Wrestling: GLOW

We're all champions in the ring.

It was those rap musical interludes that made me wonder what I had stumbled on. And yes, the novelty did eventually wear off, but for a while there I was hooked. Whatever it was that I was watching, there was nothing else like it, and no way to adequately describe what seemed like a show broadcast from another planet.

Back in the 1980s when pro wrestling was experiencing something of a boom, if not locally then at least on national TV, a niche opened for an outrageous television show produced by Johnny Cafarella and David McClane: An all-women's show featuring mad and outlandish characters, epic rap battles, geopolitical debate, and, of course, drop-dead gorgeous women with maybe some actual wrestling thrown in too.

Envisioned by McClane as a simple 'rasslin show, his Vegas backers put a quick stop to that, ordering more comedy skits (think Hee Haw with fists), and music videos. The result: car crash TV. If you want to witness how everything went wrong in that era, Google "GLOW raps".

The initial crop of wrestlers were actresses, models, and dancers using GLOW as a rung on the showbiz ladder (sound familiar?) and in fact, a few thought they were just auditioning for another sitcom. To their dismay, GLOW was launched in 1986 and the Old Ways were still in effect: worked shoots, strict enforcement of kayfabe, face/heel dormitories... everything but the blading, really. When judged apart from the white girls attempting to spit rhymes, the wrestling could be surprisingly decent.

GLOW ran for four seasons and continued in various forms after it left television. Although it did attract some mainstream attention (Ever see re-runs of game shows with lady wrestlers as the contestants? Chances are, they're from GLOW), it fell prey to the usual fate of wrestling promotions: the main investor pulled the plug and nobody else was interested. The most notable alumna is Lisa Moretti, who played Tina Ferrari and who went on to become 3-time WWE Women's Champion Ivory.

A documentary about the show was produced in 2012 titled GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.

"Gorgeous Tropes of Wrestling":

