The subject of ghost champions in wrestling comes up occasionally when discussing the old territory days. Basically, when a national champion would go to a territory, or perhaps go to another country, they might drop the belt on their first night in the area. They would then win the belt back by the end of their time there, and because there was no internet, many people would never know this title change happened.
This let champions have drastically inflated numbers for their title reigns, while also giving big moments to other great wrestlers. These people who are not officially recognized as champions are considered ghost champions. The two biggest names that come up when discussing ghost champions are Ric Flair and Bruno Sammartino, but there is another champion who is recognized as holding a title for over 10,000 straight days. The Fabulous Moolah held the NWA Women’s Championship for so long that the title changed to the WWF Women’s Championship.
During this time period of almost thirty years, four women won the belt in title reigns that are not officially recognized. Of course, today we know that Moolah is not exactly a spotless hero, but this article is not designed to be about her. While I will not be including my opinion on her, I do think it is important to discuss her in order that the women around her finally get their due. Of the four women, three of them were trained by Moolah, and of course, all of them won the belt in a match with her. Today, we will finally give some due to Bette Boucher, Yukiko Tomoe, Sue Green, and Evelyn Stevens.
Going in chronological order, the first woman to win the belt off of Moolah was Bette Boucher. What’s unfortunate is that this win is the only belt she ever held, and it wasn’t even acknowledged. Boucher befriended Pat Patterson who referred her to Moolah, who trained her. Boucher is a very short woman at only five feet tall, which made Moolah hesitant, but she agreed to train her and apparently she became a very good wrestler. Boucher beat Moolah for the title on September 17th, 1966 in Seattle, Washington before dropping the belt less than a month later. Boucher’s last recorded match would be against Moolah in 1969 before retiring in 1970 to start a family.
The next woman to win the belt was Yukiko Tomoe. She is the only woman not trained by Moolah herself to win the belt off of her during this ghost period. It can be difficult to find information of her. Put simply, she does not have a page on cagematch.net. Anyone who has ever used that site knows how rare that is. All we know is she won the title March 10, 1968 and lost it April 2, 1968.
She is, however, in the All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame. I wish I knew more about her, as we do not often look at the crossing of American and Japanese Women’s wrestling until about the 1980’s with the Jumping Bomb Angels. Yet here, almost 20 years earlier, we already see Joshi wrestling coming face to face with American wrestling.
Another ghost champion would not appear again until 1975, and this one we know a lot more about. Sue Green was a true trailblazer and really pushed boundaries. She actually had to get permission from her State Governor to be a pro wrestler as a 15-year-old girl, and would compete in only the second ever women’s match at Madison Square Garden. Although Moolah gave Green many opportunities in her wrestling career, Green was originally trained by Joe Blanchard, father of Tully Blanchard. Green was the last woman to ever win the PWI “Girl Wrestler of the Year” award in 1976, which would then be inactive until coming back as the “Woman of the Year” in 2000.
It seems Green actually beat Moolah twice for the belt. The first time was a pretty standard ghost title reign that was booked by Fritz Von Erich. The more interesting one came under the WWF when things got real. On February 2, 1976, Moolah struck Green in the face during a match. Not wanting to take this abuse, Green fought back and put Moolah in a legitimate submission hold, leaving her with no choice but to tap out. Because this was a shoot match, Vince Sr. refused to give Green the belt, but for a few brief minutes, Moolah’s ego and narcissism cost her dearly. Green is now an on-screen figure but no longer wrestles
From a defiant act of rebellion, we come to the much more tragic tale of Evelyn Stevens. She began as one of Moolah’s wrestlers, but after getting sick of Moolah, she left to go on her own. She became one of the most successful women out of that time period independent of Moolah. Stevens had a fairly long career spanning almost two decades, making her quite the accomplished wrestler. In 1978 she was booked in a match against Moolah.
The man behind the match was Gary Hart, known for his work in WCCW as Fritz Von Erich’s right hand man. Moolah would drop the belt to Stevens, but of course won it back mere days later. So what happened to Stevens? Why isn’t she found on the indie scene signing autographs? evens was found guilty of manslaughter in the death of her second husband, and is now serving a life sentence. More than the other women on this list whose vanishing can be attributed to the all encompassing nature of Moolah in that time, the reason Stevens vanished is much darker and more tragic.
These women’s title reigns were never supposed to be acknowledged, but now that we are in a world where number of days with a belt matters less than being a good worker, we no longer have to hide those stats. We can now recognize the things these four women contributed to wrestling without worrying about weakening a champion’s image.
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