CANOE Network SLAM!Sports

 
SLAM! Sports SLAM! Wrestling
  Aug 9, 2001



News & Rumours
Bios
Obits
Canadian Hall of Fame
WrestleMania 30
WrestleMania 30 photos
Video
Movie Database
Minority Mat Report
Columnists
Features
Results Archive
PPV Reviews
SLAM! Wrestling store
On Facebook
On Twitter
Send Feedback




Photo Galleries

WWE Night of Champions


Legends of the Ring fan fest


Heroes & Legends IV fan fest


NXT Takeover: Fatal 4 Way


ROH All Star Extravaganza VI


PWG Battle of L.A.: Night 2


PWG Battle of L.A.: Night 1







SCOREBOARD
PHOTO GALLERY
VIDEO GALLERY
COMMENT




READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

SLAM! Wrestling Editorial: Sing's legacy tainted by Bertha Faye
By STEPHEN LAROCHE -- SLAM! Wrestling

 In an age where women's wrestling is more about bra and panty matches than actual grappling, the untimely and unfortunate passing of wrestling legend Rhonda Sing gives many a chance to reflect on what women's wrestling should be.

 The 5'8", 260-pound Calgary native passed away at the age of 40 last Friday, and was a rare talent who was able to compete physically and earned the respect of her male counterparts with her ability and personality.
Monster Ripper


 It's truly a pity most North American wrestling fans didn't get to see her in her prime as the fearsome Monster Ripper who made a splash in All-Japan in the late-'70s. Sadly, most will remember her as the strangely comical Bertha Faye, the trailer park-dwelling girlfriend of Harvey Whippleman (Bruno Lauer) as part of the World Wrestling Federation's failed women's division in the mid-'90s.

  Throughout her career, she showed an extreme amount of dedication to the sport. She had matches with some of the greatest women to step into the ring, including Bull Nakano and Wendi Richter.

 Like many others in the business, Sing knew very early on that she wanted to be a wrestler. Her mother was a long-time patron of Stampede Wrestling, and she watched it regularly live and on television as a child. As a teenager, she made the decision to contact Mildred Burke and went to the women's wrestling pioneer's training facility in California after being rebuffed by the Harts, who did not train women at the time.

 Despite spending only a few weeks under Burke's tutelage, scouts from All-Japan wanted Sing to join them there. Her first match was a main event bout, and she and partner Mami Komeni defeated the ultra-popular Beauty Pair. In her interview with SLAM! Wrestling in January, she recalled the significance of her debut.

 "It was my first match, and I won. The Japanese girls resented it because they never had to lose. If they lost, they lost to each other. They never lost to a foreigner."

 Sing had a great deal of success with All-Japan despite the difficulty in adapting to Japanese culture. After holding the promotion's title on two occasions, she began to wrestle throughout the world and held a multitude of titles.

 She returned to Calgary to work with Stampede in 1987 and was rechristened Rhonda Singh, the "h" being added by Stu Hart. According to Gama Singh (Gadowar Singh Sahota), a proposal was put forth where she would have won a "Vice Queen" contest to tie in with his Karachi Vice gimmick. Unfortunately, this idea never saw the light of day. Singh recently shared his memories with SLAM! Wrestling and had many great memories of working with Sing.

 "I really thought Rhonda was a good person," The Great Gama said. "We had been on a lot of overseas trips together. She was a good person to have around. She always kept you laughing."

 Singh had been planning a trip to the Middle East in the months prior to Sing's death, and offered a sentiment echoed by many whose lives Sing touched.

 "Rhonda's going to be missed by a lot of people. I'm certainly going to miss her."

 Bret Hart, who was in attendance at Sing's funeral on August 3rd, offered his memories of Sing in his recent column and also gave a brief statement to SLAM! Wrestling.

 "In a very male environment Rhonda was always one of the boys and accepted by all the wrestlers," he said. "She was a warm and giving person."

 Another long-time friend of Sing's was Bad News Allen (Allen Coage), who toured with her several times throughout the world. He told SLAM! Wrestling she provided him with tickets to the World Wrestling Federation television taping in Calgary on May 28, and that she went backstage at the event and spoke with Shane McMahon.

