By now you've probably binge-watched your way through Netflix's latest hit original series, GLOW. The ten-episode series created by Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch and executive produced by Jenji Kohan (Orange is The New Black, Weeds) hit the streaming service on Friday.
Based on the documentary GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (also currently available on Netflix) it follows the true story of how an all-female wrestling promotion became a bonafide American phenomenon, airing on basic cable from 1986-1990.
The show stars Alison Brie and Marc Maron, who lead a terrific ensemble cast that includes British musician Kate Nash, Brie's fellow Mad Men-alum Rich Sommer, and more up-and-coming names. While the series takes some creative liberties with events, characters names and in-ring personas, it also delivers more than a handfull of real-life wrestler cameos and easter-eggs for devoted wrestling fans.
Coming at a time of renewed interest, progress, and debate around the topics of women's wrestling, GLOW is both a perfect time capsule of 80s camp and political incorrectness, and a fascinating study of those who laid the foundation for the great strides women have made in fighting sports entertainment.
But most of all it's a love letter to pro wrestling and all the hard work and passion that goes into building a production. Here are some of the cameos and hidden references for pro wrestling die-hards that make that message clear.
Former WWE superstar and current Lucha Underground star John Morrison (aka "Johnny Mundo") appears in the first episode as Salty “The Sack” Johnson, a pro-wrestler hired by director Sam Silva to train the inexperienced actresses he hired to become the stars of his upstart wrestling promotion.
Morrison's character is loosely based on Mando Guerrero, the real-life trainer for the original GLOW (and brother of Eddie, Hector, and Chavo of the legendary Guerrero wrestling family).
Another connection between the source material and the series, Mando's nephew Chavo Guerrero Jr. trained the actresses for the Netflix series. If you look closely, you may notice the gym in which their training takes place bears the name "Chavo's"
Kia Stevens plays Tamee, aka "Welfare Queen," an example of how the gimmicks in GLOW were often outrageous, politically incorrect stereotypes. Stevens is the only primary cast-member with an actual background in pro wrestling, having appeared in the WWE as Kharma from 2010-2012.
But die-hard wrestling fans may know her better as Awesome Kong, the name she's gone by in TNA/Impact Wrestling, Ring of Honor, and the independent circuit for over 15 years.
Another former WWE star, Alex Riley plays a blue-collar face wrestler named Steel Horse, who main events the show some of the girls attend in episode 5. Riley has had a storied career in WWE and its NXT developmental program, but was released by the company last year and has since made acting his primary focus.
Independent scene darling and current Lucha Underground star Joey Ryan plays Steel Horse's opponent, "Mr. Monopoly" (a heel in the vein of "Million Dollar Man" Ted Dibiase) in that same episode. His real-life wife Laura James, who is also a professional wrestler, also makes an appearance as his ring valet, who closely resembles WWF legend Miss Elizabeth.
Wrestling reddit spotted this in the GLOW title sequence pic.twitter.com/SAXNzNpTGd— Tom Hatfield (@WordMercenary) June 25, 2017
This one's more of a hidden easter egg for the true die-hards, but as the above tweet makes clear, intrepid members of the IWC noticed that the show's producers used footage from an old NXT match between current WWE Women's Division stars Bayley and Sasha Banks in the show's opening credits, which are only fully seen in the first episode.
Other GLOW cameos include ex-WWE star Carlito and Impact Wrestling's Tyrus in small reoccurring parts as Carmen (Machu Pichu)'s older brothers Tom and Kurt aka The Lumberjacksons, Brooke Hogan (daughter of Hulk Hogan), and Ring of Honor and TNA star Christopher Daniels, among more.
The show also sneaks in references to and classic footage of WWF stars and such Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Gorgeous George, and the Iron Sheik in early episodes. But as the story progresses, the women remain the real focus of GLOW.