GLOW Star “Lightning” Cheryl Rusa Reflects on Stiff Dropkicking Jim Carrey in Man on the Moon At the Request of “Judo” Gene Lebell

Mar 4, 2020 - by James Walsh

(Cheryl Rusa is pictured in the center)

Show: Wrestling Epicenter
Guest: GLOW’s “Lightning Cheryl Rusa
Date: 02/27/20
Your Host: James Walsh

Over the past few weeks, we had on a number of the girls from the original GLOW as special guests. We continue that series as we welcome “Lightning” the “Party Animal” who also wrestled in the LPWA and throughout the independent circuit and Japan after GLOW, Cheryl Rusa!

This conversation has a lot of surprises. But, our favorite is the surprise where she tells us how “Judo” Gene Lebell encouraged her to stiff dropkick Jim Carrey during the filming of the Andy Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon.

You can hear this and all our other 707 interviews right now at [http://t]!


On her physical fitness leading to entertainment:
“I was a trainer in a gym and I worked for these two great guys. They were huge! Like, Arnold Swartzeneger era bodybuilder sized. They trained me. And, I trained this guy who was in the music industry. I was asking him, “What do I have to do?” He said, “Anybody can do it!” and he started coaching me until I started to understand what was going on. Growing up in a family that had nothing to do with the entertainment industry, there was a lot I didn’t know.”

On how wrestling came to be in her life:
“I was watching an episode of that first season of GLOW witha boyfriend and I said, out loud, “this is stupid!” (laughs) He laughed at me and said, “You’re just jealous.” Jealous of what? “You’re just jealous because they’re on TV and you’re not!” I said “uh uh,” he said “un huh”. We went back and forth driving me nuts like a brother would. So, the next week, it came on again and he was watching it and I decided I was going to really watch this stupid show and give it a chance. (laughs) I’m watching them and I’m such a Tom Boy, I keep thinking, “Eh, I could do that.” (laughs) He said, “No you can’t!” I said “Yes I can!” “Uh uh”, I said “uh huh!” (laughs) He got me so freaking mad! At the end of the show, they were looking for new girls because they lost a lot of their original cast – They split off with (David) McLane. They had a tag, “If you’ve think you’ve got the stuff to be a GLOW girl.” So, I tried out and made all the cuts. I ended up in Vegas where there were about 70 girls and they just kept weeding us down to find out who didn’t break something and had what it took to handle the wrestling. I was always a tumbler type person so I always made the cut.”

On if the girls of GLOW knew how special their show would be viewed to be:
“Oh God, I was just loooking for a steeping stone into the movie industry and that is what that was to me. It was a weekly pay check – I was still working at a gym while on GLOW which was interesting. But, a week’s worth of pay was half what we were getting paid for GLOW which still wasn’t a lot of money. But, compared to a regualr job, I was having fun and making money and, woo hoo, I was on TV!”

On wrestling in LPWA after GLOW:
“When I left GLOW, I started doing some independent shows for AIWA. I did a couple of shows and somebody knew someone and Tor Berg contacted me about LPWA. At that time, I was GLOW trained. It was wrestling but it was more choreographed, stunty type training. It was kind of incomplete. We were forgetting some of the names. So, if they said to shoot me out of something, I didn’t know what they were talking about. But, at that point, Tor and LPWA, they wanted me. And, they were having me re-trained. But, they started their filming before they started their training which was aggravating. So, I was out there with all these well trained girls… I had a leg up on them as far as TV time. But, they were taking advantage of my incomplete training – Shooting, basically. Not all of them… Probably about 90% of them, though. The true professionals, they were the ones who really took care of me in the ring.”

