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WOW Unleashed by Clint Wolf





Well, the first WOW PPV is over and done. Did you like it? Were you disappointed, but still faithful? Did you hate it? More on that at the end of this bag o' notes, which is a view I've articulated before but I think bears repeating.

This isn't going to be an extremely detailed match review... unlike the tapings everyone was watching this at the same time I was, so my note taking was minimal. Also, while I watched some of the tape (yes, I bought and taped the show as well, couldn't miss the Brain's commentary!) when I got home last night I didn't catch all of it, just the end and the beginning before bed called irresistably.

I believe I have some answers to some of the questions and critiques of the show I've been reading, and a semi-interesting view from the trenches. Therefore, good sirs and madams, if you be so inclined please read on.

FIRST AND FOREMOST: Let's get on the soapbox and talk signs.

Some of you may be aware of this already. At every past taping homemade signs have not been any sort of issue. This time around those who brought them were in for a very unpleasant surprise. Stopped at the door, there were two choices: take it back to your car, or throw it on the discard pile. No ifs, ands, or buts-- no discrimination. I worked all of 20 minutes on my "MULLETS BEHIND BARS" sign so it wasn't a huge hit on my experience... but then you hear the stories like that of the little girl who worked on her Jane Blond sign for four hours only to have it not be allowed inside. That's frankly a little heartbreaking, especially since no warning had been issued of any change in policy. These weren't obscene-- they were genuine shows of appreciation people had worked hard to make.

But it gets worse, because to this very moment I can see no logic behind the decision. A review of the motives I've been mulling over in my mind:

  • Possibility #1: Being their first live show, WOW wanted to make sure no a-hole took advantage of the opportunity to display something inappropriate.

  • Reality of #1: Remember the NRA saying, "If guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns?" Replace that word with signs. I saw signs that made it into the arena with such family-friendly phrases as "SUCK C**KS!" on them. 30 minutes after I first saw it, that sign was still being waved around. And yet something as simple as "GO JUNGLE GRRRL" gets stopped at the door because the fan with it didn't think to smuggle it in. And why should they, when the plants handed out later said exactly the same kinds of things? Throwing out the baby with the bathwater is a bad decision to begin with, but here the baby flew out and the bathwater stayed scummily behind. I saw some legitimate support signs also make it in, and to those I say more power to them!

  • Possibility #2: Someone decided signs were impeding the view of the ring.

  • Reality of #2: It doesn't hold water since the planted signs were at least as big... just a lot more boring. All the blockage with none of the personal touch and enthusiasm of fans. And although I'll bitch like anyone if a sign blocks my view, they're a part of wrestling. They add a lot of joy to an event both for the fans who make them and the wrestlers who see them. The better ones are close to works of art, or just flat out hilarious. But I've said enough... the plant handouts invalidate this theory outright.

  • I have no more theories to give, just the strong opinion that this policy was a dismal, dismal failure. It didn't control the content from the free admission guys just looking to get dirty words on TV, it just pissed off a lot of dedicated WOW fans. It hurt feelings, it made bad impressions. It should never be done again. Take a page from the WWF and only confiscate those signs that are obscene, either at the door or when they show up in the crowd. If the inside staff aren't busy trying to take away *every* sign there should be more than enough to handle getting the nasty ones off the air quickly and efficiently.

    Those are the facts from the trenches. The policy shows all marks of being hastily conceived, poorly explained, and badly executed. If it's going to continue it had better at least be announced well in advance of the next taping. But it shouldn't continue, because it's nonsense that does nothing but alienate the truly dedicated fan base of WOW.

    Soapbox over, on with the report.

  • It was a balmy 90 degree midwinter day in L.A. yesterday with a sun shining in a cloudless sky. A nice jarring welcome to all those who flew in from more Northerly climes... hope there wasn't too much luggage space taken up by coats!

  • Speaking of northerly climes, Mike Sweetser (webmaster of and Christopher Robin Zimmerman (Wrestleline, and his own site at are going to be here for the event. The idea was to get a tailgater together, but alas that was not to be as one was submerged in the crowd and one was late.

