Sometimes (and always) we’re so in tune on the Blog Collab that we do the same things whether we intend to or not. Our latest brainwave came in the form of the Netflix original GLOW. We were there for the glam ‘80s hair and glitter, but stayed for the zany wrestling personas and the show’s surprising emotional depth. This month is inspired by GLOW, and the documentary that spawned the TV show is kicking us off to celebrate the Gorgeous Ladies of the Blog Collab, or: GLOBC…? Doesn’t have quite the same ring as GLOW.
GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling
Where to Watch:
The Uncondensed Version:
In case you haven’t watched the original ‘80s show or the updated Netflix series, GLOW was the first women’s wrestling show on TV. It was surprisingly successful, especially considering that it began as more or less one extended infomercial…with comedy sketch bits, song/dance numbers, and some rather cringey rapping.
Despite the blatant sexism and stereotyping, the women cast on GLOW consider it revolutionary as it allowed them to feel strong and empowered while looking and feeling fab.
The show did not begin with great promise–Mando, a real wrestler, trained the women (hired mostly based on looks rather than wrestling prowess) in a run-down gym without proper equipment or safety practices. After training, things sped along quickly as the GLOW ladies were moved to a hotel in Vegas (because, honestly, where else would this have happened if not Vegas). As depicted in the show, the ladies are supposed to always stay in character and obey strict rules on curfews and partying.
One of the few wrestlers on the show was Matilda the Hun, who had been trying in vain to find wrestling partners. She was so hardcore she once literally wrestled a bear and may be my new personal hero.
Initially, the creator of the show clashed with the director, who envisioned an over-the-top, campy variety show. These issues were quickly resolved as the director was also the one with the money behind him. Some of the ladies look back fondly on their working relationship with the director, while others think he was borderline abusive.
Several of the more memorable personas were Big Bad Mama, a Louisiana voodoo priestess, and the Heavy Metal sisters, who cut things up with a chainsaw and lit shit on fire in the ring. Ninotchka was the Russian stereotype whose confidence boosted the wrestler herself and made her feel powerful. The wrestler shares a rather touching moment when she realized her boyfriend was in love with her persona’s confidence–not her.
Just as Machu Picchu is the heart and soul of the Netflix show, Mt. Fiji is the star of the original GLOW (and the documentary). Fiji was an Olympian and by all accounts the sweetest lady on the show. It’s heartbreaking to see her current health problems that have largely confined her to a hospital bed. Many of the women suffered injuries and dead-end careers after GLOW‘s abrupt cancellation. Several speculate the businessman funding the show stopped because of marital problems that arose as he spent so much time with all of the ladies of GLOW.
Because the show ended so suddenly, no one felt a sense of closure…which is about to change when one of the wrestlers decides to host a reunion. If you don’t get emotional seeing the ladies of GLOW reunited, you may have a heart of stone.
4.5/5 Pink Panther Heads
Like the new Netflix show, there is plenty of glitter and over-the-top wrestling mayhem along with lots of heart. It’s really hard to see the physical and emotional toll the years of wrestling took on these women even though all seem to remember the show fondly whether they found happiness and success in later years or not. Though all of the ladies were thrilled to be part of a ground-breaking series, they also suffered greatly at the hands of the entertainment industry. Like most things to emerge from the ’80s: come for the glitter, stay for the genuine heart.