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Wrestling / Sherri Martel

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"A woman's work is never done."

"Sister Sherri always looks like she's wearin' her momma's high heels and her little sister's dress."

Sherri Schrull, née Russell (February 8, 1958 – June 15, 2007), known by her ring name Sherri Martel, was an American professional wrestler and valet most famous for her work in WWE.

She previously wrestled and valeted in the AWA, where she gained notoriety as a Jezebel who would do anything to win a match. In the WWF, she won the WWF Women's Championship from The Fabulous Moolah, was fairly contemporaneous with Miss Elizabeth, and focused more on valeting after dropping the title. Most famously linked with Randy Savage after he turned heel, and also spent time with "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase and Shawn Michaels. (She also sang his theme. Well, sort of.) She eventually went to WCW to work with Ric Flair and Harlem Heat.

DiBiase inducted her into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006, the second woman to receive the honor. She died one year later of a prescription drug overdose.

No relation to Rick "The Model" Martel, even though the two of them were involved in a storyline in the WWF. Neither one's real name is Martel, anyway; they're both stage names.

"A REAL woman's tropes":

  • '80s Hair: Up until she left for greener pastures at WCW.
  • Action Dress Rip: A few of them, like "Queen" Sherri's beaded sarong, could tear off as needed.
  • The Artifact: Of the AWA and WWF women's wrestling divisions. Moolah sold the NWA Women's belt to WWF in the eighties; Sherri was still the AWA Women's Champ when she beat Moolah, making her the first wrestler (man or woman) to hold two main titles from two major companies simultaneously—if you disregard Pat O'Connor being NWA and AWA World Heavyweight Champ.
  • Bastard Understudy: Sherri was a student of the Magnificent Moolah, but in the ring, they were competitors. They fought off-and-on in the eighties, before Moolah finally put Sherri over in '87. The Fabulous One wasn't too happy about her streak being broken, so Sherri interrupted her victory run with the Women's Belt to hit Moolah with it.
  • Berserk Button: Just saying "Hulk Hogan" caused her to spaz out on live TV—most commonly on WWF Prime Time, and later while being interviewed by Arsenio Hall.
    R.D. Reynolds: Apparently Hogan gave Sherri an atomic drop, a body slam, then rammed her head into the ring bell. Before you scoff, Hogan did that kinda thing all the time. And yes, he was a babyface.
  • Bullying a Dragon: One of her biggest beatdowns came during a 1991 steel cage match at Madison Square Garden. Sherri repeatedly interfered on Macho Man's behalf, so Warrior responded by grabbing her head through the bars. Sherri ultimately caused Warrior to lose the match and, after stalking her around the cage and shoving aside numerous officials and guards, he grabbed her by the neck and press-slammed her as hard as he possibly could to the mat.
  • The Cameo:
    • Shawn Michaels appeared on SmackDown to promote WrestleMania 21. Kurt Angle taunted him by singing his own, lame version of Shawn's theme, and he brought out Sherri to do the chorus. As usual, the segment ends with Sherri betraying him and getting put in the ankle lock.
    • In late 2006, she made her last television appearance on Impact. It was also the last appearance by Bobby Heenan and Robert Fuller aka Colonel Parker. The premise is that Roode was looking for a new manager.
  • Charlie Brown from Outta Town:
    • In 1988, Martel wrestled not only as herself, but her alter-ego "Peggy Sue", who would work interference for the Honky Tonk Man. Disguised in a blonde wig and sunglasses, Sue was supposedly a groupie who was jealous of Miss Elizabeth, and would sometimes attack her.
    • Hogan's first WCW appearance. A real man would NEVER hit a woman, but a woman in drag? Sherri didn't think that plan through.
  • Clothing Damage:
    • This happens in every promotion she wrestled for. She was scandalized at least once in the AWA (courtesy of Tommy Rich), again in ECW (Shane Douglas), once in WWE (Jim Duggan), and twice in WCW (Ric Flair and Jimmy Hart).
