Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, also known as GLOW or G.L.O.W., was a professional wrestling promotion for women, begun in 1986 (the pilot was filmed in December 1985) and continued in various forms after it left television. Colorful characters, beautiful women, and over-the-top comedy sketches were integral to the series' success. Most of the performers were actresses, models, dancers, and/or stunt women hoping to get into show business through wrestling.
GLOW (also known officially in the beginning as the International Women's Wrestling Federation) was co-founded in 1985 by David McLane, a promoter who got his start in the sport as an announcer and commentator with Dick the Bruiser's World Wrestling Association promotion in Indianapolis, Indiana, and Jackie Stallone, the mother of action movie star Sylvester Stallone. Formed as a television-oriented promotion, GLOW was the first full-time American women's wrestling company to have a regular television program (following Japan-based All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling, which started its TV show in 1968, the same year as that federation's founding). Unlike earlier and later women's promotions which took a more serious approach to the sport and focused on in-ring action (like All Japan Women and the Ladies Professional Wrestling Association), GLOW oriented its product more toward sports entertainment, with beautiful women in character-driven wrestling roles and sexy costumes, music video clips and comedy skits being emphasized over the action in the ring.
The women involved in GLOW were primarily actresses, models, dancers and stunt performers who got into wrestling as a means to enter show business. The initial crop of wrestlers in GLOW were trained by Mando Guerrero, a member of the famed Guerrero family and a star in the American Wrestling Association and in Los Angeles and other NWA-affiliated territories in the 1970s and '80s. The pilot episode for a planned TV show was taped on December 5, 1985 at the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the main event of that show, Tammy Jones defeated Matilda the Hun to become the first GLOW Champion, while Tina Ferrari and Ashley Cartier defeated Hollywood and Vine in one of four tag team bouts as part of the undercard. With the Independent Network Inc. assuming distribution of the series, the GLOW program was picked up for air and made its debut in syndication in the United States and Canada on September 13, 1986.
GLOW also differed from other TV wrestling shows in that, while the other shows aired on a continual weekly basis throughout the calendar year, GLOW aired in seasons (usually beginning in September and ending around May, with reruns also airing during the season and in the off-season) where wrestlers came, went or were changed during the off-season. Throughout the show's run, TV tapings for the program took place at the Riviera. Jackie Stallone appeared on the show periodically as GLOW's storyline owner and the manager of Stallone's Sweethearts, the face faction in GLOW, while Kitty Burke (as Aunt Kitty) managed the heel faction Kitty's Killers.
The promotion became known for innovating gimmick matches that were used from time to time during the program's run, including the following:
- Russian Roulette match (six-woman tag team elimination match)
- Penalty Box match (two teams of five women, with each wrestler that breaks the rules being sent to a penalty box for a set time period; the first team to have a member pinned or submit or to have all its members in the penalty box at once loses)
- Lingerie Street Fight (two teams of four women in street clothes; the first team to have all its members stripped down to their underwear loses; this type of match, in a modified form [as the Evening Gown match, AKA the Bra and Panties match], was picked up several years later by the WWF during its Attitude Era)
After David McLane
In late 1987, David McLane, who had wanted to focus his GLOW product more on in-ring action, left the show in a dispute with its producers over its format and sold the promotion to the Riviera Hotel. Returning to Indianapolis and taking a number of his original GLOW Girls with him, McLane then went on to form a new women's promotion, the Powerful Women of Wrestling, which placed its emphasis on actual wrestling and which would also hold matches in collaboration with the WWA (McLane's original employer) and the AWA.
Forced to start over with just a handful of original GLOW Girls remaining, the company held auditions and trained a new group of wrestlers under the guidance of original GLOW Girl and reigning GLOW Champion Col. Ninotchka. The GLOW program went on to make its third season debut in September 1988 with the new generation of stars competing alongside GLOW originals Hollywood, Vine, Ninotchka, Sally the Farmer's Daughter and Mt. Fiji. Around this time, GLOW also began touring the United States with live shows to introduce the new competitors to fans prior to the start of the new season. Steven Blance, who was GLOW's senior referee during the second season, became the figurehead commissioner and the show's head writer during the final two seasons, while John Cafarella (as Johnny C) became the new ring announcer. "Motormouth" Mike Morgan served as the play-by-play announcer for the program from the fourteenth episode of Season Two to the end of the show's run.
During GLOW's third season, Ninotchka (who had won the GLOW Championship from Tina Ferrari in the Season Two finale) vacated her title in Episode 12 following a title defence against top contender Daisy after Ninotchka had a falling out with tag team partner Major Tanya during the match, leading to a 20-woman tournament for the vacant championship called the Run for the Rubies. The tournament final, which took place in the Season Three finale, saw Cheyenne Cher defeat Godiva to capture the title thanks to an assist from Roxy Astor, who had earlier been cheated out of a chance to move to the final when Godiva's interference caused Roxy to lose to Cher by countout in a scientific semifinal encounter the previous week.
With the debut of the fourth season of GLOW in September 1989, two new segments were introduced on the show—Life in the GLOW House, a comedy sketch segment focusing on the misadventures of the GLOW roster while living in a dormitory, and Another GLOWing Moment, a classic match segment presenting previously-unseen matches from the third season. Although the show did quite well in syndication in many markets in North America (and later when it was sold into international syndication), GLOW eventually ended production after four seasons and 104 episodes, airing its final episode on May 26, 1990 (in which Daisy defeated GLOW Champion Cheyenne Cher to win the title in the main event). A fifth season of the series, as well as a feature-length theatrical movie, had been planned, but financial issues with GLOW distributor Independent Network Inc. led to both the fifth season and the film project being cancelled before either could get underway. While most of the company's stars faded from the wrestling scene following the TV show's demise, several of its alumni, including Tina Ferrari (later known as Tina Moretti, then Ivory in WWE and now going by her given name of Lisa Moretti), Lightning and Hollywood, later moved into legitimate competitive wrestling and became successful, with some continuing to compete into the present.
GLOW alumnus Ursula Hayden (who competed as Babe the Farmer's Daughter) purchased the company, its intellectual properties and its TV archive in 2001 with the intention of reviving GLOW with some of the stars from its original 1986-1990 incarnation (including Babe, Hollywood, Roxy Astor and Lightning) along with a new generation of stars for a reunion tour and a planned new TV program, along with an official website for GLOW. DVDs of episodes of the original GLOW series, along with other related merchandise, are currently sold on the promotion website.
|Championship||First Champion||Final Champion||Date Retired|
|GLOW Championship||Tammy Jones||Daisy||1991|
There was also a GLOW Tag Team Championship, but it was an in-name-only title which was not physically represented by title belts or, as with the GLOW Championship, crowns. The teams of The Beverly Hills Girls (Tina Ferrari and Ashley Cartier) and Hollywood & Vine were the only two teams known to have held this title. After Vine's departure from GLOW, the title was never mentioned on TV again and was quietly dropped.
- Amy the Farmer's Daughter (Trudy Adams)
- Babe the Farmer's Daughter (Ursula Hayden—now owns the revived GLOW)
- Col. Ninotchka (Lori Weathers)
- Godiva (Dawn Rice)
- Hollywood (Jeanne Basone)
- Lightning (Cheryl Rusa)
- Matilda the Hun (Dee Booher)
- MTV (Eileen Womack)
- Mt. Fiji (Emily Dole)
- Palestina (Janeen Jewett)
- Roxy Astor (Tracey Meltzer)
- Sally the Farmer's Daughter (Becky Mullen)
- Tiffany Mellon (Sandra Margot)
- Tina Ferrari (Lisa Moretti)
- Vine (Janet Bowers)