I remember the time when I became aware of the existence of professional wrestling. I was at a friend’s house, and we were really young (I was in school but I don’t remember whether it was first, second or third grade…). We were playing around the house, and my friend’s bigger siblings were channel surfing, when wrestling came on. They stopped there and started watching and we kind of joined in too, somewhat intrigued by colorful characters and the wild stunts which suddenly filled the screen.
I do not remember who the wrestlers were, nor do I know what show it was…I do know there was one fat, white-haired guy in polka-dot trunks (who was probably Dusty Rhodes), but the whole spectacle made a large enough impression on me that I brought it up the next day at school. The other kids were obviously more versed in the ways of the square circle than I was: one of them told me there was actually a women’s version to the sport we had witnessed the day before. Now that definitely got my attention and the world of professional wrestling took on an entirely different dimension for me. I pictured the sort of action I had witnessed with women as protagonists and I was left hooked.
I did not know what the rules were back then, I did not know how and why matches ended. I just began developing an ever-increasing interest in it. Although not actually seeing any women’s matches, the whole thing kind slid into the back of my mind, not something I paid a whole lot of attention to for years. Then, during the early(/late?) 90s, I happened upon reruns of GLOW on a German sports channel, and although I understood not what the commentary was about, and I didn’t even realize it was an American show, I got instantly hooked, or rather, I got instantly bedazzled and enthralled with the in-ring antics of the shiny-spandex clad wrestlers and of the glamour/glitter atmosphere that surrounded the whole spectacle. I remember at that time I thought humanity had never invented anything remotely as exciting and appealing as ladies’ professional wrestling. Although in hindsight, GLOW action was indeed goofy and not particularly impressive from a technical perspective, to me it was magical, surreal and incredible. I remember Spanish Red quickly became my favorite, although I liked Hollywood and Vine, Tina and Ashley, Americana and even Colonel Ninotschka quite a bit too. My fascination with GLOW and with ladies pro wrestling went much further than that though. From the get-go I felt I wanted to be one of the GLOW girls. I wanted to be part of the action, greatly entertained and impressed, yet never fully content with just looking in from the sidelines.
The passion that GLOW unleashed in me was only amplified later on, and when I gained consistent access to the internet, ladies wrestling became one of my favorite search/surfing subjects. I might as well say I got to know the World Wide Web through the lens of ladies professional wrestling.
My interest for the men’s side of the sport – never particularly keen to begin with – quickly waned into non-existence, as I discovered more and more on the wonderful women of the square circle and I learned that women were far from a sideshow-attraction in professional wrestling. I learned about the rules, about the various holds and about the legendary personalities of the sport. The more I knew, the more compelled I felt to take my own steps towards one day stepping into the squared circle and to become part of this magical world of glamour, grit, hard work, visual spectacle, and… there’s no better way to put this: art. After all, in the words of Jesse Ventura, isn’t professional wrestling ballet with violence?