WWE Diva Rewind: Wendi Richter

Jen PrestonSenior Analyst IMay 12, 2009

There's been a lot of talk lately here on B/R about the current state of the Women's Division in what is now World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).

Some bring up the cases of unused and often wasted talent currently on the roster.

Others think the issue should be put to rest and left alone.

As for myself, I like to remind you all of the better days of the division—when women actually wrestled and even had roles in the main event, changing the business forever.

The days women's wrestling could return to if given the chance.

Which brings me to the next Diva I'm profiling...Wendi Richter.

Growing up in Dallas, Texas, Wendi began performing in front of large crowds at a young age, taking part in rodeo competitions throughout childhood.

In her teens, Richter began training at the Lillian Ellison (Fabulous Moolah) School of Professional Wrestling, and made her pro wrestling debut in 1979. She even made a few appearances on WWF television with the Fabulous Moolah.

Her career though, took off when she and wrestling school classmate Joyce Grable met. The two formed the "Texas Cowgirls," and set off to make their mark in Japan and later Stampede Wrestling in Canada.

Their feud there with Judy Martin and Velvet McIntyre would carry over into the American Wrestling Association (AWA). Richter and Grable would also go on to become two time National Wrestling Association (NWA) Women's World Tag Team Champions.

Her return to the WWF came near the end of 1983, where Richter would find new feuds with an old nemesis in McIntyre and Princess Victoria.

As many may recall, it was The Brawl to End it All that cemented Richter's place in women's wrestling history.

Captain Lou Albano, who had appeared in pop star Cyndi Lauper's, "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" video began taking credit for the future Grammy winner's fame, leading to a WWF Women's Championship between Albano's superstar, the champ Fabulous Moolah and Lauper's star...Wendi Richter.

Richter's win, which ended Moolah's "28 year title reign" (she'd actually only been champion for just six years, after losing it for two days in 1978 to Evelyn Stevens), was MTV's highest rated show up to that point.

The union between Lauper and Richter also began the marriage between pop culture and wrestling, which continues today from John Cena's rap album to Donald Trump appearing at WreslteMania 23.

It would also lead to Richter feuding with fellow Moolah trainee, Leilani Kai the following year.

While she lost the title to Kai on February 18, 1985, thanks to Moolah, the Texan regained the belt on the grandest stage of them all: the first ever WrestleMania, held in Madison Square Garden on March 31, 1985.

A visit to MSG that November would prove to be a fateful one. Richter was scheduled to defend her WWF Women's title against the mysterious Spider Woman—a masked opponent who's identity was unknown.

In what's known as the "Original Screwjob," the masked opponent, who turned out to be the Fabulous Moolah, received a fast count from the ref when Richter was originally booked to win, and was rewarded the championship.

Did you get all that?

Twelve years before Shawn Michaels even thought about doing it to Bret Hart, the Fabulous Moolah screwed her own protégé out of the Women's Championship.

It turned out that Richter and promoter Vince McMahon were having contract issues leading up to the event, and it would be her last appearance for the WWF.

Following the bitter end, Richter would go on to wrestle in independent promotions from the United States, Puerto Rico, and Japan.

She even held Puerto Rico's World Wrestling Council (WWC) Women's Championship two times before returning to the AWA. Richter also appeared in the Ladies Professional Wrestling Association (LPWA).

Richter's last appearances in the ring were at WrestleReunion and WrestleReunion Two, where she reunited with fellow women's wrestling legends like "Sensational" Sherri Martel, Bambi, and others.

After wrestling, the former "Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection" star became a real estate agent and eventually an occupational therapist.

She continues to work crowds though, showing dogs in numerous shows.

Six time Women's title holder and two time Women's World Tag Team title holder—Wendi Richter has yet to take a spot in the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and probably will never be placed in the WWE Hall of Fame.

However, her contributions to what was called "ladies wrestling" will forever be cemented into its history.