Juanita Wright (October 24, 1934 – September 10, 1996) was a professional wrestling valet and wrestler best known as "Sweet" Sapphire in the World Wrestling Federation where she managed Dusty Rhodes in 1989 and 1990. She also wrestled on the independent circuit as Princess Dark Cloud.
October 24, 1934
|Died||September 10, 1996 (aged 61)|
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
|Resting place||Calvary Cemetery and Mausoleum, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.|
|Ring name(s)||Sapphire |
Princess Dark Cloud
|Billed height||5 ft 2 in (1.57 m)|
|Billed weight||155 lb (70 kg; 11.1 st)|
Juanita Wright was born on October 24, 1934 in St. Louis, Missouri. She became a huge wrestling fan and began to drive wrestlers to arenas in the St. Louis area. Wright earned a wrestling referee's license, the first woman in Missouri to do so, before entering the ring as a wrestler. She appeared under the name Princess Dark Cloud and once wrestled a bear. Prior to signing a contract with the World Wrestling Federation, Wright worked as a saleswoman for a clothing company in St. Louis.
Professional wrestling careerEdit
World Wrestling FederationEdit
On November 23, 1989, Wright debuted at Survivor Series as a fan cheering on Dusty Rhodes who was a part of the Dream Team against The Enforcers. Sapphire began to manage Dusty Rhodes, both adorned in black outfits with yellow polka dots. She along with Rhodes later on entered into a feud with "Macho Man" Randy Savage then referred to as "Macho King" and Sensational Sherri then Queen Sherri as Sapphire teamed with Rhodes to take on Savage and Sherri in a tag team match at Wrestlemania VI. Sapphire pinned Sherri, with some help from Miss Elizabeth, who had allied herself with Sapphire and Rhodes after a previous incident that precipitated the match. Sapphire and Sherri would continue their feud competing against each other in singles and tag team matches, across the country from April 21, 1990, at the Richmond Coliseum where she lost to the Queen in a one-on-one match, up until August 25, where she and Rhodes emerged victorious as a team. In the spring and summer of 1990, she began to receive gifts from a mysterious benefactor. At SummerSlam, Sherri defeated Sapphire via forfeit after Sapphire failed to show. Seconds before Rhodes' match against Savage, Ted DiBiase revealed that he had bought Sapphire. A distraught Rhodes lost a quick match to Savage after being hit with Sherri's purse behind the referee's back. Sapphire began appearing in segments where she would do favors for DiBiase, including ironing his money. She left the WWF a short time later. Although it was never explained why on WWF programming, Virgil revealed in an interview with WWF Magazine several months later that the (kayfabe) reason for her leaving was that DiBiase took all the gifts back.
In a later shoot interview, Sherri Martel revealed that Wright's admiration for Rhodes was legitimate, and that she literally broke down crying when the office told her that they were severing her and Rhodes' on-screen partnership. Martel believes that Wright lost complete interest in the wrestling business after this, which is why she left the company not long after SummerSlam.
Wright had two children, named Wanda and Ricco. Little is known about Juanita from the time she left the WWF except that she worked at GrandPa Pidgeon's in University City, Missouri, where she enjoyed telling old wrestling stories to her co-workers' children. She died in St. Louis, Missouri from a heart attack on September 11, 1996.
In popular cultureEdit
A character called "Sweet Sapphire" was adopted by Earl Douglas, a radio producer for XM Radio's Ron and Fez Show due to his uncanny resemblance to Juanita, and his pairing with the new show producer The Midnight Rider, portrayed by East Side Dave. Dusty Rhodes, whom Sapphire had managed in the WWF, has wrestled under the name The Midnight Rider.
- "Sapphire Online World of Wrestling profile".
- "Gary Will's Wrestling History: Deceased Pro Wrestlers". Archived from the original on May 23, 2015.
- Rhodes, Dusty; Howard Brody (2005). Dusty: Reflections of an American Dream. Sports Publishing LLC. p. 128. ISBN 1-58261-907-7.
- "Sapphire Obsessed with Wrestling profile". Archived from the original on 2010-01-16.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- Dave Meltzer article in The National, late 1990
- Shields, Brian and Kevin Sullivan (2009). WWE Encyclopedia. DK/BradyGAMES. p. 265. ISBN 978-0-7566-4190-0.
- Cawthon, Graham (2013). the History of Professional Wrestling Vol 2: WWF 1990 - 1999. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ASIN B00RWUNSRS.