All-female GLORY wrestlers fight for gender diversity in sport

Elizabeth Hlavinka

Screams and grunts echo from within the wrestling rink’s rope walls. Two opponents bare their teeth as one lifts the other over her knee in a backbreaker, slamming her down for an easy pin. 

The match is Slampax versus Queen Cup, two characters representing tampons and menstral cups, respectively, wrestling to determine which female hygiene product prevails.

The performance is one of many concepts created by Glorious Ladies of Rasslin, Y’all (GLORY) Austin’s first all-female and non-binary theatrical wrestling group. UT alumna Esme East, who helped develop the group, said its mission is to open a typically male-driven sport to a more diverse audience, in terms of both gender and race.

“[Wrestling] is predominantly white males in the U.S.,” East said. “That scene is not hospitable to people who aren’t white males. We’re trying to contribute to a new scene that is hospitable to more people and allows them to engage with this art form.”

Co-founder Cheryl Couture said female wrestling often has sexual connotations and is not taken as seriously as male performances. World Wresting Entertainment, for example, recently changed the title of the “Divas” championship, where women often fought in bras and panties, to the Women’s Championship. Couture said she hopes GLORY can provide an opportunity for women to enjoy the medium without these stigmas.

“During the attitude era of the World Wrestling Federation, all of the dumbest dudes I knew were in wrestling, so I dismissed it immediately as something that wasn’t cool,” Couture said. “Now I love it — I rewatched all of those attitude era matches.”

Each GLORY match tells its own story, developed through physical stunts and dialogue. The members create their own characters, relationships and conflicts to be performed live during a show. East said the performances are a mix between a wrestling match and a play, including announcers, referees and audience participation.

GLORY will perform at the Midway Field House on April 16, complete with seven wrestling matches. East said members have the liberty to construct any character they want. 

Physics and math senior Aimee Sixta is performing as “Pussy Whip,” a cowgirl who ran away from home because she had “something to prove.” She teams up with “Potty Mouth,” a ranch hand character performed by international relations junior Julia Aikman. The two will wrestle in a tag-team match, working their stories together in what they call a dysfunctional duo.

“I’m terrified of being in front of people and speaking, but somehow being a ridiculous character helps with that,” Sixta said. “It’s a huge creative outlet for me. It gives me a lot more confidence. I feel like we’ve been encouraged to be as weird as we can be.”

English senior Blair Wright is performing as a referee. Wright said she was inspired to join GLORY after a male wrestler told her she was incapable of wrestling him. She said she began practicing with the group to literally take him down. Her character is an inattentive sorority girl that throws glitter and cash at the audience.

“It pissed me off a little bit,” Wright said. “So when [a friend] brought up GLORY, [I saw it] as a way to eventually wrestle and beat this guy — to take down the man.”

GLORY presents: Plague of Blood 1.0

  • When: Saturday, April 16 8 p.m. — 11 p.m.
  • Where: Midway Field House, 2015 E. Riverside Dr.
  • Admission: $13