e martë, 19 qershor 2007

RIP, Sensational Sherri

Sensational Sherri Martel has passed away at 49.

Sherri Schrull died quietly at her mother’s house on Friday afternoon. But “Sensational Sherri," as professional wrestling fans knew her, lived loudly.

Considered one of the first ladies of wrestling, Sherri Martel, 49, was a WWE Hall of Famer, and an AWA and WWF championship titleholder.

Her husband found her dead at her mother’s home in the McCalla community on the Tuscaloosa-Jefferson County line Friday afternoon, said Capt. Loyd Baker, commander of the Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit.

Baker said foul play is not suspected.

“The cause of death is pending her autopsy and toxicology report," he said Monday.

She had gone to bed because she wasn’t feeling well, Baker said, and her husband later found her unresponsive at 12:45 p.m. at the home on Eastern Valley Road, where she had been living for the past year.

Martel wrestled in the 1980s but became more high profile when she “managed" wrestling superstars like Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, and “Macho Man" Randy Savage. She was notorious for antagonizing good guys in professional wrestling.

Professional wrestling managers hardly perform typical managerial duties. They function as sidekicks, usually for villains, whose antics turn the audience against the wrestler.

“She was very good at knowing what to do ringside to get people agitated and interested," said Bruce Mitchell, a columnist for the Pro Wrestling Torch newsletter and Web site. “You knew you would get a show when you watched Sensational Sherri."

Martel wore elaborate costumes that fit her persona; she would paint her face with dramatic make-up. When she managed, she was known to run around ringside swinging at wrestlers with a brick-filled purse or a shoe.

“She’d dress up like a wicked witch in a bridal costume, for example," Mitchell said. “She was way over the top."

Martel, however, was unlike the busty, bikini-clad female wrestlers on television today, he said.

“She would fall into a table, get thrown around the ring and never complain. She loved it."

“Everyone respected her. She was an attractive lady, but she wasn’t just eye-candy," he said. “She was really a pioneer and a trailblazer."

Interviews with Martel published online indicate that she was born Sherri Russell in New Orleans. She said in one interview that she grew up watching wrestling matches with her mother and began training at 20. She trained under the famous “The Fabulous Moolah," reputedly the first female wrestling champion.

She broke into the business by wrestling at small promotional events in Memphis and working her way up.

She was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006.

“She paved the road for a lot of others to follow," WWE chairman Vince McMahon said at the event.

Wrestling fans have posted tribute videos and messages to Martel on Internet sites like YouTube.

Mitchell said that Martel, despite her status in the community, was just a wrestling fan herself. He said he saw her at conventions and events in recent years.

“She was just like a fan, having a good time and hanging out," he said.

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