How drunk do you have to be for Andre the Giant, the world’s biggest drinker, to yell at you for drinking too much? Ask “Sensational” Sherri Martel, who was once the victim of Andre’s verbal wrath and never forgot about it.
Date: October 23, 1987
Location: Paris, France
Source: Wrestling Flyer Collection #2
Sherri Martel had a reputation as one of the hardest workers around, a dedication to her job instilled into her by her mother. She was a good wrestler, however she became far more famous as a manager. After defeating the Fabulous Moolah for the WWF Womens Championship in 1987, she wrestled on the undercard for a couple of years until her big break as the valet for the WWF’s top heel in 1989: Randy Savage. As Queen Sherri, she had a top role in the company for a long run, ending in 1991 when Savage “retired” at WrestleMania VII.
After Savage, Sherri managed Ted DiBiase, and was then paired with Shawn Michaels as he began his heel singles push. After her release from the WWF in 1993, she had short stints in SMW and ECW before settling into WCW during the Hulk Hogan era and peak years of Monday Nitro as a heel manager. She was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame in 2006, a year before her untimely death due to a drug overdose.
Outside the ring, Sherri was an outgoing personality who often partied too much. She was already married twice by the time she was 19, and was a mother before she turned 21. She was raised without a father, and remained very close to her mother, whom she lived with at the time of her death in 2007. During Sherri’s peak earning years, she spent much of her income towards paying off her mom’s mortgage, as she wanted to give back to the woman who raised her by herself.
Not long after Sherri was trained by Butch Moore, and later Fabulous Moolah, she was sent to Japan for eight weeks in January and February of 1981. She came back to Moolah’s school after that, and Moolah is on record as saying Sherri partied too hard and had to be kicked out of the school. She worked a few more territories and also had a run in the AWA before her big break with the WWF in 1987.
The mid and late 80s scene in pro wrestling, in virtually every territory, was wild with a lot of partying, drinking, and drugs. Not everyone partook in all that, and we don’t know how much Sherri indulged other than this incident showed she was no stranger to it. She was married for most of this time, spending very little time with her son since she was constantly on the road.
In the late 1980s, the WWF was not the worldwide touring brand that WWE is today. Still, they made occasional stops in Europe, including an annual trek in France during October of every year. 1987 was Sherri’s first time on this trip to France, and the crew arrived in the country on October 22. She went out that night with the wrestlers, to let off steam before the show in Paris the following day.
Unfortunately she let out a little too much steam. She overslept and missed her wake-up call the next morning, causing the boys downstairs in the hotel lobby to wait and wait.
Andre the Giant hated waiting. HATED it.
Furious, Andre stormed up and pounded on Sherri’s hotel room door. Half conscious, she answered it and wondered what was going on.
And then Andre let her have it. He shouted at her in that deep, baritone voice of his:
“Get your ass up and out of bed! You’re making everybody wait on you. You didn’t even get your wake-up call, you’re phone’s off the hook. Either you drink and go out with the boys or you keep it strictly business and don’t drink! You cannot do a job and drink also. You choose one of the two. Now get your ass up!”
He then never said another word to Sherri for two whole weeks. He was that pissed.
Sherri said that at the time, it never really sank in just how important her job really was. Andre’s lecture finally made her realize how much she had riding on her. Her job was very important, and she didn’t realize the responsibility she had just taken on until Andre let her have it.
There are a lot of wrestlers with substance abuse problems. Even those who had notorious problems rarely let it affect their ring performance to the point it endangered the other wrestlers. Whatever bad behavior that was done was usually outside the ring, after the show, and never in the ring. There were the occasional times it happened, like a hungover and passed out Kerry Von Erich being carried in the ring by Ric Flair, or Dennis Rodman falling asleep during the match, or Jeff Hardy showing up in TNA in no condition to perform. Flair obviously partied as hard as anyone (not drugs, but drinking and womanizing), and even when he hardly got any sleep, he’d get to the arena, down a cup of coffee, and was good to go.
No matter how addicted a person was, the old school mentality had been drilled into most of them that you have your fun on your own time, and never impacting others. While Sherri in this case did not endanger anyone’s well-being in the ring, she did hold up the crew and affected their ability to perform their jobs on time. Had they been late to where they were going, they would’ve had to answer to the office and it would’ve entirely been Sherri’s fault. She learned a good lesson.
The hilarious irony here is that it was ANDRE THE GIANT who lectured her about drinking. Never in the history of sports, entertainment, or perhaps life has there ever been a bigger drinker. His enormous size and tolerance for alcohol allowed him to drink cases and cases of beer at a time, and even with the exaggerated stories toned down, he could still outdrink anyone by several orders of magnitude. That fact that HE was the one to jar Sherri up and make her realize she couldn’t drink too much is too rich for words.
What’s next, Flair lectures someone on cheating on his wife? JBL lectures someone on bullying? Wonders never cease; or in this case, the 8th Wonder of the World.
Sherri’s match that day was against Velvet McIntyre, and aired on the January 4, 1988 episode of Prime Time Wrestling.