I’ve been watching wrestling for over thirty years now and over the course of time, I have seen a lot of people come and go. There are some that have made a bigger impact than others, but when you look back, there are a few names who just stick in your mind more than other people. Sometimes it is for a more positive reason than others, but those people and memories stick out rather hard. This week we are going to look at one of them, for no reason other than something struck me about her.
Earlier this week, Dolph Ziggler challenged Damian Priest for the United States Title on Monday Night Raw in a losing effort. I got to thinking about how nutty it was that Ziggler made his main roster debut as part of the Spirit Squad just about sixteen years ago (January 23, 2006 to be exact) and has been around ever since (save for a few hiatuses here and there).
Over his career, Ziggler has won just about every title there is to win and has had some pretty big moments. I’m sure you remember him winning the World Title via Money in the Bank, being the sole survivor against the Authority at Survivor Series 2014 and headlining Extreme Rules 2018 in an Iron Man match against Seth Rollins to retain the Intercontinental Title.
There is no doubt that Ziggler has had a very successful career and will go into the WWE Hall of Fame one day. I don’t think that is really up for debate and that’s not what I’m trying to do here. What I got to thinking about on Monday is how long Ziggler really has been around. The same was true for the Miz, who has been around even longer and has been an even bigger star. Miz is coming up on eighteen years in WWE, which is a heck of a lot longer than most wrestlers get.
What struck me as interesting is how long so many careers go today, even if the people involved might not make the biggest impacts. Cases in point: Miz and Ziggler, who have been around for about THIRTY FIVE YEARS between them and still feel like middle of the road stars. You would think that much time would be enough to allow them to have a bigger impact, but it never has clicked. They will be remembered for a long time to come, but that’s where we get to the person that inspired this whole thing.
Back at the 1989 Survivor Series, Dusty Rhodes captained the Dream Team against the Enforcers. As Rhodes came to the ring, there was a rather noticeable Rhodes fan at ringside, with commentary pointing her out. This would be the debut of the woman who would become known as Sweet Sapphire, who would go on to become Rhodes’ manager and tag team partner.
While Sapphire was never a full time wrestler and was more often Rhodes’ manager or valet, she did wrestle fairly frequently on house shows, either in singles matches against Queen Sherri or teaming with Rhodes against Sherri and Macho King Randy Savage. Her most famous match was a tag match with Rhodes against Sherri and Savage at WrestleMania 6 where Sapphire pinned Sherri. Granted a lot of that was there for Jesse Ventura’s barrage of jokes, but it’s better than not making the show at all.
In the spring and summer of Summerslam, Sapphire began to receive gifts from a mysterious benefactor. Since there was pretty much only one person who was able to afford such gifts, it was not the biggest surprise when the benefactor was revealed to be Ted DiBiase. At Summerslam 1990, Sapphire turned on Rhodes and left with DiBiase. Aside from a few vignettes with DiBiase and some appearances as a manager for some TV squashes, that was it for Sapphire in the WWF.
The reason Sapphire strikes me as interesting is the fact that she was not even involved with the WWF for a year. She debuted in November 1989 and was gone around September 1990. That is not exactly a long tenure for anyone in the company, but how many people remember Sapphire? Yes a lot of it is due to the visual of the polka dots and the dancing, but she still made an impression, or at least a memory for a lot of people.
Now of course I’m not saying that Sapphire means more to WWE than Ziggler or Miz. Sapphire really didn’t make that big of an impact and certainly does not come close to a pair of World Champions who have been with the company over fifteen years each. That being said, Sapphire managed to find a way into people’s memories in less than a year with the company. What was it about her that allowed her to have that kind of an impact in such a short time?
I don’t think there really is a specific reason for it actually. Sapphire is just one of those people that you remember being around despite having very little history in the company. She came in, seemed to enjoy her job, and advanced two feuds for Rhodes. Sure, it could have been done by someone else (Rhodes vs. DiBiase kept going because of Dustin Rhodes anyway) but it was nice to see someone who seemed to be having that much fun in her role.
It goes to show you that it isn’t about how long a person is in front of a camera but rather what they do with that time. How long have some wrestlers been in WWE, or wrestling in general, and still not left any kind of a significant mark? A lot of wrestlers come and go, but there is very little that sets them apart or that will be remembered about them when they hang up their boots (or polka dots in this case).
Miz and Ziggler have been around for a long time now and are probably going to be winding down their in-ring careers within the next few years (which granted has probably been said for a good while now). They have both long since made their marks in wrestling, with Miz even winning the WWE Title again last year. Those things are more important than anything Sapphire ever did in wrestling, but they were put in places to be able to do something like that.
There are all kinds of ways to be do something important in wrestling. It might be a match, a promo, an angle or everything mixed together. Some people are not given those chances for one reason or another, but they still manage to make something work. Sapphire did not stick around the WWF for very long but managed to become popular, get in some big enough stories and take up a spot that allowed her to be remembered long after her career was over. There is something impressive about being able to pull that off and Sapphire did it rather well all things considered.
Sapphire was never going to be the top star in the company or the Women’s Champion (mainly because there wasn’t one for most of her career) or even much more than she already was. What she did was do what she was asked and did enough to be remembered in a short amount of time. Not everyone is going to be around for a long time and even fewer are going to be major players in a wrestling promotion. What matters is getting people to notice you, and that was Sapphire’s sweet spot.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 60,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 6,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books.
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