Before her time as Bertha Faye in the then-WWF, Rhonda Sing wrestled as the unstoppable Monster Ripper. With an unrelenting, punishing style, she brutalized her opponents while often upsetting the Japanese talent who were not used to losing to a Gaijin (non-Japanese national).
After Japan, and successful stints with the WWC in Puerto Rico, Mexico’s EMLL, and a brief stopover at Stampede Wrestling in Canada, her legacy was forever tainted thanks to a comedy gimmick slapped onto her in the WWF. She was at a creative disadvantage, and management prohibited her from using certain power moves because male wrestlers were already using them.
This is the story of Rhonda Sing’s journey to the top and a rapid descent once joining the WWE.
Rhonda Sing – Born To Wrestle
Born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Rhonda Ann Sing knew that she wanted to be a wrestler from an early age. In kindergarten, she got into fights with the boys while briefing them on her future in the squared circle. For years, her mother had ringside tickets to Stampede Wrestling, and she’d take the kids if they behaved.
Rhonda Sing went to the same school as future wrestling stars Bret and Owen Hart and repeatedly tried to approach their family to get trained. But scheduling conflicts and Stampede not regularly promoting women’s wrestling made her goal of becoming a wrestler seem far-fetched.
While on vacation in Hawaii with her family, she saw a faint glimmer of hope while channel surfing trying to something watchable on the television. She was smitten by what she saw: Japanese women just going at each other in the ring, with chairs and all! These smallish yet gutsy performers were from All Japan Women’s Wrestling (AJW). They were known to have some of the best talents ever to step through a squared circle, and Sing loved every moment of what she saw. She didn’t know women could wrestle at such a high level! Their small and demure bodies belied an intensity and passion for the sport.
By happenstance, she saw an advertisement for Mildred Burke‘s wrestling school in Encino, California, so she sent an inquiry about training. Soon later, at only seventeen years old, Rhonda packed her bags and found herself in sunny California as Mildred Burke’s last student, thus commencing her exciting journey to become a professional wrestler. The dream seemed attainable now, and Rhonda Sing was on her way and ready to make her mark.
Transformation Into Monster Ripper
While Rhonda Sing was training, Japanese women wrestlers began scouting Mildred Burke’s school because, at the time, nobody else was sending women grapplers to Japan. Upon seeing the corpulent 5’8" Rhonda Sing, they displayed interest. Her look and body type were mostly non-existent in Japanese women’s wrestling, so it promised to be something different for the fans.
AJW must have envisioned piles of Yen in their future because she’d soon become a first-hand witness to Japan’s notoriously unforgiving mats and the stiff shots generously administered by its wrestlers. With only two months of training under her belt, Rhonda Sing, now rechristened as the intimidating Monster Ripper, engaged in her first of many tours to the "Land of the Rising Sun" and immediately became a main-eventer.
Even with her limited experience and scant ring repertoire, she impacted the Japanese fans by winning in her January 1979 debut alongside Mami Kumano against the extremely popular Jackie Sato and Maki Ueda, better known as the Beauty Pair.
Sing’s size, coupled with her uncanny agility for such a large woman, impressed everyone. Like a wrecking ball hitting a glass window, Monster Ripper overpowered and decimated almost every babyface who dared be placed in front of her. She’d win the WWWA World Title twice as a mainstay in AJW throughout most of the ’80s.
The formula was that of the invading monster heel, not a new strategy for Japanese promotions in the least, but one that gained prevalence with wrestlers like Stan Hansen, Terry Gordy, and Bruiser Brody in the years to come.
According to wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer, as mentioned in the book Sisterhood of the Squared Circle: The History and Rise of Women’s Wrestling by Pat Laprade and Dan Murphy, Ripper was similar to Terry Gordy in that "both were huge kids that broke into wrestling very young, known for being agile with wrestling skill despite their size. Both used the powerbomb as a finisher, years before such a move even had a name. Both popularized the move in Japan, with Ripper actually popularizing the move in women’s wrestling before Gordy did in All Japan, where American wrestlers who toured Japan discovered it."