  • Yes, there's a crowd both in the comp lines and at the doors. Lots of students being bused in again for the event. On the plus side they filled up the seats nicely. We'll get to the minuses later. A WOW cameraman and sound man are roving around getting shots and interviewing people, although I don't think any of this footage made the show.

  • It took longer than usual to get through the doors, likely because of the unpleasant surprise awaiting regarding the signs. I'm sure people wanted some sort of explanation, but I'm just as sure the door staff had absolutely no idea why it was being done, just that they were ordered to not allow any in. These are Forum staff, not WOW staff.

  • I met Bob and Sean outside and talked to them for a bit. They'd recently gone to an autograph session Rob Van Dam held out in a mall near Chatsworth (that's about a half hour to an hour east of L.A.). RVD happened to confirm that he was indeed at the 12/15 WOW taping and had enjoyed it a lot... so I guess I can take that sighting of mine out of the Sasquatch file.

  • They've got the seating going nice and orderly this time, so at least that's been fixed. Just in time for the sign protocols to go haywire...

  • A really interesting bit now for those who've been following WOW since it's first announcements way back in 1999. Little plastic leis are being handed out in support of Boom Boom... but that's not the cool bit. The cool bit is that the staffer handing them out happens to be none other than Koala Kate! She's not in any sort of costume, but her name is on her staffer badge (heh) and I got to talk to her briefly. She's been back in Australia which is why she hasn't been on WOW yet... but she'll be making her debut at last at the next tapings on Feb. 17th!

  • Yes, she's legitimately an Aussie... in case you were wondering.

  • In honor of the occasion I finally shelled out for a couple of t-shirts, one of Riot and one of WOW in general. I would have bought Jane Blond's as well if one had been made yet (hint, hint).

  • Sweetser and his buddies have made their appearance so I went over to chat. They point out that some wrestlers from EPW are in attendance, including lady grappler Rio Storm. That explains why I've been watching the staffers try to find the well-muscled group some seats for the past few minutes... they finally get settled down a few rows back from the announce table.

  • The pre-PPV hype-a-thon is playing on the big screens, with none other than crowd-hyper hipster Bill providing the shill! You know, he didn't seem half bad in front of the camera... I wonder how he'd make out as an interviewer? If my eyeballs don't deceive he's not so big a man as to be towering over the ladies... could work...?

  • A fellow I met at the Shrine comic/sci-fi convention (desperadorrj on the webboard) comes over say howdy and to show off his new Bronco Billie shirt, plus his pictures he took from the Hollywood Memorabilia show which I missed.

  • I heard some complaints that showing the PPV hype was pointless since we were already in attendance. Not entirely true... for instance, Roger has barely watched any WOW so this was really important as far as catching him up on what was happening. Same for any other new fish in attendance.

  • Riot merely has to appear onscreen - not live but taped looong ago, running down Wendi again in the hype clip... and there's a pop from the crowd. Somewhere down the line will we be cheering just to see her name on a door, like with The Rock? Of course Riot's name would have to be spraypainted...

  • CRZ still hadn't shown. I wondered if he was backstage since Wrestleline had gotten him "media access" to try to get an interview with Bobby Heenan.

  • The handouts of the "approved" signs commence. Better than nothing I guess. One of the plants says "Danger's Dawgs", which is kind of cool since it's a phrase that got started by fans in her webboard forum.

  • "BigBob" from the webboard (and the Shrine) walks over to say hi. He'd read I sent Jane Blond and Hammerin' Heather Steele early valentines, and allowed as how he had trumped that since he had boxes of chocolates tonight for Lana Star, the Beach Patrol, Heather, and both of the Asian Invasion.

  • Alas, little did BigBob know that the TRUE uber-sugardaddy surprise was to come tonight. WOWser and I split 50-50 to buy two huge bundles of multi-colored roses addressed to every single one of the ladies, wishing them good luck.

  • No, the word you're looking for is not "insane", it's "appreciative". It's the big night!

  • As BigBob returns to his seat he points out that McLane has arrived while I wasn't looking. He's puttering at the announce table, but he goes backstage again soon enough.

