By Anish Vishwakoti, ProWrestling.net Staffer, (@AVX_9001)
I attended the live taping for WOW (Women of Wrestling) on May 15, 2019. WOW ran its tapings to film episodes for the second season on AXS TV. The show is produced by David McLane of GLOW fame, and Jeanie Buss, owner of the LA Lakers.
I won’t divulge spoilers or reveal match results or character arcs in this piece, as WOW asked attending press at the show not give away anything relating to the results or the story, but I will share the insight I gained on the second season of WOW that will be coming later in 2019 to AXS TV.
Wrestlers and Style
If you watched WOW’s first set of episodes of AXS, then a lot of the wrestlers that will be on the new season will be familiar to you. I bring this up because there were a fair number of fans in the crowd that seemed to be very familiar with a lot of the wrestlers, which made the tapings enjoyable, as everyone got a reaction without exception. Some of the main wrestlers who had matches on the show were WOW Champion Tessa Blanchard, Jungle Grrrl, The Beast, Fire (Kiera Hogan), Serpentine (Kobra Moon/Thunder Rosa,) Jessica Havok, and others.
I don’t want to get into which wrestlers were featured more than others or in more prominent roles as not to give away the story, however I will say that WOW does very well with putting the focus on the WOW Championship, around which the story revolves, as I believe it should for a show like this. One noticeable part of these tapings as opposed to the last set was that the quality of wrestling felt higher.
If you’re expecting Strong Style or a Lucha Underground style of carnage then look elsewhere, as the wrestling here just isn’t like that, however I feel that the show is still entertaining and since they are catering to a family audience it has a certain flow to it, not that this is bad by any means. Stars that are familiar to wrestling fans from elsewhere like Blanchard, Fire, and Serpentine put in great performances, but there were certainly a number of standout performances aside from those wrestlers.
Some wrestlers to watch for are Azteca, Keta Rush, Stephie Slays, and Nikki Krampus, who all had pretty good matches at the tapings. Azteca and Rush also elicited really great reactions from the crowd, some of the loudest of the night, which really gives me the feel that WOW has been able to create their own stars in some sense that its fans can get behind. WOW could have easily been a show that only used popular independent wrestlers rather than create their own characters, but the organization is taking the time to cultivate a following around some of their homegrown wrestlers.
Wrestlers such as Jungle Grrrl and The Beast, who were important to the first season of WOW, continued to put in great performances. WOW also continued their use of managers in prominent roles for a lot of the wrestlers, with the majority of wrestlers having someone that they are aligned with. In many cases, this did extend to the ring as well, with McLane’s promise of more tag team wrestling being prominent at the tapings.
WOW did well in giving characters motivations to team up and not simply throwing teams together. They also ensured that there was a balance of singles and tag team wrestling. Whether that balance is maintained for each television episode is unknown to me, but at the taping I attended the order of tag to singles matches flowed well.
One criticism is that the WOW roster seemed to feature a lot of mystic and demonic characters. This isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but it was rather confusing as multiple groups would use the same entrance music and mannerisms, making it seem as if they were all part of one larger faction, and not until some of them wrestled against one another did I realize this was not the case.
WOW Taping Atmosphere
The flow of the show at the tapings also felt smoother this time around. There were very few breaks in between matches and different ‘episodes.’ You could barely tell that they were filming something to be played over many weeks. It was certainly an easy watch as a fan in the crowd, so if you are considering heading to a taping in Los Angeles, then I would recommend it. A lot of the credit to keep things moving smoothly has to be given to McLane, who was involved fleetingly in making announcements and, more importantly, ring announcer, Shaul Guerrero, who did a very good job at keeping the crowd hyped between matches.
Props to Shaul as well for being a good ring announcer in general. From when I saw her at the Lucha Underground Season 4 tapings to now, Guerrero has noticeably improved and has found a voice of her own that suits the WOW arena very well. You could tell that the crowd were used to her being there, giving me the impression that WOW really did have fans of their television show come out to the tapings. I say this because there wasn’t a single chant for Eddie or Vickie or Chavo, which there definitely were the last few times I saw Shaul work as a ring announcer.
The crowd were generally very excited about the matches throughout the night. WOW did a good job at spacing out talent and making sure that there was a rhythm to the show so that the crowd didn’t tire themselves out for a match and then have to remain extremely excited for another big match right after. The Belasco Theatre that hosted the tapings seemed more full than last time, I think both because they slightly reworked the crowd seating and because there were simply more people trying to see the show.
Because of the aesthetic that WOW has, it would be simple to go with clear cut heel/babyface dynamics, which they definitely did for the first season of the show. While WOW still generally sticks to those dynamics and the crowd generally played into those, there were also times where the lines were a little blurred and heels got cheered, which I didn’t see much of last time. As far as character arcs, the crowd was very quick to react to certain things and buy into them, so credit to WOW and the wrestlers for making turns and character progressions very clear to the fans in attendance without the use of pre-taped promos or anything like that.
The crowd included several wrestlers who came out to support the show, most notably Joey Ryan, Daga (who is dating Tessa Blanchard), and Rob Van Dam (who is dating Khloe Hurtz). All three were there for most if not the full taping and they seemed to enjoy the show.
Because this was WOW’s second set of tapings, the show simply went smoother overall. The biggest takeaway from this was that the wrestling itself is definitely getting better. The crowd being so into the show helped undoubtedly, but it’s cool to see that WOW isn’t just relying on the characters to draw people in, they are indeed working on bringing quality in-ring action to the fans.
If you were a fan of the first season of WOW, you should like this second season as well. Everything that was positive seems to still be here and the connection between the show and its fans seems to be growing. On the opposite side of AXS’s Strong Style programming with New Japan Pro Wrestling, WOW looks like it will be a family friendly staple for AXS for the foreseeable future.
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