside” that has a little profile on her. How beautiful she looks there! If you want I scan it and Email it to you.
    Keep up the good work!
    Greets from Germany

  3. Finally.. a site that heralds the TRUE PIONEER OF WOMENS WRESTLING! wendi was, is , and will ALWAYS be my ultimate favorite woman wrestler of all time! even tho i know that wrestling is “fixed” you can tell wendi fought HARD in her title match when she beat moolah, and since back in 84 i was all of 16 years old.. i bought into the whole thing! to this day, i have to look hard to find any.. ANY woman wrestler who can reach the pinnacle that wendi did almost 25 years ago!

    its a shame that she got shafted for her title in the end, and even more of a shame that arguably the greatest female competitor in HISTORY hasnt yet, and probably never WILL be enshrined in the WWE HALL OF FAME where she rightfully belongs.

    but in the hearts of the tru fans, she is eternally the DEFINITIVE example of a true wrestling legend and a worthy champion!

    ALL HAIL WENDI RICHTER.. THE TRUE QUEEN OF THE RING!

  4. Thanks for this post.

    I really hope the WrestleMania XXV rumours are true…I would love to see Wendi Richter appear in the 25 Diva battle royale. I think it’s amazing that she was asked. Hopefully this is a sign that the fences between Vince and Wendi have been mended. Wendi totally deserves to be in the Hall of Fame (and I would love to see a Classic Superstars figure too!). An appearance at WrestleMania XXV could get the ball rolling for sure.

    Wendi is a true legend and it’s high time she was recognized for her accomplishments and popularity. Good on the WWE for finally starting to act on this…now please keep it going and get her into the Hall of Fame.

  5. Wendi Richter has said that theres a 75% chance of her being at WM25 and taking part in teh 25 diva battle royal.. so thats better than DEFINITELY NOT BEING THERE lol!

  6. MARTY SCHWAM Says:

    DEAR MS.RICHTER,
    I WOULD APPRECIATE IT VERY MUCH IF YOU
    WOULD PLEASE SEND ME A SIGNED PICTURE.
    THANK YOU FOR YOUR KINDNESS
    YOURS TRULY,
    MARTIN SCHWAM
    1172 WOODLAND TERRACE TRAIL
    ALTAMONTE SPRINGS,FL 32714

  7. I do believe that Wendi deserves to be in the WWF Hall of Fame but for all the past years, her name has never been announced. Sheri Martel and Moolah are there for sure but not Wendi. I do agree she is a great wrestler and deserves to be called sexy. There are also matches on YouTube where she wrestled in Japan for awhile.

    But the Japanese treat their women wrestlers like rock stars over there, not so much here. The only wrestler I have found that might equal Wendi is Micki James and truth be told, I just love how sexy she is. She tore up Beth Phoenix a few weeks ago dressed in a blue top and jeans and she looked so damn sexy.

    Anyway, I look forward to the day that Wendi Richter is allowed to be in the WWF Hall of Fame.

  8. I don’t think it’s a matter of Wendi being ALLOWED into the hall of fame, it’s a matter of Wendi ACCEPTING. See, if I were her I wouldnt accept either.. after the way Vince screwed her over? No way in hell. Eveyone knows that Wendi is DEFINITE hall of fame worthy wrestler, adn truth be told.. Vince’s “Hall of Fame” is just his “OFFICIAL KISS MY ASS CLUB” since for ANYONE to get in, then have to suck up to Vinnie mac to do it. I applaud Wendi for NOT caving

  9. Well, all I can say to that is Bret is in the Hall of Fame. He and the Vinnie Mac still have problems. I would like to see Goldberg but he did not wrestle that long for the WWE/WWF.

    Just for Wendi, I wish there was a way she could be recognized for all time. I can name some other women wrestlers but I think Moolah and Vince controlled what women wrestlers were allowed in. Since Moolah’s death, I don’t know of any women being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

  10. Helen Armentrout Says:

    After hearing about Wendi Richter, got on the internet to learn more
    about this fabulous wrestler. She truly deserves to be in the hall
    of fame. none more deserving, that’s for sure. Between her and Mickie
    James, they make most of our female wrestlers look pathetic.

  11. It was announced on Monday Night Raw last night that WENDI RICHTER IS GOING INTO THE WWE HALL OF FAME.. CLASS OF 2010!!!

    Being inducted by ROWDY RODDY PIPER, Wendi FINALLY takes her rightful place among the LEGENDS of the industry where she BELONGS!

    CONGRATULATIONS WENDI.. YOU DESERVE IT!

  12. As of last night, Wendi has been named to the WWE Hall of Fame and will be inducted by “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.

    This is an honor long deserved.

