You wouldn’t expect a documentary about a camp television show featuring outlandish characters in skimpy outfits to evoke much emotion, but Connell Creations’ film about the ’80s wrestling promotion does just that. Directed by Brett Whitcomb, “GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling” is a moving insight into GLOW’s heyday — and life afterwards.

On the surface, the documentary may first seem like a paint-by-numbers rhetoric touting GLOW’s success in the 1980s as “the little show that could”, but beyond that, the stories of the women involved — many of whom may today be forgotten by wrestling audiences — are what truly bring this documentary to life and add a deeper human layer to what could have otherwise been a pleasant, if forgetful, film.

The filmmakers have done a valiant job in bringing on board many cast members and crew for the documentary, which is all the more impressive considering the vast number of women that were involved in the series. Most notable are the likes of former WWE Diva Ivory aka Lisa Moretti, who first started out as Tina Ferrari in GLOW; Little Egypt, the driving force behind the recent GLOW reunions (a recently failed ‘comeback’ show not included); and behind-the-scenes names such as Johnny Cafarella (who is one of the people behind Wrestlicious).

It’s interesting to get a first hand account of life as a GLOW girl from the women involved: from the strict impositions placed on them (there were fines for staying out too late, they reveal), to the injuries that occurred inside the ring. Also explored is the success of the series which became a little slice of Americana with the series’ stars crossing over to do guest spots on late night talk shows (hey there, Joan Rivers minus a facelift or 20), game shows and more.

But the real success of The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling is seeing where the women are today and the ways in which GLOW has touched their lives.

The most poignant example is seeing Mt. Fiji, the powerful Samoan star of GLOW, now bed-ridden in a hospice. Despite her position, Fiji’s lively spirit grabs the viewer as she jokes and laughs while reminiscing on the old days. Meanwhile, her tears when explaining how she still loves her former colleagues and hopes they are well gives us a glimpse into the close-knit world that the GLOW girls once inhabited. In many ways Fiji is the soul of the story.

Similarly, seeing fellow heavyweight Matilda the Hun, now wheelchair bound, sparks an emotional contrast between the glitz, glamor and glitter of the ’80s show and today.

But it’s not all morose. A reunion of the GLOW girls — separated by over 20 years and scattered across the US — will certainly make the viewer smile, and maybe even shed a little tear. Though GLOW may have just been a silly TV show for us, it’s evident that this was an important part of these women’s lives.

The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling‘s strengths lie, much as GLOW itself did, in how relatable the women involved are. It’s a touching story that is slickly produced and well told.

Coupled with last year’s standout female wrestling themed documentary, the excellent Mamachas del Ring, there is an incredible range of cinema being created about women’s wrestling that fans should definitely explore.

Rating: 4/5

For more on GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling visit www.glowthemovie.com.

Watch the trailer:

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