The legends of this industry, the ones we so often look back fondly on, are not necessarily the ones who captivated us with their unparalleled ring repertoire or their willingness to jump off the tallest object. The entertainers who we often have the fondest memories of are the ones who used their unmatched ability to captivate us and grab out attention as we sat on our living room floors staring at our television sets.
With their over the top personalities and their keen knack for getting a reaction a good manager’s purpose is to rally the crowd in favor of or against their clients.
The art of a being manager is no easy task.
He or she must possess charisma, be well spoken, and must be selfless enough to draw the crowd’s reaction for their client and not take the spotlight for themselves. Managers are designed and assigned to hid the weakness’s that performers have while accentuating their positives. Much like a salesman or saleswoman the manager works their hardest to sell their clients to the crowd.
To me, no one exemplifies what a manager should be more than “Sensational” Sherri Martel.
Martel was born to a single mother in Birmingham, Alabama in 1958. Like many others who had a passion for the wrestling business she entered training to become one herself at a young age.
In her in-ring career Sensational Sherri proved to be one of the most successful women of her time holding the AWA World Women’s Championship three times and then going on to have one of the longest WWE Women’s Championship reigns of all time.
She can also lay claim to have wrestled some of the best lady performers to ever enter the ring. The likes of Candi Devine, Rockin’ Robin, Alundra Blayze, and even the woman who helped train her, The Fabulous Moolah, have all tussled in the ring with Sensational Sherri.
However, Sherri had something that a majority of the greatest women wrestlers of this era could not lay claim to.
Unlike any other woman in the business Sherri Martel had a fire inside of her and charisma boiling up to her eyeballs. Her talents for drawing a reaction did not go unnoticed. Soon she made the transition to managing some of the greatest talent professional wrestling has ever laid eyes on. She never looked back.
The first notable clients to receive her impeccable services were the AWA Tag Team Champions “Playboy” Buddy Rose and his tag team partner Doug Somers. The tandem, led by a young Sherri Martel, would have notable matches with The Midnight Express, a young Scott Hall and Curt Hennig, and even The Rockers.
Sherri had an iconic screech, infamous bad attitude, and willingness to do whatever it took to have her boys win even if it meant getting physical in the ring with men. Sherri set herself apart from any other woman in professional wrestling at this time. She may have looked like a girl, but she performed as if she was no different from the boys.
As the AWA began to fade away Sherri’s stock was only rising. The young woman’s talents would be put to much better use as she entered the WWE in 1987 at the height of “Hulkamania.”
When the lights are turned on bright the performers who are truly meant for greatness shine their brightest and the ones who are not fall to the way side. So is the nature of the entertainment business.
In her time as a member of the WWE roster Sherri Martel truly became “Sensational” as she donned make-up and costumes to accent her clients while also dialing up her attitude to its maximum capacity. Her extravagant personality and catty ringside antics gave her associates heat that would make even Vickie Guerrero blush as she said “excuse me.”
Sherri truly shined bright among the stars in the World Wrestling Federation.
Her most infamous role came when she replaced Miss Elizabeth at “Macho Man” Randy Savage’s side. Her short temper only highlighted the madness that the “Macho Man” took with him everywhere he went. Especially in the ring.
The “Macho King” and his “Queen Sherri” would feud with the likes of Hulk Hogan, Jim Duggan, Dusty Rhodes, and the Ultimate Warrior.
In one of WrestleMania’s most touted feel good moments Miss Elizabeth ran to Savage’s aid after he lost his match to the Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VII. Elizabeth threw Queen Sherri from the ring and on to her next client.
Aside from her iconic three year run with “Macho Man” Randy Savage which saw her produce some of her best work as a ringside dictator she also managed WWE Hall of Famers Shawn Michaels, Ted DiBiase, and even the Honky Tonk Man.
In her time working with Shawn Michaels, Sherri put his “Heartbreak Kid” persona on the map and aided Michaels in establishing himself as a viable singles competitor. She even let the young Texan push her to the ground in a forceful manner to sell his reputation as a “heart breaker.” Her one of kind screech can even be heard singing Michaels long running entrance music.
Her time in the WWE ended in 1993 and Martel departed south to WCW after a brief stint in Paul Heyman’s ECW managing Shane Douglas.
In WCW Martel added yet more names to the long list of men she has bettered. First, she walked to the ring with the only two-time WWE Hall of Fame inductee and 16 time World Champion, Ric Flair. A character who she, much like she did with Randy Savage, complimented very well.
After her time with Flair the young firecracker from Alabama moved on to once again managing a tag team.
This time she stood in the corner of Harlem Heat who began referring to Martel as Sister Sherri. The two brothers Sherri fought for were without a doubt one of the most formidable teams in the history of WCW. A team that managed to become 10 time WCW Tag Team Champions. Seven of which came while Sister Sherri was by their side.
The two were truly at their best with her in their corner and Martel went on record affectionately calling them both the closest thing she has ever had to real brothers.
Sister Sherri left Harlem Heat, and WCW all together in 1997, and never came back to the wrestling business full time.
Sherri Martel found success in the professional wrestling business for her charismatic persona at a time when women were not known for their charisma. She used that gift to better the people she worked with.
Her contributions are too often overlooked in this day and age.
Martel would pop up once again in McMahon’s promotion in 2005 and then again the following year to take her well deserved place in the WWE Hall of Fame. A Hall of Fame in which many of the men she once managed would enter soon after.
At a time when men were known as the most colorful characters a woman was so motivated that she made herself valuable enough to stand in the corner of her male counterparts. She was just as good if not better than every single one of them.
In a position that is made most famous by the likes of Bobby Heenan, The Grand Wizard, Jim Cornette, and others alike, Sherri managed to become the first women to truly have an iconic role in professional wrestling outside of the woman’s wrestling division. No one woman could stir up the emotions of the crowd like her.
Sherri left every person she stood next to in the ring better off. Forget all of the titles and the Hall of Fame inductions as they pale in comparison to her greatest accomplishment, working towards immortalizing the men she managed. Not only was she a good person to stand by in front of the crowd, but many of her former clients have stated that she was just as supportive of them behind the curtain.
Man or woman, there were no one better than Sherri Martel.
The fans made Sherri “sensational,” and she in turn made everyone around her just as much so.