At first, everything about WOW Women of Wrestling founder David McLane feels old school, a reminder of professional wrestling’s carnival roots. I first met him briefly on October 11, 2018, before the second night of tapings at the Belasco Theatre in Los Angeles for the new WOW series on AXS TV. He entered the room to speak to members of the media clad in a tuxedo and accompanied by several members of the WOW roster in their wrestling gear. When he started talking up the show and its performers, it was in such a way that I couldn’t help but imagine him holding a megaphone on a fairground stage, telling onlookers to step right up and see these women of wrestling that would make you say, “wow!”
However, when McLane shifted the figurative spotlight to his employees, they were presented not only as special attractions but as human individuals, each with an important life story. After he briefly introduced them, the wrestlers shared the aspects of their histories and skills that have contributed to their wrestling careers and WOW characters. Keta Rush’s experiences with bullies in high school motivated her to open up her own gym where she teaches self-defense and translates to a kid-friendly babyface wrestling persona. The Dagger’s past in an abusive relationship was written, in a campy way, into her character’s history, as was her real-life passion for shooting firearms, throwing knives, and practicing Muay Thai.
As McLane outlined the family history of WOW’s new ring announcer, Shaul Guerrero, he paused and remembered that her father Eddie‘s “birthday was two days ago,” and they both teared up. Other performers also didn’t hesitate to show real emotion as they shared their stories. McLane concluded the talent introductions by saying that WOW is a company that’s “inclusive of everybody, and that’s what we provide in the ring.” By this point, he didn’t quite fit the image of a stereotypical wrestling promoter.
McLane’s career isn’t one of someone content to fit a pre-determined mold. When he created GLOW – Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, women’s wrestling was not a top priority for any major American wrestling promotion. But GLOW was produced as a television series for four seasons between 1986-1990 and returned to the pop culture conversation when the critically acclaimed GLOW comedy series, based on the promotion’s history, premiered on Netflix.
McLane credits the 2017 series for elevating “the legitimacy” of women’s wrestling by showing what the ladies of the ’80s went through to perform in the squared circle, and “WWE had to answer that… So when they say it’s an evolution or a revolution… it’s because they were never promoting women, ever.” However, he says his wrestling organizations took that step much earlier, and with the new WOW TV series, “our timing is good because everyone’s caught up to us.”
McLane left the original GLOW after its second season to create the less well-known Powerful Women of Wrestling promotion in 1987. The company closed its doors in 1990 but kicked off a much longer relationship between McLane and former WCW wrestler Bambi, who would go on to wrestle as Selina Majors in WOW and train wrestlers for the company, a role she still plays in 2019.