    • An early episode of RAW saw Sherri and Luna Vachon tear off most of each other's clothes during a fight.
  • The Coats Are Off: If she takes off her shoes, RUN.
  • Combat Stilettos: For some reason, she always wears stilettos into the ring. Shawn claims that a few times, when one of the boys went too rough on him in the ring, she told him to throw them out there, and they would get certain areas kicked by her boots.
  • Comically Inept Healing: In order to stop Shawn and Rick Martel from fighting each other, she pretended to faint. Because both wrestlers wanted to carry her backstage, they started to bicker again, with no regard for Sherri's safety.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male:
    • One skill which kept Sherri around was that she could take a bump (in 4-inch heels, ouch), most frequently from Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior. She was a good looking lady who was as over as any heel on the roster (the temperature went up 10 degrees before she spoke a word), and because of her background as a wrestler, she could beat seven shades of crap out of the men, or be a threat on the inside or outside; a rare set of attributes.
    • She was repeatedly targeted by Jake Roberts for his satanic games, including: being slapped, made to grovel for Savage's protection, slapped again, and nearly having a snake thrown at her. It's the same technique JTS used on Miss Elizabeth at Tuesday In Texas.
  • Dreadful Musician: She helped Shawn compose his own theme, "Sexy Boy", and also sang backup. It can peel paint off the walls. It was later recycled by Kurt Angle who came out to "Sexy Kurt". Marty Janetty still can't walk.
  • Evil Counterpart: The whore to Liz's Madonna. (Liz seemed a lot hotter when she joined WCW, but she really wasn't; just more exposed. Shows what a subtle choice of costume can do.)
    • Somewhat with Moolah as well. Both were evil, but Sherri was younger and more hands-on with her evil deeds.
  • Excessive Evil Eye Shadow: Garish makeup was normal, but even by 80's standards, Sherri was on a different planet: Purple or black line extending further than they needed to, with eyebrows or spider webs on her forehead applied via Sharpie. In the VHS release of WWF Rampage '92, it has a segment called "Makeup Tips With Sensational Sherri". It ends with a girl in the makeup chair screaming when she looks in a mirror.
    Gorilla Monsoon: Who does her makeup, Helen Keller?
  • Face Framed in Shadow: A publicity still of Kronk and Yzma, er, Macho and Sherri.
  • Facial Markings: She sported some distinctive facial markings in her career, which Alissa Flash and Sassy Stephie used to imitate: her initials (SS), cat makeup, a dollar sign, and a heart with an arrow through it.
  • Femme Fatalons: Open palm strikes. And she was known to rake claws across eyes, as well.
    Dean Ambrose: You don't want women screaming, yelling at you and trying to scratch your eyes out, like some kinda Evil Witch...Cat...Lady.
  • The Fighting Narcissist: Martel held the AWA World Women's Championship three times, and the WWF Women's Championship once. She used to show up to the arena in a ballroom gown with a bunch of Corgis.
    Danielle Matheson: Madusa shows up looking like an extra from Oliver, furthering that idea. She’s the Anne Klein to Sherri’s Vivienne Westwood, if you will. While Sherri is all personality, Madusa is meant to be all business, a real wrestler.
  • Finishing Move:
    • As a wrestler: the Sherri Stunner.
    • As a valet: Removing her boots and performing a Big Splash, sometimes while clutching both heels...
  • Friendly Fire: ...But since the opponent needed to be in a Nelson hold for this to work, she usually clobbered her own men.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: After winning the King of the Ring tournament, Macho Man became the Macho King (as is tradition), and Sherri became his "queen", replacing Elizabeth on Wrestling Spotlight. The pair were carried into the ring on a sedan chair by jobbers.
  • Gold Digger: Sensational Sherri gives relationship advice?
