Nearly eighteen years ago, WOW-Women of Wrestling held their first and only pay-per-view event, Unleashed. Like WWE’s Evolution later today, Unleashed wasn’t the first all-women’s wrestling pay-per-view, though it likely holds the attendance record for a women’s wrestling event in the United States, at least for the next few hours. Held at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood on February 4, 2001, WOW’s Unleashed drew an extremely heavily papered crowd of around 9,500.
Women of Wrestling was created in 2000 by David McLane, the founder of the original GLOW, and is owned by McLane and Los Angeles Lakers owner and president Jeanie Buss. Styled after the original GLOW, with over the top characters and skits, WOW debuted on syndication on September 30, 2000. The show managed to secure deals to air on 98 different television stations, covering 75% of the company. Right from the start they planned on having a pay-per-view, with McLane already promoting it in early interviews as the show first came to air.
The first episode of WOW’s television series was filmed at the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles over six tapings. For the first taping, they only drew about 400 people but they got much better at giving out free tickets and were getting about 5,000 fans in the building by the last television taping. For the pay-per-view, this was taken to a new level, with them actually busing people to the event per Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer. There were an estimated 9,500 people in the Great Western Forum for Unleashed, making it likely the largest attendance for a non-WCW or WWE wrestling event in the United States in the 2000s until September 2018’s All In, though the paid attendance was likely only a couple hundred.
The pay-per-view consisted of thirteen matches, skits, and a bikini contest where viewers at home could vote. The announcers were Lee Marshall and former manager Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. The main event was Thug (Peggy Lee Leather in WWF) facing Selina Majors (Bambi in POWW and WCW) in a steel cage. There was also a tag-team hair versus hair match and a championship match. The main event was the only match to last over ten minutes and only five of the thirteen matches lasted over five minutes.
Unleashed was not a success critically or financially. Noted wrestling critic Scott Keith didn’t rate any match over one and a half stars while giving several matches a negative star rating. The pay-per-view was one of the lowest ordered live pay-per-views in history at the time, reportedly doing about 6,000 buys. An April pay-per-view was announced, and several angles were set up for it, it never happened. Their scheduled February 17, 2000 television tapings were canceled as well.
WOW was originally a publicly traded company, meaning its financial information was made public. The promotion posted a posted a $2,549,000 operating loss in the last quarter of 2000, more than ECW lost in the entire year. They hired an investment banking firm to try and raise capital and asked Indiana businessman Carter Fortune for a $3,000,000 loan. They were unable to secure the funding they needed and WOW ceased operations. Despite efforts to revive the brand over the years, the promotion would not run again until 2012.
In 2001 the timing likely wasn’t right for a women’s wrestling promotion in the United States. The talent pool of available wrestlers was slim, and with women’s wrestling not being taken seriously in WCW and WWF, not a lot of fans took it seriously either. It’s hard to sell something everyone treats as a joke.
There have been women’s wrestling pay-per-views since Unleashed. Impact’s One Night Only: Knockouts Knockdown in 2013 being the most notable and likely most watched to date. Tonight’s Evolution is historic in that it surely will have the largest attendance and be the most watched women’s pro-wrestling event in United States history. But will it have a bus full of kids from Crozier Middle School? Unlikely.
Women of Wrestling – Unleashed
February 4, 2001
Great Western Forum
- Randi Rah Rah defeats Jacklyn Hyde (w/Dr. Sarah Bellum & Nurse Mercy) [2’15]
- Farah & Paradise vs. The Beach Patrol (Sandy & Summer) – Draw [2’30]
- Tanja The Warrior Woman defeats Jane Blond [2’47]
- Nicky Law (w/Kristy Order) defeats Heather Steele [2’02]
- Boom Boom & Caliente defeat The Asian Invasion (Jade & Lotus) [4’43]
- Bronco Billie defeats The Disciplinarian [3’55]
- Roxy Powers vs. Slam Dunk – Double DQ
- Riot defeats Wendi Wheels [9’40]
- Jungle Grrrl defeats Becky the Farmers Daughter [9’45]
- Caged Heat (Delta Lotta Pain & Loca) defeat Harley’s Angels (Charlie Davidson & EZ Rider) (w/Thug) to win the vacant WOW Tag Team Championship [5’42]
- Teri Gold defeats Danger to win the WOW Championship [4’20]
- Lana Star & Patti Pizzazz defeat Ice Cold & Poison. Ice Cold loses her hair. [5’16]
- Thug defeats Selina Majors in a steel cage match [15’01]