Watch the angelic Mimi Hagiwara against the unforgiving Monster Ripper in Japan:
At first, Sing had trouble adapting to Japanese culture. The other women wrestlers weren’t too happy to lose to the gaijin, who hadn’t yet paid her dues but was headlining immediately upon arrival. So, they commenced taking with her in the ring, thus trying to frustrate and discourage Sing from continuing to go down this path she wanted so dearly.
The Dynamite Kid, who was working for NJPW at the time, told her to stick up for herself and show them that she wasn’t someone to abuse. This advice proved to be dead-on, and once she learned the tricks of the trade, she rarely had problems afterward. She’d also stop the new students’ bullying, which garnered respect from many in the business. After that, the few times Monster Ripper allowed herself to lose, her opponent was still worse for wear and didn’t feel or look like the victor after the match.
In the late ’80s, Rhonda Sing returned to Canada and Stampede Wrestling. Now mostly run by Bruce Hart, the failing promotion declared her as their first women’s champion. The reason being? She’d defeated Wendi Richter before her Stampede debut. Here, she was no longer Monster Ripper but instead Rhonda Singh (a play on her birth name), but the plans to team her with the heel Gama Singh never materialized.
In the beautiful and exotic island of Puerto Rico, she returned to being Monster Ripper and dominated in Carlos Colon’s WWC by becoming a five-time women’s champion. Her menacing face paint and physical style were perfect for the fans used to the outrageously violent brawls between Colon and Abdullah The Butcher. Fans who weren’t necessarily looking for finesse in their wrestling enjoyed watching Monster Ripper immensely. Here she also battled Wendi Richter on many occasions, even in a vicious match inside a cage.
In the early ‘90s, Monster Ripper continued her destructive path, but this time in Mexico’s AAA, where she was nicknamed “La Monster,” often competing in six-woman tag team bouts famous in Mexico, alongside the also oversized, ornery heel Martha Villalobos.
From Monster Ripper to Bertha Faye
"Madusa worked with [Sing] in Japan, I believe, and we were looking for new female talent to come in and have the kind of matches Alundra wanted to have and make it different," said Prichard.
Watch Monster Ripper attack Alundra Blayze:
In 1995, the WWF signed Monster Ripper. As seen in the video above, she attacked the Women’s World Champion Alundra Blaze after defending her title against Bull Nakano on Monday Night Raw. This introduction of her showed a lot of potential for a good storyline.
The unexpected brutal attack prompted a shocked Vince McMahon to exclaim, "That’s not Bull Nakano!"
Jim Cornette answered, "She’s even bigger than Bull Nakano!" And then incredulously and callously asked, "Is it even a she?"
If you look at the audience’s expressions, you can conclude that Monster Ripper’s introduction was impactful, convincing them that she’d injured Alundra Blayze, who was very over with the fans at the time.
A Monster Ripper versus Alundra Blayze feud seemed destined, but inexplicably, the WWF took a 180-degree turn with her gimmick and stripped her of her previous character.
Becoming Bertha Faye
At the time, the WWF brass decided that the fearsome heel who’d been a worldwide draw for fifteen years needed to morph into a sideshow comedy act called Bertha Faye.
Skipping in the ring and blowing kisses into the crowd, the WWF paired Faye with the spindly, greasy Harvey Wippleman. Now acting as her manager and love interest, he began professing the "special love" they had, proclaiming on WWF Superstars his "honey-honey, his sweet potato without a doubt will be the next WWF Women’s Champion because not only is she the most gorgeous creature on the planet and has the intelligence of having the finest beau on the planet, but she’s also whooped every girl in the trailer park, and in the honky-tonks!"
