Inducted by LWO4Life
Of course, when I ask this question, everyone will know the correct answer because the context of what you are reading. But I’ll ask it anyways. What is the second highest rated show for a wrestling event in cable television history? I’m sure you know now, “The Brawl to End it All,” which was the MTV special to feature Wendi Richter challenge the Fabulous Moolah for the WWF Women’s Championship. A few months earlier, Wendi Richter was one of Moolah’s students who’d tour the territories and compete against Moolah’s other women. Richter would mainly be used in tag team wrestling, usually against Velvet McIntyre. They’d always end up against each other even though their partners would change. When Vince bought Moolah’s talent, and NWA Women’s title, things would change greatly for Richter. In a few short months, Richter would go from tag team specialist, to the second biggest star in all of wrestling. A position no other woman had ever held, including Moolah herself, Richter would find herself main eventing cards across the country in a time when women were a side act.
When Lou Albano appeared in Cyndi Lauper’s “Girl’s Just Wanna Have Fun,” video, the world would change forever in wrestling. Albano played Lauper’s dad in the video, and this would lead to Lauper appearing on WWF television. Almost immediately, the Rock and Wrestling Connection was born. The smoky arenas slowly started to brighten up, and more and more people were going to the matches. Albano was starting to take credit for the popularity of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” and Lauper herself would go on to Piper’s Pit to defend herself. What happened next was magic. Lauper and Albano both decided to pick a wrestler to defend their side. Albano picked the Fabulous Moolah, and Lauper picked young Wendi Richter.
Immediately Richter went from a big cowgirl Texan to a flashy superstar. Richter was put into position to get the ball and run with it and run with it she did. It was surprising at the time that WWF would position their women stars in an angle like this. Especially when you have Hulk Hogan who’d just won the WWF title only 6 months prior. But Richter was more than just one of Moolah’s girls. She had star potential. David Wolff co-promoted the event with Vince McMahon, and he was allowed to shoot videos to hype the match. Richter was now everywhere in wrestling. She would be the one to come out to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” and it would be her that would end the Fabulous Moolah’s “28-year reign,” (Actually Moolah was in year 6 of her 4th reign, but hey, who’s counting.)
From this point on, Richter was a star. You see, you can talk about people are just handed the ball, but what are you going to do with the ball? Well, in Richter’s case, she ran with it. Even with Moolah out the way, Richter was headlining cards across the nation. Her exposer from MTV put eyes on her across the country. And there was something special about this time. It was a time when Vince actually wasn’t out of touch. In fact, this was a time when Vince was head of the curve. Richter, with her bright blue outfit and big 80’s hair danced to the ring and the crowd couldn’t get enough. The power of cable TV allowed Vince to create new stars to a wider audience. Local territories couldn’t keep up.
Build Her Own
You can say whatever you want about Moolah, at the end of the day when she wrestled, she was in the mid-card. When Richter was on the B show, she could headline the show and it would be sold out. For one whole year, Richter put the women’s division on her back and sold out arenas against all of Moolah’s women. In many ways, her one year run from July of 1984 to November of 1985 might be the most important run in women’s wrestling since Mildred Burke in the 1930’s. She would lose the title to Leilani Kai, but this was done so she could win the title back at WrestleMania. With Cindy Lauper in her corner, Richter had a huge reaction from the crowd. But eventually all good things come to an end.
Well Vince was ahead of the curve in many things during this time, Richter would also expose Vince’s stubborn attitude towards his creation. Richter seeing the crowds she was drawing, wanted to be paid closer to the men for her contributions. Vince balked at the idea, thinking he could create another woman star. The reality is it would take Vince over 10 years to create another women’s star the level of Wendi Richter. And yes, he tried. If he didn’t see this as a personal challenge, then I don’t think he would have kept the women’s title around as long as he did in the late-80’s. Oh, but first he needs to get the belt back from Richter.
Original Screw Job and Beyond
When Richter was supposed to wrestler the Spider Lady, the infamous “Original Screw Job,” happen, when Moolah went under the mask and screwed Richter of the title. Richter visible kicked out at 2, but the ref counted 3 and awarded the title to Spider Lady. Just like the Montreal Screw Job ending would be copied, this too would be redone with Andre the Giant beat Hulk Hogan for the WWF World title in 1988. Hogan would also react similarly to Richter here as well. Sadly, this would be the last we’d see of Richter in WWF for decades, though she would keep wrestling. To her credit, Vince would try to another create women’s star, only to fail over and over again. Though he did find one great heel named Sherri who was truly a star as well. With that said, Vince missed out on having Richter and Sherri feud in his promotion. Imagine Richter in her full star power of the WWF, going against Sherri. Vince, you cheated us out of magic!
Richter would travel the world, and her time in WWF allowed her to make money in different promotions. She’d eventually land in AWA, where she’d battle Madusa for the women’s title. Madusa had just come off a feud with Sherri in the AWA, and she was now battled tested and ready for a challenge the size of a Wendi Richter. Richter would eventually win the women’s title and hold it until late 1989 when she left wrestling full time. Richter would still wrestle occasionally from 1990 to 2005, sometimes wrestling internationally, or close to her home in Florida. She would even wrestle Madusa to a double DQ in Germany. But Richter sadly was out of the wrestling business. But her legacy lives on. With each female wrestler who’s dared to be just as big of a star as the men, there is Richter to show them that it can be done. Since Richter, women like Becky Lynch, Trish Stratus, Mickie James, Charlotte Flair, Lita, and others have all added onto that legacy. Richter is the foundation of the modern era of women’s wrestling, and for that I am honored to write this summary for her Hall of Fame induction.
- 2-time WWF World Women’s Champion
- 2-time WWC World Women’s Champion
- AWA World Women’s Champion
- NWA World Women’s Tag Team Champion (with Joyce Grable)
- WWE Hall of Fame Inductee- 2010
- Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame Inductee- 2012