In April 2006, one of the greatest female performers to ever lace up a pair of boots was honored when World Wrestling Entertainment inducted "Sensational" Sherri Martel into its Hall of Fame.
One of the rare performers to have enjoyed success in three major promotions (WWE, WCW, AWA) throughout her career, Sherri was a tough-as-nails wrestler whose greatest claim to fame came as a manager for some of the most iconic stars to ever step foot inside a squared circle.
Whether she was accompanying "Macho King" Randy Savage to the ring or assisting Ric Flair to another underhanded victory, Sherri was an elite manager whose presence at the side of a competitor added legitimacy and credibility to them even if they already had both in spades.
No one Superstar benefited more from Sherri's presence at ringside than 2011 WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels, who very much needed her to guide him through his first year as a singles heel.
Without her and her sometimes over-the-top antics, he may never have made it to the level he did, something he fully acknowledged in a 2011 interview with Right After Wrestling (h/t Diva-Dirt.com):
She was huge. She was huge because Sherri had credibility at that time, which I didn’t have. I didn’t have an ounce, so I needed her so badly it’s not even funny. She had been obviously been with Randy, so Sherri had a real credibility and that put me up a couple [of] notches right off the bat.
Her departure for WCW was a major blow for Vince McMahon's promotion in the 1990s; it was clear that with a roster as young and inexperienced as his was, she could have been a major asset in helping them get over.
Instead, McMahon was forced to watch as she served as manager for Flair, then sibling tag team Harlem Heat, who like everyone else benefited exponentially from her guidance.
An elite performer whose place in history is often underrated, Sherri was as great as any female talent ever.
Sadly, she passed away in the summer of 2007.
In celebration of her career and in memory of the woman herself, take a trip down Memory Lane with some of Sherri's greatest matches and moments.
AWA Women's Champion
Sherri rose to prominence as a performer by way of her first real national exposure in Verne Gagne's American Wrestling Association.
There, she would gain her greatest notoriety to date as manager for Doug Somers and Buddy Rose in their wars with the Midnight Rockers (Michaels and Marty Jannetty), but she was also a very capable in-ring worker, something she proved on occasion, much to the dismay of Candi Devine.
On three different occasions, Sherri defeated Devine to capture the AWA Women's Championship. The last came on June 28, 1986.
Those title victories may have been the first of the devious vixen's career but weren't the last. As her arrival at WWE taught us in 1987, there were bigger fish to fry on a much grander stage than Gagne's floundering promotion could hope to offer.
WWE Women's Champion
Debuting in July 1987, Sherri wasted little time making a name for herself, as she defeated the Fabulous Moolah to win the WWE Women's Championship!
The win was a monumental feat for Martel. Even nine years before she was officially recognized as such, Moolah was considered a Hall of Fame talent and the cornerstone of women's wrestling in the United States.
The victory solidified Sherri as one of the top female talents in the world and gave her the international recognition that stars of Vince McMahon's company enjoyed.
At Survivor Series that November, she captained a team consisting of Dawn Marie, The Glamour Girls and Donna Christanello in a losing effort against Moolah, The Jumping Bomb Angels, Velvet McIntyre and Rockin' Robin.
By 1990, the company did away with its women's division, recognizing that there was little room for that element on their show, especially when taking into consideration the lack of truly great workers to bolster it.
The Sensational Queen Sherri
Arguably the greatest period of Sherri's career in WWE came as the second for "Macho Man" Randy Savage.
Not only did she add an element of evil to Savage's character, helping to get him over as a heel after two years as a babyface, but she complemented his over-the-top nature to perfection. Together, they not only proved to be a thorn in the side of heavyweight champion Hulk Hogan but also made life a living hell for the beloved Miss Elizabeth.
In between messing with the popular babyfaces, Savage and Sherri targeted The King of WWE, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan. When Savage beat the two-by-four-wielding star for the crown, he dubbed Sherri his "Queen," and together they ruled over WWE as one of the top heel acts in the entire company.
At SummerSlam 1989, the duo returned its attention to Hogan and Elizabeth as Savage teamed with Zeus (straight out of the major motion picture No Holds Barred) to battle the Hulkster and his best friend, Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake.
The babyfaces won the match, and at the end of the contest, Elizabeth delivered a shot to Sherri's face with a loaded purse, then stood by and watched as Beefcake cut her hair.
It was the first major instance of Sherri getting her comeuppance at the hands of a male Superstar, something that would become a more regular occurrence.
