Tag Archives: GLOW

Mt. Fiji

Just as she would rap in her intro, with us on her side she’ll never lose; and she never did. Throughout her stint with GLOW: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling Mt. Fiji never lost a match, and it would be a big deal if someone were to knock this gentle giant off her feet.

Fiji is one of the greatest babyfaces that women’s pro wrestling has ever seen. Normally, the larger you are, the more likely you are to be billed as a monster among women, but she was beloved by all without having to sacrifice her brute and vicious strength. Her fellow GLOW Good Girls respected and adored her and her opposing GLOW Bad Girls feared her and sought out the challenge to be the one to knock her down.  One of her signature moves is an avalanche which involves crushing her opponent in the corner right up against the turnbuckle. Relying on that, body slams, clotheslines and other maneuvers where she didn’t need to move much, it was extremely difficult to take her out. As mentioned before, Fiji never lost a match, but has eliminated herself in Battle Royals to tend to injured friends.

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As a promotion, GLOW was no stranger to being extremely politically incorrect and relied heavily on racist and sexist tropes in order to push the envelope. Bearing that in mind, Fiji’s character remained genuine and never truly seemed to cross that line. I can’t, however, take into account anything the announcer would spout, and am basing this solely off how she presents herself in ring and in sketches. Fiji is a Samoan American and very obviously proud of her heritage, she would flaunt this in character and that was never presented as the butt of the joke.

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Unfortunately, her luck in being able to thwart racism in her career did not translate to life outside the GLOW house. Nearing the end of the show’s run, Fiji and her family were involved in an incident of extreme police brutality which was seen to be racist in nature that took place at a bridal shower. In response to a noise complaint, the LA Country Sheriff’s department descended upon their home in full riot gear and proceeded to beat members of the family with billy clubs. Fiji stood strong in effort to protect others who were there and prevent them from being on the receiving end of such treatment.

Wrestling quickly became Fiji’s passion and it could be seen throughout the entire run of GLOW. Fiji did have some wrestling related appearances on TV and in film near the end of the show, her final appearance being in Pauly Shore’s Son In Law. Sadly, after GLOW ended Fiji had to stop wrestling. Currently she resides in a nursing home due to illnesses and knee issues, but is still keepin’ on.

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Back to Mt. Fiji’s wrestling prowess, a really interesting fact is that she was often billed in handicap matches where it would be two against one.

Slam Dunk

Character is collaborative. You can write every intended spoken line and weeks worth of kayfabe tweets, but you can’t move their mouths or blink their pretty eyes for them. At some point, the wrestler enacts agency.

David McLane’s women-based wrestling promotions GLOW and Women of Wrestling were plagued with setbacks by the bucketful, the least of which was a racist run rampant, practically sprinting.

It’s easy, or rather it has been societally programmed as such, to look at women of color playing out race-baiting pantomimes and fall back on the either/or: they must have full agency over their decision to take the part, or they lack all agency in their participation. The truth is stuck in the mud along the border of the rival states. There is room for enjoyment, satisfaction, coercion, and frustration, for working with the system and being exploited by it, simultaneously–the scenario is universal, but the reaction is case by case.

All this to say that WoW’s Slam Dunk made the most out of a preposterly offensive gimmick. She was set up as a (then) heel inversion of Mt. Fiji–the giant undefeated woman. Supposedly banned from the WNBA for being too violent, Slam Dunk compensated a weak knack for grappling with heel ring psychology and the sort of trash-talking swagger of self-love and confident that white America had come to resent so immensely in young black athletes.

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As a face, Bret Hart insisted he was “the best there ever will be”–he wasn’t even the best wrestler on the roster at time. But when Ali called himself the greatest, the soap boxes lined the streets. People begged and pleaded that someone, out there, would be able to teach Ali some manners and his place in society. Babe Ruth calling his shots is now endearing nostalgia–would we tolerate this from a black athlete?

One positive (of many) in building wrestling shows around non-wrestlers who are trained and learn how to be wrestlers as they go: you can actually sell a leg drop. The roughshod choreography of spots, and Slam Dunk’s imposing size difference over her opponents, makes her leg drop look at the very least unpleasant, if not legitimately painful.

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Most women who get into wrestling are taught how to work the crowd as managers–when they finally get a chance to compete in the ring, it’s hard to translate that manager heat into sustaining the audience’s attention. So they try to stick more moves and repeat botched spots and fall apart into a frenzy of awkward half-bumps when the match isn’t working.

Slam Dunk, wisely, spends more time working the crowd than she does her opponent who is, like her, a wrestler by happenstance. You do the best you can with what you have, and many of the women David McLane wrangled for his schemes weren’t given much in the way of respect or concern for safety.

A towering and obnoxious villainess like Slam Dunk is a staple of a successful fledging roster. You can feed them smaller, less experienced wrestlers for heat, then blow it off with an underdog fan favorite with a convincing half-crab (like Slam Dunk’s rival, Roxy Powers).

She may not have a believable big leaguer, but Slam Dunk had the puckered-lip cockiness and stage presence of a reliable heel menace that could have helped WoW cultivate an acceptable product. At least until they could have afforded to give her a less obvious temporary tattoo. Of a basketball.

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David McLane does not have an entry in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s database and frankly this vexes me.