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Last year WWE featured its first all women’s main event match. Everyone saw it coming, yet only a few fans complained. What seemed like the unthinkable only 5 years ago, had become a reality. What’s important to remember is the road to that main event was paved by many women over the years. Women who fought for respect, traveled the world mastering the craft of professional wrestling. Many fans like to talk about how the Bellas aren’t Hall of Fame worthy (I can argue against that easily, but this isn’t about them), or how the models WWE had in the Divas era put women’s wrestling back 15 years. But you see, to make those arguments spits directly in the face of the women who blazed the trail for the success many today enjoy. Women like Wendy Richter, Sherri Martel, Aja Kong, Bull Nakano, and Madusa carried women’s wrestling beyond the Moolah era and into the Monday Night Wars. They all helped keep the tradition going, and no one player was bigger than Madusa during this era.
It’s hard to explain exactly how important Madusa was to women’s wrestling. Yes, we all remember “that” moment during the Monday Night Wars. But in order to fully explain why that moment was so important, it’s important to remember exactly who Madusa is. In the post-Moolah era of women’s wrestling, promoters were not exactly fully invested in the ladies. WWF has scaled down their women’s division, and while AWA restarted theirs in order to compete with Vince, women like Sherri were still being used mainly a valets and not wrestlers. But sometimes, no matter the situation, stars still shine through.
Origin & Influence
Being raised in Minnesota as a child in the foster care system, Madusa trained to be a wrestler in Minneapolis. It was only natural she would start her career in the AWA, which at the time was the third largest territory in the nation. At this time, AWA, Jim Crockett Promotions, and WWF were the top three promotions in the nation, with AWA and WWF having a pretty active wpmen’s division. In the AWA though, the top spot of the company was taken, as they had a star heel woman who they had build the division around, Sherri Martel. Sherri was truly a star, as we all know, and her time in the AWA was no exception. She carried a feud with Candi Devine, who was good enough in the ring but was more known for her looks. But what Sherri needed was a performer on her level, someone that she didn’t need to carry, but rather someone that was her equal. Enter Madusa.
Madusa & Sherri Martel
If you go back and watch a Madusa vs. Sherri match, you will notice the intensity pick up greatly compared to women’s matches of its time outside of Moolah and Richter. Madusa and Sherri is truly one of the most underappreciated feuds in wrestling history. The two had natural chemistry and of all the women Sherri battled in AWA, only Madusa seemed to be her equal. Madusa playing the young babyface, Sherri the cheating heel who always seemed to sneak out with the title. Sadly, Madusa would never beat Sherri for the title, as Sherri left for WWF, but the feud earned her the title PWI’s Rookie of the Year, the first ever woman to win that award. With Sherri gone, Madusa would win the tournament for the title, which she held 11 months as the heel champion who Wendi Richter would chase throughout 1988. Within a year and a half, Richter had worked with the two top women’s wrestlers in the late-80’s, and not only held her own, she shined as a star in her own right, showing the talent needed to play both babyface and heel. And Sherri and Wendi did not carry her at all, Madusa was an equal dancing partner.
Move to Japan
After her time in AWA, Madusa made a move that would forever change her career, and how women’s wrestling in the United States would be seen, she went to All Japan Pro Wrestling. With the AWA dying, and WWF phasing out it’s women’s division, there was no money in the United States for the ladies, so she went to the place she could get paid. Working with many legendary Japanese wrestlers, Madusa evolved her style to include more “strong style,” kick boxing and other elements that make Japanese wrestling unique. let’s comeback to that in a minute.
Madusa would want to comeback to the United States, first going to WCW and joining the Dangerous Alliance and managing Rick Rude. After a short two year run, which saw Madusa do very little wrestling, she signed with the WWF. Now Vince was looking to restart the women’s division again and he needed someone new to bring in the New Generation. Had he gone with some of his tried and true WWF women for the 80’s, it wouldn’t have worked. He needed someone who not only hadn’t been in WWF before, but had a completely different style. Someone American audiences could relate too, yet someone who didn’t wrestle the Moolah hair-pulling matches that had dominated the division for 35 years. And that someone was Madusa (after all, Madusa was short for Made in the USA). First things first though, Madusa smartly trademarked her name, so Vince would give her a new name of Alundra Blayze.
Madusa becomes Alundra Blayze
Right away as Blayze, Madusa would wrestle old Moolah trainees like Heidi Lee Morgan and Leilani Kai. It felt like this was Vince trying to get her over with WWF fans, but the real action came when Vince started to bring over Japanese women to battle he new star, namely Bull Nakano. Bull Nakano coming to WWF allowed Madusa to show off her full arsenal to American audiences. Mixing Japanese style with American showmanship, Madusa truly shined in this era of her career. Unlike other places, Madusa wasn’t asked to be a valet as well as a wrestler, she was treated as just a wrestler. This was much different than other women’s experiences, and Madusa made the most of her role. Battling other women with international experience, Madusa was raising the bar of American women’s wrestling. But it all had to come to an end.
1995 was just bad year financially for the wrestling business. Just as WWF started to set up a Aja Kong vs. Alundra Blayze feud, which would have really changed American women’s wrestling, Vince released Madusa from her contract. Needing to save money, Vince tabled his women’s division again, and needed to refocus his business. But, what would Madusa do? Well… it seems she didn’t take this well.
The Infamous Title Trashing on WCW Nitro
It’s finally here, the moment, the moment we all been waiting for. The moment Madusa threw the WWF Women’s title in the trash! It happened, it was one of the biggest moments in the Monday Night Wars. Here was the new face of WWF women’s wrestling, the woman so good in the ring that she didn’t need to valet the men, she could suggest to Vince who she wanted to bring in for a match, she was that person. And now here she is, taking the WWF Women’s title and throwing it in the trash. It shock the wrestling world. Just 3 years earlier, women’s wrestling wasn’t on either WWF or WCW, and yet now the women’s champion of WWF just made all of the wrestling world pay attention. She wasn’t just a women who WWF gave a title either, she was a woman who mastered her craft, battled the best around the world, shined next to stars, carried her own division. This was more than just a moment, this was a complete momentum changer.
Now I could really touch on Madusa’s second WCW. But other than a cool brawl with Sherri, in which she knocked her out, and winning the cruiserweight title, which was in WCW’s dying days, there really wasn’t much to write about. I think it says more about WCW being so focused on the nWo, that on a three hour show they still couldn’t find time to maintain a women’s division. Perhaps her biggest contribution in WCW was being a Power Plant trainer, and training Molly Holly, who in her own right is an amazing wrestler. But for whatever reason, Madusa in WCW felt like a huge missed opportunity.
With all that said, there are very few women who’ve entered the ring that deserve a hall of fame spot more than Madusa. She changed women’s wrestling forever, and her influence can be seen in the work today. Beyond just one moment, Madusa is a true cornerstone in the wrestling business.
- 3-time WWF Women’s Champion
- 2-time IWA Women’s World Champion
- 1-time WCW Cruiserweight Champion
- 2015 WWE Hall of Fame Inductee
- 1988 PWI Rookie of the Year
Lords of Pain.net/Wrestling Headlines.com welcomes Madusa into the Hall of Fame class of 2020.
Eric Bischoff On Who Came Up With The Idea For Madusa To Bring The WWE Women’s Title To Nitro
LOP/WH Hall of Fame Class of 2020- “Mean” Gene Okerlund
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Voting for the 2020 LOP/WH Hall of Fame Induction Class Now Open!