On why GLOW is remembered more fondly than LPWA:
“Because GLOW developed characters. Think of any of your favorite wrestlers from WWF, WWE, WCW… Anywhere. They all developed characters. We (GLOW) developed characters. In LPWA, I did what I could. But, the fans need a spacific something they can grab onto. Hercules swung his chain around, Brutus Beefcake ran around trying to cut peoples hair, Jake “The Snake” (Roberts) brought the snake into the ring. Look at all your favorites. Look at Hulk Hogan! Was he the greatest technical wrestler, ground and pound grappler? No. But, he sucked the audience in to everything he was doing. That is what LPWA did not do. They tried to make the girls like a female WWF or WWE with interviews. But, in GLOW, we did sketches! Each girl had their own distinct personality.”

On if she ever tried to go to WWE:
“I did have that desire and at one point, I did send them a letter but they never responded. Ivory was small. She was like 5’4. But, I was like 5’0 barely. And, you have to remember, at that time, they wanted steroid pushing big girls like Chyna or your sexy boobed bombshell. I wasn’t what they wanted. Ivory did great, though! She had the connection, she had a great character, she had a little of the body builder look they wanted. But, I wasn’t what they wanted. I also think LPWA put a damper on my pro career because they let the girls beat the tar out of me.”

On GLOW’s one night PPV return in 1993:
“It was a tease. We thought we were going to come back. And, I got to be a bad guy! Hollywood corrupted me. I became Lightning the Party Animal! I was likle, “YES!” (laughs) I always wanted to be the bad guy. Everybody did. My partner, Thunder, did! And, I always loved Batman and Robin. So, I tried to do the best I could with it. I thought I had to be campy.”

On if the crew of Man on the Moon respected wrestling:
“They took it serious (the movie company). They didn’t look at it quite the way wrestlers do. I had the advantage of being GLOW and pro which was an advantage to see things from two different directions. They didn’t understand what the respect was, the respect of being a pro. Actually, something bad happened. One of the old timer pros got into it there over something – Gosh, I wish I could remember the story for you. But, for the most part, they respected everybody.”

On stiff dropkicking Jim Carrey as instructed to by Judo Gene Lebell:
“Andy… (laughs) I mean Jim Carrey delved in his character. We were told not to talk to him or call him Jim. We had to call him Andy or Mr. Kaufman. He didn’t want the stunt double who was a dead on double for him. He insisted on doing the wrestling. I had to take a hair mare, where you get flipped by the hair. Mondo Guerrero was there as a TA. Each stunt girl that was there had to show the move. Mondo and I, since we were both pros, we just looked at each other and we did this huge hair mare. I went from one side of the ring to the other and it freaked everybody out! They split into little huddles and conversations because they were worried it would look to violent. So, they finally came back with, “Can you do a dropkick.” I said, “Yeah.” They said, “How high can you get?” I said, “I can get up pretty high.” So, I dropkicked Mondo in the head to show them. He (Jim Carrey) is a lot bigger than Mondo but if I could get Mondo in the head, I could get him in the chest. Right before we were going to shoot it, Judo Gene Lebell comes up to me… I don’t know what was said. I think he was telling them I was a pro wrestler and they were saying, “Oh, but she’s so little. She’ll break!” I don’t know what they were saying. He (Lebell) told me, “Make him feel it!” (laughs) Then, as he turned to walk away, he said, “But don’t hurt him.” You do not say no to Gene Lebell! So, I said “OK!” We shot it. He (Carrey) was worried about the timing. But, us wrestlers, we have great timing. He had the belt, the Intergender Championship, in his hands. He was going to turn towards me with the belt and just as he turned towards me, I was to hit him. It ended up being more of a mule kick because that is just the easiest way to get up. I decided I was going to hit him like I would a pro. I wasn’t going to shoot on him. But, to a normal person, hitting them like a pro is probably pretty stiff to them. I whiplashed him pretty badly. Then we grappled around. But, that was it. Everybody else was getting two or three takes. He only wanted to do it once with me. He didn’t want to do any more with me! (laughs) So, I got out and Judo Gene Lebell comes up to me and shook his head like, “Yeah!” and I sat down next to another stunt guy. The stunt guy goes, “Do you know how hard you hit him?” (laughs) I say, “I dont’ know!” I take the 5th!”

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