Right now, GLOW has landed on Netflix and is proving to be one of the most must-see and hotly-talked-about shows of the year so far. With Alison Brie headlining, the series centers on a group of women trying to make it as professional wrestlers. Basically, it’s a fictional retelling of the story of the GLOW promotion that was around in the 1980s.
In that initial incarnation, GLOW – Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling – went into production in 1985 and first aired in 1986. Running for four seasons, the action was made up of an all-female roster of talent, and the glamour and over-the-top nature instantly struck a chord with certain audiences. It was camp, it was cheesy, but, man, it was damn entertaining. Characters like Matilda the Hun, Little Egypt, Mount Fiji, Jailbait, Hollywood, and Babe, the Farmer’s Daughter became cult favorites of many.
Don’t be fooled, though; GLOW was never about great wrestling and 5-star matches. This was entertainment at its most ludicrous and excessive, with seemingly nothing out of bounds, from Nazi images, to mental illness, to the onsite medical team of Dr. Field and Dr. Grope, to elaborate sex appeal, to various other taboos.
So, with Netflix’s new GLOW winning a whole host of critical acclaim and already amassing an impressive fan base, here are 15 things you need to know about the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.
15. Jackie Stallone’s Role
For those who are only just becoming familiar with GLOW, it may come as some surprise to know that the original owner of the company (for storyline purposes, at least) was none other than Jackie Stallone, as in the mother of a certain Sly.
In the initial depiction of GLOW, not only was Jackie the on-camera head honcho, but she was also the manager of the “Good Girls” of the series. The reason she ended up involved at all was due to her looking to get involved in female physical fitness in the US in the hope of pushing forward with female wrestling at the 1992 Olympics – with Stallone herself an amateur wrestler.
In fact, when she got involved with GLOW, Jackie started to get the itch to compete in the squared circle, but the powers-that-be were against that idea due to her legit background and trigger temper.
14. Ivory Was A Star
Back in 1986, Lisa Moretti was a 24-year-old looking to get into the wrestling business. With some legitimate wrestling training under her belt, Moretti somehow ended up dragged to an audition for what would become known as GLOW.
Following a further month or so of training, Moretti began competing for GLOW under the name of Tina Ferrari. One of the true standout talents of the company during its initial run, Ferrari would be a staple of GLOW for its first two seasons and would even become GLOW Champion after defeating Colonel Ninotchka.
13. There Was Originally A Fifth Season
When GLOW had its first run from 1986, the series would run for four seasons up unto 1990. What many don’t know, though, is that a fifth season was actually filmed.
Unfortunately for fans of the original incarnation of the show, said Season 5 never actually aired. The reason for that, sadly, was due to the financial problems that were engulfing the company by that point in time.
Despite initially starting off as a relatively serious – if not slightly campy – wrestling show, the second season and beyond saw GLOW descend more and more into the realms of comedy. Whilst not going for outright thigh-slapping chuckles, there was certainly a more comedic slant to the show as time went on. And with this, audiences started to eventually tune out as the company tumbled into financial difficulties – hence why said fifth season never made it on air.
12. Babe Is The Current Owner
These days, the owner of GLOW is a name familiar to longtime fans of the original ‘80s series. Back then, she was known as Babe, the Farmer’s Daughter, but these days, she goes by simply Ursula Hayden.
As Babe, Hayden competed in GLOW during its third and fourth seasons, back during its initial run, and she actually purchased the GLOW organization itself back in 2001. In terms of what she actually owns, though, it’s not much in a physical sense. Instead, she owns the name rights to GLOW, plus, there’s a website that sells DVDs of classic episodes.
In terms of input on Netflix’s GLOW revival, Hayden met with the new show’s creators, although there’s no word on whether she had any official consultancy role on the series. She has, however, given her full approval to this new take on an old favorite.
11. There Was An Award-Winning Documentary
When looking at the biggest reasons for the recent resurgence of interest in GLOW, you have to look at the GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling documentary that was finished in 2011 and released in 2012.
From director Brett Whitcomb and writer Bradford Thomason, this documentary looked to try and capture the mystique and magic of GLOW and see just why it was such a cult favorite in its day. The feature also explored what it was like to be involved in GLOW and what the lasting legacy and memories of the original incarnation are seen as by those closest to it.
Certain Netflix markets actually have this documentary available right now, and it managed to win a whole host of awards upon its release, most notably nabbing the Best Documentary gong at the San Diego Comic-Con a few years back.
10. The Pedigree Of The New Minds
When it was announced that GLOW was returning as a new Netflix-exclusive series, one thing that instantly excited many was the creative team behind this new depiction of an old favorite.
The main minds behind this new show are Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch, who, between them, have written for a whole bunch of well-revered series such as Homeland, Weeds, and Nurse Jackie. Add to that Orange is the New Black creator Jenji Kohan coming onboard as an executive producer, and you have a pretty kickass team with an impressive pedigree of telling stories centered around women in difficult, evolving situations.
Using their experiences, the team behind this new GLOW manage to make the series sparkle in a way that focuses fully on the mindset and ultimate goals of the show’s central characters – something which is a staple of the aforementioned other works.
9. The New Creators Had Never Heard Of GLOW
When a return of sorts of GLOW was confirmed, many instantly assumed that the people behind this relaunch-cum-reboot would be longtime fans of the original series and that this new show would be a labor of love. Surprisingly, this wasn’t the case.
