Sherri Martel

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Sherri Martel

Sherry Lynn Russell Schrull (born February 8, 1958 in New Orleans, Louisiana; died June 15, 2007 in McCalla) was a professional wrestler and manager, better known by her ring names, Sherri Martel and Sensational Sherri.

Sherri and her sister were first introduced to professional wrestling as children, when their mother took them to shows in Mississippi. In 1974, when she was 14 years old, she approached Grizzly Smith for advice on becoming a wrestler. He told her to come back to him when she was older.

After having a son and a second divorce, she renewed her interest in professional wrestling and began training with "Mr. Personality" Butch Moore in Memphis, Tennessee. She appeared in a few bouts as Sherri Martine, but decided she needed more training before she continued. She moved to Columbia, South Carolina to train with "The Fabulous Moolah" Mary Lillian Ellison. Ellison gave her the name "Sherri Martel" and booked her in matches in Japan in 1981. She later threw Martel out of her program for excessive partying.

Martel returned to Tennessee and hired Jim Cornette to manage her career. She was knocked out of fighting by an injury and spent some time helping manage the "Heavenly Bodies", Pat Rose and Tom Prichard. After her recovery, she joined the American Wresting Association, debuting at a SuperClash event in Chicago on September 28, 1985 where she was named AWA Women's World Champion by defeating Candi Devine. She successfully defended the title in two subsequent rematches.

Beginning in 1986 Martel managed the tag-team of "Playboy" Buddy Rose and "Pretty Boy" Doug Somers who held the AWA World Tag Team title until 1987. She also managed Kevin Kelly in the AWA before Jesse Ventura recruited her to the World Wrestling Federation.

Martel made her WWF debut on July 24, 1987, defeating her former teacher, The Fabulous Moolah, to win the Women's Championship. She adopted the name "Sensational Sherri" during her 15-month reign, losing to Rockin' Robin in October 1988. When the WWF phased out its women's division in 1990, Martel remained with the business managing male wrestlers. She also appeared at events as "Peggy Sue", girlfriend of The Honky Tonk Man.

Martel became associated with Randy Savage in 1989 during his feud with Hulk Hogan. She joined him a mixed tag-team against Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire during WrestleMania VI in 1990 and appeared with him on an episode of "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous". She turned on Savage when he lost a "retirement match" to The Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VII. She went on to manage "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase through 1992, and then took on Shawn Michaels until he used her as a shield when Marty Jannetty threw a full-length mirror at him. When she returned to the ring in 1993 she sided with Jannetty and stayed with him until he left the league later that year. She then aligned with Tatanka until her own release from the WWF that summer.

Later in 1993 Martel began managing Shane Douglas of Extreme Championship Wrestling. In 1994 she returned to the ring herself as Sensuous Sherri in World Championship Wrestling. She also managed Ric Flair in the WCW. As Sister Sherri she managed the "Harlem Heat" tag team of Booker T and Stevie Ray, helping them win seven WCW World Championships through July 1997. During the same period she continued managing Douglas and Brian Pillman in the ECW.

In early 1999 Martel competed in a mixed-tag team match for the Apocalypse Wrestling Federation's Heavyweight Championship. Missy Hyatt pinned her to win the title. She won an AWA Superstars Women's Championship, though, and also managed George Steele in a pay-per-view "Heroes of Wrestling" event that October. She made three televised appearances with the WCW in 2000, losing a matches to Madusa and Mona and thereafter appeared only sporadically. She and her husband, Robert, renovated houses in Tennessee.

Martel was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by Ted DiBiase in April 2006. Her last wrestling-related appearance was a September 2006 Total Nonstop Action Wrestling special. She died of an overdose of oxycodone and other drugs at her mother Evelyn Burt's house in McCalla in June 2007. She was survived by her sister Vicky, and a son, Jarred Wayne Gonzales. She was cremated.


  • Ellsion, Lillian (2003) The Fabulous Moolah: First Goddess of the Squared Circle. ReaganBooks ISBN 9780060012588
  • Michaels, Shawn (2005) Heartbreak & Triumph: The Shawn Michaels Story. Simon & Schuster ISBN 074349380X
  • Shields, Brian (2006) Main Event: WWE in the Raging 80s. 4th edition. Pocket Books ISBN 9781416532576
  • "Sherry Lynn Russell" obituary (July 1, 2007) The Birmingham News

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