  • Gorgeous Gorgon: As a female valet in the 80s who was neither foreign, old, heavy, or particularly odd-looking, typical WWF booking decreed that she was going to need bad makeup. She's actually one of the better-looking lady champs of the time. (Her and Wendi Richter).
    • Sherri was a beautiful woman with a gorgeous body, but she was cast as just as tough and vicious as the the worst heel. As Bobby Heenan put it, "A man hitting a woman isn't OK, even in wrestling. Except Sherri Martel, because she was made of iron and could knock your head off."
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat:
    • Her promos with Randy sound like your neighbors arguing after a case of beer.
    • When Luna was gunning for her crown, Sherri brushed her away as some "mad dog certified lunatic". (No comment.) Luna didn't take to kindly to that, apparently, and she bashed Martel with the TV monitor.
      • A little bit of wrestling trivia with that above quote; Luna's uncle was himself a professional wrestler, Maurice "Mad Dog" Vachon.
  • Handbag of Hurt: Clubbing people with a purse, which they sold as if it were an anvil. (It was loaded.) The bag also contained hair spray which she used to blind opponents, though it ALWAYS missed and sprayed Booker by accident.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard:
    • During HBK's entrances, Sherri would tag behind him while carrying a heart-shaped dress mirror. Shawn had just split from Marty Jannetty and was getting a push as top heel. Prior to a match with Michaels, Jannetty grabbed the mirror and tried to hit Shawn with it. Michaels saw the attack coming and hid behind Sherri. Guess who took a shot to the face with a 20 inch mirror?
    • She once knocked herself out with a metal suitcase. (Mongo's trusty Halliburton.) She was aiming it at Debra Marshall, a valet and wife of Mongo McMichael, who was an honorary Horseman at the time. Instead, Debra providentially ducked, sending it hitting a turnbuckle and whacking Sherri in the head with it.
  • Honey Trap: At the height of his folly, to get a shot at the championship, Macho dispatches Sherri to (awkwardly) seduce the Ultimate Warrior.
  • I Have Many Names: Sherri Martine (when she worked Japan/AWA from '83-'85), Sherri Martel, Peggy Sue, Sensational Sherri, Queen Sherri, Scary Sherri, Sensuous Sherri, Sister Sherri.
  • In-Series Nickname: Brutus Beefcake introduced her as "Scary" Sherri, a nickname she didn't much care for, but it stuck.
  • Incoming Ham: "AH! AHHH!! SHAAAAAAWN!!!"
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: Had a habit of cheapshotting guys from the turnbuckle or cage wall while wearing a freaking white evening gown. She leapt off a cage in WCW to deliver a double axe handle to Hogan.
  • Klingon Promotion: At WrestleMania VII, Ted DiBase's butler Virgil finally had enough of his ill-treatment and challenged him. The fight spilled out into the arena and knocked over Roddy Piper, who was still recovering from an earlier injury. Livid, Piper jumped in to assist, but Sherri materialized and grabbed Piper's crutch in mid-swing. In the end, she saw to his downfall. Ted lost one bodyguard and gained a new one.
  • Lady Macbeth: Her break-up with Macho Man. She was nothing but a snake to him, which is why the crowd wept when she got her comeuppance.
  • Love at First Punch: With Colonel Robert Parker and his men Dick Slater & Bunk House. At the Great American Bash '95, Parker interrupting a promo to lay a wet one on Sherri. The kiss was met with a punch, but this only enticed Parker to keep chasing. However, later Sherri suffered a concussion and underwent a change in personality. When the tag teams faced each other again at Fall Brawl, both Managers ended up in the ring and shared The Big Damn Kiss which baffled the arena.
  • Love Martyr:
    *Macho is cutting a promo*
    * Sherri annoyingly taps his shoulder*
    Macho: What do you want?
    Sherri: I got somethin' to show ya!
    Macho: Well....go get it.
    * Sherri leaves*
    * Macho continues with his promo*
    * Sherri arrives with a sign*
    Macho: "BETTER THAN THE BEST: THE MACHO KING.....(in smaller writing) and queen"
    Sherri: Do you like it?!

    Macho: Hee-yeah, I like it....maybe if you cut this little piece off (the bit referring to the queen), it'd be EVEN BETTER, OOH-YEAH!
    * Sherri cries and runs away*
    • HBK did not return her affections, and commentators observed that their relationship seemed "one-way." He did not seem to have a problem flirting with women in the crowd. Their union came to an end when Sherri got bonked in the head with one of HBK's mirrors. Or, to be more specific, Marty Jannetty swung Shawn's mirror, and Shawn pulled Sherri in front of him to take the blow and then ran off. Tale as old as time.
  • Male Gaze: Sherri's bottom gets more camera than some of the champs do. The Ultimate Warrior dominated the first half of his match with Randy, until he found himself tossed outside the ring. And there's Sherri, gingerly helping him to his feet. Any guesses as to what happened? If you guessed "punch him in the larynx while her moneymaker fills up the screen", then you'd be correct.
    • Summerslam 92 had Sherri wearing assless pants. The camera makes sure you don't miss this.
    • In a later vignette, Andre The Giant spanks Sherri when she tries to recruit him as a charge. Though Andre is doing it more as "spanking a naughty child," the camera zooms in on Sherri's shapely butt.
    • And later still, when she was managing Ted DiBiase, she would tuck $100 bills into her ample cleavage. If the camera was any closer to her, it would be behind her.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: In the 90s, there were few things more terrifying than Sherri losing her mind at ringside.
  • The Mistress: Say what you will about "Sensational" Sherri as a character, but Sherri Martel averted this, big time; beginning with Randy Savage and continuing with Ted Di Biase and everyone after that, Sherri would make it a point to have a good conversation with their wives or girlfriends to make sure they knew that she was only paired with them for the storylines, and that there was absolutely nothing going on personally.
  • The Mole:
    • In ECW, Shane Douglas had Sherri in his corner until December 1994, when Brian Pillman pushed her over and ripped her blouse, revealing a photo taped to her breast — of Ric Flair. Outraged, he tore Naitch's likeness to pieces. But Sherri (being Sherri) got right in Shane's grill, hands on hips, and Woo'ed him.
    • At first, WCW fans were not sure what to make of Sherri, who had switched to calling herself “Sensuous” Sherri and came to ringside with her face painted like Sting’s. The fans were behind Sting, and Martel was there to show support. This continued for weeks, with Sherri rooting for Sting, while the commentators scratched their heads wondering what was up. In the end, Sherri attacked the crowd favorite during a match with Flair, costing Sting the title. Hogan arrived and came at her with the 24-inch pythons, but Slick Ric yanked her leg through the ropes and they fled, leaving Hulk snatching at air.
  • Mrs. Robinson: The age gap was most apparent with HBK and, several years later, Bobby Roode.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: During their rematch in WCW, Sherri went up top and Madusa caught her in mid-Splash. If Madusa had taken time to study the WWF tape library, she would know why this is a terrible idea: Sherri reversed it in mid-air (the same trick she pulled on Moolah) for a roll-up. As Sherri was busy celebrating, Madusa sprang up and took her to Suplex City. Literally just dropped her on her head and then slammed her skull into the mat five or six times. It took two referees to pry her off. Note: This is a famous spot. There was legit heat between these two, and Sherri refused to job to her. So Madusa just bullhammered her after the match. At the time, Sherri was hooked on oxycodine, so getting a neck injury right then wasn't good.
  • Nouveau Riche: After beating Moolah for the world championship, Sherri demanded to be treated like some kind of duchess. Lord Alfred took it upon himself to teach Sherri and the Brooklyn Brawler some etiquette and table manners, with mixed success.
    Heenan: Very well spoken! I think she went to Oxford, didn't she?
  • Paid Harem: Sister Sherri traveled by stretch limo and jet liner, with an all-male flight crew. Sometimes it pays to work for Eric Bischoff.
  • Perky Female Minion:
    • "Peggy's" dance moves.
    • Macho and Shawn seemed to barely tolerate her. In the famous promo from "No Holds Barred" (Macho's steel cage match with Tiny Lister), Sherri pretends to climb up the cage and reappear in front of it, as if by magic, but you can clearly see her scurrying behind Macho and Zeus on all fours (the cage is a facade).
    • Who else would insist on a below-the-belt stipulation to preserve Shawn and Rick's beautiful faces? When it looked like they might break that stipulation, she "fainted."
    • Basically any "answer" she gave on Family Feud. ("SO MUCH PRESSURE!!")note 
  • Put on a Bus:
    • The WWF released Sherri after she failed a drug test in '93. This happened before her feud with Luna could have a satisfying conclusion.
    • At the January 1996 edition of Clash of the Champions, Sister Sherri eloped with Col. Parker to a 24-hour chapel, with Mean Gene Okerland giving her away. She got sneak-attacked by the returning Madusa (Sherri's old nemesis from their AWA days), which caused havoc and destroyed the wedding placements. The following night on Nitro, Mean Gene interviewed Sherri about the assault. Madusa pounced again, beating Sherri so bad that she was missing in action for months. In truth, Bischoff suspended Sherri for a year on the condition that she enter drug rehab.
  • Put Their Heads Together: This always happened in WWE after Sherri faceplanted into the ring. Hogan did it first, followed by Warrior: he won WrestleMania VII by grabbing Macho and Sherri by the hair and clonking them together. Macho himself would later use that finisher on Million Dollar Man and Sherri.

