By Anish Vishwakoti, Prowrestling.net Staffer, (@AVX_9001)
I attended the live taping for WOW (Women of Wrestling) on Wednesday. The promotion is run by David McLane of GLOW fame and Jeanie Buss, current owner of the LA Lakers. I won’t divulge spoilers or reveal match results or character arcs in this piece, but I will share the insight I gained on the revitalized version of WOW that will be coming to AXS TV on January 18, 2019.
Wrestlers and Style
Like many promotions that have their own name for their athletes i.e. (WWE Superstars, TNA Knockouts), WOW’s wrestlers are referred to on the show as “Superheroes”. David McLane is famous for his role in the original GLOW wrestling show, and that same sort of charm and commitment to larger than life characters is present. While this does stray into the unbelievable at times, it has a balance between grounded wrestling and the fantastic elements. A lot of the time, even the fantastic elements are left on the apron as the wrestlers step into the ring, so the focus is always on the matches when they start.
Some notable wrestlers at the taping included Santana Garrett, who is the current WOW World Champion and an important part of the show. One thing that WOW did well at the tapings is putting a lot of emphasis on the championship.
Impact Wrestling’s Knockout’s Champion Tessa Blanchard also signed for WOW right before these tapings and she had a great showing. With wrestlers like Blanchard and Garrett who have a lot of exposure wrestling elsewhere, WOW did well in incorporating their background into the show and acknowledging their work elsewhere. This contrasts with their own homegrown characters, who are treated like entities that exist solely in the WOW world.
Other wrestlers to look for include Jungle Girl, who put on consistently good matches at the show. She is an Amazon type of character, and has an aesthetic akin to Jimmy Snuka, even leaning into it and using a top rope splash as her finish. The Beast also had a good showing as WOW’s resident monster. WOW has a supernatural side that it doesn’t shy away from, but for the most part keeps it grounded as all the wrestlers cut promos and talk as if they are real humans with goals, which makes the show easy to follow.
The Beast is one of those wrestlers who is a monster and has impactful matches, but she cuts very straightforward promos to remind the audience that this isn’t a complete fantasy world. There were a number of other wrestlers who put on strong performances at the tapings as well such as Titanic, a bubbly and unexpectedly athletic wrestler. Fire is an extremely likable wrestler who had as series of fun matches on the tapings.
WOW Taping Atmosphere
The show was filmed at the Belasco Theatre in Los Angeles and had a different feel to a lot of wrestling shows in that it was a lot like a stage play setting. One of the best things about the taping was that the crowd was extremely into the matches and especially the big matches had a great feel to them as the crowd ate up the straightforward heel/face dynamics. This led to a raucous reaction and made things like near falls extremely fun to watch. WOW did a good job differentiating between main event matches and the undercard, and the show seems to be a following an old school TV formula, of starting and ending the Wow Championship as the most important aspect.
Some of the other notables of the broadcast included David McLane, who takes on a ring announcer/GM type role as he has done in the past. McLane is the one who ties the show together, and while he was charismatic, he was a little long winded at times, although this aspect could certainly be shortened on the TV broadcast.
Taking over as the ring announcer for WOW at these tapings was Shaul Guerrero of the famed Guerrero family. Shaul received a respectful welcome from the fans and did a fantastic job as ring announcer for the show. Shaul’s style differs from many typical ring announcers and has an air of variation to it, which gives the show a nice feel. Commentary was done by McLane and Stephen Dickey, who has been doing commentary with WOW for a while.
The crowd featured a number of wrestlers who had come out to support the show, most notably Scorpio Sky and ECW legend Rob Van Dam. Both Sky and RVD were present for the entire taping and they really seemed to enjoy the proceedings based on my conversations with them.
With the production company (MGM) for WOW being the same as the one that Lucha Underground uses, the show had an atmosphere similar to a Lucha Underground show. It was very family friendly however, and also featured a lot of that old school GLOW charm as well. It almost felt like it was halfway between a Lucha Underground taping and a GLOW show. Being on AXS TV doesn’t mean that WOW will have the same quality of wrestling that NJPW does, or even that it necessarily even as Lucha Underground has, but like GLOW in the past, WOW uses character to make up for it.
WOW knows its audience and played to it very well at the live tapings. I wasn’t able to watch any backstage interviews, so I don’t know if it will take the form of a traditional wrestling show or have a more cinematic feel like Lucha Underground. However, the in-ring segments felt very much like a wrestling show, so I would imagine that backstage interviews are more akin to a wrestling show as well. Whether WOW will reach the same sort of cult status as GLOW did or even garner the sort of fanbase that Lucha Underground has reamins to be seen. What I did see at the tapings is that they have the foundation, the crowd, and the correct style of one-hour television program to last.
Being only a one-hour TV show will definitely help WOW, and if they gain enough of a fan following, this revitalized show might be able to attract more female talent and elevate the level of in-ring action. Being on AXS alongside NJPW on Fridays will help.
It’s hard to assess where WOW will end up. But with the backing from AXS and the undoubtedly fun wrestling that I saw yesterday, it certainly has potential. AXS TV Fights CEO Andrew Simon and other executives in attendance seemed very excited and optimistic about WOW as a long-term investment. Considering the popularity of Netflix’s GLOW and the general wrestling fanbase’s increasing demand for women’s wrestling, I have a feeling that this new WOW will find a place in the pro wrestling zeitgeist.
Check below for the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Chris Harrington.