Q&A: Lakers President Jeanie Buss Talks Women of Wrestling

The WOW owner discusses a new partnership with MGM Studios.

It’s been a well-kept secret from wrestling fans: Los Angeles Lakers President Jeanie Buss is involved in the business.

Buss owns Women of Wrestling (WOW), and along with WOW (and GLOW) Founder David McLane, has ushered the all-female grappling company into the digital age. Now they’re taking another step: partnering with MGM Studios to develop new content across a range of unscripted programming and digital formats.

Mark Burnett, MGM’s President, Television Group & Digital, and his team of producers headed by President of Unscripted Programming for MGM Television Barry Poznick, will work in tandem with McLane and his troupe of WOW Superheroes – a diversified group of over-the-top, athletic characters – as they begin production on the fifth season of the series. This is MGM Television’s second partnership in the sports arena with Lucha Underground in its third season.

WOW kicks off the new partnership this Thursday, May 11, with a taping at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles. WOW Champion Santana Garrett defends the title against former champion (and the never pinned, never submitted) Jungle Grrrl. Tickets are on sale now at Ticketmaster.com and more information can be found at WOWE.com. Enter the promo code STEPHY for 25% off.

Buss joined Wrestledelphia Radio this week to discuss the partnership, how she got involved with WOW and her plans for the future of the company. You can listen to that interview here. Below are excerpts from the conversation.

How did you get involved with WOW?

Buss: “My partner David McLane I’ve known for over 20 years. He, of course, started the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling back in the 80s. I didn’t know him then, but we later worked on a roller hockey property together and he would tell me about his wrestling days. When the roller hockey didn’t pan out the way we thought it would, he went back into wrestling and resurrected the brand under WOW, Women of Wrestling.

He invited me to come to a show and I really came up with every excuse I could not to go. I envisioned that it would be mud wrestling or jello wrestling or whatever. I didn’t think it would appeal to me. I finally ran out of excuses and went to a show at the Great Western Forum and I absolutely fell in love with it from the first second.”

What did you like about it?

Buss: “It’s about women empowerment, fantastic female athletes and performers. The storylines are soap opera and drama and fun. To me, it was great entertainment and it’s a platform for fantastic performers to have an audience. I liked what David was doing, but he couldn’t keep that going at that time. A couple years ago, I said I really miss Women of Wrestling and I asked him if we could look at it again to see if there was another way to bring the property back to life. It’s been slow and steady strategic planning to bring it back.

Fortunately, there are a lot of the same wrestlers still wrestling so they had experience and name recognition. Since then, David has recruited many more potential stars. I’m not only a business partner – I’m a huge fan. I’ve really enjoyed my experience and I believe Women of Wrestling will appeal to women and wrestling fans all over the world.”

Was the decision to resurrect WOW influenced by the popularity of Ronda Rousey and the U.S. women’s soccer team?

Buss: “Absolutely. You know, I am a product of Title 9. There are so many women athletes who participated in the collegiate level in whatever sport: basketball, volleyball, soccer, gymnastics. The quality of athlete is phenomenal. Unless you’re in the WNBA or you’re a professional tennis player or soccer player, there aren’t many opportunities for women to turn pro in sports. This is something that allows women to use that dedication, those years and years they spent becoming a collegiate athlete, and now they can have an opportunity to earn some money from all that hard work and dedication by becoming a wrestler in WOW.”

Do you get criticized for being involved in pro wrestling?

Buss: “I guess the people that would say something are like how I was before I saw it in person. I understand that, so those are the people that I really want to change their mind. I want them to come see it as my guest. If they don’t like it after seeing it the first time, then they don’t get it. But I do think we can not only appeal to established wrestling fans, but also create and bring new fans to the sport.”

For more details on the partnership and Buss’ favorite WOW stars, listen to the full interview below.

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