AS I SEE IT
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
To begin this week’s column…since Dave Meltzer reported it publicly Thursday, I suspect what she told me a while back is now considered public news.
My longtime friend Kathy Fitzpatrick, who was one of the Team ECW that ran transportation and the front door in the earliest years of the promotion behind the scenes (think “office”) has been diagnosed with a recurrence of lymphoma. She is currently being treated through both chemotherapy and radiation.
Many of my longtime AS I SEE IT readers know how close she was to Sherri Martel, who died earlier this year, so it’s been a very difficult year for her, to say the least. As always, Fitz, love and prayers to you from all of us who know you well.
In other sad news, Lillian “The Fabulous Moolah” Ellison died at her home in Columbia, SC last Friday at age 84. Moolah was a lot more than the comedy figure seen with Mae Young in recent years on WWE television.
She began her career as “Slave Girl” Moolah, valet for “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers. Moolah won her first Women’s Title in 1956 in a tournament held in Baltimore, MD.
She was billed as “undefeated women’s champion for nearly 30 years” for Moolah had, in fact, lost her title at least four times; to Betty Boucher in 1957, Yukiko Tomoe in Japan in March 1968, Sue Green (ironically enough, at Madison Square Garden) in 1976 and Evelyn Stevens in Dallas on October 1978.
Ellison appeared for various NWA territories as well as WWWF shows, until Vince McMahon, Jr. went nationwide with WWF in 1983, and offered Ellison an exclusive deal, where she literally sold her rights to the Women’s World Title to the World Wrestling Federation (she owned the belt and title outright at the time).
She finally lost her title at the 1984 Wrestlemania in a match against Wendi Richter (who had Cyndi Lauper in her corner). 15 months later, after Richter and WWF developed an impasse, WWE and Moolah pulled off a doublecross that pre-dated the infamous Bret Hart Montreal screwjob by 12 years; as she donned a mask as the Spider Lady, and regained the belt in November, 1985
Moolah held the WWF title (with the exception of another non-recognized loss to Velvet McIntyre during a tour of Australia in 1986) until passing the torch to Sherri Martel on July 24, 1987.
Moolah was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame in 1995, the first female performer to receive this honor. Moolah was seen again on WWF TV in 1999 after taking a guitar shot from Jeff Jarrett. Moolah, along with longtime friend Mae Young, made numerous appearances over the next several years as a comedy figure; with one final eight day interlude as WWE Woman’s Champion in October 1999, defeating Ivory nd the 76-year old Moolah defeated Ivory to regain the Women’s Title, thus becoming the oldest WWE Women’s Champion ever.
Vince McMahon then promised her a match appearance on her 80th birthday, which became a match against Victoria, followed by Randy Orton nailing her with a RKO.
Moolah’s final mainstream hurrah came along with many 1950s era women’s wrestlers in the 2004 film “Lipstick and Dynamite”, a documentary about the women wrestlers from the 1950s era. She and Mae Young even promoted the film on the Tonight Show, and got these two some of the respect they’ve deserved for years.
Moolah made her final WWF/E appearance at SummerSlam 2007 in a segment with Vince McMahon and William Regal.
Somehow, I suspect Sherri Martel and Moolah are already raising holy hell with the powers above us, and making life a whole lot more fun upstairs.
Until next time…
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