The 1980s saw an uprising in female wrestling. It has always been around but it would come and go. After a few years it would disappear only to come back again several years later. The 80s were no exception to this, as after it got big again, female wrestlers just faded away yet again until the 90s when they came back.
When the females returned to the ring during the 80s it took off around the world and each company had a women’s division and a few strictly women’s organizations even popped up. But just because it became a global draw, doesn’t mean that they were all good. As a matter of fact, aside from good looks, most of them didn’t have much going for them in the ring.
These are some of the worst female wrestlers from the 1980s.
15 Brandi Mae
Brandie Mae got her start with the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling and later moved onto the Powerful Women of Wrestling before she joined up with the AWA. She was known in the early days as “Amy, the Farmer’s Daughter.” She became the top contender for the AWA World Women’s Championship and she even took part in a 9-woman battle royal at the AWA Super Clash III before retiring in 1990. She never won the title because she didn’t have the skills to be on top of her division. As a matter of fact, she only became a top contender because she was one of the best they had, which isn’t saying much.
14 Wendi Richter
Richter was the main woman behind the female comeback in the 80s. She was even part of one of the main matches at the first WrestleMania. But because of that she thought that she should be paid along the lines of what Hulk Hogan was getting and obviously Vince McMahon disagreed with her. She continued to push the fact and was a problem in the locker room until she was finally fired not long after WrestleMania. She did manage to become the Women’s Champion before being let go, but just the fact that she needed Cyndi Lauper with her to gather attention, shows you that she wasn’t very good on her own.
Jeanne Basone, known to the wrestling world as Hollywood, was a top player in the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. With her background as an actress and stuntwoman you might think that she brought something into the ring as far as wrestling skills. Or at least maybe she could fake it well. She didn’t and she never performed in any real wrestling organization. She did however make a pretty good name for herself on TV and in movies.
12 Mt. Fiji
Mt. Fiji was a 5-foot-11, 350-pound beast that took part in the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. She was so big that she only had one opponent that gave her any competition. But they were both not the greatest-skilled in the art of wrestling. It was always big news when she was knocked off of her feet and all she pretty much did was use her weight and size to beat up opponents. It didn’t take a lot of skill to do what she did in the ring. In early 1989 her and her family were ambushed by California police and a neighbor filmed all 34 members of her family being beaten by police for no apparent reason. Fiji stood in the middle of the street with her arms folded while she was also beaten down. She never threw a punch or tried to defend herself. The family later won a $23 million settlement against the Sheriff’s Department.
11 Rockin’ Robin
Rockin’ Robin was a second generation wrestler and she was always full of life when she was in the ring. She won the Women’s Championship and had a huge following but most of that was because of the energy that she brought into the ring and her looks. The energy never translated into skill though, and she wasn’t on top for long. She actually sang “America the Beautiful” to open up WrestleMania V.
10 Matilda the Hun
This 6-foot-4, 300-pound woman was the leader of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. She was really the only competition for Mt. Fiji and she did have a wrestling background. But she wasn’t very agile and her skills were not the best, although they were better than most in the organization. She also took part in the Powerful Women of Wrestling under the name Queen Kong. She would have given The Fabulous Moolah a run for her money but only because of her size and weight.
9 The Spider Lady
This character was brought in by the WWF when Wendi Richter started to piss them off. Richter was the current Women’s Champion when a masked woman named The Spider Lady briefly appeared on the scene. She beat Richter for the title in was is called “The Original Screw Job” and it was later revealed, to no one’s surprise, that The Spider Lady was actually The Fabulous Moolah. Everyone already knew that because she had the same body, and the same set of wrestling skills. More on her later.
8 Velvet McIntyre
Velvet McIntyre’s career can be summed up with her WrestleMania II loss to Moolah. The match lasted only about a minute and is one of the two highlights in her short career. The other came when she beat Moolah for the Women’s Championship on July 3, 1986 in Australia. She held the title for only six days and since it happened down there, most fans never even knew that a title change had taken place. She tried to get by on her looks and it worked for six days, but other than that she was just another woman in the ring that didn’t need to be.
