RF Video Shoot Interview with Sherri Martel

This was filmed on August 10th, 2004
The interview was conducted by Rob Feinstein

It is a two-disc set with a runtime of two hours and fifteen minutes


Sherri is first asked if she played any sports growing up. She played basketball and did track and field. Then she is asked if she was a fan of wrestling growing up as a child and she said that she when she was a kid in Mississippi, her mother gave her and her younger sister the option of either going ice skating or watching the wrestling matches with her. After a while, Sherri and her sister opted to watch wrestling with her mother as they used to fight with each other all the time while ice skating.

When she went to her first wrestling match, Sherri said that the seed was planted and she wanted to become a wrestler as she thought that everything the wrestlers were doing, she could do. Sherri then talks about how looking back, she was wrong for not going to college and should have went further with her education instead of becoming a wrestler.
When Sherri was twenty-one years old, she divorced her husband and decided to go to wrestling school while living in Louisiana. She went to a school in Memphis run by a guy named Butch Moore. Sherri said when she asked him to teach her how to wrestle, Moore got up from behind his desk and looked her in the eyes then slapped her across the face as hard as he could. Sherri then asked him if that was all he had and right after that, he signed her up.
Sherri said when she started out training, they treated her harder than everyone else because she was a woman. Sherri tells us that happened because they wanted to discourage her from being a wrestler. From that, Sherri talks about how she was there to wrestle and says that some people think the women were only there to service the men but that was not the case at all. She then said that while the men worked from the left, the women worked from the right and she did both in training and that helped her know where to be and to see what was coming at all times.
She then tells a story of how she asked Grizzly Smith to train her when she was sixteen years old and he told her to come back when she was twenty-one. Sherri came back to him when she was twenty-one and told him that she had almost year of training under her belt and was divorced with a son and wanted to be a wrestler so Smith went upstairs then came down and told Sherri to report to the Fabulous Moolah’s training camp.
Initially, Sherri was intimidated by Moolah. She compares her to an authority figure and respected her for that. As far as the camp, Sherri said that there were little cottages that all of the trainees lived in during the camp. All of the training started at 7am and went to at least noon, sometimes longer. Sherri said that Moolah would make them bump a lot then line them up and tell them that you take one bump right instead of taking 20-30 other ones. Moolah also told the trainees to save their money and keep their personal lives private.
As far as dealing with any sexual harassment, Sherri said that she is unable to recall any situation in which she was harassed by a man in wrestling. She said that she was treated like a sister.
While in Japan, she was there with Judy Martin, who acted as a coach to her and the other girls who were just breaking into the business. One night, Martin told her that she would never last in this business. Sherri felt offended and asked her why and Martin told her it was because she is not the type of person who likes to give their money to someone else for booking you. At that time, the Fabulous Moolah took money from the girls that she booked, which made her disliked by many of the women she trained as they felt she ripped them off by stating a huge chunk of their payoffs.

Sherri talks briefly about how she was managed by Jim Cornette in Memphis. She was actually the first wrestler that he managed. She then talks about traveling with Pat Rose and Tom Prichard and how they would rib her by not stopping to let her go to bathroom on long drives but Sherri said they never harrassed her sexually and really liked traveling with them. 

While in Memphis, she took part in a 30 person battle royal and said that she had no idea she was not supposed to take a bump in the middle of the ring with that many people inside and when she did, Plowboy Frazier tripped over her and landed on her leg, which put her out of action for a while and was out of the business for at least a year and had to go through physical therapy in order to wrestle again. Sherri said at that point, she had left the business and moved to Rochester, NY but got the itch again to wrestle after picking up a magazine.

When she returned, she went to the AWA. Sherri then does an impression of Verne telling everyone how they don’t know how to do anything right after they would cut their promos for the different TV markets. Sherri said that Verne was a perfectionist and that was what made him a legendary figure in the business.

She then talks about how she loved Ray Stevens and how he was easy to approach and told a lot of stories about various legends.

Sherri said she was nervous about her first major show, which was “SuperClash.” She then states that she still gets that nervousness in her stomach whenever she performs today.

