If you were fortunate enough to be a wrestling fan in the 1980s, you saw the best of the best. The WWF was king and wrestlers like Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Paul Orndorff, and Andre the Giant were as recognizable and as loved as your MLB sluggers or NFL quarterbacks.
Even Magic and Bird had to compete with the pro grapplers. While Gretzky was surely great, Muraco was just as magnificent. Wrestling was everywhere. From kids to grandmothers, Americans tuned in to watch their favorite stars battle it out each and every week.
By the mid-80s, it seemed nothing could get wilder than the WWF action. Fuji dust was flying, turnbuckles were being eaten, and coconuts were crushing craniums. The guys of the WWF were on top of the world. Then it happened. The glow from our televisions got just a little brighter when it came to our wrestling options. In 1986 the Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling hit the air. We would never be the same.
The Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling—GLOW—was an all-women production of wrestling. Sure, the WWF has some women’s matches, but after years of watching the likes of The Fabulous Moolah, fans now had the opportunity to check out a different kind of professional women’s wrestlers. The GLOW girls didn’t look like Moolah, who was already in her 60s, or really like anything we’ve ever seen. They were wrestlers for sure, but they were true characters. Pretty girls who were funny and tough. GLOW was on to something.
GLOW had an amazing following seemingly right from the start. Fans tuned in every week to see battles between good and bad and to laugh at the little skits the girls put on in between each bout. It was sports meets SNL meets Hee-Haw—and it worked. The girls were feisty fighters but they also knew how to have a good time. They made jokes and acted in sketches. They even sang and rapped. Like the 1985 Chicago Bears and the 1986 New York Mets, the GLOW girls fit right in with the times. Brash, flashy, athletes complete with their own music videos. The GLOW girls were championship wrestlers and self-promoters.
Just as the WWF was thriving under the leadership of Vince McMahon, GLOW carved out its own niche. The women were extremely popular. GLOW magazines, posters, and VHS tapes were the norm. GLOW was able to do it’s own campy, unique, glorious thing even while the WWF was on fire. While McMahon’s product had the wrestling part down, GLOW had something the WWF didn’t have—the gorgeous ladies. Things were good. Then after just four seasons, GLOW was gone.
There are different stories as to the exact reasons for the breaking of the GLOW shtick, but financial turmoil seems to be the theme of all versions. Whatever the case, GLOW unfortunately stopped shining way too soon.
Now, decades later GLOW is back—at least in the headlines. A new Netflix series based on GLOW is now released. The popularity of the fictional program has led people to discover, or in some cases rediscover, the real GLOW women. The stars of GLOW are back in the spotlight and it’s well deserved.
In the last few weeks GLOW stars Roxy Astor, Hollywood (Jeanne Basone), and Lightning (Cheryl Rusa) all appeared on The Palin Update radio program on Mama Grizzly Radio. All three give their take on the new show and updated fans on what they’re now up to. Astor is running AfterGLOW, which gives people a chance to meet the wrestlers up close and personal. A new cruise with the GLOW girls is selling out fast. Hollywood is busier than ever. The stuntwoman, actress, and model is working on a book that could be out as early as Christmastime. She is very happy that GLOW is back in the headlines. As for Lightning, she’s a stuntwoman and trainer. She’s also a Trump girl and a mama grizzly. Lightning spoke very candidly about her GLOW days, President Trump, and Governor Palin during her visit to The Palin Update show.
If you ask Lightning, the boldness of the original GLOW made it stand out. “It was completely politically incorrect on purpose,” Lightning said. “That’s why everyone fell in love with it.”
Today’s political scene is quite similar. “Everybody is so busy being politically correct that when Trump popped up and was just saying out loud what everybody was thinking it just went to heart,” said Lightning.
The Trump supporter also has great admiration for former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. “I really thought Palin got crucified in the press,” she said. “I love her. Strong, strong person. I love that strong woman and I totally identified with her.”
Sarah Palin often uses the phrase “fight like a girl”. Many, like Lightning who did just that for a living, can appreciate the sentiment.
Savvy in politics, thanks to recognizing fake news and doing her own research, Lightning isn’t afraid to take on the media. She points at the lying from the major networks as complete “sheeple” mentality, and she encourages all Americans to take a breath and purposely go out of their way to seek out different sources. The truth can only be found by doing your homework. Lightning strikes down the dishonest press.
“I was bullied when I was a kid and the way they’ve been leaning on him (President Trump) and his family—they’re the bullies,” said Lightning. “It’s easy for somebody who was bullied to see that. It stands out like a sore thumb to me and it just rubs me the wrong way. I don’t like seeing anybody picked on, even somebody as powerful as Trump.”
Lightning also talks about how she became a GLOW wrestler thanks to a fight she had with her boyfriend. She recalls how the popularity of the GLOW women rose to Beatle-like levels at one point. Lightning even discusses why she feels a Hillary Clinton win last November would have set women back and she discusses what life has been like since the Netflix GLOW series started.
GLOW fans will be happy to know that the overwhelming majority of these trailblazing wrestlers are very happy they were a part of the iconic show. Matilda the Hun and Mountain Fiji have had some serious health issues, but the younger GLOW vets are all seemingly in good health and in great spirits. Unlike their male wrestling counterparts who often see friend after friend meet a tragic end, the Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling are alive and well.
The GLOW series on Netflix is fictional. While based on the original GLOW, the depiction is far from accurate. But the new show has served a greater purpose. It has brought attention to the women who made wrestling great again in the 1980s. These pioneers of the ring are still passionate about what they did all these years later. They’re a proud bunch. They should be. Against all odds, they turned a shot in the dark into a white hot glow. They now have tons of new fans to share that success with.
To hear full interviews with Lightning, Hollywood, and Roxy Astor visit www.mamagrizzlyradio.com
Follow Kevin Scholla on Twitter @kevinscholla