Trained by The Fabulous Moolah, Sherri Martel was a tough-as-nails women’s wrestler during her early career. Before coming to the WWF, Martel had already held the AWA Women’s Championship on three occasions and began to hone her managerial skills while serving as the valet for “Playboy” Buddy Rose & “Pretty Boy” Doug Somers. After being referred to the World Wrestling Federation by Jesse Ventura, it didn’t take Sherri long to make a splash.
Debuting in the summer of 1987, Sensational Sherri defeated her former mentor The Fabulous Moolah in her very first match to capture the WWF Women’s Title. Her reign as Champion lasted well over a year, and despite the prestige she provided the belt, the women’s division was dissolved shortly after she lost it. Fortunately for Sherri, and the rest of the wrestling community, she was able to parlay her success as a wrestler into the role of manager to the stars. Sherri became the valet for the recently vilified Randy Savage, who was in the midst of a feud with Hulk Hogan and his former valet Miss Elizabeth. At WrestleMania VI, Sherri took part in the WWF’s first mixed tag team match, partnering with Savage in a losing effort to Dusty Rhodes & Sapphire. A year later, at WrestleMania VII, she famously turned her back on the Macho Man after he lost to The Ultimate Warrior. Her betrayal led to the creation of one of WrestleMania’s most iconic moments when Miss Elizabeth came to her former beau’s rescue.
After leaving Savage, Sensational Sherri had a brief stint managing “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, but her next major contribution to the company came in 1992 while managing a young, rising star in the form of Shawn Michaels. It was then that Sherri lent her voice to the unmistakable “Sexy Boy” theme music, one of the most recognizable entrance hymns in wrestling history. In her later career, Sherri also appeared in both ECW in WCW. She managed Shane Douglas in the former, and most notably guided Harlem Heat to tag team gold in the latter, although she also spent some time on the arm of Ric Flair while with the Atlanta-based promotion.
In the twilight of her career, Sherri made one final appearance for the WWE as part of the Kurt Angle vs Shawn Michaels rivalry leading into WrestleMania 21, singing a revised rendition of “Sexy Boy” in support of Angle. The following year, in 2006, Sensational Sherri was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Tragically, a little over a year later, on June 15, 2007, Sherri passed away due to an apparent accidental overdose. She was 49 years old.