  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Sherri's ascendency to WWF manager was a luck of the draw. She had just dropped the WWF Women's Championship to Rockin' Robin in Paris, and was worried for her job when Miss Elizabeth walked in and told her that she was would be working with Randy from now on. There was almost no notice given. All Elizabeth would say was that WWF was splitting her from Randy and that she was taking a vacation.

  • Really Gets Around: She swapped a lot of spit in the nineties.
  • Ring Oldies: Purely through being a divorced mom who stripped to make ends meet and later climbed her way through a crazy-tough old school system, safe to say that back in the day, Martel was a bad-arse who could legitimately handle herself. When she was sixteen years old, she approached Grizzly Smith (father of Jake Roberts) and asked him to teach her how to wrestle; he told her to come back when she was 21. Five years later, Sherri came back and declared that she was 21 and had a year of training under her belt, so Smith went upstairs and then came down and told Sherri to report to the Fabulous Moolah’s training camp.
  • The Rival: Sherri feuded with so many wrestlers over the years. Candi Devine (in the AWA), Rockin' Robin, Sapphire (Dusty's valet), Luna Vachon, and (most memorably) Liz Huelette. Madusa shut the book on her career for good, though. Outside of the ring, she had a professional (i.e. non-violent) rivalry with Jimmy Hart.
  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Her nuptials were cut short when the Colonel was caught heating on her, and Madusa put her through a table — which was also the one carrying the hors-d'oeuvres.
  • Spiritual Successor: Sherri fits the mold of the female manager who isn't afraid to mix it up or take punishment: Baby Doll (Nickla Ann Roberts) or Melina in the modern era.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: After winning a match, Shawn Michaels would grab her by the hair and shove her to the mat while he struck a pose. However, Sherri would clearly be shown with a big smile on her face while laying there.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: When she managed "Playboy" Buddy Rose and Doug Somers in the AWA, and again when she managed Harlem Heat in WCW.
  • Unholy Matrimony: As the only woman in WWF's rogues gallery, she had this effect on heels—even the moribund Paul Bearer ("That's more animated than I've ever seen him; he's almost alive"). One person who wasn't buying was André: Sherri was among the managers who competed for his attention in a hotel bar, only to receive a spanking from the giant.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe:
    • The feline costumes she wore at SummerSlam '90 were... something else. That's also the promo where she did that countdown. "10... 9... 8... 7... 6... 5... 4... 3... 2...1....YEARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!"
    • She wore a white, low-cut Pocahontas outfit for her matches with Tatanka.
    • After Luna called her out for a fight, Sherri, rocking an afro and a pantsuit, kicked her right in the throat.
    • Sister Sherri looked the part, wearing all-black and sunglasses just like Booker and Stevie Ray.
    • She was supposed to be a flapper while working for the Million Dollar Man, but she looked like an Oscar statuette. She also wore a gold foil tutu (i.e. her "Ace Rimmer" outfit) and a french maid's outfit. As part of his gimmick of throwing money at his opponents, Sherri lifted her skirt so "Teddy" could pluck cash from her garters.
    • Sherri unexpectedly turned up at Clash of the Champions (WCW) wearing a masquerade outfit: Sting's facepaint, an hourglass dress, a mask, and opera gloves.
    • Her wedding dress (a red heart-shaped cloak) is a dual reference to her time with HBK, and to the Queen of Hearts.
    • Before the fateful match with Warrior, Sherri removed her cape to expose her dress (actually more like the outline of a dress): a showgirl number made entirely of rhinestones.