  • Everytime promos for the swimsuit competition came on the crowd was quite happy.

  • Now they've moved folks down into the seats CRZ bought, hrm.

  • 4:50 and it be time to pump up da jam wit' Bill and... uh... spiky. I really should ask what the other's name is one of these days...

  • They throw out the shirts, etc. etc. I use the chance to look around, and it's during this time I spot the homemade signs that ran the gauntlet, including the aforementioned one that says "I'M WITH STPID"(sic) on the front and describes activities with male anatomy on the other side. I also spot Lagoonboy near the front to the side of the announcers, and what might be Ursa_Major holding up a beautiful red-and-yellow blended Lotus sign, waaay up in the Loge section. RiotFan and DarkTorture are front row center in my own section A, and their visages should be prominently on camera all night

  • If you guessed those as more net aliases, give yourself a cigar. My own are alternately drfeh, Dr. Feh, or deadheatpete, and the less I try to explain any of them the better. I don't even bother to correct people pronouncing it "Doctor Fay" because that would just be darn silly, wouldn't it?

  • I notice that the crew at ringside all have earplugs.

  • I also notice the EPW crowd are having a hard time getting jiggy, jaded professionals that they are-- despite much encouragement from Bill and spiky (shall I just dub him Spike?).

  • Here's Lee Marshall and Thomas GriffiN (not Griffith... I weep with shame at my last report... more than usual, I mean...). A barber chair is being loaded into the ring... it is GO TIME!

  • Just as a note, the audio and visual was much better live, even when things were up on the screen. None of the blackouts and other such things I noted from my tape. As far as the speaking, Bill's "most historical" comment in the pre-hype and McLane's "history is being maken tonight" have already set a tone, but I don't blame them for being nervous. This is a huge, huge jump from anything that any of these folks, wrestlers and crew have done before.

  • Minus the grammar, I actually thought McLane's opening promo was good-- at least, less forced than usual. If anyone had doubts on the place of the hair match in the hype scale, the opening barber chair ought to dispel them. And was that barber creepy looking or what?

  • It probably would've been better if they'd actually explained who Randi Rah Rah is rather than just springing her on the audience, but not a bad opener. I hope that cross bodyblock isn't supposed to be a finisher, but I'm pretty sure it's a stopgap until she develops one. The mic not working for the first part of Bobby's interview with her was unfortunate... kudos to (I think it was Griffin) for getting a spare in there before it was all over.

  • Beach Patrol vs. Farah & Paradise was a GOOD MATCH. Farah's "Crimson Carpet Ride" submission got a huge pop, especially from the diehards in our section. The action was stiff, crisp, and fast, and the best work I've seen from either team so far.

  • Jane Blond stayed up on the ring ropes for the entirety of Tanja's entrance, buffing her nails and all in all looking quite like a bored cat awaiting her prey. I thought it was a great effect, and the match itself showed a lot of the character of both women. Gloss over it if you will as "battle of the silly gimmicks", but I finally got a "barbarian" vibe off of Tanja I'd never felt before, and that was a contrast to the cocky classiness of her opponent. Jane also did a classic bit after the Giant Swing, swaying around with a dizzy expression. A spot or two was flubbed, but they carried through it without breaking stride. I'm also rather happy because Jane was getting a share of support... even a few chants were started. Jolly good!

  • The swimsuit videos were well received. Perhaps a little too well. I can safely say this was by far the rudest crowd ever at a WOW event, with certain groups repeatedly chanting things like "Show us t*tties!" Where'd they bus these guys in from, San Quentin high? Eh, I guess if WOW gets popular this is just going to come with the territory, but I'd like to at least have these folks paying for the privilege of being naughty.

  • Nikki Law impressed me. Even moreso because I talked to some folks after and confirmed she's a recent hire... even if she wasn't, Law & Order are definitely not Mystery & Misery as some have speculated. The builds and coloring are just all wrong. Anyhow, Law had good timing and ring charisma, and the gimmick is just naturally heel in L.A. Law & Order would have even more heat if they were garbed in LAPD all-black. Lest we forget it takes two to tango in the ring, Heather turned in a fine performance of her own, and actually now has something of a (very short) entrance video.

