Why Jeanie Buss is investing her own money in pro wrestling

Jeanie Buss was a regular high school student in the 1970s when one day she was told she would be on the girls’ golf team. The trouble was, Buss had never played golf in her life.

In 1972 Title IX was passed. It was a federal law that, among other things, attempted to level the playing field between men and women in athletics. Without an all-girls golf team, Palisades High School in the Los Angeles area could not have an all-boys golf team. That’s how girls’ golf became a sport at school – and as a senior Buss eventually won a championship.

Buss, who owned the Los Angeles Lakers like her father Jerry before her, now wants to offer young women an opportunity in athletics like she once had. In 2017, Buss became the owner of Women of Wrestling (WOW), an all-female professional wrestling promotion. Last year, the promotion announced that it had inked a distribution deal with Paramount. WOW will air this month across Paramount-affiliated networks and streaming app Pluto TV, wider platforms than the previous deal the promotion had with AXS TV.

Buss’ vision for WOW is an alternative for female athletes after college, when opportunities at the professional level are few. She said she put her own money into this project, which the Lakers are not involved in.

“What do you do when you play field hockey?” Buss told ESPN. “You probably started at 10, 11, 12 [years old] and sacrificed a lot of your life and now you just hang it up? I wanted to create something [where] Female athletes would have the opportunity to perform in front of a large audience. Wrestling has always been very popular with fans.”

Buss, 60, was never a professional wrestling fan until recently. She didn’t like the way women were portrayed as “sideshows.” Her boyfriend David McLane was the creator of the famous 1980s cult hit Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW), which has since been made into a film on Netflix. McLane launched WOW in the wee hours of the morning and relaunched it in 2012 as the modern day successor to GLOW. But it was years before Buss attended an event.

“I thought it was going to be mud wrestling or Jell-O wrestling or something I wouldn’t enjoy,” she said. “After running out of excuses, I finally had to see a show. As soon as I walked in and saw it, it all made sense. I was a kid collecting comics. I dreamed of being Supergirl or Wonder Woman. “

WOW has been making television recordings in Los Angeles since the spring. The idea, according to sources, is to produce a show for each week of the year. Buss and McLane brought AJ Mendez on board as executive producer and color commentator. Mendez, known in WWE as AJ Lee, was once one of wrestling’s biggest stars and a three-time world champion.

Buss said she’s staying out of the storyline process — that’s McLane’s role — and you won’t see her getting any bumps in the ring anytime soon. Buss said she winces and sometimes looks away when athletes attempt risky moves. But she’s proud to be a fan and investor in the product, which she believes has been picked up by the likes of Paramount due to the growing popularity of women’s sports and films starring female characters like Wonder Woman.

“People want to invest in women’s sport,” said Buss. “It has to be the right vehicle, the right platform for women to shine. So I think wrestling and female athletes are a perfect mix. I believe in that. So I’ll put my name on it, put my money behind it. I believe in these women.”

Amberley Shaw, who wrestles for WOW under the moniker Kandi Krush, is exactly the kind of athlete Buss and company were looking for. Shaw is a 2-0 professional boxer, but her Los Angeles gym was closed during the pandemic. She decided to give it a shot and give it a go at WOW — a place where she can combine her “athletics and artistry” — and she did it.

Shaw now believes the series of events “should be like this,” and enjoys rubbing elbows with Buss. In an Instagram video Shaw posted, she and Buss pose for a photo and both have started shadow boxing. The boxer-turned-pro wrestler wrote, “Never in my life did I think I would be shadow boxing alongside the ‘legendary’ Buss.

“One of my favorite things in life has always been being able to empower other people, especially women,” Shaw said. “Jeanie Buss is just the prime example of that. She is everything in one – beauty, strength, self-confidence. She is a true leader. To be able to look up to her and know the legacy she’s already left and everything she’s accomplished inspires me to follow her lead and just keep going.”

She said Buss is just trying to pass it on, like the opportunities she had in golf that were passed on to her by her father.

“I know my father would be very proud of me,” said Buss. “He empowered me to be the best I can be in the business. The idea that I would take that and empower the new generation, that was Jerry Buss. He created a person like me and it’s up to me to pass that on to the next generation.”

https://www.espn.com/wwe/story/_/id/34677666/why-lakers-owner-jeanie-buss-investing-wow-women-wrestling Why Jeanie Buss is investing her own money in pro wrestling

Emma Bowman

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