Vivian St John Pro Wrestling Legend of the Week
By Christopher Annino
Vivian St. John was a tall, black leather glasses wearing, red meat eating hell raiser, who was much like one of her near dear friends, wrestling legend Sensational Sherri. Vivian is one of the most underrated pro wrestlers that have been in the business. Vivian worked for many promotions including WWF aka WWE and was featured in a film as a pro wrestler with Bill Cosby called “Mother, Jugs, and Speed.” Vivian battled such legendary female gladiators in the squared circle as The Fabulous Moolah, Leilani Kai, Wendy Richter, and Joyce Grable. Very much like Rowdy Piper she had phenomenal talent and was never properly given a shot at a major title. Vivian is originally from Florida and at a young age was entranced by pro wrestling. “When I was young, I saw Sue Green wrestle and felt that it was something I could do. I loved wrestling. I loved wrestlers. Harley Race gave me Moolah’s phone number so I could train with her, I paid Moolah $300.00 and she trained me. The first year I got my ass kicked.”
Although very new to the sport, Vivian was getting pushed to the top at a rapid pace because she had the “IT” factor that promoters are looking for. The “IT” factor I am talking about is based on three aspects, the way you look, your athleticism, and your charisma. Vivian had that and more! This caused heat with one wrestler.
“Vicki Williams put toes in my nose and kicked my ass for a year. Finally I learned the proper way to fight and take care of myself so she couldn’t kick my ass, so I kicked hers. Years later I was in Georgia wrestling a bear and Vicki came to apologize to me. She had become one of those born again Christians that worships rattlesnakes when she had apologized. I said fine Vicki go play with your snakes I gotta wrestle a bear” said Vivian.
Because of her tall stature she was put in a tag team match with legendary wrestler Susan Green. “She was a great worker and we worked well with each other” said Susan. Vivian added “Sue and I had matching cowgirl vests for the gimmick. I was not much of a cowgirl but I loved working with Susan, she was easy to work with and she was amazing.”
A few memorable moments in Vivian’s career were:
“I was at the super dome and I was chasing Leilani Kai and the audience just followed me. When I got into a hall there was a huge mass of people chasing me. I hid and eventually got out but I was very convincing. That’s what I liked to do; my favorite finishing move was causing a riot. Another memorable moment was when Peggy Lee, Leilani, Moolah and I sold out The Spectrum. There was a lot of energy in that arena. I had a really good time in my wrestling career. I worked for a lot of promoters such as Wahoo McDaniel and was number one for a long time. Not winning a belt was fine because I enjoyed having fun.”
WWF/ WWE undefeated tag team champion Princess Victoria said “Vivian is a remarkable woman and had an amazing career. She deserves to be known as a great wrestler and a great person.” Wrestler/ Manager Lady Amazon said “I have a great deal of respect for her as well as any woman from that era.”
Vivian was also legendary with some of the ribs, otherwise known as pranks she pulled during her years of wrestling. “There was this one time when I was in the dressing room area and Rocky Johnson was getting ready. I was bored so I put a table in front of the dressing room door jamming it so he couldn’t get out to the ring. Another time was when I was driving myself and Leilani to a show, she refused to get out of the car when I wanted her to so I pulled up in the main parking lot and I left her in the car. Back in those days if a heel was riding with a face it was forbidden to go in together so you had to appear that you came in separate vehicles. I thought that was really funny, of course she didn’t think so. So she dealt with me in the ring but after Wahoo McDaniel handed me a beer and we had a laugh. Those were fun times.”
One of the greats Sensational Sherri Martel who passed away several years ago was good friends with Vivian. “Sheri liked to have fun and get her hands dirty. When she was in the 20 Man Mixed Battle Royal, one time I told her to not get in the middle of it, she didn’t listen and broke her leg. She drove Moolah crazy so I always took her on the road with me and we would have a blast. Sherri taught me how to cook, and she taught me to cook a good steak. Sheri was cool” said Vivian.
This year at the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in Amsterdam, New York, the class will include women’s wrestling legend Joyce Grable. “She deserves it, she has been around a long time, there aren’t that many lady wrestlers, but what I don’t understand about these hall of fames is why aren’t there any more women’s wrestlers inducted in. And how hard could it be if they inducted all of us? A lot of women deserve to be in there” said Vivian. She also added in regards to modern day pro wrestling “there needs to be more wrestling.”
Several life lessons and philosophies that Vivian has learned during her career were “start at the top and work your way down, its just as easy to start there because the bottom is too crowded.” she later added “You got to be able laugh at life, that way you win all the time.”
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