Hollywood Flashback: GLOW Smashed Pro Wrestling's Glass Ceiling in 1986

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From left: GLOW wrestlers Vicky Victory, Mt. Fiji, MTV (in the air) and Roxy Astor in the ring on May 4, 1988.

As Netflix prepares to debut a Jenji Kohan-produced comedy about the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling league, the original show co-creator is crying foul over "possibly derivative work" that the streaming service may not have the rights to: "Netflix has totally ignored me. And they might be in for a rude awakening."

Netflix's resurrection of Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling — in the form of a Jenji Kohan-produced comedy — is proof you can't keep a good woman pinned to the mat. GLOW, as it was called, was "a circus with one squared ring and a menagerie of wild personalities," says co-creator David McLane. The syndicated show, which aired from 1986 to 1990, offered flamboyantly stereotyped female grapplers performing musical numbers, anti-drug PSAs and comedy sketches — when they weren't catapulting each other through the air.

"It was wrestling mixed with Hee Haw — but with more sex appeal," says Jeanne Basone, who wrestled as Hollywood in the animal-print-wearing Hollywood & Vine tag team.

Former fan club president James Maybury, who has the world's largest collection of GLOW memorabilia (and is seeking financing for a museum), says the league "had an energy none of the other wrestling [leagues] had. It was a moment in time. You were there and understood it, or you missed it. And I feel sorry for you if you missed it."

And while Netflix's GLOW is set to air June 23, the original show co-creator Matt Cimber says that while Netflix probably owns the GLOW trademark, there "is possibly derivative work" not covered by it. "Netflix has totally ignored me," says Cimber. "And they might be in for a rude awakening."

This story first appeared in the June 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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