  13. Bob Loren Says:

    I’m happy that Wendi will be inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame, her first match against Moolah on MTV actually was the beginning of the modern era of pro wrestling. I have a question, though. I remember the match against the “Spider”, but it was a long time ago. The video has been altered. It doesn’t include this so called “screwjob”. Can anyone enlighten me??

    • phillipphiles Says:

      Hi Bob, thanks for checking things out here. I didnt’ realize the clip had an edited version. I have just reposted the FULL MATCH and here you can see the QUICK three count that Wendi got AFTER she had kicked out and had one shoulder off the mat. Hope this helps. I’m glad she’ll be inducted but I’ve also been wondering IF she will show up?

      • Bob Loren Says:

        Thanks for updating the post. I do see a fast count and an obvious kick out on Wendi’s part. I’ve been a wrestling fan for 40+ years (I don’t watch as much as I used to) and know one thing. The winner is chosen before the match starts. If you notice, even Wendi identifies Moolah during the match. In my opinion, that lets me know what’s coming. The WWE is all about the McMahons and Wendi was still under contract. Vince is a true showman. I don’t see a screwjob, Wendi lost like she was supposed to. But I do know this: We are still talking about it 25 years later. I’m not looking for a debate, but that is my honest opinion.

  14. The screwjob was that Wendi was defending the title against The Spider who was Penny Mitchell. Moolah switched places and all the moves were not what Wendi prepared for. That is why when the mask was ripped off and Moolah was revealed, Wendi protested and the WWF did not agree and refused to give her a rematch. That was the SCREWJOB!!!!!!

  15. Bob Loren Says:

    OK, thanks.

  16. The whole deal between Wendi and Moolah (the original screwjob) was that Wendi was supposed to SUCCESSFULLY defend against Spider Lady that night. She had stated later that she thought it was odd that Moolah was backstage at the arena because Moolah was NEVER at arenas when she wasnt scheduled to wrestle.

    Speed forward to the actual match, and Wendi realised the second she saw The Spider Lady in the ring that it wasnt the real woman, but that it was Moolah, and she complained to the referee (which you can clearly see/hear). The ref ignored her comments, and Wendi continued wrestling.

    She wasn’t scheduled to drop the title at that time, and especially NOT to Moolah… THAT’S what the whole screwjob is about.

    What transpired behind the scenes has NOTHING to do with Vince McMahon not giving Wendi a rematch at all, but rather Wendi constantly telling Vince that she should be earning more monmey since she was a champion in his federation. More than a few times she even Main Evented some shows for Vince, but yet she was still getting paid less money than some of the men on the same card.

    Vince refused to give her more money, and he sent Moolah out in the Spider Lady costume to take the title from Wendi. Right after the match, Wendi knew what happened and why, and she went back to the lockerroom, grabbed her bag with her clothes in it, got a cab outside.. still wearing her wrestling gear.. and went to the airport and left the WWF and never looked back.

    Thats the REAL story right from Wendi Richter’s lips about what happened that night… and I have the dvd that states it too

  17. Saint Savage Says:

    Finally after all these years Wendi has received the respect she was looking for. I was growing up in the 80’s and she was the first woman wrestler I saw. She was a great wrestler and brought flash and glitter. It was sad that the WWE had to “screw” her and cheat the fans out of 20 + years of seeing her. If they hadn’t….who knows maybe there would be Wendi Richter Anthology DVD package out there. I know I would have it for sure!!!! Congrats Wendi!!!You had my respect from the start. Your #1 fan was disappointed that you weren’t included on the televised ceromony, but I will buy the WM26 dvd for your speech!

  18. I would be one of the first ones to buy that DVD compilation. I guess I will have to settle for YouTube downloads until then.

    David

  19. melvin the geek Says:

    have you eVer wrestled the toleto tigers?

  20. Melvin, the Toledo Tigers were a fictional team made up for the California Dolls, another fictionitial team, in the movie All The Marbles. Kinda campy but what a movie. They even brought over two real female wrestlers from Japan in. I am hoping that you understand that. The Toledo Tigers are not a real tag team, just like LayCool. Just fakes.

  21. Ernie Bertozzi Says:

    Really Good article on the best Wrestler ever! I never actually seen Wendi wrestle, until 2001 when I seen the first wrestlemania! That was the only match I seen of hers, Until years later I started to watch her matches on youtube. It help me to Enjoy her Even More! I have Become a Big fan of Wendi Richter and Cyndi Lauper!

    • Wendi Richter why did wwf rlesaese you

      • Wendi wasnt released, she quit. Se wanted equal pay for the women and complained to Vince about it. Se was Co-Main Eventing and sometimes Main Eventing show all across the country and she wasnt making the same kind of money the men were. Vince decided to get the belt off of her, and the rest is history

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