Beverly Shade, a fixture in the women’s wrestling scene for decades, died last Friday after battling multiple ailments.
Shade was born March 21, 1936, and grew up in Alton, Illinois and was in proximity to wrestling in St. Louis where she would attend matches and sought an avenue into the industry through Sam Muchnick.
The legendary promoter sent her to Tampa, Florida to learn under Cowboy Lutrell, who had Ella Waldek train Shade and debuted in 1957.
Her first match occurred in Lakeland, Florida as part of a multi-women’s elimination battle royal and kicked off a career that ran until 1989.
Shade had the distinction of coming up during the fiefdom of Lilian Ellison a.k.a. Fabulous Moolah but was not trained by Ellison nor contracted to her troupe.
In Sisterhood of the Squared Circle by Pat Laprade & Dan Murphy, Shade explained her refusal to work with Moolah:
I told her, I couldn’t work for you. I ain’t giving you all my money. Moolah and I got along pretty well, but I was never obligated to her. She kept her girls so far in debt that they had to stay with her because they couldn’t afford to get away.
Shade would work alongside Moolah including a tour of Japan in 1979 and working in the Northeast for the WWWF in 1980. Shade teamed with Moolah against Kandi Malloy & Peggy Lee (who just recently died, as well) including on the undercard at Shea Stadium on August 8, 1980, which was headlined by Bruno Sammartino and Larry Zbyszko in a steel cage match.
Shade married fellow wrestler Billy Two River and the two would team together in mixed matches with Shade working as ‘Beverly Two River’. Billy also launched his outlaw group in Florida with Shade by his side.
Shade won several titles during her time in the business including a run with the NWA Women’s Tag Team Championships in 1978 alongside her trainee, Natasha The Hatchet Lady.
Later, she teamed with another trainee, Tracy Richards as The Arm & Hammer Connection.
Shade was recently admitted to hospice care and died as a result of lung cancer and pneumonia with blood clots and fluid forming in her lungs.
Shade was 87 years old and left behind her husband Billy and their two children.
– Sisterhood of the Squared Circle by Pat Laprade & Dan Murphy
– Women’s Wrestling Great Beverly Shade Dies by Joseph Casciaro (SLAM Wrestling)
– Mat Matters: A ‘Heartbreaking and Beautiful’ Tribute to Beverly Shade by Greg Oliver (SLAM Wrestling)