Bertha Faye added that Alundra Blayze couldn’t compete with her on sex appeal, and while lifting her skirt to show a little more of her thickset legs, she said that when it came to men, Blayze couldn’t compete with her because she had the ultimate man a woman could ever want.
When Bertha Faye made her appearance again on Monday Night Raw, she became fodder for Jerry “The King” Lawler and his one-liners. "It looks like Harvey Wippleman just became the Tom Arnold [in reference to his then-wife Roseanne] of the WWF! Her Levi’s aren’t 501s; they’re 747s!"
Gone was the imposing Monster Ripper, the beast who’d quickly dispatched Alundra Blayze in front of a surprised crowd. Now in her place was the laughable Bertha Faye.
Now well over 250 lbs and looking as absurd as could be wearing a pastiche of bright pastel colors and polka dots matched with an equally loud boa containing a kaleidoscope of all the colors known to man, she was, for all intents and purposes, being portrayed as a clown. She just needed to paint her face, get a red nose, and maybe a tricycle. Bertha Faye became a walking, talking unfunny joke. Unfortunately, it’s how most American fans recall Rhonda Sing — a far cry from the monster heel she portrayed for most of her career.
Although Bertha Faye did defeat Alundra Blayze for the title at SummerSlam 1995, she dropped the belt back to her two months later. The “fat lady straight out of a Georgia trailer park,” which was said to live in a double-wide mobile home, was a degrading character for a woman who’d made great strides overseas.
Because many of the male wrestlers were already using them, she claims she was also hampered by not being allowed to use many of the power moves that helped her dominate as Monster Ripper. Bertha Faye became a permanent blemish on her legacy as Monster Ripper, the worldwide feared heel.
According to Sing, the plan was to have her and Bull Nakano vying for the championship. Both had already had excellent matches in Japan, and it would have been a choice matchup between two indomitable forces that American fans would’ve loved to have seen.
"We had big heat in Japan, so this is what they wanted to do," said Sing. "Madusa [Blayze] was going away, and she was getting new boobs and a new nose. For three months, it was going to be Nakano and I. She was going to drop the belt to me. Madusa was going to come back after a while. We’d add a few more girls and make it a legitimate women’s division."
Unhappy with her direction in the WWF, Ronda Sing shipped off to WCW, where it seems like there were plans to have a serious women’s division, but the company was hemorrhaging money and on its last leg. She had jumped from the frying pan and into the fire.
Back to being called Rhonda Singh, she had some decent matches and even faced Madusa in WCW. And although she looked to be enjoying herself and seemed more comfortable when relegated to a comedic relief role once again, this was rock bottom for her career. She even had a segment in which she wrestled Roddy Piper in the mud, and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, just doing his job, took his usual brilliant cheap shots by saying, “I told you she was a ten; five on each side!”
Watch Rhonda Sing in WCW:
The Death of Rhonda Sing
It is a shame that Rhonda Sing as Monster Ripper was not seen in her prime by most North American wrestling fans. Bertha Faye is how most discovered her, but we hope we shined some light on this talented wrestler who inspired future wrestlers such as Dump Matsumoto, Devil Masami, Bull Nakano, Aja Kong, and a host of others. She left us way too soon and sadly passed away at the age of 40, on July 27th, 2001 shortly after retiring from wrestling in 2000.
According to her family, she died as a result of medical problems. Other sources claim it was a result of a heart attack. Her former manager in the WWF, Harvey Wippleman, said that even though they did business together, he and Sing didn’t get along, and he believes that she took her own life.
Before passing away, she worked as a caregiver for special needs persons, and is said to have had a big heart and liked to look after people.
In 2003, The Cauliflower Alley Club recognized her with a Posthumous Award.
If you enjoyed this piece, be sure not to miss the following articles on our site:
- Mildred Burke | Embarrassing Men & Blazing Trails for Women in Wrestling
- Madusa | Blayze of Glory – The Alundra Blayze Story
- Janet Boyer Wolfe – A Promising Career Tragically Cut Short
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