 "She was a hell of a talent," said Coage. "I always thought she was one of the toughest women around. Everything she did looked believable."

 He also commented on the Bertha Faye persona she was saddled with while with the WWF in 1995.

 "I hated that Bertha Faye gimmick they put on her," he said. "I didn't like that at all."

 A lack of support by WWF braintrust and waning fan interest in the women's division essentially killed it a few months into her time there. Eventually she became tired of the situation, but managed to live out her dream of wrestling in Madison Square Garden. In my interview with her, Sing recalled the time with the WWF as bittersweet.

 "It sort of stripped my identity," she said "You're going to the ring skipping and blowing kisses, looking goofy. You just went to the bank and cashed your cheque. You felt like you were pimping yourself out. You were like a prostitute for Vince. The guys were doing it too, so you know what people will do for money."

 Prior to her death, Sing had been working as a caregiver for handicapped individuals. According to her brother Tom, she had a "big heart" and "liked to look after people". He believed there was two sides to his sister -- the Monster Ripper who people saw in the ring and a caring individual who was devoted to her family.

 While her family would only say that she died as a result of medical problems, donations can be made in Sing's memory to the Heart and Stroke Foundation and to Canadian Diabetes Association.

 When I conducted my interview with Sing several months ago, I had limited knowledge of her contributions to the industry. She opened my eyes to many things about sports entertainment and expressed her dissatisfaction with working on the independent circuit. Sing was without a doubt one of the greatest wrestlers to ever compete, and it is tragic how her legacy in North America is tainted by a bad gimmick. I only wish we all could remember her for the kind person she was.

 May her legacy live on for future generations of wrestlers.

Bret Hart: Singh earned much respect within wrestling circles
Mourners salute Sing
Rhonda Sing dead at 40
SLAM! talks to Rhonda Sing, January 2001



Reader Feedback

  • Aug. 2:Rocked by The Rock


  • Great article, you brought up a lot of good points. I too over the last couple of years have been more accepting of the whole entertainment part of wrestling. I mean all of the Austin/Angle bits were hilarious, some of the best backstage stuff I've seen. I would much rather see Austin have more backstage roles than in the ring, since he ain't what he used to be. But I have to disagree with being more excited to see Angle backstage or on the mic rather than in the ring. Angle is too awesome of a performer. I also have to disagree with The Rock being more sloppy. I think you're misinterpreting sloppiness for style. When The Rock does a one-arm Samoan drop, it's his way of doing the move, since a lot of people do that move why not have your own style? It's like Farooq doing a one-arm spine buster. I mean that's not sloppy is it? The Rock has a jello-like movement in the ring which is a family style tradition, it's entertaining, it looks electric, rather than all robotic like they do in Japan which can get kind of tiring. In a way it's more realistic, because nobody's perfect. But I do agree with you with his old school selling, especially with the stunner. Anyway good article.
    -Later
    OZDEVIL3747@cs.com
    I have to agree with you on some fronts, I do enjoy the comical backstage antics of E&C and Angle, and for the first time in years I actually pay attention to Austin. But, and a Big But, if it wasn't for the fact we are seeing more quality matches in the ring since the influx of ECW tallent I'd probobly be giving wrestling up in the near future. I'm definitely a purist. The promos are important to make the matches believable from a certain level, that's as far as it goes for me. I miss the constant high paced, high impact action of ECW. In my mind there is no better performer in the business then RVD with a close second going to Chris Benoit. These guys put on an amazing show in the ring and get over even with 'Sports Entertainment' fans on the basis of it, not just the wrestling purists. In my mind that is the true sign of a star. The Rock bores me, his whole gimmick to me is lame, his catch phrases are tedious and his matches tend to be rather dull, Austin was pretty much the same for me, but at least now he's funny. I think it's sad that those poeple who wrestle the main event can't work a match to save their lives. I find that this leaves me dissapointed by every PPV I've watched recently, because for me they tend to be over somewhere around half time as all the wrestlers are done for the show, but now that RVD is in the WWF maybe there's some hope for the future in the form of a Benoit vs RVD title feud, or maybe I'm just dreaming.
    Blair Burch

    Past editorials




    Know someone who might be interested in this page? Just type in their e-mail address to send them the URL.

    Destination email address:


    Your email address: