With the hit series GLOW premiering on Netflix recently, a lot of wrestling fans have come to appreciate the original Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, the syndicated 1980s television show that is the subject of the new comedy/drama.
The GLOW wrestling show was the first of its kind, employing an all-female cast that blended goofball comedy with sex appeal and some wrestling.
Sure, it wasn’t a serious wrestling promotion, but it was fresh – and it didn’t cost anything. Regrettably, the same cannot be said for the attempted GLOW revival that somehow wound up on pay-per-view in March 1993.
Years after the show’s original run was abruptly cancelled, six matches were taped at the old GLOW stomping grounds, the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas. The hope was that GLOW would return to air on Saturday afternoons throughout the country in syndication. When TV distributors felt that few would be interested in watching the new Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling for free, the GLOW folks tried to get people to pay to watch it, instead.
While the TV show was always light-hearted, the advertising for the pay-per-view event implied hardcore wrestling and/or softcore porn, promising “6 monster brawls” and exactly 69 – that’s right, 69 – ladies.
On the pay-per-view, GLOW creator David McLane upped that number, promising over 69 superstars. I’m curious why he didn’t pick “70” or some other round number.
Of course, barring multiple battle royals, you can’t fit 69 (or 70+) wrestlers into just six matches, but McLane was referring to “performances”, not matches. Fortunately for GLOW, they had access to footage from the first four seasons of the show, allowing them to feature performers who hadn’t worked on GLOW for years.
Conveniently, it also allowed them to fill their two-hour time slot.
For example, at one point, fans were treated to a musical number by the “Bad Girls” that lasted a full 11 minutes, interspersed with raps and vignettes by the heels.
You may have thought the gimmicks in Netflix’s GLOW were over-the-top and politically incorrect, but the real GLOW featured such characters as Jailbait, who performed this statutory rape-themed rap.
A statutory rap, if you will.
Instead of Beirut, the terrorist from Lebanon, the original GLOW had Palestina, the terrorist from, uh, Syria, who carried around a big sword and rapped lines like these:
“I’m Palestina, the desert rat/
I pray to Yasir Arafat/
So all you pigs had better run/
My reign of terror has just begun.”
She later joined David McLane’s splinter promotion, Powerful Women of Wrestling (otherwise known as POWW for some reason), where she became “The Terrorist”. She also had a singing career because, pre-9/11, a self-professed terrorist could apparently cross over into the mainstream entertainment biz.
The highlight of the music video, nay, the entire pay-per-view, was this exchange between the amazing Housewives, played by real-life sisters.
In addition to their Housewives gimmicks (think the Beat Down Bitties on the Netflix series), they also moonlighted as The Heavy Metal Sisters…
…and the racist hooded Southerners Sara & Mabel (kind of like the KKK tag team on the Netflix series).
None of these three teams actually appeared in person on the PPV, though.
The America-hating Soviet Colonel Ninotchka, on the other hand, was indeed scheduled to wrestle at this event.
The only thing transparently outdated about the original Zoya The Destroya’s recycled clip was the fact that the country she represented no longer opposed the United States or even technically existed.
The Bad Girls’ segment was excessive at eleven minutes, but the Good Girls’ musical segment felt even longer, despite running only four. Maybe it’s because they repeated the same grating four-bar Zoobilee Zoo-esque melody the entire song.
Granted, the visuals were far less disturbing than Ben Vereen’s show, but still.
If singing girls in bikinis weren’t your thing, David McLane hoped a singing Jackie Stallone would be.
The kayfabe owner of GLOW, mother of Rocky Balboa, and pioneer of rumpology laid down some rhymes in a clip from 1986.
Besides the musical numbers, skits from the first four seasons were replayed during the show, most of which featured old characters not on the card or even on the payroll. You can learn a lot about the characters from these skits; for instance, David McLane was a sex pervert.
Just in case you didn’t realize these skits were filmed well before 1993, one joke (told by the future Ivory) had David McLane hitting on Martina Navratilova of all people, yet the punchline was that he was cheap.
Of course, there’s also some wrestling featured on this pay-per-view. Fans of the Netflix series will certainly appreciate that the real-life GLOW wrestlers really did suck.
Most of the action consisted of hair-pulling, hair whips, and monkey flips.
And when all else failed, the ladies would beat up the referee, which happened in nearly every bout on the card.
The first match of the night (though McLane repeatedly referred to the event as “today’s spectacular” as if it were airing on a Saturday afternoon) saw Babe the Farmer’s Daughter take on a mystery woman brought out by GLOW veteran Hollywood under a white sheet.
Fortunately, the white sheet was not part of her gimmick…
…although Hollywood did once come to the ring dressed as a Nazi for a “Gestapo Match”.
In fact, the mystery woman was Party Animal, the former superhero Lightning who had been corrupted by Hollywood.
On commentary, McLane was kind enough to clue the fans in on the whereabouts of the previous two Farmer’s Daughters, Amy and Sally. No word, however, on Becky the Farmer’s Daughter, who would debut for McLane’s Women of Wrestling promotion in 2000.
Nor did McLane explain the apparent dimensional warp created by some haphazard post-production editing.
After hitting a flying (well, falling) body press, Babe nearly scored a three-count before the villainous Hollywood broke up the pinfall, drawing a disqualification at the 130-second mark.
The next match featured the absurdly named Melody Trouble Vixen, otherwise known as MTV. I’m going to assume the writers came up with her initials before her full name.
She took on Liberty, the show’s latest patriotic babyface.
The audience booed at Liberty’s introduction until they got a look at her outfit. It must have been a very patriotic crowd.
MTV, however, was anything but patriotic, interrupting Liberty’s Pledge of Allegiance with a dropkick, knocking over the American flag, and then choking Liberty with it.
If this were modern-day WWE, she would have been fired, rehired, forced to apologize on air, then fired again.
Meanwhile, McLane wondered whom the new president and first lady were rooting for in this match, as if the President of the United States would actually order a women’s wrestling pay-per-view at the White House. Then again, it was Clinton.
After six and a half minutes of wild and clumsy brawling, MTV hit America’s Dream with an electric equalizer, drawing the second DQ in two matches.
MTV became the first heel of the evening to be dragged away by security…
…while Liberty became the first face of the night to be carried off on a stretcher…
…following MTV’s brutal attack with the world’s lightest electric guitar.
After the aforementioned “Bad Girls” musical segment came the third match on the card. Beastie, the only Road Warrior wrestling in America at the time…
…took on Zelda the nerd.
This time around, a local television personality took over the all-important officiating duties, the most important of which was to play Shaggy to Zelda’s Scooby as she leapt into his arms in fear.
For the first six minutes, Zelda bribed the hefty Beastie (who looked nothing like she did in her pre-tape) into donning a tutu…
…in exchange for a box of chocolates, then hid in the audience once all the chocolates were gone.
About three minutes into the actual action, Beastie choked Zelda and then the referee with a belt, resulting in a disqualification.
Beastie continued her beatdown for a few more minutes before being dragged away by security.
Some more skits followed, then a lengthy recap of the storied history of the GLOW crown. Ninotchka had vacated – sorry, abdicated (this is a crown after all) – GLOW’s title because she didn’t need it to prove her superiority. This led to “one of the greatest tournaments of all time,” the “Run for the Rubies.” Indeed, it was right up there with the Wrestling Classic.
Eventually, the giant six-foot-something Daisy (once enslaved by, and I quote, “an evil dwarf”)…
…won the promotion’s top title.
And now, years later, Ninotchka wanted to regain the very title she felt she didn’t need.
Ninotchka’s now long brown hair further reminded fans how old the pre-taped segments were. Having shed her Soviet ties, she wore green and was billed not from the USSR, but Kiev, Russia.
Kiev is the capital of Ukraine, of course, but geography was never GLOW’s specialty.
She was also fat, at least according to David McLane’s petty jabs.
Still, she and Daisy looked good enough for fans to “gawk” at, including McLane’s good friend, Bernie Johnson of Indianapolis, whom he was considerate enough to single out by name.
The ten-minute bout was marked by many snapmares, unconvincing Irish whips, and the world’s worst officiating.
Not only did the ref inexplicably decline to count this pin by the Russian…
…but he declared this pin attempt by Daisy to be a three-count.
The fans were not having it and visually complained about Ninotchka getting screwed – and she was supposed to be the heel!
In fact, the heels got a lot of cheers from this show’s audience, who heavily favored the bad girl Hollywood…
…over the good girl Tulsa.
McLane chalked this up to Hollywood appealing to the MTV generation, rather than to her spread in Playboy.
This no-holds-barred contest was basically an excuse for the two women to “accidentally” fall into fans’ laps over and over again.
Eventually, Hollywood pulled off this move that should not have worked and scored the pinfall.
Hollywood wanted to know where her medal was for winning the match and becoming GLOW’s first United States championship. A medal is a strange request when a belt is the traditional prize in pro wrestling, but GLOW apparently didn’t have the budget for either one. They weren’t kidding about McLane being cheap.
An interminable brawl broke out between Hollywood & Party Animal on one side and Babe the Farmer’s Daughter on the other, while Tulsa was stretchered out.
Hollywood even put her hands and other body parts on McLane, who then levied a fine against her (probably so he could pay her to do it again).
Before the main event, McLane re-introduced fans to Godiva, the original GLOW equivalent of Britannica.
Noting her pregnancy, Dave joked that she should have stayed on her horse a little longer (rather than having sexual intercourse, which causes pregnancy).
The final match was a sumo match between the beloved Mt. Fiji, from, uh, Samoa…
…and the hated Big Bad Mama.
Almost immediately, the referee was knocked out.
While McLane tried to talk some sense into the official, who performed a string of wacky impressions, Mt. Fiji was knocked out of the sumo circle. Big Bad Mama stepped out as well, but by the time the ref came to, both competitors were back in the ring.
Fiji eliminated Mama and was declared the winner…
…but David McLane ruled that since Mt. Fiji had been knocked out of the circle without the referee’s knowledge, he would be holding up the giant check and awarding it to neither wrestler.
The locker room cleared and all twelve women brawled and stripped each other to the delight of the fans, including Bernie Johnson of Indianapolis.
David McLane wrote his own name on the check before getting accosted by the women…
…who pawed at him and stripped him to his underwear. Now who could have come up with that idea?
As a nekkid McLane ran out of the hotel ballroom, a voiceover declared that we hadn’t seen the last of him. Unfortunately for the GLOW girls, their series would not get picked up for another season, nor would anything come of the controversial endings to all six matches…
…but McLane would indeed resurface seven years with an all-new cast for WOW: Women of Wrestling, which also folded shortly after airing its only pay-per-view.