Thursday, February 15, 2007

Rhonda Singh - Female Wrestling

Rhonda Singh - Female Wrestling

Rhonda Singh (February 21, 1961 – July 27, 2001) was born Peggy Simpson and was a professional wrestler, who was a 1-time WWF Women's Champion. One of the most fearsome women to ever enter a wrestling ring, Rhonda Singh lead a long and fascinating career few North American wrestling fans were aware of. She was also the first Canadian to win the Women's Championship.
While growing up in Calgary, Singh knew she wanted to be a wrestler from an early age and attended numerous Stampede Wrestling cards as a child. As a teenager, Singh approached members of the Hart family asking to be trained. Despite being rejected, she still dreamed of becoming a professional wrestler. A trip to Hawaii in 1978 changed her life forever as she saw Japanese women's wrestling on television. A friend gave 17-year-old Singh a wrestling magazine which contained contact information for Mildred Burke's training facility in Encino, California. She wrote the women's wrestling legend and sent along a biography and photo. After receiving a reply from Burke, she made a decision which changed her life.
After a few weeks of training with Burke, Singh was scouted by All-Japan who wanted to bring her in despite her inexperience. Burke was the only U.S. trainer having women go over to Japan at the time. Her first match in Japan was with partner Mami Komeni against Beauty Pair (Jackie Sato and Maki Ueda) on January 4, 1979.

A combination of youth and inexperience made life in Japan somewhat difficult for Singh during her first few months there. Many of the established Japanese wrestlers were unwilling to share their experience with the young Canadian wrestler. It was not until she ran into a touring The Dynamite Kid that she was able to gain a greater grasp of how to deal with her fellow wrestlers.

Singh's first run in All-Japan peaked when she won their Women's World Title from Jackie Sato on July 31, 1979 -- a little over six months after her professional debut. Despite losing the title to Sato six weeks later, she regained it on March 15, 1980 via countout after outside interference from the Black Pair (Mami Kumao and Yumi Ikeshita). The title was vacated in August 1980 after another epic battle with Sato.

A brief return to Calgary in the early '80s allowed Singh the chance to finally perform in front of her hometown crowd. After another stint in Japan, Sing returned to Stampede on a regular basis in late 1987 and was named their Women's Champion as she had defeated Wendi Richter before coming back to the territory. She held the title until September 22, 1988, losing to Chigusa Nagayo. Over the next few years, Singh would once again travel throughout the world and wrestle for a number of promotions, holding several titles.

In 1995, Singh was contacted by the World Wrestling Federation to add depth to their fledgling women's division. However, she was repackaged as Harvey Wippleman's trailer park-dwelling girlfriend Bertha Faye. The original plan was to be part of an angle with Bull Nakano, who she had many epic battles with in Japan, which was meant to develop fan interest in the women's division.

But that isn't how it happened. Nakano was found in possession of cocaine which prompted a change of plans. She made her WWF Professional wrestling debut: on an episode of Monday Night Raw participating in a sneak attack Alundra Blayze making it appear as if they had broken her nose. Singh was not pleased with the development. Singh also found it incredibly difficult to adopt a new persona after spending almost all of her career as Monster Ripper. With her character creatively restricted, Singh was also limited to what moves she could perform in the ring. She was not allowed to used an overhead press or a powerbomb as other WWF stars were utilizing them at the time.

Fan interest in women's wrestling sunk once again as the year closed, even with the addition of Japanese star Aja Kong. After a year as Bertha Faye, she had the WWF release her from her contract. She briefly returned to Japan, but found it difficult to adjust to a new system without guaranteed payouts.

In late 1999, she made a brief return with World Championship Wrestling and appeared on several telecasts to generate some interest in a women's division. Women's wrestling had changed greatly in the time since Singh was last with a major North American promotion. While her stay was brief, Singh appeared to enjoy her time with the promotion.

Singh retired in 2001. She died later that year due to a drug overdose which caused a heart attack

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