She then tells a story about Candi Devine and how she was in love with Stan Lane. After the show, she went to get a soda and she went to the dressing room and saw that Candi’s gear was gone. She then went out to the parking lot and saw that her car was gone as well. Sherri said that Candi was her ride that night and she left her at the arena to chase Stan Lane down the road in order to get her attention. Sherri said that she held a grunge against her for six years over that incident. They eventually made up. Sherri then proceeds to get up and do an impression of Candi running the ropes, noting that she used to always take baby steps instead of taking long strides, which would have made more sense because of her long legs.

When asked if Verne changed after “WrestleRock,” Sherri said that he did then got back into his old mentality. He tried to get talent to sign a contract for $500 a week and she refused but stated that the Rockers did. Sherri said that she did not want to commit to the company.

On managing Buddy Rose & Doug Somers, she said that they both helped her in interviews and psychology. After she learned from then, Larry Zbyszko sat her down and told her that with all of her gifts, she should have longevity in the business. Later in the interview, she mentions that it was Larry who sat her down with Verne and suggested to him that she become a manager. She said that she was also one of Buddy Rose’s “Rosebuds” at one of the 1984 TV tapings while Rose was in the WWF.

Sherri said that she was scared during the New Years Eve Bloodbath between Rose & Somers and the Rockers because they were not afraid to try anything. Sherri said that they had to pull her together so she could make it through the match. Feinstein then brings up how in his shoot interview, Shawn Michaels stated that Sherri looked out for him when they were in the WWF together, which made her smile. Sherri then said that she watched Shawn go from a young man without boundaries to a well disciplined man. She then puts over the talent of the Rockers and how they and Rose & Somers complemented each other so well and tells a story of how she once saw then work out moves with action figures and they would then find a way to use them in their matches.

When asked about her early memories of Scott Hall, she said that she lived in the same apartment complex, right below him. Sherri said she always cooked a lot and whenever she did, she would open the windows and Scott would yell out and ask what she was cooking and he would come over, as did some of the other wrestlers. Sherri said that Scott and Curt Hennig helped her out a lot. She is then asked if she is surprised by Scott’s substance abuse issues and Sherri talks about how she hopes he can turn his life around and that he was always nice to her, no matter what.

Sherri is asked about Madusa, with Feinstein telling her that in her interview, Madusa stated that Sherri was rough on her in the beginning, but in a good way. Sherri said that she would never intentionally hurt someone in the ring and if she did, it was accidental. Sherri said if she was stiff, it was because she saw something wrong and had to take control of the match. She did say that tried hard every match, wanting the guys who had to follow them get worried that they would be unable to top their match. Sherri said that she wondered why she chose the Madusa name, as she was not a snake and that snakes freaked her out.

On how she wound up in the WWF, Sherri said she met Jesse Ventura at a celebrity golf event and he asked her idf she wanted to work for Vince. A few months later, Blackjack Lanza left a message on her phone to call Vince, which had Sherri jumping for joy in her apartment. She called and they wanted her to come in but she had dates to work in Alabama. She was worried that they would not like her. She also did not tell Verne right away because she waited two weeks for her tryout. After that, she gave Verne her two weeks notice and he told her that she signed a contract and could not leave. Sherri then told him that was bullshit and that she never signed a deal with him.

At first, she was intimidated by Vince at first but now, she is not and can walk up to him at any arena today and give him a hug.

She is then asked about her match at the 1987 Survivor Series. Sherri accidentally hurt Velvet McIntyre in the match and felt horrible. She then said she was worried the rest of the match and mentions how the match was over, mainly due to the Jumping Bomb Angels. She then puts over the matches against the Glamour Girls (Judy Martin & Leilani Kai).

Sherri mentioned that she was afraid for her job when she dropped the title to Rockin’ Robin as there were not many lay wrestlers at the time and figured she would be released. Elizabeth then came to her and told her that she was going to be working with Randy, which surprised her. Elizabeth told her that they were splitting her from Randy and she was going to go home for a while. Sherri asked her if she trusted her with her husband and Elizabeth said that she did.