  • At this point some people came and sat down in the empty seats next to me and as I tried to stand I found the tip of my shirt was trapped by my new neighbor's chair. This was my first live experience with the infamous (or is that unfamous?) CRZ, asking him to please get up so I could free myself. Turns out he wasn't backstage... just traffic problems and such preventing a timely arrival.

  • 2Boom & Caliente vs. the Asian Invasion... I'm getting to sound like a broken record, but as a whole I did not find the undercard to be terrible, or even insignificant. Maybe being bereft of the big angles and attention made them try all that much harder... Jade's top rope headscissors (the "Jaded Edge") was awesome, and in the dropkick/turnbuckle bounce/roll-up sequence I honestly thought the AI was going to get the 3-count. 2Boom's splashes just looked punishing, and her Samoan Drop arguably had enough height and impact to it to use as a finisher... it worked for Kurt Angle, right?

  • I don't remember the exact sequence where Danger's promo came in, but except for the fuzzy audio at the beginning, nice stuff. The SUV thing was frankly a bit laughable though... what's she supposed to have been doing in there all that time that was fogging up the windows? Umm... nevermind...

  • Billie vs. Disciplinarian I remember as being 'okay'... although for once Double B finally got a 3 count on the Bulldog, and TD's rotating backslide was tres smooth. The GREAT part of this was TD revealing she'd bought the ranch, which had CRZ and myself in stitches. This is actually an angle that was suggested on the board (I forget by who, exactly)... I'm intrigued to see where it will go from here, as this wasn't the end of the proposal by a long shot...

  • Slam vs. Roxy. Excellent heat. Slam was being booed out of the Forum from the moment she started talking... so much so I missed half of what she said. The best was when Roxy was down as Slam went up top and our section came alive with "DEFENSE! (stompstomp) DEFENSE!" Superkick good. Ending? Let us segue there to my thoughts...

  • Comments have been made that people were very disappointed with the number of screwjobs and other non-finishes at the PPV, especially in light of WOW's booking to date (even in most of WOW's run-ins a clean pin has usually been delivered first). I don't look at this as a sign of a shift in booking, but rather an unfortunate side effect of the scheduling. In other words... many of the 1/20 taping matches were continuations of the PPV feuds. They were presented to the live crowd as being lead-ins, but in reality they'll be shown as post-PPV in the continuity. The simple finishes of the night were all inevitably pairings that had not been done before or have nothing "in the can" that still needs to be shown. By contrast, Roxy and Slam have two matches that still need to be aired. Caged Heat and Harley's Angels are still set to be in contention. Continuity all but dictated screwiness so that the feuds could continue... it leaves a bad WWF-like taste in the mouth to have feuds climax on free TV rather than the show you paid money for, but WOW more or less had no choice on many of these endings after painting themselves into the corner. That's my take. Hopefully it can somehow be avoided or at least lessened when Spring Vengeance rolls around...

  • Riot vs. Wendi will probably look better when I see it on TV... as it was a lot of the action was going on on the wrong side of the ring. There were actually some "Wendi" chants, which really surprised me... but hey, give both women their props for dishing out and taking those shots!

  • Jungle Grrrl vs. Beckie didn't quite live up to my inflated expectations, but that's likely my own fault for setting them so high. When JG brought out that ladder, WOW! EVERYONE got on their feet! From our angle the resulting splash looked beautiful, but they chose a really, really bad angle for the replay. Huge moment for the live crowd nonetheless.

  • Caged Heat vs. Harley's Angels. The Angels surprised the heck out of me by actually turning it up and keeping some pace with Loca and Delta, when I was expecting carrying to have to be done. I personally really dug Vendetta's appearance, and the live crowd was hot for it, especially when she faced down Thug. The ending spot with Vendetta holding Thug down for both Loca and Delta to come off the ropes on was beautiful... well, until the replay showed Loca's elbow missing the mark. I swear they just chose the *worst* possible camera angle for these high spots, and then compounded it by showing the mistake over and over. Bah. Again, from where I was sitting everything looked fine.

