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WOW, Does This Suck

People sometimes ask me what my television guilty pleasures are. Normally, I respond that I'm not guilty about any of the terrible shows I spend my time watching, and that Cleopatra 2525 is a sadly underrated show. But lately, I've been forced to admit that I feel just the tiniest bit guilty about watching WOW: Women of Wrestling.

This show is so bad that even other wrestling fans look down on me for watching it. It's embarrassing, is what it is. And much as I'd like to come back with "Oh yeah? I suppose you think that watching a WWF pay-per-view is any better than watching WOW?" I have to admit that there's a sleaziness in WOW that not even the XFL can match.

To begin with, it's syndicated. That means not only is it not good enough to be on UPN, it's not even good enough to be on cable. When the WWF moved from USA to TNN, USA looked at WOW and said "Eh... Maybe we're not quite that desperate for a replacement."

Second of all, you remember GLOW: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling? It was on in the '80s, right around the Cyndi Lauper-Rock 'n' Wrestling thing. It was run by David McLane, the same "mastermind" that's behind WOW. The spectacle is pretty much the same: women in spandex running around a wrestling ring and occasionally throwing each other to the ground.

The main problem wrestling fans have with WOW is that the wrestlers aren't very good. They rely heavily on dropkicks, which rarely go higher than waist-level. Also, even for a fan base trained to accept "The Undertaker" and "Tazz," wrestler names like "Beckie the Farmer's Daughter" and "Jungle Grrl" are deeply unconvincing.

And, of course, people that already look down on wrestling can easily tell that it gets even less convincing when you take out the steroided-up freaks and add in, well, breast-implanted-up freaks.

So why do I like it?

Well, for one thing, the plots are cheerfully ludicrous, and I respect that. Bronco Billie is losing her farm? Oh no, it's been bought by the evil Disciplinarian! And the acting's no worse than you get on Black Scorpion or Tucker. And, yes, the fact that these terrible storylines are being enacted by pretty women wearing spandex helps things along. It's called the Baywatch Effect.

But if I was just in the market for cheesecake, I could just spend all my time surfing the Internet (and I do!). When I watch WOW: Women of Wrestling, there's actually something involving. Well, mildly involving, anyway. More involving than the average beer commercial, that's for sure.

You see, WOW is one of those shows that knows it's bad. It's not "camp." It's not "ironic." It's just bad. And it's bad in every way possible. The speeches are terrible (Jungle Grrl, who is allegedly from the rain forest or something, had to say "Put 'em in the ring and they'll find out. One. By one. By One. They will fall. They will lose. I will have that title belt. Jungle Grrl will be number one." Now, it's bad enough to have a line like that. But to have it read by someone in a leopard-print miniskirt, well, that's just bad. Bad bad bad.

Also, there used to be a rule in wrestling that all the characters had to have really unconvincing puns as their names. Isaac Yankem, the wrestling dentist. Paul Bearer, the mortician. WOW is deeply into that tradition, as it would have us believe that the basketball-playing wrestler is named "Slam Dunk," and the split-personality wrestler is named "Jacquelyn Hyde." Like "Jekyll & Hyde," you see. It shows a sense of history, albeit a history that's basically goofy and unconvincing.

But at least they have the courage of their convictions. In "real" wrestling, when there's a hair match, the loser gets a marine haircut. Here, the loser got shaved bald. It was kind of disturbing, actually. And I think that's a good thing, because the most involved I usually get with television is rolling my eyes at the foolishness of it all. Which I do a lot at WOW, too, now that I think of it.

I also roll my eyes at the commercials. Phone-sex lines, smooth '70s collections (whatever happened to Neil Sedaka, anyway?), and sex drugs. And Benny Hill video retrospectives.

And there's the general surrealism of the whole thing. There used to be a cheerleader team (of course there was!) composed of Patti Pep and Randi Rah Rah. Patti Pep turned evil (making her a cheerleader-gone-bad) and Randi Rah Rah was out of action with an injury, but just came back. With an eye patch. So there's an evil cheerleader and an eye patch-wearing cheerleader, both out there beating people up. How am I supposed to look away from that?

So there you have it. I have almost nothing good to say about this program. It has all the faults of pro wrestling (unconvincing storylines, bad acting, scripted outcomes) with none of the good points (Um... Is watching muscle-bound goons beat each other up for my amusement a good point?). It's amateurish and silly. It's on in the middle of the night on a channel that, if we still had dials, would require an extra-big dial to get to. The entire process of watching it makes me feel like I'm less of a person.

But I watch it every week. I almost paid thirty bucks for the pay-per-view. So, yeah, I feel guilty, but I like it. But do you know what the worst part is? I'm afraid it's not the worst thing I like. I'm convinced that any second now I'll think of something even worse that I watch all the time. And I don't think I want to face that about myself.


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