GLOW is the name, women's wrestling is their game. The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling have arrived on Netflix, starring Alison Brie (Community) and comedian Marc Maron. A ribald and neon-electric fictionalized account of the founding of the infamous all-women's wrestling league steeped in both female empowerment and exploitation, GLOW has received smashingly positive reviews from critics (including Screen Rant) and a 96% Fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Produced by Jenji Kohan (Orange Is The New Black), GLOW's co-creators Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch stumbled upon the idea for the show after watching the Netflix documentary GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. Despite being unfamiliar with GLOW and professional wrestling in general before taking on the challenge of producing this series, Flahive and Mensch admirably did a copious amount of research into pro wrestling. The results are on the screen: GLOW not only depicts a genuine understanding of the unique intricacies of professional wrestling (similar to the verisimilitude seen in Darren Aranofsky's Oscar-winning The Wrestler starring Mickey Rourke), but the series provides numerous homages to the pro wrestling stars of the 1980s, the era in which the series is set. Flahive and Mensch also recruited plenty of professional wrestlers for key roles in front of and behind the camera.
Here are all of the wrestler cameos and Easter eggs found in GLOW.
WRESTLING STARS OF THE 1980s
GLOW is set in 1985, and the 1980s was when pro wrestling became mainstream. The sport was redubbed as 'sports entertainment' and Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation (WWF, as it was then known before the company was renamed WWE - World Wrestling Entertainment in 2002) led the way, creating WrestleMania in 1985. In real life and in the series, GLOW capitalizes on this trend. In GLOW's pilot, when the women who answered the talent call are told they're auditioning for a women's wrestling TV show, they immediately reference WWF Superstars and Hulk Hogan.
Hulk Hogan is one of the famous names that transcended pro wrestling. "The Hulkster" is a multi-time World Champion, starred in movies and television shows, and Alison Brie's character Ruth watches clips of him while playing around in her apartment trying to create a wrestling persona. In 1985, Hogan was already a huge celebrity and the most famous pro wrestler in the world. In that year, he hosted Saturday Night Live, appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and was a mainstay on MTV. It's only natural GLOW would reference Hulk Hogan - in that era, Hogan was synonymous with pro wrestling to mainstream audiences. (Hogan also stars in a documentary called Nobody Speaks about his lawsuit with Gawker that launched on Netflix the same day as GLOW.)
Also seen on Ruth's television is Ric Flair, the 16 time World Champion and a legend whose name is even more revered than Hulk Hogan's by pro wrestling fans. Sebastian "Bash" Howard (Chris Lowell), who finances GLOW in the series, mentions The Iron Sheik while arguing with GLOW's director Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron). The Sheik was one of the greatest villains in the WWF of the 1980s and remains popular on Twitter today. Britney Young's character Carmen tells a story of a wrestler "who carries a snake to the ring" - a reference to Jake "The Snake" Roberts, another huge WWF star from the 80s who carried a python named Damien to the ring. The GLOW girls also watch footage from the 1950s of Gorgeous George Wagner, the first great wrestling villain who perfected an effete heel ("bad guy") character.
The GLOW wrestlers train in Chavo Sr.'s Gym. This is a reference to Chavo Guerrero, Sr., the late father of Chavo Guerrero, Jr., who worked as the stunt coordinator and trained the actresses to wrestle for the show. The Guerreros are a legendary family in pro wrestling and have deep ties to GLOW; Mando Guerrero, the brother of Chavo Sr., was the trainer of the real-life GLOW. It's fitting that a Guerrero was asked to train the actresses on the series, honoring the Guerreros' legacy.
WRESTLING STARS OF TODAY IN GLOW
The only actual professional wrestler among the cast of GLOW is Kia Stevens, who plays Tammé Dawson (a.k.a. Welfare Queen). In her pro wrestling career, Stevens is known as Awesome Kong (she also briefly wrestled in WWE under the name Kharma). Awesome Kong helped revolutionize women's wrestling in the United States in a series of high-impact matches with Gail Kim in 2008-2009.
Lots of male pro wrestling stars appear in GLOW. The GLOW girls' trainer in the pilot, a wrestler named Salty "The Sack" Johnson, is played by John Hennigan. Hennigan is a popular, high-flying performer who has gone by several wrestling gimmicks: In WWE, he was known as Johnny Nitro and John Morrison, the latter a spin on the late Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors. In Lucha Underground, Hennigan goes by the name Johnny Mundo.
Britney Young's character Carmen comes from a pro wrestling family. Carmen's brothers wrestle as a tag team called The Lumberjacksons and both are portrayed by actual pro wrestlers. The hulking Mighty Tom Jackson is played by Tyrus (he's billed as Tyrus in GLOW's credits); he was also known as "The Funkasaurus" Brodus Clay in WWE. The wild-haired Big Kurt Jackson is played by Carlos Colon, Jr. (he's billed as Carlos Edwin in the credits), who achieved his greatest wrestling fame in WWE as Carlito Caribbean Cool.
In the fifth episode, some of the GLOW girls attend a pro wrestling show. The first match they watch is wrestled by Christopher Daniels, also known as "The Fallen Angel" and Frankie Kazarian, two big names in the independent pro wrestling scene. (They are merely billed in the credits as Muscular Wrestler #1 and #2, respectively.)
The main event match features the heel Mr. Monopoly, a spin on The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, one of the greatest WWF villains of the 1980s. Mr. Monopoly is played by Joey Ryan, who perfected a sleazy character in his pro wrestling career. The babyface ("good guy") in the match, Steel Horse, is played by Kevin Kiley, Jr., better known by his WWE name Alex Riley, or A-Ry. When Debbie, Carmen and Melrose go backstage to meet Steel Horse, there are posters for wrestling events hanging featuring such international stars as Giant Haystacks, Big Daddy, and Kendo Nagasaki.
When Sam and Ruth take a field trip to scout a venue for GLOW's first-ever television taping, the venue owner is played by Brooke Hogan, Hulk Hogan's daughter. Brooke is herself a recording artist, reality TV star, and briefly joined her father when he ran TNA Impact Wrestling, though as an authority figure character, not as a wrestler.