Madusa started off the mid 80s in the AWA and later wrestled under the name of Alundra Blayze, with the WWF, in the 90s. She had a feud with Sherri Martel and in 1987 she finally won the AWA World Women’s Championship from Candi Devine. Her rivalry with Martel was one of the best in the female division during that time because they were two of the best in the sport at the time. But don’t take that out of context. They were two of the best out of an overall very weak group. While she put on exciting matches, it was hard to hide the fact that her wrestling talent was never top notch.
6 Jaguar Yokota
Yokota was a mainstay in the women’s division in Japan’s AJW for a good part of the 80s. She was young and powerful and could deliver a pile driver with the best of them. In her short career she nailed Wendi Richter and Lioness Asuka, among others with the powerful move. But she was forced to retire because of a shoulder injury at the age of only 24. Her power got her by until that point in her career but her skills in the ring where never able to fully develop before she had to call it quits.
5 Candi Devine
Devine was the AWA World Women’s Champion on several different occasions but mainly when she was awarded the belt because it had been vacated. The AWA used to award titles to the #1 contender if a title was vacated for whatever reason and Devine was the lucky one to hold the position. She was one that used her looks to get by and she was never really a threat to anyone in the ring that had real talent.
4 Judy Martin
The WWF ladies division in the 80s even had tag team champions. Judy Martin teamed up with Leilani Kai to win the Women’s Tag Team Championship as The Glamour Girls. They were managed by Jimmy Hart and he had to wonder why he was part of the women’s division at all. The Glamour Girls pretty much had their way with the tag team department because of the lack of competition. They were better than the rest but that was nothing to brag about. While Martin wasn’t all that great, Kai was even worse. More on her in a moment.
3 Sherri Martel / Sensational Sherri
Outside of the ring, Martel, like many of the women of her time, was an outstanding person and very polite to all of the fans. Inside the ring she played the role of a mean and nasty woman who beat up anyone she didn’t like. She did have some talent but it only showed on occasion as she took to brawling most of the time. She did knock off Moolah for title and when she defended the title it was at least worth watching. This was because more often than not, she would lay down a beat down on her opponent using an aggressive nature, but few actual wrestling skills. She had them but she didn’t use them very often.
2 Leilani Kai
Leilani Kai was part of the tag team champions, The Glamour Girls, with Judy Martin. She never really brought much to a match and relied on Martin to do most of the work. Kai was used as a pawn to set up the first WrestleMania women’s title match against Wendi Richter. Kai took the title in a match that was broadcast on MTV and dubbed as “The War to Settle the Score”. That set up the WrestleMania match that saw Richter win the title back. Had Kai not been lucky enough to be chosen to be a part of that scenario, she never would have got there on her own. Her matches overall were boring and not worth sitting through.
1 The Fabulous Moolah
Moolah was the Women’s Champion for 28 years. That sounds impressive until you look into the fact that it was only because she didn’t let anyone else become the champion. She would bring in new talent to the women’s division and then take money from them while training them. This was money that was earned by the women in the ring and on some occasions it lasted much longer than after their training was finished. Some would call it extortion. Much has been written about her practices back in the day and the bottom line is that she just wasn’t a nice woman. She was also connected to the promoters so she was never in danger of dropping the belt. There was nothing that happened in women’s wrestling back then that Moolah didn’t control or make money from.
Finally Vince McMahon bought the rights to her title and a few more champions were born over time. Besides what she did outside of the ring, her matches were never really anything to get excited about. There was never any excitement and she never showed off any true skills in the ring. The one skill that she did pull off well was looking foolish. She accomplished that when she won the championship for the last time at the age of 76. Nobody in the world bought the fact that it was possible or real.
If you are looking for the reason that it took women’s wrestling so long to gain any traction in the world, you have to look no further than The Fabulous Moolah. In the ring she was a horrible performer and outside of the ring she was greedy and took advantage of any newcomer that she could get her hands on.