WOW Women Of Wrestling Wow! That Sucked! Originally published on May 24, 2003 Written by Emer Prevost
Picture it, California, the year 2000; David McLane had a dream. His dream, to make an all-female wrestling promotion. Well, he did make the promotion, but it wasn’t at all good. In fact, in certain cases, it was so bad, it was funny.
The Women Of Wrestling (WOW) promotion had everything needed to be a syndicated wrestling company: ring, arena, Lee Marshall on commentary, writers, wrestlers, guard rails, referees, and a stage. But, the talent wasn’t all that good and the writing was a joke.
I guess that the wrestlers weren’t that bad, it was just that they were all saddled with such terrible characters and gimmicks that they would make the Repo Man, Bastion Booger, Shockmaster, and even Oz look like great characters in comparison.
In fact, one might be compelled to think that McLane knew he was polishing turds here and was hoping to get an audience solely on camp value. How do you think I started watching it; the storylines? I think not. It was because I needed a wrestlecrap fix at 11p.m. on a Saturday night, and I stumbled upon WOW. The only reason I kept watching was to see how laughably bad it could get the next week. And, each week was like a bad car wreck, you could only stare and you couldn’t look away. And most of the humor came from these nonsensical comic book like characters that came to life in that ring with the lavender mat and the white ropes and put fans to sleep weekly.
Come on, how can someone think that a Xena superfan (Tanja, Warrior Woman), a schizophrenic (Jacklyn Hyde), a hick (Becky, The Farmer’s Daughter), a woman banned from the WNBA for excessive violence (Slam Dunk), cheerleaders (Randi Rah Rah & Patti Pep of Team Spirit), a cowgirl (Bronco Billie) or a dancer turned secret agent (Jane Blond) be a good idea?
These are just some of the bad characters that WOW churned out every week. Most of the names were just stupid puns. Besides Jacklyn Hyde, there were three tag teams that were full of rotten puns and lack of talent.
We had Caged Heat, which consisted of ex-cons Loca, Vendetta (so far, so good), and Delta Lotta Pain. I kid you not, there is a character named Delta Lotta Pain. These characters were as close to Nailz clones as you can get. And, to make things worse, Loca was your stereotypical Latina fighter with a fiery temper. Not much is known about Vendetta, because she was with the company all of a few months, then WOW shut their doors.
The second team is Harley’s Angels (a stupid enough name to begin with), which consisted of Charlie Davidson (dear God, it’s almost painful writing a name that damn stupid) and EZ Rider (not nearly as painful to write, but painful none the less). Harley’s Angels were joined by WOWs top heel, Thug. I’ll cover Thug a little later.
And finally, there was Law & Order, which was a team of female Big Bossman wannabes named Nicky Law and Christy Order (thus the name Law & Order). Again, I really don’t know much about Law & Order, because they came in really close to the end.
Among the other characters, we had Wendi Wheels (a wrestling racecar driver… de-ja-vu), Jungle Grrrl (from the African jungles, and yes that is Grrrl with no i and three r’s), the Disciplinarian (a wrestler from the board of education… de-ja-vu again), “The Total Athlete” Roxy Powers (if you need help figuring out the “inspiration” for this reject, then stop reading, you are beyond help), “Hammerin'” Heather Steele (a female Tim Allen [insert feminine grunting]), and Lana Star (a rising Hollywood star). Like I said, most of these characters weren’t winners from the word go. No matter what David McLane could have tried, no one was really going to look at these shallow, 2D characters as anything more than a joke.
The other characters in the company had real bland, generic names like Riot, Danger, Poison, Phantom, and Ice Cold. Like the unoriginality of the names, these characters really didn’t do much in WOW history, except Ice Cold, who lost a hair vs. hair match with Lana Star and wrestled WOWs last months balder than a baby’s ass.
