Juanita Wright (October 24, 1935 – September 10, 1996) was a professional wrestling valet and wrestler best known as "Sweet" Sapphire in the World Wrestling Federation where she managed Dusty Rhodes in 1989 and 1990. She also wrestled on the independent circuit as Princess Dark Cloud.
Juanita Wright was born on October 24, 1935 in St. Louis, Missouri. She became a huge wrestling fan and began to drive wrestlers to arenas in the St. Louis area. Wright gained a wrestling referees license, the first woman in the state of Missouri to do so, before entering the ring as a wrestler. She appeared under the name Princess Dark Cloud and once wrestled a bear. Prior to signing a contract with the World Wrestling Federation, Wright worked as a saleswoman for a clothing company in St. Louis.
World Wrestling Federation
Wright debuted in 1989 under the name "Sweet" Sapphire. Sapphire began to manage Dusty Rhodes, both adorned in black outfits with yellow polka dots. Sapphire later appeared in the ring, teaming with Dusty to take on Randy Savage and Sensational Sherri. Sapphire pinned Sherri, with some help from Miss Elizabeth, who had allied herself with Sapphire and Rhodes after a previous incident that precipitated the match. Sapphire, in the Spring and Summer of 1990, began to receive gifts from a mysterious benefactor. At the 1990 SummerSlam pay per view, Sherri defeated Sapphire via forfeit after Sapphire failed to show. Seconds before Rhodes' match against Randy Savage, Ted DiBiase revealed that he had bought Sapphire. A puzzled Rhodes lost to Savage because he did not have the heart to continue. Sapphire began appearing in segments where she would do favors for DiBiase, including ironing his money. Shortly afterward, Sapphire left the WWF. Although it was never explained why on WWF programming, Virgil revealed in an interview with WWF Magazine several months later that the (kayfabe) reason for Sapphire leaving was that DiBiase took all the gifts back.
In a later shoot interview, Sherri Martel revealed that Wright's admiration for Rhodes was legitimate, and that she literally broke down crying when the office told her that they were severing Wright and Rhodes' on-screen partnership. Martel believes that Wright lost complete interest in the company after this, which is why she left the company not long after SummerSlam. Rhodes revealed on his WWE DVD The American Dream: The Dusty Rhodes Story that he once went into Vince McMahon's office and said that he liked Sapphire, but having her around was pointless and that she should be released. McMahon told Rhodes that she "made" Rhodes' character and that she should stay. After extensive thought, Rhodes agreed.
Juanita Wright had two children, named Wanda and Ricco. Little is known about Juanita from the time she left the WWF besides that she worked at Granpa Pigeons in University City, MO., where she enjoyed telling old wrestling stories to her co-workers children at the time she died in St. Louis, of a heart attack on September 11, 1996 at the age of 60.
In popular culture
A character called "Sweet Sapphire" has recently been adopted by Earl Douglas, a male African American radio producer for XM Radio's Ron and Fez Show due to his uncanny resemblance to Juanita, and his pairing with the new sensational show producer, The Midnight Rider. Dusty Rhodes, whom Sapphire had managed in the WWF, has wrestled under the name The Midnight Rider.