Co-creator Liz Flahive has openly said she had never ever heard of GLOW as a company, as a concept, or as a show until Brett Whitcomb’s 2012 documentary, GLOW: The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.
Upon seeing that documentary, Flahive and Carly Mensch would instantly be hooked and found themselves intrigued by the GLOW phenomena – thus researching the original show and getting up to speed on it. From there, the seeds were beginning to be sown for the new GLOW, and the rest, as they say, is history.
8. The New Women Learned How To Wrestle
One of the major differences about the old GLOW and the new GLOW is that the original series was an actual wrestling show featuring actual wrestlers. This time out, the new show stars actresses playing women learning to wrestle.
To make this new series more authentic and believable, however, it was insisted on that all of the key figures take some harsh, intensive wrestling training. Helping out on that front was former WWE Tag Team and Cruiserweight Champion Chavo Guerrero Jr.
At the instruction of the minds behind the new series, all of the principal players underwent training classes led by Chavo – the main reasoning being that it was decided the action of GLOW would look better with the real ladies involved as opposed to stunt doubles.
7. The Strict Curfews
During the original version of GLOW, the brains behind the show may have taken a slack, comedic approach to the action, but they were completely on the ball when it came to producing the show and having their talent in the best possible shape to perform.
As such, a curfew had to be put in place to stop the ladies from exploring the extremes of Las Vegas during the regular shooting that would take place in Sin City. In fact, any talent who arrived back at their hotel past the curfew was instantly fined $250 each time!
6. The Original Show Was Pure Amateurs
When longtime wrestling fan David McLane decided to launch a company by the name of GLOW, he decided that the best way to do this was to hire complete amateurs for the first season.
As such, all of the girls involved in that initial season had little to no wrestling experience before they came under the GLOW umbrella. There was the odd exception, such as Lisa Moretti, but the majority of the cast was brought together and then trained three nights a week by the often-brutal Mando Guerrero… who would reportedly make a point of choking out at least one person per session!
5. Good Girls Vs. Bad Girls
Not only was it a case of Good Girls vs. Bad Girls between the ropes, but GLOW was strict in adhering to one of wrestling’s long-standing traditions: that the heroes and the villains travel separately from each other.
These days, such a rule simply doesn’t exist, with the business being blown open for all to see and dissect as rivals will often Tweet each other about how great their recent match was. Back in the day, however, the good guys and bad guys were completely forbidden from interacting outside of the ring. And keeping in line with this, GLOW made its two sides travel completely separately and also made all performers only refer to each other by their ring names even when the lights went off and the audience went home.
4. Other Women Hated It
Whilst GLOW’s first season saw a slightly comedic, campy slant to its serious, competitive action, the second year and beyond saw comedy becoming a bigger and bigger part of the show. Instead of headlocks and takedowns, audiences were given more slapstick comedy routines as the series progressed.
Some of the wrestlers involved weren’t exactly keen on the more comedic stylings of GLOW, but outside of the company, there was outright disgust for all things GLOW from other female grapplers. These non-GLOW ladies saw the organization as taking a huge turd on the entire profession of being a female wrestler. After all, women were always fighting an uphill battle to be taken as seriously as their male counterparts in the squared circle, and so the camp, comedic action of GLOW was seen as massively disrespectful to women trying to be taken seriously in the industry.
3. The Famous Raps
One of the most (in)famous memories that many have of GLOW in its heyday is of its many multitudes of raps.
Each and every single episode would always begin with a rap, with the lucky lady dropping some varying rhymes each time. With the same beat used for each rap, a different wrestler would open up each episode by rapping about, well, not much of any sense, really. These raps would usually attempt to big up the performer in question, denigrate their upcoming opponent, and just add to the overall kitsch factor of GLOW.
If you do a quick search on YouTube, there are plenty of these oft-horrendous raps out there for your viewing pleasure. Be warned: they’re all pretty awful and cheesy. But then again, that was kind of the point of GLOW at times.
2. Fans Can “Wrestle” Hollywood
Seemingly an activity that may strike comparisons to the ever-questionable antics of Tammy “Sunny” Sytch, one of GLOW’s original faces offers a rather unique service to her fans these days.
After the original incarnation of GLOW closed its doors, Jeanne Basone – better known to GLOW fans as Hollywood – tried her hand on the independent circuit whilst also landing several stunt gigs on various TV shows over the ensuing years. More recently, Jeanne has revealed that she now actually offers fans the chance to book her for a private wrestling session.
Largely taking place in hotel rooms, as Basone puts it, “We are just wrestling. I make that clear from the start.”
1. The Reason For Its Closure
As a TV show, the original iteration of GLOW would run from 1986 until 1990, although that initial company would exist until 1992. What was the reason for the company closing down back then, though?
Whilst ratings were falling, the figures were still modestly okay. But the real problem was rumored to be Pia Zadora. Zadora, herself an entertainer, was married at the time to Meshulam Riklis – the Riviera hotel owner who just so happened to be the major financial backer of GLOW.
Over the years, the common story is that Zadora didn’t like what GLOW was about and so told her then-husband to pull the plug… which he promptly did. Since then, as mentioned earlier in this feature, the rights to GLOW were picked up by Ursula Hayden in 2001.
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