Whoa, Nellie! is a 3-issue series that spawned from Jaime, Gilbert, and Mario Hernandez’ indie comic, Love and Rockets. It focuses on the friendship of main characters Xochitl “La Terible” Nava and Gina Bravo and the world of women’s professional wrestling. If you dug the documentary Lipstick & Dynamite, you’ll definitely appreciate Whoa, Nellie! If you’ve only seen the GLOW documentary, you still might like the comic book. But it definitely draws its inspiration from the early days of Fabulous Moolah and Mildred Burke. Sorry dudes, no petite models with fake boobs. Just full-figured women beating the crap out of each other.
The story itself is good, but Jaime Hernandez could’ve gotten a lot more mileage out of the relationship and competition between Xochitl and Gina. The ending wasn’t any different than that of a 90’s sitcom where everything ends all wrapped up in a neat little bow. Maybe it was just the fan in me that felt that there was a lot more to explore there. And maybe it was explored in different publications from Jaime and the other Hernandez Bros. Xochitl and Gina have a bond that goes back before their wrestling days, kind of like Edge and Christian. If one of them happened to belong to a long and storied lineage of pro grapplers. Vicki
Guerrero Glori is our female Vince McMahon or, for that matter, Fabulous Moolah. She runs a camp of women wrestlers and tells them what to do. She’s also a legit bad ass at her old age. She’s Xochitl’s aunt though deep down she wishes she wasn’t since Xochitl carries a win/loss record that wold make Barry Horowitz feel sorry for her.
As if I didn’t make it clear enough, and in an effort to exhaust my wrestler comparisons, Xochitl is the Marty Jannetty of the team. She knows deep down that she’s holding back the much younger, and more talented, Gina. Unlike Shawn Michaels, Gina isn’t waiting to jump at the opportunity to smash Xochitl’s face into a window and go solo. She’s basically a self saboteur.
Much like the glory days of the NWA, the women are part of a wrestling organization that has its own board of directors who decide who gets to be champion. Even though it’s been established that the matches are legit and they’re not predetermined. In need of a Women’s Texas Champion, the directors hand the belt over to Xochitl, but only so she can lose it “in spectacular fashion” to fellow wrestler, Katy Hawk, at one of their biggest events. The horribly titled Wrestle Super Shock Rock something or other. Xochitl ends up losing and goes off on Gina for not getting it and going solo. Why doesn’t she just get it?
The series ends in a battle royal where the winner gets $2,000. So this is definitely set sometime in the 70’s where that amount of money was worth being in a battle royal for. The two remaining wrestlers just happen to be Gina and Xochitl, who started off in issue #1 beating the crap out of each other and hugging it out afterwards backstage. So we know they’re perfectly cool with wrestling each other even when they’re getting along. And with tensions this high you’d think they would shoot on each other. Instead, they walk out of the battle royal arm in arm. You’re telling me they couldn’t stomp on each other one last time then settle their differences backstage? At least then they could’ve split the 2 G’s. Now I can see why Vicki’s training camp closed down, she couldn’t even get her wrestlers to follow the script. While on the opposite ends of the heel/face spectrum, Gina and Xochitl didn’t necessarily break kayfabe and have an MSG Incident. Wrestling fans have seen wrestlers break up and make up countless times on camera. Hell, that was the basis of Lex Luger’s gimmick the entire time he was a wrestler.
I have no idea why Jaime Hernandez made the outcomes to the matches legit wins considering he exposes the business as it really is. A work. He should’ve committed all the way. Then again, this was 1996, the internet hadn’t yet destroyed every aspect of kayfabe. Maybe he wanted to maintain the illusion.
At least he maintained that women’s wrestling was, at one time, a world that favored grappling over modeling. During the time of the comic book’s release Alundra Blaze was the last of her kind, Sunny was the first full-fledged WWE Diva, and a pre-Playboy Sable was just starting out. However, the women in these books are the reason why the term tough broad exists. Just check out the color pinups of these old school lady grapplers. They’re some of the best pieces of wrestling artwork around. Real meat and potatoes type of women wrestlers who would probably legit-potato their opponents too. When women in wrestling were still expected to wrestle and not just play cheating whores or someone’s girlfriend on camera.