January 23rd, 1996: Sister Sherri and Colonel Robert Parker, WCW Clash of the Champions
This one takes some set up. First, if you haven’t already read David’s look back at the racist gimmicks of Harlem Heat, do that first. It’s tangentially relevant, but also really great. Proactive cross-promotional synergy buzzwords!
Secondly, I needed some background. I wasn’t a WCW kid, and was extremely limited in my television wrestling access due to a lack of cable and the weird way Nitro was broadcast in Canada. The romance between Col. Parker and Sister Sherri, then manager of the aforementioned Harlem Heat, begins like all great love stories: with a whole bunch of sexual harassment. While Sherri managed the Harlem Heat, Col. Parker managed Dirty Dick Slater and Bunkhouse Buck. Tag teams get at each other, but their managers run each other down even more. Parker attributed Sherri’s mean streak to a lack of love in her life, interrupting a promo to lay one on her. The kiss was met with a punch, because you don’t just kiss Sherri without asking. Parker continued to pursue her, and Sherri continued to resists his physical advances, because wrestling sure does love it’s romantic sexual assault.
Sherri and Parker’s teams would continue to feud back and forth, with Sherri insisting that she could (and would) whip Parker’s ass. This all came to a head in a 6-man tag match with both managers joining their tag team wards in the ring at Clash of the Champions 1995. Harlem Heat beat down Col. Parker, then tagged in Sherri to give him the business. Parker rolled out of the way as Sherri set up for a dive from the top rope, causing her head to hit the mat and her to “pass out.” When she came to, instead of tearing Parker a new one, she pinned him with a kiss. Literally. His shoulders were down, and Harlem Heat won. But that wasn’t the end. Sherri wasn’t playing mind games (WarMindGames?) with Parker, she was suddenly head over heels in love with him.
Throughout the months that followed, Sherri and Parker enjoyed a whirlwind relationship, often abandoning their tag teams mid-match so they could sneak off and be together. This drew the ire of both teams, but the concussed beauty and the creep didn’t care. In December ’95, Parker interrupted a Harlem Heat-American Males match on Nitro to propose. The wedding was set for the very next Clash of the Champions, their PAPER-view anniversary (hehehe).
Colonel Parker just dressed how he always did: Kentucky Bowtie (not the reach around euphemism)(though really, I don’t know his life), white cowboy hat with no hatband, but a tiny black brand on the side, and classic white suit. Sherri’s dress continued the paradigm put upon her in WWE, the whore to Elizabeth’s Madonna.
The psychological nudges wrestling fashion gives us are sometimes subtle, but the rest of the time are meant to hit us over the head like a tonne of bricks. The Headshrinkers are adorned with bones and large wooden beads and grass because they’re savages. JTG’s pants say YO! all over them. These are visual clues that tell us what the character is supposed to be before they speak up and prove that racist stereotypes are way too easy to reach for, I guess. But the same thing happens with women in wrestling. Bayley is this infantilized powerhouse, but we know she loves hugs and simple things because of her bows and headbands. Aksana has boob zipper, and is clearly DTF. It’s the same thing with this wedding dress. Where the others are meant to convey purity and tradition, Sherri’s is siren red. It’s got a deep v in the front with illusion netting to simulate nudity. She’s got a cape, which is admittedly baller and referential to Disney’s Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, a lovely callback to her time with Shawn Michaels, but it’s also sheer. Everything about Sherri is meant to be alluring and sexual.
Madusa shows up looking like an extra from Oliver, furthering that idea. She’s the Anne Klein to Sherri’s Vivienne Westwood, if you will. While Sherri is all personality, Madusa (the Colonel’s other Fried Pie) is meant to be all business, a real wrestler.
Wrestling weddings are insane, but when you peel back the layers of what they’re meant to portray, they can present a whole lot more than what’s shown at face value. Look forward to Part Two soon, where we explore fifty years of Stephanie McMahon wedding dresses, and my favourite wrestling wedding of all time.