Wrestling entertainment continues to be a big industry, but ‘GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling’ shows it wasn’t always a man’s world.
Several decades ago, Vince McMahon realized the profit possibilities of sports entertainment, or more specifically theatrical wrestling. Many have attempted to capitalize on his discovery, including Ted Turner. GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling was one of these endeavours, but it was short-lived.
There was an open casting call in the late '80s for young women looking to start their acting careers. Not everyone stayed when they were told they'd have to wrestle each other, but those that did saw a fun opportunity to create a character and get noticed. And that's what they did. For five years, they lived and breathed their ring personas, bunking together and socializing according to their story lines. They endured back and knee injuries, even a broken elbow, then without notice it was suddenly over.
Twenty years later, director Brett Whitcomb tracked down the women of GLOW. To hear them talk about their time in the squared circle, it sounds as if they’re talking about things that happened just yesterday. They talk about the real-life rivalries that developed and training with Mando Guerrero, who came from a legendary, multi-generational wrestling family. Some did use the show as a stepping stone and continued acting or wrestling, while others went on to more traditional careers.
The story, however, eventually centres on one woman in particular: Mt. Fiji. She was the company’s strongest performer, and was a former Olympic shot-putter. She was also loved by everyone in the group because she was always kind and cheerful. However, at the time of filming, her health was ailing so something special was planned to lift her spirits.
The mix of interviews and archival footage really give the viewer a sense of what it was like to be a part of this brief phenomenon.
GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling screens as a part of Toronto’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival on Apr. 27 at 11:30 p.m. at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, Apr. 28 at 1:30 p.m. at The ROM Theatre, and May 5 at 6:30 p.m. at The Regent.