The 1991 Royal Rumble saw Sherri challenge then-WWE champion The Ultimate Warrior on behalf of Savage. Dropping to her knees, she begged Warrior to grant her charge a title opportunity. When he denied the request, Sherri let out a primal scream, then watched as Savage cost his rival the title later in the show.
At WrestleMania VII, the relationship between Sherri and Savage would come crashing down when the Macho King lost a Retirement match to The Ultimate Warrior. The contest was an instant classic, and some 23 years later it is still recognized as one of the greatest matches in the history of The Showcase of the Immortals.
Even greater were the post-match antics, which saw an enraged Sherri berate and attack Savage, her meal ticket no longer an employed WWE Superstar. Elizabeth rushed the ring, tossed Sherri aside and reunited with Savage for the first time in two years.
Sherri would recover, briefly aligning with "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase before seizing an opportunity to manage the hottest new singles star in the sport.
Sherri, Her Boy Toy and Departing WWE
The heel turn by Shawn Michaels late in 1991 not only shocked fans of The Rockers but also set in motion plans to elevate the young Texan to Superstardom. While his in-ring work was never in doubt, he was struggling to find his feet as a performer and really needed someone to help guide him early on.
Enter Sherri, who became somewhat obsessed with the man dubbed The Heartbreak Kid.
She began sporting skimpier outfits that were straight out of the early 1990s and even sang his entrance music. At the same time, her mere presence by the side of Michaels lent him much-needed credibility.
After working with Savage and DiBiase, and opposite Hogan at the top of the card, Sherri had built up a certain reputation with fans that only helped them take Michaels more seriously than they otherwise would have.
Heading into SummerSlam 1992, Sherri became the centerpiece of a rivalry between Michaels and fellow heel Rick Martel. She became infatuated with The Model and soon was doing whatever she could to prevent the two from hitting each other in the face.
As the center of a budding love triangle, Sherri demanded that if the two were to have a match at the August pay-per-view, they had to agree not to hit each other in the face. Both Superstars agreed, but emotions ran wild, and they resorted to punching each other straight in the moneymaker.
The display led to Sherri fainting at ringside and a no-contest decision.
Shortly thereafter, Marty Jannetty returned to feud with Michaels. On a memorable episode of WWE television, Jannetty grabbed Michaels' trademark mirror and swung it at his former partner. The heel ducked, however, and the mirror was broken over Sherri's head, forcing her to take a brief hiatus.
She returned at Royal Rumble and inadvertently cost Jannetty the Intercontinental Championship. Over the next few months, Sherri would oppose Michaels, accompanying stars such as Tatanka to the squared circle for title shots against HBK, the most memorable of which came at WrestleMania IX. There, she was attacked by newcomer Luna Vachon, triggering a rivalry between them.
The hatred between the women led to a memorable brawl on an early episode of Monday Night Raw that really played up the unexpected and chaotic nature of the show that McMahon regularly pushed while on commentary.
Outside of some house-show bouts and a random televised bout, the two never really settled their differences. Sherri left WWE and headed to ECW, where she briefly managed "The Franchise" Shane Douglas.
Upon arriving in WCW, Sherri was immediately paired with "Nature Boy" Ric Flair. By his side, she would manage him to the heavyweight title then repeatedly be involved in his title defenses.
Of note was the Halloween Havoc 1994 bout between Flair and new champion Hulk Hogan. The Hulkster overcame the interference of his old nemesis and put Flair away with his Big Boot and Leg Drop, supposedly retiring him. That led to the dissolution of Sherri's relationship with Flair and a new partnership with breakout tag team Harlem Heat.
From then until her final day in the company, Sherri managed Booker T and Stevie Ray as they collected titles and staked their claim as the greatest tag team in WCW. The team feuded with Col. Robert Parker's tandem of Dick Slater and Bunkhouse Buck, leading to a bizarre relationship between managers.
That angle aside, Sherri added that missing element to the team, just as she had done for Savage and Michaels earlier in her career.
Sherri Comes Home
In 2005, Kurt Angle was embroiled in a rivalry with Michaels that was leading to a grudge match at WrestleMania XXI. To prove that he was every bit HBK's equal, Angle brought Sherri back to WWE.
Sherri sang a few lines of a parody of Michaels' theme song before winding up a victim of Angle's vaunted ankle lock.
One year later, she returned to the company that made her famous, accepting its highest honor: a spot in its Hall of Fame. Alongside greats like Bret Hart, Eddie Guerrero and Gene Okerlund, Sherri took her spot among the immortals, her legacy forever secured.