The Real 'Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling' Vegas Show Differs From The Netflix Version In Some Small Ways
The wrestlers of Netflix's GLOW take their show to Las Vegas in Season 3, which is fitting given that the original Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling was based in Vegas. In fact, the original G.L.O.W. television series was filmed at the Riviera casino and hotel in Vegas, which is the inspiration for the Fan-Tan in the series. While the cast originally came from Hollywood, they were soon joined by local Vegas performers.
According to the New York Post, the television and eventual live Vegas show was designed by a wrestling promoter named David B. McLane and funded by Meshulam Riklis, who owned the Riviera. Matt Cimber, who was friends with Riklis, directed. They inspired the characters Sam Sylvia, Bash Howard, and now Geena Davis' Sandy Deveraux St. Clair.
The original G.L.O.W. wrestlers lived in Vegas and had a curfew. “You can’t stay out until four in the morning and then get in the ring with somebody the next day and piledrive them,” said former wrestler Dawn "Godiva" Maestas in an interview with Inverse. “So we had to be well-rested and clear-headed.” That said, she added,“we would sneak out all the time. I was in my twenties and a little bit rebellious and ended up getting fined a lot for breaking curfew.” So, in that regard, GLOW is pretty accurate.
The TV show in Vegas had a studio audience. That's the closest to what you see on the Netflix series, which is more of a live stage wrestling show. Additionally, G.L.O.W. started doing arena tours around the country. That's when Lauri "Susie Spirit" Thompson, one of those Vegas performers who auditioned for a chance to do more work and less travel, called it quits. "I couldn't be part of that tour," said Thompson in a 2017 interview with Nevada Public Radio. "Having broken my arm, I'm not sure I wanted to wrestle for 700 people in an arena. I think I only want[ed] to wrestle for a television show that can be shown over and over and over again to millions of people."
According to the Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling documentary, Riklis pulled his funding at the height of the show's popularity for reasons that remain mysterious. The show was revived in Vegas in 2001, with the help of Cimber's son Tony. In April of 2012, many of the original Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling returned to Vegas for a live reunion show (above). So basically, on and off since its inception in the late '80s G.L.O.W. has been a Vegas event.
However, in 2016 the Riviera Hotel was demolished. In Season 3 of the Netflix series, GLOW moves in at the Fan-Tan Hotel and Casino. It may be based on the Riviera in spirit, but it is not a real place on the strip.
While the Netflix series does not exactly follow what happened in real life — the Riviera show was taped for television and started in Vegas — it captures this largely untapped true story. Make those arena tours will crop up in Season 3. G.L.O.W. on the road is definitely what needs to happen next.