Unfortunately, I’m not sure which magazine this is from because the cover is lost. Bob Smith covered the TV shows and ratings. Here, he gives his opinion on the LPWA.
Every other month, “Media Review” will take a hard look at the way in which professional wrestling is presented on television and in the mainstream media. This in-depth behind-the-scenes look at the business side of wrestling will help you appreciate the sport from an entirely new perspective.
A NEW ERA OF WOMEN’S WRESTLING. For most of the past year, it’s been extremely rare to find a women’s match on most pro wrestling cards. But since the birth of the LPWA, female grappling has rebounded on the national scene in a big way.
LPWA stands for the Ladies Professional Wrestling Association, a new organization which has recruited top talent from around the country into a unified women’s federation. The LPWA has also started a new, cable-based weekly program, LPWA Ladies Wrestling, thatTs already as good as most televised wrestling shows.
“l was extremely pleased at the caliber of talent we have,” said Ken Resnick, who does play-by-play announcing for the program alongside Sgt. Slaughter, who offers color commentary. “The promoters are very committed to this project, and l think it has a great future. l’m very pleased to be part of it.”
Most fans should be pleased as well. The LPWA boasts a remarkably strong talent base, including Heidi Lee Morgan, Susan Sexton (the organization’s first champion), former NWA U.S. women’s champion Misty Blue Simmes, Linda Dallas, Kat LeRoux, Magnificent Mimi, former AWA World women’s champion Madusa Miceli, Judy Martin, former WWF World women’s champion Lelani Kai, Miss Linda, and many more top stars. lt’s the first time in the history of the sport that most of the top female grapplers have competed against each other in the same organization.
The new weekly program premiered in the New York market on January 1, and is now being shown in about 75 percent of the United States on various cable outlets. lt’s remarkable for a new wrestling show to attain such a heavy market saturation upon its debut, but judging from the quality of the initial offering, it’s not hard to see why it has gained so much access. The show was thoroughly professional, from the computer-generated opening credits to the informative closing recap.
What is so surprising about this production is the slickness of the entire package. Resnick and Slaughter work well as a team, offering insights into the past histories of each athlete, which gives fans a wealth of information on wrestlers they may not have seen before. Also included are inset and split-screen ‘interviews with the wrestlers during matches, a nice touch that’s usually seen only on such top productions as the NWA’s World Wide Wrestling and the WWF’s Superstars of Wrestling.
Another big plus is the serious attitude this program takes toward the sport. Previous attempts at presenting women’s wrestling on television have seemed more concerned with presenting humor or music. But included on this program was a “Hold of the Week” segment featuring LPWA trainer Brad Rheingans. The first installment showed Susan Sexton locking up with a newcomer named Big Mo as the two demonstrated the proper way to execute a fireman’s carry takedown. Most regular wrestling programs lgnore the basics of the sport and It was refreshlng to see such an lnformatlve segment.
lnterviews, however, seemed to take up an inordinate part of the program, at least during the premiere episode. lncluded were a lengthy introduction, an “lnside the LPWA” segment featuring a woman named Barbi, another interview with Resnick, the “Hold of the Week,” numerous promotional announcements for the LPWA’s 900-number, “Street Corner,” which featured Adnan Street and Miss Linda, and a closing announcement. All this talk left time for only four bouts which seemed like slim pickings for an hour long show.
Also, one has to question the wisdom of having two men commentate on the action of two women wrestling. Not that we’d like to see Resnick or Slaughter out of a job but perhaps the LPWA ought to think about adding an occasional third voice in the booth – a woman’s voice. What are the athletic subtleties of the sport that exist only for the women? How do women’s matches differ from men’s matches? What kinds of attutudes and prejudices do women have to face in thls sport in order to be successful? These are questions Resnick and Slaughter simply can’t answer properly.
But the quality of the wrestling itself proved to be much better than anticipated. The first match saw a newcomer named The Goddess winning her match in undistiguished fashion but the second bout pitting Linda Dallas and Kat LaRoux against Big Mo and Little Mo–Locomotion–got the action going in earnest. The initial program was taped at Don Laughlin’s Riverside Hotel in Laughlin, Nevada, and the arena was filled with enthusiastic fans who really got involved in the matches. Camera angles were good, camera direction was crisp, and the action was well-lighted both in and out of the ring.
The caliber of action picked up even further during the third and fourth matches. ln the semifinal, Madusa Miceli, fresh from a lengthy excursion to Japan, was counted out against Terrorist Sheba in an exciting match. The camera crew caught the outside interference of Sheeba’s manager Shenk Adnan Al-Kaissie, several times although the referee missed most of the illegal action.
In the main event, LPWA champlon Susan Sexton wrestled Misty Blue Simmes to a double-count out. Although a majority of the action ended up on the arena floor cameras caught every bit of the action as Sexton mercilessly stomped Simmes.
After just one installment, it is clear that the future of women’s wrestling is much bnghter today than it was just a few months ago. Present plans call for a second show, Super Ladies, to premiere on syndicated stations during the fall wlth regular arena cards to begin at about that time.
It is obvious that most federatlons have failed to present women’s wrestling in any kind of a cohesive way, but the LPWA wilI go a long way toward picking up the slack. We’re Iooklng forward to seeing the LPWA realize the massive potential it has already exhibited.
Media Minutiae: Cable ratings for NWA telecasts were the clear leader in the sport for the last few weeks of 1989. The December 16 installment of TBS’ World Championship Wrestling scored a 3.1 rating and a 6 share eclipsing the USA Network’s Prime Time Wrestling offering of December 18, which scored a 3 rating and a 4.4 share. (The rating is the percentage of all homes tuned in to a particular program; the share is the percentage of sets in use at the time tuned in to a particular show.) In syndication however, the WWF shows ranked much higher than NWA telecasts. WWF programs copped a 9.8 rating while the NWA managed an 8.8 tally as of November 19. Gene Slskel and Rogert Ebert lambasted No Holds Barred on thelr annual “Worst Movles of the Year” program. The action film, which starred Hulk Hogan, also wound up on many newspaper critics’ llsts as one of the poorest fllms of 1989.