  • Danger got major heel heat when she came out for the title match. I agree with those who thought it was too short, somehow it didn't stick in my mind as it should have-- up until Riot ran out, then I was marking! I wish the powerbomb had worked the first time. I also wish the table had broken instead of just collapsing. Since Danger wasn't on at the 1/20 tapings that may be it for her for awhile-- but just to calm the fears of the Dawgs out there... no, she's not and wasn't legit injured. Nor do I have any sense of her leaving the company. She'll be back.

  • One thing that was annoying as a live crowd was the lack of audio on a lot of the "backstage" or remote segments. We couldn't hear the commentators, so there were plenty of silent movies to watch. I also completely missed the "I got your back" segment between Terri and Selina. Others came through loud and clear. *shrug*

  • Lana's crutch act drew H.E.A.T. from the audience. Maybe she's not the most physical of heels, but only Slam Dunk rivaled her for the heel reaction she was getting. You have to admit she's doing her job when she actually got David McLane to be CHEERED.

  • Poison now has an entrance video. Oh my dear lord does Poison have an entrance video. I don't know if this aired to the audience at home, but as far as fromage goes it blows Jacklyn Hyde's out of the water, and that's saying something. Personally I was vastly entertained by its no holds barred B-movieness, but I'm weird like that.

  • Very interesting to book Lana into a handicap match, considering all the noise on the 'Net about her lack of in ring ability. Did this match change any minds? Probably not, and all the way through I was just imagining the squawk that was going to go up as a result of her winning. TofuNinja and I had Ice pegged to lose... not because she has short hair to begin with or any of that, but for the simple reason that her 1/20 appearance with Poison was dark. They aired a little snip of it and that was it... meanwhile Patti, Lana, and Poison all wrestled actual matches on the card. Still, it was just enough of a swerve to keep some people guessing. Not all, maybe not even most... but at least some.

  • Ice's shaving was incredibly emotional... that woman deserves an Oscar, not to mention a hefty dedication bonus. A lot of people have said they got very uncomfortable with it, which is in total contradiction to the "so a chick loses her hair... so what?" attitude prevalent before the PPV. Let's not go overboard with the "gang rape" analogies I've seen though, please. It was meant to be controversial, it got the most TV coverage-- it delivered, despite many people saying WOW would never go through with it. 'Nuff said. If you really want to be offended, how about the group of comps that chanted "Shave her sn*tch"? Yikes.

  • Now we come to the cage match. Which should have been the highlight of the show just as the Selina/Thug confrontations have been at the past three tapings...

  • Something happened at that missed entrance by Selina... she (for whatever reason) was late, her entrance was in silence, her fireworks fizzled... at that point I palpably felt like all the wind got sucked out of the crowd-- the spell was ended, and people starting flowing to the exits. Thug seemed to keep looking under the ring for objects, and finding nothing they kept doing the same spots over and over. You wonder why they kept cutting to Ice in the back? Or why she ran out in the middle? There's your answer. I'll be damned if I'm going to chant "boring" when a performer is bleeding for us (some weren't as discretionary), but there it was-- there was a long stretch there of just...? And it was so slow. When I came home I watched in on tape and I give major props to the production crew and the commentators for making it much better... for us, Ice Cold coming in, or Josh taking his suicide dive was welcome distraction from the inaction. Terri seemed half asleep at her post. Things finally woke up some at the end, but it was really sad to watch a great-on-paper match just fall to pieces for no discernable reason. It should have rocked like the others they've had. It should have rocked MORE than the others. But it's done with, stick a fork in it and move on.

  • The upside of this is that the 1/20 taping had a much, MUCH better reaction for take-no-prisoners Selina, and that has yet to air. So by virtue of timing quirks the rollercoaster can still ramp up from this. I don't know what happened last night... "Stone Cold" Selina Majors rocked on 1/20 and was welcomed with open arms even by the comped people. If there was time prior to the next taping I would say AIR IT NOW and get people hyped up again... but there's only one show between now and the 17th for most of us. Bah.