What’s worse than the names of the characters was the name of the finishing moves. Sure, they all were WWE standards, but the WOW names for them were terrible. Like Thug’s Last Call was a Vader Bomb, and the Disciplinarian’s Final Exam was a Pedigree. In fact, you would see a lot of really great moves, just with horrid names. Terri Gold (the WOW Champ) had a moonsault that she called the Perfect 10. Caged Heat utilized a 3D and called it Capital Punishment. Caged Heat also used the Hart Foundation’s old Hart Attack move and called it the Drive-By. Oh, and there was also Selina Majors’ Stunner and Slam Dunk’s Chokeslam, so it seems that decent names do spring up, just not often. Speaking of Selina Majors…
The biggest feud in WOW history was between Selina Majors and Thug. I guess that McLane knew that the only way to get the seats to fill would be to get some established female talent. Nothing gets more established than Rockin’ Robin (Selina Majors) and Peggy Lee Leather (Thug). Well, okay, so Robin isn’t really a great star and Peggy is from one of McLane’s other failed all women’s promotions (POWW, which somehow stands for Powerful Women Of Wrestling), but I don’t think WOW could get anyone better.
It all started with the first show, when Thug and Harley’s Angels attacked Selina Majors. Selina had to heal from the “extremely serious” knee injury, and was back in a few weeks. She wanted to get to Thug, but that didn’t happen soon. First, Majors had to fight EZ Rider and Charlie Davidson in matches. Mind you, these matches were mind numbingly bad, so you can imagine how two weeks in a row headlined by Selina Majors against any one member of Harley’s Angels. Anyway, Selina finally got her shot at Thug, in a cage match, at the WOW pay-per-view, “WOW Unleashed”.
Now, is seems as if David McLane and the WOW brain trust opted to make it an old school WCW Thunderdome cage (Jesus, don’t these people have any friggin’ imagination?). But, you really didn’t have time to take in that it was a Thunderdome cage, because the match was over in under 15 minutes (in fact, it was barely 10 minutes).
That cage match is really the only thing that the PPV had going. The rest of the matches were terrible (like Jane Blond vs. Tanja, Warrior Woman. How can a match between two actual jobbers be on a PPV? I’m asking you, really.), and not really all that interesting. The only other things of note about Unleashed was the debut of Caged Heat’s Vendetta, as well as Law & Order. We also learned that the Disciplinarian bought Bronco Billie’s ranch (which really sucks for Billie, because she hailed from “The Ranch”, like WCW’s Shark hailed from “The Great Barrier Reef”).
About a month after the Unleashed atrocity, WOW officially shut down, leaving David McLane with three failed women’s promotions (POWW, GLOW, and WOW), and probably the hopes of starting a fourth. Hell, GLOW was almost a success, so there’s still hope.
Believe it or not, but the Selina/Thug feud was the only one that WOW actually got to finish before closing the doors after only six months. But, in all honesty, the company lasted about three months too long. The matches from the first three months were laughable, but not horrid. But, those next three months looked like reruns (I checked, WOW never got to show reruns), which made the matches change from laughable to painful to watch. Take it from someone who sat through the crap for about four months.
Well, folks, if you really need to get it out of your system, go ahead and hunt down some of these turds and watch them. You will see after one episode that WOW Women Of Wrestling was almost as bad as David Arquette as WCW World Champion, but it lasted about five months longer.
Jason Kreitzer wrote: In Emer Prevost’s column “WOW! That Sucked!” he incorrectly stated that Selina Majors and Rockin’ Robin were the same person. They are not. Selina’s more famous ring alias is Bambi.
Chris Darnings wrote: In Emer Prevost’s column: Wow! That Sucked, he stated that Jacklyn Hyde was a bad gimmick because it was a schizophrenic. I mean wasn’t that Victoria‘s original WWE gimmick too? This gimmick was when Victoria was the most over BTW. The same could be said for Mickie James.