On the subject of how Randy treated Elizabeth, she said that they were very jealous and overprotective of each other, citing that they were both Scorpios. Sherri tells a story of how they had to build a women’s dressing room at one of the arenas. Randy came in as she and Elizabeth were going over the finish and sees that Randy locked the door when he left. Sherri said that she felt claustrophobic then put on her wrestling boots and kicked down the door. Randy yelled at her and Sherri told him to never lock her in a room ever again.

She first met Jake Roberts when he was a referee in Louisiana under the name “Fred Platt.” Sherri said that he watched him slowly deteriorate due to the choices he made in his life. She also said that he could get in front of a camera and draw you into whatever he was saying. His snake always creeped her out, especially when he would put the snake in their showers when they were having their matches. He also liked to chase her with the snake because he knew she was afraid of her.

When asked about her program with Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire, Sherri said that Sapphire loved Dusty. One night, shortly before WrestleMania VI, Sherri stole Sapphire’s clothes as she was in the shower. Apparently, the other wrestlers did not like how Sapphire would leave all of the seats and windows greasy when she traveled due to her hair product so they asked Sherri to do something. Sherri then told her that she would give her the clothes back when she washed her hair because the boys were complaining and would do something far worse than what she was doing so Sapphire washed her hair and the boys never complained again. Sherri then said that Vince required her to help Sapphire, something Sherri said she would have done anyway. She did say that once in a training session, Sapphire went down on the wrong knee for a move and Sherri’s nose slammed right into here. Sherri said she flipped out on her and made her cry, which she felt bad about afterwards. As far as Dusty, Sherri said that she heard comments from some of the other boys who did not care for Dusty but felt that they worked well together.

She is asked about any stories about the Ultimate Warrior. Sherri said that he was a perfectionist, just like Randy, and remembers riding in a limo with him right before WrestleMania VII and he told Sherri that Randy faxed him over 29 pages of notes for their match. She says that they all went out for that match with the hopes of making everyone remember what they did.



DISC TWO

On working with Ted DiBiase, she first called his wife to make sure it was okay to work with her husband. Sherri said Ted was a lovely man to work with and calls him “Mr. GQ.” She then tells a story about DiBiase. It was around his birthday and they were at the Boston Garden so Sherri gave the girls about $200 to buy a cake and some blow-up dolls and other things, including a Care Bear (Sherri called him “Teddy Bear” at times and wrote that on the bear) and called him into the locker room, which was dark then they lit the cake candles and turned on the lights to reveal a surprise party.

She went to work with Shawn Michaels after leaving Ted. Again, she was afraid for her job when leaving Ted. She then tells the story of how when she heard she was going to be paired with Shawn, she mentioned how she had another “boy-toy” to work with and that Jimmy Hart overheard that and believes that is why they included that in Shawn’s theme song. Again, Sherri called the wife of the performer to make sure that she was comfortable with the program and she was. She calls him a gorgeous and talented person who took a lot of pride in everything that he did.

With regards to Ric Flair and how he was perceived in the locker room, she did not know much about the guys, because she was not in their dressing room, but said that a few of the guys felt that their spots were threatened because of him. She tells a story about how when they were at a bar in Huntsville, she was playing pool and Ric Flair bet a guy $100 who was trash-talking everyone that Sherri could beat him at pool. Sherri lost after sinking the 8 ball in and she said that Ric wouldnt take any money from her.

She said that she ended up leaving the WWF when she got fired for failing a drug test. This leads to a discussion about drugs in which Sherri says that her drug use cost her a great job and friendships too. At the time, Sherri said that he believed the drugs made her perform better and was unable to see what everyone else was seeing when she used. At that time, she was stubborn and a rebel who didn’t care what she did. Sherri recalls she was called into the office with JJ Dillon, Bruce Prichard, and Vince McMahon when she was informed that she failed her drug test and would be let go from the company as a result. She said that she couldn’t say goodbye to anyone after that. Feinstein brings up a rumor that Vince gave her money in advance for her to spend on drugs. Sherri denies that and said that it was her choice to use and that Vince rarely gave anyone advances.

