Sylvester Stallone’s mother is a big supporter of women’s wrestling, believe it or not.
Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling – the promotion based out of Las Vegas between 1986 and 1992 – was the brainchild of 89-year old Jackie Stallone. Filming shows at the Riviera hotel on the Strip, GLOW ran for 4 seasons on TV and was famous or infamous) for its campy look, it’s comedy sketch interludes between matches and its range of characters – including Babe The Farmer’s Daughter, Corporal Kelly, Jailbait, Jungle Woman, Little Fiji, Matilda the Hun, and Tina Ferrari (who went on to become Ivory in the WWF).
GLOW came about after producer David McLane expanded on Stallone’s women-only gym Barbarella’s, and turned it into a wrestling promotion, producing a pilot episode in late 1985 and then getting it syndicated across America. While McLane concentrated on expanding the brand, Jackie worked with the girls to create characters. Speaking to Jim Varsallone at the Miami Herald, she explains:
I put it together, the shows, the training, the choreography, everything… I interviewed them, and I trained them how to fall and tumble… they loved it, and I loved them all. I was so proud of them.
None of the girls had any wrestling training when they tried out. They were all tested to see if they could hang by Eddie Guerrero’s older brother Mando. And as Ivory recalled during an interview with Greg Oliver back in 2000, he got sick of how some of the girls weren’t taking things seriously:
He just hopped right up in lickedty-split time, and grabbed this big, voluptuous blonde by the hair, threw her down to the mat, tied her up into a pretzel. She was crying. I thought to myself, ‘Man, I like this guy.’ He meant what he was saying. Pay attention. So from that night forward, I kept coming back, night after night. We did about six weeks of training, which got 12 of us ready to go shoot a pilot, and put together about eight wrestling matches with girls.
However, Jackie wasn’t just the direction behind the camera; she was also the on-screen manager of the babyfaces, and even got in a rap of her own for the introduction, though rhythm clearly isn’t a strong point:
While GLOW was never known for great wrestling or high-quality storylines or drama, the fact that it lasted for more than half a decade is admirable. It still has a cult following, and is fondly remembered by fans, as well as the GLOW girls themselves:
Everyone wants to take part in it still, and I still stay in touch with many of the girls. They always ask me, ‘Can’t we do it again?’ I don’t have the money to start it again nor the time. It was my whole life, a full-time job, 24 hours a day, but I loved it.
While it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see GLOW fully relaunched – though it still exists, albeit not under the ownership of Stallone or McLane – there is a modern day version which is due to make its return for a second season.
We reported in May about how Wrestlicious was being commissioned for a run on a Viacom-owned station. Things have been quiet since though.
The similarities between GLOW and Wrestlicious are very apparent. Hokey characters, comedy skits and cartoonish wrestling feature in both, and they play for entertainment and not realism. The resemblance is even more apparent when you check out the Wrestlicious intro…
So maybe Jackie Stallone is right – women’s wrestling could exist on TV. It may not be high-brow, but you can’t have everything, can you?
Meanwhile, if you wanted to immerse yourself in GLOW, there are a large number of DVDs available at Amazon. Dive in.