Rita Chatterton became a pioneer in the world of pro wrestling as WWE’s first female referee, but her journey in the business was not full of fond memories. Today, Chatterton is best known for alleging that Vince McMahon sexually assaulted her back in 1986. Recently, former WWE talent Mario Mancini became the first wrestler to corroborate her allegations.

Chatterton recently did an interview with “Cheap Heat Productions” and brought up her first experience working a WWE event, in the fairgrounds of Middletown, New York.

“It was my very, very first match,” Chatterton said. “I was scared to death, never did this before, gonna work in front of people, ‘Oh my God, this is insane.’ I get to the fairgrounds and I pull up, and the guy says it’s 10 dollars or whatever it was to get in, and I said well, I’m the referee tonight for wrestling and he started laughing, ‘Yeah, sure you are.’ I said, ‘No, I really am.’ So I showed him my license.”

Chatterton pulled up to the area where the talent was parking and waited outside her car.

“Pat Patterson comes walking over and he says, ‘Who are you here with?’ And I said, ‘Well, I’m here with myself.’ He said, ‘Look it, this is for the wrestlers, you can’t be back here.’ And it’s like, ‘Well, I’m your referee for tonight,’ and he started laughing at me. ‘Sweetheart, you gotta do better than that. I’ve been around here for 30 years, you’re no referee.’ And I was like, ‘Well, do you want to see my license?’ He was like, ‘Yeah.'”

Chatterton grabbed her license from her car and presented it to Patterson, who inspected the license thoroughly.

“He’s just shaking his head no and he literally throws the license at me and says, ‘Who in their right f-ing mind would give a female a referee’s license?’ And he stormed away and he went into his little travel trailer and I had no idea who was in there, but you could hear him screaming. Had no idea, couldn’t make out what he was saying, but he was screaming.”

Next to approach Chatterton was “Chief” Jay Strongbow, who had basically the same reaction.

“He just turns around and starts walking away and he’s shaking his head no, and he goes into the travel trailer and now the screaming starts all over again.”

Chatterton had been told by Tony Altamore (former tag team partner of Lou Albano) that the likes of Patterson and Strongbow weren’t going to be very receptive, and she was already prepared for such reactions. Thankfully for her, she had the New York State Athletic Commissioner, Richard Herring, in her corner. Herring was responsible for putting Chatterton on the assignment, and he approached her next.

“He walked over and he was like, ‘Rita! I’m so glad you can make it, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,’ and I’m, ‘Eh, I’m not quite sure how long you’re going to feel that way.’ He’s like, ‘Why?’ So I tell him what happened and he’s like, ‘Okay, don’t worry about it.’ So he goes into the travel trailer and the screaming starts all over again. I’m like, ‘Great.’”

When the three men walked out of the trailer, the situation got even more heated, and this time, Chatterson was directly involved. In fact, she pissed off Pat Patterson so much that he came up with a plan to get even.

“Pat Patterson, Jay Strongbow, and Richard Herring come walking over to me, and Pat Patterson’s got a fistful of money. He says, ‘Here! Take this.’ And I looked at him and I said, ‘What’s that?’ He says, ‘You’re getting paid for tonight, but you’re not refereeing anything.’ And I looked at him and I said, ‘Yes, I am.’ He just kind of stood back and I said, ‘Look, if I don’t referee tonight, I will sue you personally. And I will sue you, and I will sue you,’ and I pointed to the other two. I said, ‘And then I’ll sue the WWF, because I’m a good referee and I worked hard for it, and yes, I am working.’ Okay, they storm away. Richard Herring kind of looks at me and smiles cause he knows he just assigned me. I ended up doing my very first match, a women’s tag team match, and I found out a few months later that Pat Patterson told the women to break my legs and make sure I never wanted to get in the ring again.”

“Luckily, being women, instead of doing anything to hurt me, they helped me, and that’s how I got started,” Chatterton said. “It was a crazy world and things were so much different back then, but luckily the women knew that you had to work 10 times as hard for a quarter of the recognition that the men got at the time.“

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