D. Weber wrote: I apologize for responding to your article on David McLane’s Women of Wrestling promotion nearly eight years after you have written it and posted it at Online World of Wrestling, but after reading myself just now, I feel compelled to tell you that I am absolutely disgusted with the spiteful, venomous, childish, and utterly unprofessional tone in which you wrote it. Granted, you are entitled to your opinion about WOW, and if you didn’t like it for whatever set of reasons, you have the right to discuss those reasons, but only in a mature, fair, and rational manner. However, you failed to do just that in your article and instead felt the need to trash every single aspect about WOW, saying that the company “sucked” and was a “joke” and even going so far as to ridicule the women who performed in that promotion, namely for allegedly having no talent as wrestlers when there are numerous people who have seen WOW back in the day and would be quick to refute you on that point alone. I do not just mean people who were fanboys or fangirls for the promotion, either, but people who are and/or were aware of what WOW was and can more sincerely critique it without completely tearing it to shreds like closed-minded, ill-tempered elitists (most notably anyone who have seen the likes of “Jungle Grrrl” Erica Porter and Bobbi “Summer” Billard wrestle in the independent circuit in more recent years). Add that to the fact that you failed to double-check a number of your resources before presenting your final draft and thus getting a number of items in your article wrong—Selina Majors’ previous ring alias being Rockin’ Robin rather than Bambi of Powerful Women of Wrestling, Jungle Grrrl’s kayfabe place of origin as Africa rather than the Amazon Rainforest, McLane’s first promotion (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) “almost” being a success when it lasted four seasons from 1986 to 1990 and garnered as many as seven million viewers a night when it aired, and criticizing Jacklyn Hyde’s insane character when numerous other female women in pro wrestling since that day on have had the same character trait (Lisa Marie “Victoria” Varon, Mickie James, etc.) most readily coming to mind–and your yourself came off as the “joke” in your article rather than Women of Wrestling.
Now, I’m no mark for any of David McLane’s promotions (GLOW, POWW, and WOW), but in spite of my ability to pinpoint the flaws in each of these projects, I can at least respect them all for what they were way back when and for what they did right, and according to many pro wrestling pundits, Women of Wrestling was McLane’s best effort in putting on a pro wrestling show that proved how women have every right to be in the sport as men do. You might disagree with that sentiment, of course, but to insinuate that the women whom he had featured in WOW had no ability to perform as wrestlers is nothing more than an insult—and a rather inaccurate one at that–to each and every one of them. Some of them needed quite a bit of work on their in-ring performances, I’ll admit (Phantom most readily comes to mind.) and hence should have been trained more thoroughly, and the overall in-ring product wasn’t as botch-free as it could have or should have been, but as the show progressed further, many of the women were actually starting to improve their craft and put on better matches than they could before. Not only that, but unlike the WWF at the time, which had their women (later to be called “Divas” during the course of the 2000s) participate in such T&A-ridden garbage as bra-and-panty and pudding matches from time to time as well as the annual Miss Royal Rumble “Swimsuit Competition” (i.e., bikini contest), WOW mostly stayed away from such sexual nonsense (i.e., no costumes with thongs, unlike in GLOW) and focused more on good old-fashioned singles and tag-team matches as well as the occasional hardcore (i.e., Riot versus Wendi Wheels), strap (i.e., Roxy Powers versus Slam Dunk), and steel cage match (i.e., Selina Majors versus Thug). In fact, save for their own pointless “swimsuit competition” in early 2001, the only event in WOW that I can recall as undermining the strong feminist vibe McLane tried to instill into the brand’s identity was the semi-main event of WOW Unleashed between the tag teams of Ice Cold & Poison and Lana Star & Patti Pizzazz where the latter team defeated the former and forced Ice Cold to have her head shaved. In all due fairness, then, the wrestling was actually better on the whole than what you made it out to be in your article, and seeing as the WWF was far more likely to rely on sex appeal than WOW did while WCW’s own Women’s Division was all but forgettable (especially since their own product was rendered nearly unwatchable during its dying days, no thanks to the atrocious booking) and ECW didn’t really have a women’s division of its own, Women of Wrestling wasn’t quite as bad an alternative as it could have been for people who were interested in watching women’s wrestling. Also of note, the WOW product was rated PG when it aired, which made it much more kid- and family-friendly in comparison to the content of WWF, WCW, and ECW programming at the time, save for but a couple of instances (e.g., the “BS” chant at the draw between the Beach Patrol and Paradise & Farah at WOW Unleashed). Not only that, but WOW was more wrestling-oriented than Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, which was centered more around comedy than athleticism and hence made WOW the more enjoyable/respectable product between the two, which is more than I personally can say for the present-day true joke of a wrestling “promotion” Wrestlicious, which was founded a mere couple of years ago by Johnny Cafarella, the dirty old man who replaced McLane as ring announcer in GLOW when McLane moved on to found POWW.
