Saturday, June 15, 2013

GLOW - The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling

Dierector: Brett Whitcomb, Bradford Thomason
Distributor: Window Pictures
Released: 3/13

Featured Talent
Americana, Roxy Astor, Babe the Farmer’s Daughter, Big Bad Mama, Steve Blance (Head Writer), Ashley Cartier, Cheyenne Cher, Daisy, Ric Drasin, Johnny Gafarella (Manager), Godiva, Mando Guerrero, Hollywood, The Houswives / Heavy Metal Sisters, Jailbait, Lightning, Little Egypt, Ivory, Matilda the Hun, Mountain Fiji, MTV, Ninotchka, Susie Spirit, Larry Zbyszko

The Good
Pro-wrestling documentaries seem to work best when they have a narrow focus, great characters and a concise story to tell.  While an hour on the history of GLOW seems ridiculous, this was really fun.  Other than a few clips, magazine features and such, I had little interest or background knowledge.  GLOW always seemed like a wacky short-lived promotion that never really produced anything or anyone of note other than Ivory.  This really sheds lights on the product and how special and innovative it really was.  An Israeli mogul backing his b-film director buddy and taking the concept from David McClane led to a product that combined sex and violence with campiness and characters.  While it seems like a tiny piece of pro-wrestling history that is easily dismissed, GLOW had something special and was in many ways a precursor to products like MatRats, Wrestling Society X, Chikara Pro and Kaiju Big Battel that have tried to create a very distinct and different brand of pro-wrestling.  Although GLOW was lacking in many areas, it was really successful in other ways that are worth exploring.  This documentary packs so much into an hour and really leaves you thinking that this was a cult favorite that shouldn’t be forgotten.  Largely the failure of subsequent revivals and the lack of talent going on to great fame (save for Tina Ferrari who became the WWF’s Ivory), GLOW has always been remembered with a negative conotation.  This documentary did a great job to change that.  The show ran only for a few years and did not have a massive roster, so pulling together so many of the players really added legitimacy to this.

The Bad
I’m not sure if I’ve ever watched a documentary about quite a small niche thing.  While that can allow for a focused story, it is often subject to excessive romanticization and very limited voices.  Matt Cimber, the director and real brains behind GLOW, was featured at a reunion, but was not interviewed for this specifically.  David McClane was absent as well, which was perhaps more surprising.  So basically this featured a number of the performers, a couple management guys and Chavo Guerrero (who trained the initial crew).  No fans, no journalists, no surprising celebrities and no other pro-wrestlers (other than Larry Zbyszko for a moment).  GLOW definitely did something unique and had its strengths, but it was not exactly the pop culture sensation that this documentary would lead you to believe.  It was different, it got some exceptional attention because it was different, but then its time passed.  In comparison to All Japan Women in the days of the Beauty Pair in the 70s, the Crush Gals in the 80s or even cross-promotional workrate era in the 90s, GLOW does not hold up at all in terms of popularity, quality or even character development.

The Rating: ****1/4