Craig Wilson and Brian Damage
In the final edition of This Week in Wrestling in 2016, Craig talks about today’s return of ‘World of Sport’, a former mainstay of British wrestling, while Brian shares some of the most interesting pictures and videos he’s stumbled upon over the last seven days.
Later today, on the 30th anniversary of its final broadcast, ‘World of Sport’ will return to the screens of UK based grappling fans.
‘World of Sport’ ran for twenty years from 1965 to 1985 on ITV, in competition to BBC’s Grandstand, and showcased the very best of British wrestling. Amongst the talent who performed were British icons such as Giant Haystacks, Big Daddy, Johnny Saint, Marty Jones and Billy Robinson. In addition, the likes of William Regal and the British Bulldog cut their teeth during this time while wrestlers from the other side of the pond, including Bret and Owen Hart, competed at one time or another.
September 1985 saw the end of ‘World of Sport’ although wrestling continued to be broadcast at lunchtimes. But December 1988 saw ‘Wrestling with Kent Walton’ dropped, around the same time that Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation grew in popularity in the UK, thanks to coverage on Sky. In fact, in the early 90s, as the WWF continued to grow, ITV actually broadcast World Championship Wrestling.
And today it will return to our screens for an afternoon of wrestling called by Jim Ross, for many of this generation, the voice of wrestling.
However, it’s not been without its controversy.
Last night there was some debate on Twitter on the qualities of the ‘World of Sport’ special. In a tweet, Fighting Spirit Magazine, undoubtedly the finest wrestling magazine, said of today’s show “It’s not going to be PROGRESS or RevPro. The ring style leans heavily on British wrestling entertainment. It’s not for workrate folk.”
Unsurprisingly, this caused some faux outrage from some of the page’s followers including British wrestler Lionheart, who attempted to call the magazine’s editor for his remarks.
The thing is, when you scrape away at the surface, FMS is correct.
Today’s show won’t be packed full of matches to rival Flair vs. Steamboat’s classics. It won’t be full of bouts that, in several year’s time, fans will be looking back talking about how fortunate they were to be there.
But that’s not the audience the show is, rightly, pitching to.
It’s pitching itself, as it should, to the sort who grew up watching ‘World of Sport’ or a younger audience who grew up hearing tales of the show.
Later today, millions will tune in to watch wrestling on terrestrial TV. Perhaps as many as 3 million pairs of eyes will watch some of the best, and brightest, British wrestlers compete over several rounds. That’s compared to around 200k who view WWE Raw on a weekly basis.
Recently, I had the joy of catching ICW at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, the biggest European wrestling show in decades. However, today’s ‘World of Sport’ special is so, so much more important than that. It will fix a new set of eyes on British wrestling and, judging by the poster at least, those viewers will be treated to the best wrestling this shore has to offer.
I, for one, cannot wait.
Here’s to the start of something great for British wrestling being broadcast on our screens.
p.s. for those interested in more, you can read an interview I conducted with Marty Jones here.
The resemblance is uncanny! You’ll never be able to watch Rudolph the red nose reindeer the same again.
In case you didn’t know, Daniel Bryan and James Ellsworth are time travellers.
An advertisement for former WWWF world champion Buddy Rogers liquor store…
Whatever happened to Max Moon?
He looks like he really let himself go…
Happy New Year circa 1983!
Last Week on the Blog
Last week’s Sunday Sermon was a 2016 year in review; on Monday we had part 96 of ‘Wrestling with Sin‘; Darren Young received the ‘Book or Cook‘ treatment on Tuesday; on Wednesday we asked ‘Whatever Happened to‘ 3-Minute Warning; on Thursday we looked at the ten year journey for Tye Dillinger and we rounded off the week looking at Raw and Nitro from 20 years ago this week.
Next Week on the Blog
Tomorrow we share our hopes for 2017; the latest instalment of ‘Wrestling with Sin‘ and more.
All previous ‘This Week in Wrestling’ pieces can be read here.