  • Villain Decay:
    • Her first and only WrestleMania appearance was in 'WrestleMania VI'' in a mixed tag team match featuring her and Randy Savage vs. Dusty Rhodes and his valet Sapphire. It turned into lame slapstick, with Sherri getting pinned by Sapphire. All well and good, but Sapphire was not a wrestler, while Sherri was a 4x world women's champ, yet she's the one getting her ass handed to her. A famously stupid match; not surprisingly many fans think it should have been a singles match between Randy and Dusty.
    • Second verse, same as the first... WCW stuck her in a match with Mongo's non-wrestler wife, Debra Marshall, which she "lost" when Debra botched a briefcase shot. Instead of ricocheting like it's supposed to, it instead hits Debra's tiara and Sherri passes out randomly. Even commentary seemed to find it ludicrous.
      Tony Schiavone: Oh, for crying out loud!

  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Sherri was a wildcat as a manager: screaming at the ref, parkouring in and out of the ring, and fast-reloading the purse with objects in her cleavage.
    • When managing Ted DiBiase, her cleavage was quite literally his wallet (see Male Gaze entry).
  • Wicked Witch: As SummerSlam '89, she cut a promo alongside Randy Savage and Zeus where she stood over a smoking caudron and claiming to be able to see the future.
  • Woman Scorned: The incident with the mirror took her off TV for several months. When she returned at the 1993 Royal Rumble, she sided with Shawn's rival Marty Jannetty in a match, ending her run with Michaels.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit:
    • The babyfaces, sick of her meddling, would frequently catch up to Sherri and cock their fists. Heenan would unfailingly jump at this, exclaiming "Don't HIT her! Don't hit THAT LADY!", as Sherri raised her arms in mock terror. (The entire time that Hogan was in the ring with her at the Clash, Jimmy Hart kept screaming "HIT HER!" into his megaphone. That probably wouldn't fly today.)
    • A few bull rushes from Madusa were enough to make her rethink her career choices, and she tried to flee the AWA arena, glomping onto Mr. Magnificent. It made the crowd suitably angry, but the announcers saw past the ruse: the trick with Madusa is to keep moving long enough to exhaust her, which is in fact what happened.
    • She made her first WCW appearance at 1994’s Clash of the Champions XXVII, in a title unification match between Sting and Ric Flair. In the final match, Flair swanned about in preparation for one of his "Flair Flops"... then yanked Sherri into the path of Sting's flying cross body. Dirtiest Player in the Game, for a reason. As the cheers for Sting evaporated (because he'd just tackled a defenseless woman), a disheveled Sherri returned the favor by performing the Splash on him three times.

Alternative Title(s): Sensational Sherri