After being released, her mind was clouded and her body had difficulty responding to bumps. She talked to her family about her use but did not see help and instead made phone calls and got a job with ECW.

She got paired with Shane Douglas. Sherri said that he loved the business and tells a story when they were at a hotel and she got back at Shane, who constantly played tricks on people, by placing a plate of spaghetti on his seat when he went to sit down. She said that she has good memories of ECW but forgot a lot due to being under the influence at the time. She said that she can look at pictures and some of the memories come back, joknig that not all of her brain cells were killed off.

Sherri wound up in WCW after she was called by Gary Jester at the recommendation of Kevin Sullivan. She said that in comparing the WWF and WCW, Vince’s office is family-owned where as WCW was totally corporate and it was difficult to talk with management. She did confirm that the inmates ran the asylum in WCW.

She said that she first thought Eric Bischoff was “cute” when she was in the AWA. In WCW, Eric was upset with her over her drug use and called her into his office. At that point, Sherri’s mother was on the verge of trying to commit her. Eric asked her point blank if she had a problem and told her they had facilities to help her with addiction. Sherri said that she lied to his face and told him that she did not have a problem. When asked if she regretted her decision, Sherri said that it happened and she cannot change that but said that Eric was getting on her for the same things he was allowing others to do at that time. She then goes on to say how she had three beers before filming the first disc, noting that it was her first drink in three weeks, then says she is grateful for Bischoff and says that if it was not for his actions, she might not be here today. Sadly, Sherri passed away less than three year after this interview from an overdose.

There was some discussion of her being a wrestler but with her drug use and body breaking down, they decided against that and brought in Madusa to the company.

Sherri said that it was Kevin Sullivan’s idea to pair her up with Flair. Sherri said that Ric was great to travel with and talked a lot about friends and family. She said that she was very generous in letting her get in her spots. She then said that Flair and Savage always told her that they could never use her enough in a match because she did not try to overshadow everyone.

She loved being paired with Harlem Heat. At one point, they were going to put her together with Ron Simmons but the company did not want people to react negatively to that because the O.J. Simpson trial was going on so they decided to pair her up later on with two “big ol’ black brothers.” Sherri says that she still has a close relationship with them to this day. She also said that they had her back and were always there for her. Sherri mentions of the boys never washed their tights and that pissed off the boys so Sherri bought a bottle of Woolitte and told her to bring another pair of tights and wash them after the match, hanging then up in the locker room to dry and they will be fine. She is not surprised about Booker’s success because he was willing to do what it takes to get the job done.

Sherri said that the Nasty Boys were crazy and between them and the Rockers in AWA, they got thrown out of so many hotel rooms. They would pull the fire alarm at 3am and have the hotel evacuated.

When asked about the storyline about her love affair with Colonel Parker, she first tells a story of how he and Jimmy Golden picked up her and Candi Devine after their car broke down before they were in the AWA. She then says that Fuller told her that he came up with the Colonel Parker character from watching Foghorn Leghorn on “Looney Tunes.” She said that the chase part of the story was great but after that it was a joke.

She got let go from WCW when at a TV taping, Sherri stated that she became bored and took four somas, without eating anything at all before that. She was getting frustrated because she had to wait to get called into Bischoff’s office for the finish so decided to take four more somas and all she remember after that was standing in his office with her head tilting back as she slid down the wall. Diamond Dallas Page and Kimberly picked her up and took her to the hotel and the next day they let her go, which happened to be on her birthday.

Sherri believes that mandatory testing is a good thing but you cannot blame the wrestling business on the personal choices that people make. She says that it is a personal choice to take a drug or to drink and that everyone knew what you had to do to keep a job, including no drug use.

When asked if she is clean, Sherri said that she slips back into drug use now and then, including a recent three-week stint in rehab. Today, she thanks god that she can wake up every morning because she should not be here after all the abuse she went through.

