LPWA (Ladies Professional Wrestling Association)
To me, the LPWA (Ladies Professional Wrestling Association) is and will remain (until someone manages to top it) the best ever all female wrestling promotion ever. Nothing has ever come close to the attitude that the LPWA represented, or to the level of talent it showcased. Other contemporary promotions (Like GLOW) were mainly focused on various gimmicks and singing and rapping cut-scenes.
The LPWA roster was not made up by models taught to wrestle on short notice, mainly selected for their looks. The women of the LPWA were wrestlers, each and every single one of them. Starting with the upper card names like Misty Blue Simms, Heidi Lee Morgan, Reggie Bennett (although the contemporary press did refer to Big Mo aka Reggie Bennett as a "newcomer", by then she must've had quite a few pro bouts under her belt), Magnificent Mimi, Bambi, Candy Devine, Rockin Robin, Judy Martin , Lei Lani Kai, the middle card lady wrestlers like Malia Hosaka, the Nasty Girls and Cheryl Rusa (Little Mo), all the way down to the cellar-dwellers of the league like Allison Royal, and Brittany Brown, everyone had prior experience in the ring, and in most cases quite a bit of it.
No models were present here. The promoters didn't seem to hate chubby ladies, and bodybuilder types were pushed as top contenders, and was it ever a great choice. No wonder the press had rave reviews for the organization. "A New Era of Women's Wrestling", "you've tried the rest, now try the best", "this promotion features wrestling and nothing but wrestling, no glitz and glamour from models and actresses posing as legitimate lady wrestlers here!" were just a few of the headlines, although I may have to differ with the last one of these, on the "glitz and glamour part" there.
The LPWA featured plenty of glitz and glamour, only it achieved it through a much more down-to-earth approach. I'm a great fan of glitz and glamour in women's wrestling, as a matter of fact I do believe the two are inseparable, and I loved the way the LPWA had managed to marry off the two factors.
The result was awesome: legitimate model body-type ladies (like Malia Hosaka and Tina Moretti) wrestled "girl next door" types like the Nasty Girls and Team America, chubby powerhouses and body-building goddesses like Terri Power, Reggie Bennett, Big Bad and Beautiful and last, but certainly not least, Denise Storm. The way the LPWA managed to present these powerful women should be an etalon towards what a successful ladies' wrestling venture should be based on.
The attires used by the LPWA didn't put these women on a pedestal of toughness, doing away with their femininity in the process. Quite the contrary actually: they accentuated their femininity while being successful portraying them as unstoppable forces of nature. There was nothing remotely masculine about Reggie Bennett (except her construction-worker image which came later, and the point of which I still fail to grasp to this day), attired in patterned pantyhose and a thong leotard. Nor was there anything unattractive about Denise Storm, who was the living proof that muscles.
and pantyhose and shiny lycra leotards not only worked well together, they complemented each other in ways hard to imagine today. To top the whole package off, all these women could sell moves and take bumps, and they looked extremely credible when they gorilla-pressed their opponents. The ultimate Queen of glitz and glamour had to be Magnificent Mimi though. Being called "magnificent" didn't even begin to tell the story about this woman. The proud owner of quite possibly the most beautiful frame in female wrestling ever, Magnificent Mimi was also a role model as far as lifestyle was concerned. She could fight legitimately too, and she was great as a wrestler.
The managers the various tag teams and individual wrestlerettes had, were also quite a colorful bunch. Who could forget Jonathan Blue or Bugaloo Brown? I'm not even going to bring up Exotic Adrian and Miss Linda. No detail was left to chance in this women's wrestling promotion: the commentators were all hand picked and they all represented the peak of their trade in that era. Ken Resnick did color commentating, often joined by Sgt. Slaugter. Jim Cornette was unforgettable ringside, where he and Joe Pedecino engaged in a perpetual battle of wits supporting their favorites.
Like GLOW, the LPWA featured cut-scene segments of various extra-curricular events too, but these were vastly superior to anything seen before or after. The "Hold of the week" segment, in which various LPWA wrestlers demonstrated in-ring holds, moves and maneuvers, was priceless. The "Inside the LPWA" with Barbi was a great moment too, and so was the "Street Corner". These segments acted as glue between the various bouts the quality of which seldom disappointed.
Count-outs and double disqualifications were few and far between, as matches were usually decided via clean pinfalls or occasionally by exciting submissions. Quite probably one of the biggest achievements of the LPWA had been the fact that it managed to attract talent from overseas. Japanese ladies like Eagle Sawai and Noryo Tateno competed against LPWA wrestlers and occasionally fought it out amongst themselves, definitely bumping the quality standard further up a notch.
Enough about my LPWA praise-singing though. I guess by now you got the picture. Let's see some historical facts instead.
The LPWA was founded between 1989 and 1992, by Tor Berg, who figured a niche existed for a serious, WWF-like women’s only wrestling promotion. The ladies’ wrestling troop he put together was originally supposed to remain a regional operation; he had no plans for taking the league on tour.
Getting a spot on the Madison Square Garden Cable Network changed all that though. The success was quite unexpected, and it offered a clear insight into what female wrestling enthusiasts were keen to see.
The business took off from there, and it soon blossomed into the above described show we all love to this very day.
Peculiarly enough for a promotion of the LPWA’s caliber, only one PPV was ever held. Called the Super Ladies’ Showdown, the sole LPWA PPV was an excellent collection of matches, which culminated in Terri Power’s win over Lady X (quite possibly Peggy Lee Leather clad in a shiny black flexatard unitard of which I’m happy to own several pairs myself).
These were the PPV matches: The first one pitted Denise Storm against ring veteran Susan Green. Clad in shiny pantyhose and a breath-taking lavender leotard, Denise resorted to some underhanded tactics to dispose of her shiny blue lycra unitard-wearing foe.
Reggie Bennett then wrestled Yukari Osawa to a dominating win.
A couple of Japanese ladies' matches followed, in which Eagle Sawai and Harley Saito emerged with the respective victories.
The next match was a tag team bout between the teams of Allison Royal and Lisa Starr representing the US and Mike Honda and Mami Kitamuri, representing Japan. The US ladies were thoroughly outclassed in this one and in the end Allison Royal (who wore some awesome shiny black nylon-lycra leggings) took the pinfall.
Shinobu Kandori disposed of Desiree Peterson next and then Denise Storm returned to the ring in a different , but equally classy outfit, to defeat Reggie Bennett through cheating.
Harley Saito beat Eagle Sawai in a Japanese Championship match, followed by a bout between Black Venus and Rockin Robin, in which Robin was defeated.
Next it was Malia Hosaka and Bambi's turn to taste defeat at the hands of the Glamour Girls (Leilani Kai and Judy Martin). Denise Storm's cheating ways came to an end when Harley Saito pinned her for the Japanese Championship title, and Lady X lost to Terri Power in the LPWA Singles Championship title match.
Susan Sexton was the first ever LPWA Singles Champion, succeeded by Lady X. Through her Super Ladies Showdown win, Terri Power became the third and last heavyweight champion of the LPWA.
The tag team title had originally belonged to Team America (Heidi Lee Morgan and Misty Blue Simms), until the Glamour Girls beat them in a spectacular manner (via a submission Leilani Kai obtained from Misty Blue) in a title bout, to become the new champs.