  • '80s Hair: Oh good God yes. But then, it was the 1980s.
  • Action Mom: The Housewives, technically.
  • Aloha Hawaii: The Royal Hawaiian
  • All American Face: Americana. Her arch-foe was Col. Ninotchka, no surprise.
    Americana: I actually saw Ninotchka about 10 years ago when I was in Las Vegas on business. We had dinner; we were very civil...then she body-slammed me and I drop-kicked her and we called it a night.
    • Spanish Red was a heel that hated Americana but she would not tolerate desecration of the American flag, which gave her a (brief) face turn when a group of heels she was with started to do just that after beating up Americana.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: "Hey, I'm Hollywood! Sure I like to have a good time, but I don't mess around with drugs."
  • As Himself: Bizarrely inverted. Each of the girls were for unknown reasons credited under false names in the show's credits, which made it very hard to track everyone down for reunion shows.
  • Ax-Crazy: The Heavy Metal Sisters, armed with a chainsaw and blowtorch. Daisy and Dementia too.
  • Badass Boast: Each GLOW girl would get a rap verse that would play over her entrance.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Not as many as you'd expect, because the singlet was still the standard wrestling garment at the time. Little Egypt however did this - she was a belly dancer after all.
  • The Baroness/Dirty Communists: “Colonel" Ninotchka (Lori Palmer), ostensibly a Soviet commander who brought her Soviet values into the ring to show these filthee kapitalist peegs how it's done.
  • The Beautiful Elite: Godiva, the evil nudist.
    • Tina and Ashley, glamorous and wealthy socialites.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Played with. Sometimes injuries were shown. Once Little Egypt was bitten and blood did flow - but it was on her leg and didn't detract from her physical beauty.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Some of the more famous GLOW wrestlers did not audition for the pilot, and were brought in by friends who worked for the company. Among them was Little Egypt, whom Fiji 'discovered' working in a silkscreen store while ordering an outfit. She was shuttled into the ring with even less training than the others — a whopping two weeks. Years later, Egypt (real name Angelina Altishin, real estate mogul) found out about Fiji's health problems and got the GLOW staff back together in Las Vegas to throw her a party.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Susie Spirit alludes to this in her rap.
    "They say I'm made of sugar and spice/But in the ring I'm not so nice"
    • Ditto for Ashley Cartier's:
    "I may be prissy and very rich/But get me mad and you'll see a witch"
  • Berserk Button: Don't tell Spanish Red that she isn't American.
  • Bifauxnen: Attache is quite manly looking but that's part of her charm.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Mt Fiji for Little Fiji. The latter's rap even refers to giving her big sister a call if she's in trouble.
  • Big Eater: Royal Hawaiian munches two pineapples at a time before all her matches.
  • Big Bad: Aunt Kitty.
  • Big Good: Jackie Stallone.
  • Biker Babe: Angel.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The cheerleaders. Debbie (blonde), Susie (brunette) and Vicky (redhead).
  • Blondes Are Evil: Blonde heels included Godiva, Aunt Kitty, Major Tanya, Ninotchka, Spike and Corporal Kelly. 'Good girl' blondes included Sally, Babe, Amy, Debbie Debutante, Olympia and Dallas.
    • Alright, this is just too precious: Amy the Farmer's Daughter carries a bouquet to her match with Ninotchka. "I brought some flowers for Colonel Ninotchka because I never met anyone from Russia before!" Nino's response: "What's next, Grandma? Tell her to go back and wrestle pigs in the mud."
  • Boyish Short Hair: Major Tanya and Attache.
  • But Not Too Black: Soul Patrol.
  • Camp: So very much.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Sadly a lot of the girls on the show. Most notably Susie Spirit, whose dislocated her elbow in one particularly gruesome injury.
    • Little Egypt tore her ACL in a match with the Heavy Metal Sisters, which finished her up. Her first match with GLOW was also, coincidentally, against the HMS.
  • Carry a Big Stick: Jungle Woman had an over sized club.
  • The Cheerleader: Debbie Debutante, Susie Spirit and Vicki Victory. Not straight examples as they were good girls.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Mt Fiji and Matilda The Hun made good uses of this.
  • Cigar Chomper: Ninotchka's mini cigars.
  • Clothing Damage: The Dance of the Sevens Veils Match (alert Vince Russo!) with Little Egypt v. Godiva. Godiva ripped a veil off each time she struck, claiming victory once Egypt was as scandalized as she was.
  • Costume Porn: Lisa Moretti (Tina Ferrari) commented on this in a shoot interview. She says the girls were really lucky to get the best quality outfits available - since it was Vegas and they were surrounded by talented seamstresses.
  • Country Mouse: Sally and Amy the farmer's daughters.
  • Cuckoolander Commentator: "Motormouth" Mike, a cross between Tazz and Bob Saget on American's Funnest Home Videos. In deference to those two, Mike only had two jokes: "Johnny C's a fairy!" and "these girls are fat!"
  • Cute Bruiser: Tammy Jones.
  • Dance Battler: Little Egypt.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Justice to John Shaft.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Several wrestlers such as Jungle Woman, Royal Hawaiian, and Little Egypt went barefoot.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Corporal Kelly and Attache.
    • Before the lounge lizards got involved, McClane hired Mando Guerrero (yes, that one) to whip these pageant queens into shape. Lesson #1 was how to sell. When the girls sniggered at Mando flailing on the ropes, he put one of them in a sleeper hold, then let her drop and "flop around like a fish" in front of everyone. After that, those twnkies knew not to give Mando any shit.
  • Dumb Blonde: California Doll. Sally the Farmer's Daughter teeters quite close too.
  • Dumb Jock: California Doll is this too, as a surfer.
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: You expected something different from GLOW?
    Godiva: I had glitter in my hair for ten years after GLOW ended. Glitter is permanent.
    • The GLOW championship was a tiara. And it was every bit as gaudy as you'd expect.
  • Evil Brit: Godiva. "I've been on vacati—on holiday..."
  • Expy: Little Egypt had one with the same rap and costume called "The Egyptian".
  • The Face/The Heart: Fiji is widely recognized as the spokeswoman and morale booster of GLOW. After her body fell into disrepair due to her accumulated injuries and diabetes, Little Egypt took up the baton. She's the one who spearheaded the kickstarter and promotion for the film, the cast reunions and the support network for Fiji.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: At least according to media watchdogs who tried to prevent the airing of the Nazi heels practically torturing Little Fiji.
  • Faux Action Girl: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling couldn't have been more appropriate, or maybe too appropriate. About 90% of the girls were models and actresses looking to get into show business through wrestling, and the first season had girls with only about 8 weeks worth of training competing.
    Bleacher Report: Big hair and botched suplexes pervaded every match. You can't expect to make Sherri Martels when you train actresses and stunt girls for six weeks before going on air.
    • The show bequeathed us with two adult film stars.
  • Foreign Wrestling Heel: Several - Matilda The Hun (German), Godiva (British), Palestina (Syrian), Colonel Ninotchka and Major Tanya (Russian).
  • Fun with Acronyms: Melody Trouble Vixen.
  • Genki Girl: The Cheerleaders of course, since they weren't quite what this site calls the cheerleader.
  • The Giant: Mt Fiji (a former Olympic shot putter), Matilda The Hun (a roller derby queen), and Big Bad Mama.
  • Girl Posse: Aunt Kitty and her "Tigers".
  • Girlish Pigtails: Tammy Jones.
  • Godiva Hair: Clearly Godiva's hair was meant to evoke this, and she's wearing a flesh-toned leotard since she can't exactly wrestle naked on the show. In one match, she used her own hair to choke out Vicky.
  • Good Costume Switch: Ninotchka mended her ways after she got fed up with the Soviet Union, moving to France and started wearing pink instead of red. (She was even billed from "Paris, France" all of a sudden.) Oddly, the show continued to treat her as a heel.
  • Gratuitous Rap: The show opened with the girls in the ring rapping the show's song.
  • Hair Decorations: Tammy Jones has her hair ribbons and lace.
  • Hollywood Voodoo: Big Bad Mama.
  • Hot Gypsy Woman: Little Egypt.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Considering the wit displayed on an average episode (12 puns per minute), it's surprising that nobody went on to write for Frasier. But don't worry, if you missed a punchline, the joke deliverer would helpfully laugh at it for you. And if it still flew over your head, they dubbed in a laugh track.
  • Hyper Competent Sidekick: Attache for Corporal Kelly.
  • The Ingenue: Tammy Jones though played with since she is still a wrestler.
  • Jail Bait: There was such a character who was injured before she could ever appear on TV. Footage of her appeared on the 1993 Reunion PPV.
  • Jobber: The amusingly named Vicki Victory. She came close to pinning the heels many times, but they always Ric Flair'd their way to a count-out.
  • Joisey: The Housewives.
  • Jungle Princess: Jungle Woman.
  • Kayfabe: Behind the scenes it was heavily enforced. The girls had to be in character whenever they were out in public. Faces and heels couldn't be seen together and they even had to room with each other - only good with good etc.
  • Kid-Appeal Character: Tammy Jones, Thunderbolt & Lightning and the Farmer's Daughters.
  • Leotard of Power: Not for Fanservice (ok not just for that), that was the standard garment for female wrestlers in the 80s. There were actually restrictions on how much skin could be shown at the time.
  • Lighter and Softer: GLOW was marketed heavily toward kids in spite of the kitschy sex jokes.
  • Lovely Angels: Heavy Metal Sisters, The Housewives, Corp Kelly & Attache, the list goes on.
  • Magical Native American: Little Feather.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: The Steve Borden of GLOW, Godiva works as a Christian mentor in addition to her infrequent cameos at wrestling events. Too bad Sting never posed for Playgirl, though, which is where the similarities end.
    • Chainsaw had little in common with her characters, apart from an inability to wrestle.
      Chainsaw: "Buy a chainsaw and assemble it!" My God. I'm a Jew from the Valley. We hire people to do this.
  • The Mentor: Aunt Kitty to the Bad Girls, Jackie Stallone to the Good Girls.
  • Mirror Match: Meet Daisy. She is tall. This, and a blonde wig, were enough to boost Godiva's horse and ride it to the ring. Godiva arrived and challenged her to a bout, with the horse as a trophy.
  • Multicolored Hair: The tag team Hollywood and Vine.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: Some of the most capable wrestlers were also the least likely: Tina a.k.a Ivory (no exp), Ninotchka (no exp), and Godiva (high school gymnastics).
  • Nubile Savage: Jungle Woman, Little Feather.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Godiva wavers between a British cockney accent and a generic Australian one..
  • Opera Gloves: Ashley Cartier favoured black ones.
  • Parts Unknown:
    • The Princess of Darkness was billed from there.
    • Star, from "The Far Reaches of the Galaxy"
  • Perky Goth: Evil perky but Chainsaw and Spike do fit.
  • The Pigpen/Skunk Stripe: Stinky definitely drew the short straw when it came to gimmicks.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Move over, "Stand Back", here comes the rapping referee.
  • Pretty in Mink: Ashley and Tina's shawls.
  • Power Hair: Ninotchka.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Godiva, Chainsaw, Hollywood and Vine all had waist-length hair.
  • Refugee from TV Land: Thunderbolt and Lightning were comic book heroes.
