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Teal Piper, David McLane on WOW – Women of Wrestling, Legends, Legacies & Unfinished Business

WOW Women of Wrestling Logo

Everything old is new again. Stranger Things, the upcoming season of American Horror Story (AHS: 1984), and numerous nostalgic revivals of television and film franchises from the 1980s will attest to that.  For me, that nostalgia always includes wrestling: NWA on Superstation TBS, AWA on ESPN, WWF virtually everywhere, and, never knowing the time or channel, I could come across GLOW. 

Some fans of the Netflix series (such as my long-suffering wife) might be surprised to know that GLOW, the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, was an actual real thing. The ambitious project started by David McLane in 1985 didn’t have the same exposure as Hulkamania or The Four Horsemen but, despite the camp sometimes involved, it did something truly groundbreaking in hindsight: it was a nationally syndicated, weekly episodic television show showcasing a wrestling promotion with an entirely female roster.

In the decades since, GLOW has disappeared but ultimately found a spiritual successor in WOW – Women of Wrestling, a character-driven promotion also founded by David McLane and currently owned by Los Angeles Lakers owner, Jeanie Buss. WOW starts its upcoming season this month and includes a new addition to their WOW “Superheroes,” Teal Piper, the real life daughter of “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. I was recently privileged enough to sit in on a conference call with Hot Rod’s daughter and GLOW & WOW’s founder to learn a bit about what fans can expect on Saturdays starting in September.

Teal Piper
Photo Credit: Karen Tran/AXS TV

Teal Piper is no stranger to spectacle. She grew up as the daughter of one of the most celebrated heels in pro wrestling history and gone on, in her own right, to be an actress and singer/songwriter. She’ll happily regale you with stories about taking her first chops from her brother (MMA fighter, Colton Toombs) or how she wasn’t interested in MMA until she saw Ronda Rousey (who shares not only her dad’s “Rowdy” moniker but also the tutelage of “Judo” Gene Lebell.) 

But of all her stories, it was the one about a rare occurrence of her father pounding on the table and yelling at her as a teenager for making dismissive comments about the sexualized female wrestlers on TV that set the tone for the call. The guy who lived on controversy, feared nothing, and could crack a joke about anything demanded respect for women wrestlers who “had to work harder than the men” to get by.  Despite her pedigree, she was reluctant to get involved with wrestling until connecting with the business while researching for her late father’s biography and seeing the changes that have come about since then. Changes her father would have appreciated.

Listening to the promos that Teal has dropped already, it proves that “When you plant apple seeds, you get apple trees.” She shows her father’s command and confidence but doesn’t borrow any of his inflections or mannerisms and it’s very original. I had to ask her if she had watched any other tape to draw inspiration from.

“To be honest, I try not to watch too many wrestling promos. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of the classic stuff just from thing my father had done and, obviously, some of the older generation.  But, as far as newer stuff, I don’t want to be, creatively, in a box and I feel like, if you watch something, you start trying to stylize it that way. 

For me, the most freeing thing is I’m kind of coming in with a more ‘character’ point of view than a lot of modern people and I’m really enjoying that. I’m really sort of unleashing my darker side and all the pranks I’ve had in my mind all these years that I just didn’t do.  Teal Piper is all of that and the confidence I get on the mic is partly my dad but, just like you said, I’ve my own technique and personality on the mic and a lot of that is from not paying attention to other people so I don’t become a little copycat or something.”


David McLane loves to link the past to the present and the future. 

Two of the thrills he’s gotten out of wrestling was being recognized from, and congratulated for, GLOW by none other than “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair himself while announcing for NWA events and, years later, watching Ric’s daughter, Charlotte, in the main event at Wrestlemania.  He believes the impact of Teal Piper coming on board will rival that of another legacy wrestler, the reigning WOW champion, and someone he considers “the best in the world” — Tessa Blanchard.

David McLane
Photo Credit: WOW Holdings LLC

McLane mentioned on the conference call that Jeanie Buss is eager to start a touring schedule for WOW. McLane, though, believes that, like New Japan Pro Wrestling (their Saturday night sister program on AXS) did last year, they need to maintain television exposure before that’s a viable option. And if there’s anyone who knows about maintaining television exposure it’s McLane.

After leaving GLOW in its second season over business and creative differences, David McLane went on to produce syndicated shows nationally and internationally, including two roller hockey leagues and the Triple Crown of Polo. With such a lengthy and diverse resumé, what was it about wrestling and specifically the female-centric product that brought him back to do WOW?

“I was lucky enough to grow up on wrestling. Like most, I first saw it on television with my older brothers. I fell in love with it … with the presentation. I was too young at that age to know what I was watching other than I knew I loved it. Then I was able to meet a gentleman named, Dick the Bruiser, who was one of the bigger promoters of the old territory days. He and Wilbur Snyder and Verne Gagne with Chicago and the Midwest and I was fortunate enough to just start taking photographs and learn the business from them.”

McLane continued, “What struck me when I went out on the road, and this is very interesting after listening to Teal talk about her father and the appreciation that he had for the women wrestlers and what they were having to go through on the road and his appreciation was, in fact, from his experience of him having to go through many of the trials and tribulations of being “the young kid” on the road with the older wrestlers and them pulling pranks on him, riding in the back of the car, having to sleep in the car.”

He went on to state, “I got to ride in the ring truck as a kid and go to the state fairs and go to the events and I could just see that the women wrestlers weren’t treated correctly on a lot of levels and how they were exploited. I wasn’t smart enough even to know the word “exploitation.” I wasn’t smart enough to know the word “empowerment” or any of that. I just knew that it wasn’t right. Subsequently, I thought of, after one evening in announcing, that we ought to have a women’s wrestling big match and I announced it to the crowd and it went wild.  Then I went downstairs to tell Dick the Bruiser about it and I was told by him and all the men’s wrestlers that were laughing at the idea, ‘No one’s going to be interested in watching women’s wrestling. It’s the popcorn match.’ As Teal has mentioned, even up until the ’80s when Wendi Richter and Moolah took off and even into the Attitude Era, they were always treated as the accessory … and it was never right.”

“So, subsequently, I was just so fortunate to have a dream, an idea, that there should be a ‘League of Their Own’ and I created GLOW, Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.  It never matched the dream that I wanted it to be because I had numerous business hurdles to tackle to keep that thing afloat and WoW is really the vision. WOW  is really the dream that I had as a kid and I’m very proud of it. So, I think that everybody that can look back and see what women’s wrestling could have been will see what it should be when they tune into AXS TV.”

At the end of the call, we got the reasoning behind an earlier, partially-ducked, question regarding their owner, Jeanie Buss, being on camera.  Teal let David spill the beans: WOW had a major announcement that they would be dropping on Wednesday, September 4th, and the news would be coming from the woman who writes LeBron’s checks … from inside WOW’s trademark purple ring!

Teal Piper and David McLane can be seen on Season 2 of WOW – Women of Wrestling which premieres Saturday night September 7 on AXS TV.



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