Of course, that isn’t to say that Women of Wrestling was flawless, as there were many things that held WOW back from being the greatest example of women’s wrestling in mainstream–most of which, I must admit, you have pointed out yourself in your article. McLane’s approach to the whole project could very well have been the biggest of these flaws, as his mind was clearly set in the 1980s yet and in GLOW, his most successful project known to this day. Indeed, it really was in his best interest to let each woman develop her own in-ring persona based on her own personality. This surely would have benefitted the women as far as their promo work and general acting abilities were concerned as well as their overall ring presence, and it wouldn’t have made certain tag teams appear awkward at first glance (i.e., Farah the Persian Princess and Paradise, Boom Boom and Caliente, Lana Star and Patti Pep/Patti Pizzazz, etc.). Unfortunately, he instead resorted to the old standby of crafting character gimmicks for his wrestlers and having them mold themselves into their characters, much in the same manner as GLOW and Wrestlicious. Also, relying heavily on kayfabe and expecting fans to buy into it as reality hurt the product’s credibility by quite a bit, as the Internet was at last accessible to the general public to help them keep up with WOW and figure out what was going on with the company—something that they could never do back in 1986 to 1990 when GLOW and POWW were around. Additionally, WOW’s wrestling style should have been more with the times than it was and allowed the women to execute moves that would rival those being executed in the WWF, WCW, and even in ECW. Truth be told, this means that the women would have had to undergo more thorough training in that department, as I have mentioned to before, but as a result of that training, the women’s overall performances would have improved significantly. Then again, if there was one thing that I honestly felt held the product back more than anything else, it was the company’s ever-so-miserable booking. Honestly, with all the heel-versus-heel matches going on (especially in the babyface-deficient main event scene) and the lack of heel-versus-face matches taking place in the tag team division, it was obvious that WOW’s booking committee clearly couldn’t keep their stories or characters straight—not to mention the lack of prestige they gave the company’s singles championship by making it switch hands between Terri Gold and Danger every two months or so, especially in the third-to-last match at the company’s solitary pay-per-view. The bookers also failed to work on proper character development for the women of WOW, which could have helped certain wrestlers in the promotion stand out more from the crowd than they did. Like it or not, such an element was far from a problem in GLOW and was one of the things that garnered GLOW more respect than what you might otherwise think that that particular brand deserved. As such, if McLane had insisted that the writers maintained the aspect of character development in WOW–only without the campiness that was significant of GLOW—as opposed to creating gimmick-based characters for the women on the roster and having said gimmicks carry them as far as personality went, WOW’s wrestlers would have become [even] more memorable than what they are today.
In short, Women of Wrestling did have its flaws that most honest wrestling fans who are familiar with the product cannot deny. Even so, there were also more positive aspects about the company than you cared to acknowledge in your seven-plus-year-old diatribe on the federation. Basically, then, what I am saying is that I would not be so adverse towards your dislike of WOW if only you had presented your argument more objectively than you did and gave credit where credit was due. Hopefully, you have grown up since the day you wrote your article and can be more accurate and constructive in documenting the fallen wrestling promotions of yesteryear. Also, I hope that you are not one of those loud-mouthed sexists who think that women have no business being in pro wrestling aside from being eye candy. Otherwise, I cannot say that I will be looking forward to any further articles you may write concerning this industry.
Also, if you still feel the need to tear apart certain wrestling organizations that are indeed utter trash, give Johnny Cafarella’s Wrestlicious a proper tongue-lashing if you have not done so already. Heck, feel free to email him at [email protected] and tell him how much of a dirty old man he is for stealing David McLane’s idea for GLOW and using it as his own for both Wrestlicious and his failed 2003 promotion, CRUSH.