  • Rich Bitch: Averted. Tina and Ashley were Spoiled Sweet, playing faces the entire time.
  • Ricky Morton: Little Fiji, in contrast to Mountain Fiji who would have been virtually unstoppable if she was not always having to save Little Fiji from all her enemies.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: The Royal Hawaiian
  • Salt and Pepper: A tag team with a white girl and black girl, with this very name.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Ebony. Soul Patrol too.
  • Self-Deprecation: David McClane was apparently very tight with money - so a gag was written in that his office was actually a public phone booth.
  • Sexy Whatever Outfit: It turns out The Housewives are the exception to this rule. The girls playing them couldn't find a way to make them sexy and so they created the Heavy Metal Sisters instead.
  • Shameless Fanservice Girl: Godiva (Dawn Maestas) wore more cosmetics than fabric. Oddly, everyone in the GLOW house came to her for fashion tips. She's also Old Money, just like the real Lady Godiva. And her entrance music preaches self-acceptance. Don't worry, Dawn doesn't know why she's a heel, either.
    TMC: Godiva’s advice: be yourself, because trying to be like other G.L.O.W. girls is weird and requires lobotomization. Her words, not mine.
  • She-Fu: The cheerleaders mostly, for obvious reasons.
  • Slasher Smile: Both the Heavy Metal Sisters in their opening rap.
  • Shout-Out: Ninotchka is a reference to the old MGM film. Debuting as a not-so-undercover spy for the Soviets, she later abdicated her GLOW crown and jumped on a plane to Paris to renounce her Russian citizenship...earning the ire of the heels, who all but called her smelly frog. As mentioned above, her face turn may have been inspired by Nikolai Volkoff in the WWF, back when the Berlin Wall fell and Glasnost was happening.
  • Socialite: Tina and Ashley, though they were heroic examples.
  • Southern Belle: A team of them, Tara and Scarlet.
  • Spicy Latina: Spanish Red. And if you want a loose definition of Latin, then there's Tina's rap...
    "All my opponents know I'm a stud, what can I say, it's the Italian blood"
    • Lisa Moretti did have a Spanish grandmother and she referenced her Hispanic heritage a couple of times in WWE, so she does fit.
  • Spiritual Successor: The show's three most notable successors were Powerful Women of Wrestling (POWW) which was more wrestling-based, Women of Wrestling (WOW) which was a trainwreck that went dormant after one year in 2001 but made a surprising return in 2012 and Wrestlicious which was a little bit of both, airing for one year and being very silly but also putting on better matches more consistently than WWE's Divas or TNA's Knockouts were that year. Others include LPWA and CRUSH. POWW and WOW were also run by David McLane.
  • Springtime for Hitler: The behind-the-scenes story is one of real camaraderie that emerged in a show which, for all its merits, should never have been made. The documentary is good but suffers from the usual things docs suffer from: the sensationalizing of GLOW, making it sound like it sold out arenas and made all this crazy cash when it didn't. (The live shows actually helped kill the company.) Sure enough, the owner of the casino used GLOW as a tax write-off and advertising vehicle for his own products, never expecting it to succeed. Most of the girls left wrestling to go model or produce films and, apart from Fiji and Matilda (who both ended up in assisted living centers), it served everyone's purposes pretty well.
  • Street Urchin: The joke with Hollywood is that she dresses and acts like a streetwalker, even though that wasn't included in the script. Hollywood cribbed from Madonna and came up with the idea of wrestling in lingerie and black boots. She survives by crashing Hollywood parties and nicking everything that isn't nailed down, including the commentator's bowtie.
  • Sublime Rhyme: All the time.
    "Tina Ferrari, the capitalist dream. She won't look so good face down in the ring! She's thinks she so tough and so strong! I will destroy her, it won't take long"
  • Subverted Trope: Nature Boy was nothing like the other three wrestlers to use that moniker.
  • Team Mom: Big Bad Mama was a villainous example.
  • True Companions: The girls on the show became these.
  • Undermined by Reality: The documentary revealed a lot of behind the scenes stuff that tarnishes the show's happy-go-lucky camp factor. For example, the girls had to wrestle in a boxing ring (note the waist-high ropes), which is much harder than a wrestling ring. There were fines for staying out late, and the director loved to yell.
  • Viva Las Vegas: The show was filmed out of the old Riviera Hotel and Casino (now-defunct), with the ladies assigned to apartments on the strip. Trump Plaza in Atlantic City was a popular venue also. Hosting a bunch of 80's wrestling fans in a casino is like inviting Juggalos to Wimbledon.
  • With My Hands Tied: Amy thought she had the advantage by tying Ninotcka's wrists to her belt. Amy was still wearing the belt at the time, a strategic error: Ninotchka's superior strength allowed her to twirl poor Amy upside-down and piledriver her for the pin..
  • Woman Bites Woman: Attache, to Tina Ferrari in their submission match to break Tina's figure-four leglock. Dementia bit Little Egypt's leg until it bled but since everyone expected her to bite, technical wrestlers like Tina just put her in holds where she could only chomp on air.
    Hollywood: (on commentary) Attache fights cleanly.
    Sir Miles: What makes you say that?
    Hollywood: She left Tina a leg to stand on.
  • You Are Fat: Matt Climber thought being called fat on national TV would strengthen the fibre of his athletes. While by no means petite, the announcer constantly put Godiva over as some sort of mutant, Chyna-like monster. ("the bulky Briton", "five meals a day!"). Meanwhile, he continued to hound Ninotchka about her ugliness and low cunning (which ran contrary to the crowd's reaction), getting every fat joke he could in about her. This continued even after she changed her gimmick to Parisian. ("never throught I'd see a pink elephant fly!")