  • So, a downer at the end of the show, and a fair share of spottiness in the technical areas... but by no means a ruined evening. WOW has always shown a willingness to address criticisms and improve, so we'll see how things go come April.

  • Some closing notes:

  • I talked to some WOW people who confirmed that they'll be trying to make the Shrine convention appearances a regular event, about once a month. Next scheduled appearance is this coming weekend, and I remember Bronco Billie being one of the ladies scheduled but have unfortunately forgotten the others they told me. The website should have information under their "live events" section soon.

  • A cluster of WOW ladies were talking to Bobby Heenan and hoping he'd come back. The Brain didn't promise anything, but he didn't say "no" either. From what I've seen of my tape so far he added a great element to things, and I'm hoping he does. Matter of fact, I'm planning to e-mail him saying how grateful I am he came and hoping he might do another gig. Feel like joining me on that? -- let's not get pushy about it, but I don't think it would hurt to butter up the Weasel a bit.

  • Erm. Perhaps I should rephrase that. Eh. Nah.

  • One last clamber onto the soapbox before I go. Imagine a slowly swelling rendition of "America the Beautiful" in the background, or Oh! Canada or whatever floats your patriotic boat...

  • Why support WOW?

  • Why put up with the bad promos... the blown spots... the technical problems. People look at the WOW fan and they say "How can you possibly enjoy this? It sucks!" Workrate freaks get their tapes from Japan and sit back watching Manami Toyota going full tilt. On the other end of the spectrum are those who think women in wrestling *should* be confined to mere ornaments, or taken off the television altogether. Yet here we are-- shelling out our money for the live events, staying up to ungodly hours to watch on badly received TV channels, writing reviews, concocting rankings ladders. I can't honestly remember the last time I watched a WWF show end-to-end, yet with WOW I never miss doing so, and when I must I make sure to tape it.


  • It's fun.

  • It's all we've got.

    Not all of us have access to import tapes. Not all of us even want to... sure it's great to watch the Japanese women go at it, but here we've got storylines (however cheesy), interviews (however scripted), ego clashes, run-ins -- not to mention that the commentary is done in English. We have a women's federation that is being broadcast not just nationally, but internationally, and is delivering the kinds of matches the great majority of the public (whose exposure is limited to WWF/WCW, possibly ECW) have never seen women do. WOW has removed the glass ceiling and let the women be the focus, let them go as far as they want to go. Consistently. No men interfering to gain cheap heat. No dead crowds getting a hot dog while they wait for Steve Austin to show up. No apron pounding on the outside. And yes, there's plenty of small women's feds out there still... but how many of them have entrance videos and pyrotechnics? WOW gives us an element of spectacle you just can't get in any other all women's fed in North America. And Aristotle will be the first to tell you how important that is, workrate or no workrate. The WOW women only know 3 moves? I don't agree with that, but in any case it's better than the WWF where the confrontations are often spear-punch-punch-rollsheroverbeneath-punch-punch-beat-head-weakly-against-m at-etc-etc.

    Every so often Vince lets them go for a bit... then it's right back to business as usual. Even Lita gets held back, despite the chants she's been getting. And poor, poor Nora Greenwald.

    I've given up waiting.

    Vince isn't going to do it.
    Uncle Eric *definitely* isn't going to do it.
    Paul E. is slipping under the waves, but showed no signs of doing it.

    WOW has to do it. WOW is our best and only shot at getting women's wrestling over in North America for the foreseeable future. I don't care if that thought happens to depress you. Support it so that it survives long enough to have the chance to get to the point it doesn't. I don't care what you think of McLane, or even what I think of McLane... he is the only promoter out there willing to give the ladies an unfettered shot at the spotlight.

    "Well, I'll enjoy the tiny pants for now, but WOW's not going anywhere..."

    "Sure I like women's wrestling, but not enough to pay for it."

    Or my personal favorite:

    "[So-and-so] really has a future in this business once WOW goes under..."

    No she doesn't. Not in America.

    Think about it.


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