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WRESTLING COLUMNS

The Women of Pro-Wrestling
January 6, 2005 by Angie K.


While the history of women in pro wrestling is not as long as the sport itself, it is an interesting one. From valet/manager to women's champion, the story of women in wrestling is often untold. Women's wrestling use to be almost a separate entity from men's wrestling with matches that drew as well and that stood on their own. Now the world of women's wrestling consists of gravy bowl matches and bra and panties pillow fights. For those of you who, like myself, long for the return of women's wrestling, here's a very short look at the "good ol' days".

Although the history of women's wrestling starts before 1939, that's where I'll start with the introduction of Mae Young who was then going by "The Queen". Mae Young started wrestling professionally when she was just 16 years old. It would be only ten years later that she'd win the NWA Women's Championship in Florida. Also wrestling around this time was Mildred Burke (picture at left) who eventually would, with Mae Young, train Lillian Ellison a.k.a. Fabulous Moolah. Mildred Burke actually started wrestling before-and eventually with-Mae Young, but it was mostly at carnivals. At these carnivals, where she started working at the age of 19, an offer of $25 to any reasonable sized man that could pin Mildred would, for her entire career, go unpaid. Mildred would eventually retire in 1955 after 21 years and 6,000 matches as the undefeated women's wrestling champion. Lillian Ellison also made her start in wrestling at carnivals where she was known as the slave girl "Moolah". Eventually she made her way to mat wrestling as the valet for "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers. Then in 1956, the "Fabulous Moolah" won the NWA Women's Championship-just a year after the retirement of her predecessor/trainer Mildred Burke. Moolah would eventually also retire in 1989, after winning and losing the championship multiple times. Two of Moolah's students, Wendy Richter and Sherri Martel, also wrestled throughout the 80's, sometimes feuding with their mentor. Wendy Richter made her debut at the beginning of the 80's with Martel debuting about 2 years later. Both would hold the WWF Women's Championship off and on until their exits from the WWF. During the mid 80's another female wrestler, Deborah Micelli, wrestling as Alundra Blaze made her way to the mat as a manager for "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig. She would eventually win the AWA Women's title. Then in the early 90's she would make her way to the WWF where she would battle for and win the WWF Women's Championship. Due to lack of competition (my opinion), she would leave for WCW and wrestle under the name Madusa where she would win the WCW Cruiserweight title.

Now, in my opinion, this is one of the reasons for the decline of the women's title. Not the fact that it was used as a prop to fuel the "Monday Night Wars", but because Madusa had to leave the WWF for WCW where her only championship was the Cruiserweight title. It was the beginning of women wrestling for male championships because the women's title was portrayed as "unimportant". Also during the mid 90's was the push of the "diva", females whose sole role was sex appeal. Although may of the would interfere or get involved in matches and sometimes even "wrestle" matches themselves, none of them were close to the caliber of female pro wrestlers that came before them. To counteract the "diva" movement many women such as Jacqueline, Ivory, Chyna, Lita, Molly Holly and Jazz have stepped up to try and bring back the prestige once associated with being a women's champion. Although they were all successful and multiple time WWF Women's Champions I'm afraid that their achievements are taking a back seat to the evening gown and lingerie "diva" matches. Now I realize that most of the wrestlers I named above started out as valets/managers, but eventually they wrestled. In summary, I would urge all of you who agree with me to make your opinions known. I'm very curious to see just how many people feel the same way.

by Angie K...


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