Spiders, screw-jobs, and a classic Howard Finkel line

Legendary WWE ring announcer Howard Finkel, who is also the organization’s resident historian, wrote a great article on WWE.com looking at 10 wrestlers who used alter egos. The list ranged from Dusty Rhodes moonlighting as the Midnight Rider in Florida Championship Wrestling to Mick Foley’s many WWE personas.

One person on Finkel’s list brought back a lot of memories for me: The Fabulous Moolah’s short stint as the masked Spider Lady, which allegedly was part of an in-ring screw-job of Wendi Richter.

As the story goes, on November 25, 1985, Richter was set to defend her WWF Womens Title against the Spider Lady, who had appeared a few times on TV and was taller than Moolah (clearly it was another wrestler originally). A WWF official — it might have been Gorilla Monsoon — stopped Richter in the dressing room earlier in the day and asked her to sign a contract extension. Richter said she would not sign anything without her lawyer looking at it first.

Fast forward to the action in the ring. Towards the end of the match, the Spider Lady cinched Richter in a small package while the ref counted to three for the title change. In the video, you can see Richter kick out before three and seem confused.

Apparently, Moolah and the ref had been directed to take the women’s belt off Richter as a shoot (maybe as retaliation for the contract). The 62-year-old Moolah knew enough old-school techniques to keep Richter tight in the small package while the ref did his part with the phony count.

Realizing the match had ended abruptly and something funny was going on, Richter ripped the mask off the Spider Lady and revealed it was Moolah. The belief was that had Richter known Moolah was in the ring as an unannounced challenger, Richter would have smelled a rat and been more cautious, so the mask became necessary. That said, I’m not exactly sure how an experienced wrestler competing in the ring would not recognize Moolah, even in a hood.

Regardless, this was Richter’s last match ever in the WWF, as she left the ring and walked out of MSG.

Meanwhile, Finkel gave among his most classic ring announcements: “Ladies and gentlemen, the winner of this bout and neeeewwwww World Wrestling Federation Ladies Champion … the Spider? The Fabulous Moolah?”


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  3. Joe Lowry

    Awesome stuff per usual. Lets dig a little further and talk about Magnificent Muracos return to Georgia Championship Wrestling and his stint as the masked villain of “The Magnificent M” – or better yet Boogie Woogie Man Jimmy Valiant as the masked “Charlie Brown from Outta Town.” Those are classics.

  4. modew's manager

    The WWE.com article is largely wrong on the Flair/Black Scorpion count. Al Perez was under the mask initially; in the first TV match, a second “real” Scorpion (“Black Angel” Dave Sheldon) interfered. On the road, those two and Bill Irwin, Randy “Moondog Spot” Culley and jobber Tony Zane appeared under the mask in title matches. Flair first worked as Scorpion on the title change. And when he was scheduled to lose the title, bookers were still leaning toward Barry Windham being under the mask, absolving Flair.

  5. Frank

    I remember “the Fink” when he worked here at the New Haven (CT) Coliseum as an usher. He encouraged management to bring the WWF to the Coliseum & hence was employed by the WWF. he also did voice overs ( “pausing for this commercial time out etc, etc…”) for upcoming WWF house shows.on WWF TV wrestling programs.

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