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This Week in Wrestling: The Original Screwjob

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Two weeks ago, I wrote about the infamous Montreal Screwjob that took place at Survivor Series 1997. This week, I will write about a similar event taking place 12 years earlier in Madison Square Garden when Women’s World Champion Wendi Richter was screwed out of her championship by Vince McMahon and the Fabulous Moolah. Before I can explain the actions, allow me first provide a bit of backstory.

In the mid 1980’s, the WWF was in a boom period thanks to what was known as the “Rock n’ Wrestling Connection” which was the partnership between Vince McMahon’s wresting company and various media outlets such as MTV to help bring the WWF into the mainstream. This meant a lot of crossover power between the two, with one of the most important being renowned singer Cyndi Lauper who was brought in by Captain Lou Albano. Lauper quickly became the manager for the WWF Women’s Champion, Wendi Richter, whose good looks allowed her quite a bit of success during this period of women’s wrestling. Richter’s main competition (on and off-screen) was The Fabulous Moolah. Moolah claimed to have trained Richter as Richter attended Moolah’s school, although Richter claimed that Moolah’s other students trained her as Moolah would rarely appear after receiving payment from her students.

Though he certainly saw money in Richter, McMahon vowed to remain loyal to those who were loyal his father, Vincent James McMahon and Moolah was one of Vincent Sr’s closest contemporaries. Richter soon became disgruntled with Vince and the WWF front office as she consistently received lower paychecks than her male contemporaries along with being shafted on royalties for the amounts of merchandise that she sold bearing her likeness. With tensions ballooning between Richter and Moolah along with the disagreements over payment, McMahon was left with an ultimatum, he knew that he had to make a choice. It would soon become clear which route he would decide to take.

On November 25th, 1985, Richter entered Madison Square Garden and checked the booking sheet to see that he was slated to successfully defend her championship against The Spider Lady, a masked women’s competitor that Richter has wrestled previously. Richter became suspicious when she saw Moolah, who was well-known for never appearing at shows she wasn’t booked for, backstage.

When it was time for her match, Richter came to the ring and was met with stiff shots from The Spider Lady. Spider soon put Richter in a small package pin which Richter kicked out of at the count of one. To the champions surprise, the referee continued to count and proclaimed Spider Lady. Confused at what had just happened, Richter removed Spider’s mask to reveal Moolah underneath the mask. Realizing that she had just been screwed, Richter stormed to the dressing room, grabbed her bags and left MSG (still in her gear) never to return to the WWF in a wrestling capacity ever again. That was the last time Richter was seen on WWF/E television until 2010 when she was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame leading to the assumption that the two parties seemingly made up somewhere along the way.

Christian is an avid wrestling fan who began watching in the summer of 2001. His passion for the business starts and ends with the history of the sport. He loves holding discussions with fellow fans about their opinions on events in wresting history spanning all promotions and time periods. He currently has plans to co-host a podcast with fellow FightBoothPW contributor Brandon Miller (@brandonpsmc). If anyone would like to reach Christian, they can email him at cwaughh16@gmail.com or his Twitter account @cdubb106

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