Wendi Richter (September 6, 1961) is a retired American professional wrestler. She began her professional wrestling career in companies such as the National Wrestling Alliance, where she teamed with Joyce Grable, with whom she held the NWA Women's World Tag Team Championship twice. In the 1980s, she joined the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). She held the WWF Women's Championship twice and feuded with The Fabulous Moolah over the title. She was also involved in a storyline with singer Cyndi Lauper called the "Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection." Richter, however, left the WWF after losing the championship in controversial fashion. She then worked in the World Wrestling Council and American Wrestling Association, where she held both companies' women's titles.
Professional wrestling career
Wendi Richter was trained at The Fabulous Moolah's Lillian Ellison School of Professional Wrestling and made her professional debut in 1979. In early 1982, Richter tag teamed with Moolah against Velvet McIntyre and Princess Victoria for three matches for the World Wide Wrestling Federation.
Richter was later paired with Joyce Grable, with whom she also trained for six weeks, to form a tag team called The Texas Cowgirls. In late 1982, they wrestled in a series of matches in Canada's Stampede Wrestling against Velvet McIntyre and Judy Martin. She continued her feud with McIntyre in Bill Watts' Mid-South Wrestling Association, where she was defeated twice. Richter and Grable continued their rivalry with McIntyre and Martin into April 1983 in Verne Gagne's American Wrestling Association. In May, the team reformed in Stampede Wrestling in matches against McIntyre and Penny Mitchell. The team also won the NWA Women's World Tag Team Championship twice.
World Wrestling Federation
Rock 'n' Wrestling
Richter returned stateside signing with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in late 1983. In April 1984, Richter teamed with Peggy Lee for a series of matches with old rivals Velvet McIntyre and Princess Victoria. WWF owner Vince McMahon brought in Cyndi Lauper for a feud with Lou Albano (who had appeared in one of Lauper's videos). As a result, in a match, Albano seconded WWF Women's Champion Fabulous Moolah, while Lauper was in the corner of Wendi Richter. Richter defeated Moolah at MTV's The Brawl to End it All for the Women's Championship on July 23, 1984. With the win, she ended what was billed as the longest championship reign in professional wrestling history (Moolah's 28-year reign as recognized by the WWF; in reality she had lost the title several times between 1956 and 1978, and Richter's win had in reality only ended a nearly seven-year reign by Moolah as champion). The broadcast of the women's match earned MTV its largest ratings in history up to that point. This match was also the beginning of the "Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection", an era that combined both music and professional wrestling. Richter faced Moolah's protégé, Leilani Kai, who defeated Richter for the title, in early 1985 at The War to Settle the Score. She regained the title at the first WrestleMania one month later. While wrestling for the WWF, Richter referred to herself as "150 pounds of twisted steel and sex appeal". Richter was also animated for a CBS Saturday morning cartoon, Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling.
The Original Screwjob
In 1985, after losing and then regaining the title from rival Leilani Kai at the inaugural WrestleMania, Richter was scheduled to defend her women's title at Madison Square Garden on November 25 of that same year against a mysterious masked opponent known only as The Spider Lady. During the match, The Spider Lady broke from the pre-scripted events and pinned Richter's shoulders to the mat. The referee—who was in on the plan—delivered a swift three count, despite Richter kicking out after a count of one. Richter ignored the bell and continued to attack the Spider, unmasking the new champion to reveal that it was The Fabulous Moolah in disguise.
It was reported that the plan to rid Richter of the title was concocted by WWF Chairman Vince McMahon, who brought in Moolah after Richter refused to sign a new contract with the WWF. Richter, however, claims she was still under her original five-year contract, but that she regularly had disagreements with McMahon about her compensation. She also claims that when she arrived at the arena that day, she was surprised to find Moolah backstage, as she never showed up to events at which she was not scheduled to wrestle. After the match, an infuriated Richter left the arena in her wrestling gear, took a cab to the airport, and booked herself on a flight out of New York. Afterward, she never spoke to either McMahon or Moolah again.
Upon leaving the WWF, Richter wrestled in Puerto Rico, Japan, and throughout the United States in independent promotions. In Puerto Rico's World Wrestling Council, she traded the WWC Women's Championship with Monster Ripper, holding the belt twice: once in May 1987 and once in July 1987.
Richter surfaced in the American Wrestling Association (AWA) in 1987 to challenge champion Madusa Miceli for the AWA Women's Championship, winning the title in December 1988. On December 13, 1988, she participated in a mixed tag team match at AWA SuperClash III with partners The Top Guns (Ricky Rice and Derrick Dukes) against Badd Company (Paul Diamond and Pat Tanaka) and Madusa Miceli. Richter's team won the match when she pinned Miceli.
On January 29, 2005, Richter appeared at WrestleReunion in an eight-woman tag team match (teaming with Bambi, Malia Hosaka, and Jenny Taylor wrestling against Sherri Martel, Peggy Lee Leather, Krissy Vaine, and Amber O'Neal. In August of that same year, Richter appeared at the second WrestleReunion event, WrestleReunion 2, in a six-person tag team match.
Life after wrestling and WWE Hall of Fame
In the years after her retirement, Richter was uninvolved with wrestling. In a 2005 shoot interview, she expressed disgust towards the portrayal of women in the WWE product, and was still hurt over her WWF exit. On February 2009, WWE contacted Richter to participate in a Divas battle royal to determine "Miss WrestleMania" at WrestleMania XXV, but Richter declined the offer. Despite that, Richter was offered induction in the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2010, which she accepted. She was inducted by Roddy Piper. In contrast of her shoot interviews, her speech spoke fondly of her wrestling career and how the WWE Divas thanked her for her influence. Richter's speech ended joyfully, exclaiming "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!" Richter appeared as part of WWE Axxess during the weekend of WrestleMania 27, where she signed autographs at the WWE Legends booth.
Wendi Richter grew up in Dallas, Texas, and before she entered the world of professional wrestling, she worked on her family's ranch and took part in rodeo competitions. She attended Bossier High School, where she participated in volleyball, track, and cross-country. She later majored in computer programming at Dallas's Draughon's Business College. In the 1980s, she moved to Crystal River, Florida.
After leaving the business, Richter worked as a real estate agent. She also returned to school for thirteen years, earning a degree in physical therapy and a master's degree in occupational therapy. Aside from therapy, Richter competes in dog shows, including the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. She was once married to Hugo Savinovich, an announcer for the WWF.
- Finishing moves
Championships and accomplishments
- Other honoree (1993)
- NWA Women's World Tag Team Championship (2 times) - with Joyce Grable
- NWF Women's Championship (1 time)
- WWC Women's Championship (2 times)
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards