GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling

Before WWE  and TNA, there was an all-female, cable TV, pro-wrestling show called GLOW: The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. On Tuesday March 19, a documentary about the show made its network TV debut on the Logo Channel.

The makers of The Story of GLOW: The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling decided they wanted to delve into the story behind a TV show that they grew up with. They didn’t tout themselves as huge fans necessarily, just producers making a documentary. Although the way the story was handled would hint that perhaps they did have a certain affinity for the show with the respectful light in which they approached the history and the focus on Mt. Fiji, who was probably the most beloved of all the characters.

 GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling

If you are not familiar with GLOW, it was a comedy/wrestling show with aired in the late 80’s and a little into the early 90’s. It was helmed by promoter/ring announcer David Maclane, comedy writer Steve Blance and former porn director Matt Cimber. They got together and created this all female, variety, wrestling show funded by Faberge cosmetics and Riviera Hotel owner Don Riklis. The show had weekly live matches and was filmed at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas.

The girls all came to the show with different backgrounds. Some were actresses, others were gymnasts, and others were just girls looking for work and willing to try something new. Emily Dole, who played Mt. Fiji, was a former national shot put champion from Long Beach State.  A couple of the girls were pro-wrestlers before joining GLOW: Matilda the Hun, aka Queenie Booher, and the actress who played Dallas, Debi Pelletier, otherwise known as “Killer Tomato.”

There was a time that you would have had to been around in the late 80’s to have seen this show but with the advent of Youtube, The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling has been reaching wider – and younger – audiences.  Before this documentary was made, no one else had been successful in telling the story behind one of the pioneers of televised pro-wrestling.

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The 80’s were a very transitional period for American society. It was sort of a recovery time from the revolutionary 60’s and 70’s where the country had experienced so many reforms in areas like racism. But the country hadn’t fully recognized the extent of the racial boundary lines that were still being drawn and this was very evident in some of the characters and skits on the show.  GLOW happened before the political correctness of the 90’s took hold and there was a lot of open patriotism with characters like Americana battling bad girls like Palestina the Terrorist, who would unroll a small rug and pray to Allah in the middle of the ring before every match while the audience chanted “USA! USA!”

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Watching the documentary really takes you back to the nostalgia of the 80’s but there was a certain innocence in GLOW’s material and its delivery that you just won’t see in television today. It was also one of the first series with a reality show format, where the girls were followed around by cameras outside the ring at the GLOW house.

The documentary says a lot about the wrestling side, the training involved, and how many of the girls were injured in the ring.  

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It also does a great job of bringing to light a lot of production aspects of the show and things that happened behind-the-scenes that only those on the inside would have known. This is done through interviews with former members of the cast and production team. While it doesn’t play up to any sensationalism and is not looking to dig up dirt on the show or anyone involved, what The Story of GLOW does do is it chronicles is an important aspect of American pop-culture’s past of which many today are still unaware.

Many of the girls have moved on from wrestling and have gone on to lead pretty normal lives working in real estate, the film industry, as school teachers, business owners, homemakers, entrepreneurs,  artists, writers, etc. Some, like the former Matilda, Godiva, Egypt, Lightning, Gremlina, Daisy, Ashley, Babe and Amy the Farmer’s Daughters and Hollywood,  are actively wrestling and/or promoting. One of the actresses from the show, Lisa Moretti,  went on to forge a successful pro-wrestling career as Ivory with WWE.

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Former ring announcer Johnny Cafarella and writer Steve Blance are working on a TV show called Wrestlicious and director Matt Cimber got together with some of the girls and is putting out another one called Femme d’Action.

Whether you were a GLOW or pro-wrestling fan from back in the day or someone who just came into the sport more recently, you should be interested to learn about this lesser known but no less crucial part of pro-wrestling history.  The documentary garnered an award for best documentary at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con. The DVD will be released on Amazon for $24.99 on March 26.

Rating: A


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