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
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
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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