She talks about Vince Russo and how she had no idea who he was and said that he wanted to be a superstar, like Vince McMahon, but when it becomes the Vince Russo show, no one wants to pay to see that, which is why WCW went under. She hopes that the same thing does not happen to TNA. Sherri thinks that she remembers Russo being an office boy in WWF and thinks he should have stayed in that role.

Sherri said that Elizabeth was a different person in WCW, mainly because she was divorced from Randy and with Lex Luger. She said that when Nancy and Chris Benoit became a real couple, the shit hit the fan and thought that they were working everyone before the truth came out.

She came back to WCW in 2000 for a match with Madusa but Sherri said she was unable to physically hold up and it was too hard to do because she couldnt deal with the physical pain without any drugs, which was even harder as she recently completed rehab before coming back.

About TNA, she said that Jeff Jarrett contacted her about working a program with Trinity but she was involved in construction projects with her husband at the time and could not make the dates due to her job.

She states that she has not been contacted by the WWE yet about a Hall of Fame Induction. She was inducted less than two years after this interview was released.

The thing she misses the most about wrestling was her friendships. She hated the travel and mentions that she has kept every travel itinerary that she has ever had.

She says that Sable is gorgeous and “stacked” and was always sweet with her. About today’s use of women in the WWE, she says that Lita, Molly Holly, Victoria and Trish Stratus are all legit workers. She adds that Molly is an amazing woman. Sherri also says that there needs to be more variety among the women though.

When asked if it is a good idea for the WWE to recruit models and train them to wrestle instead of hiring trained wrestlers, Sherri said that she doesnt think many of them will last as it is a tough business and says many of the newer ones that she has seen do not appear to be tough enough to endure the physical pains of the business.

She is now asked about several female workers. She cant wait to read Missy Hyatt’s book, as she buys all the books to see if people tell the truth or not. She also said that Chyna was nice to her when they met and liked her a lot.

On the subject of writing a book, Sherri said that she is in the process of writing one now and is on her 4th chapter.

She tells a story of a great rib when she was in the AWA during the Winter. Nick Bockwinkle was waiting to do an interview when he was the champion and Scott Hall and Curt Hennig decided to take the belt and hide it in the snow. The belt was not found until Springtime.

Sherri said her goal today is to focus on her marriage and to finish her book. She hopes that people can learn from her mistakes.

Rob goes back and asks her about the match between Rick Martel and Shawn Michaels at SummerSlam 1992 when they could not hit each other in the face. Sherri said that she walked down the aisle and was blown away by the crowd.

As far as famous celebrities she has met, she mentions Howie Mandel, Judd Nelson, Ray Combs, and Donald Trump. She always thought that Trump looked funny. She had been on “Regis and Kathy Lee” and the “Arsenio Hall Show.” She thought that Arsenio was really nice.

Sherri closes by thanking the fans for everything and hopes that she brought them some happiness over the years.

Final Thoughts: I felt that this was a solid shoot interview but it is sad to watch today, knowing how Sherri passed away. It was clear during the interview that she was unable to fully understand her substance abuse issues and seemed to be in denial or sorts about the issue itself. For instance, she talked about hoping that Scott Hall could get help while she was struggling with her own addiction at the time of this interview. I think some of that was due to her not wanting to admit to others that she needed help or was struggling. She admitted to having a few beers before the first disc but seemed to be a little more out of it than that, to be honest. She was not incoherent or anything but you could tell she was on something.

She was more famous as a manager than a wrestler, and better at it too. She might be the best female manager of all-time to be honest. She seemed to have a lot of insight into the business but did not get a lot of chances to elaborate. Also, Sherri seemed hesitant to talk dirt about anyone and came across as someone who tried to get along with everyone.

Sherri was willing to discuss her battles with substance abuse and took responsibility for the most part about her own issues. It is worth listening too her stories about the issues

Its not a bad interview, there are some audio problems with the first disc that makes it hard to hear at times, but if you are not a fan of the programs that Sherri was involved in, I wouldnt recommend it because outside of her talking about drug problems, there is not anything else to draw you into the interview.