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The Beginner's Guide To British Wrestling


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#21 JerryvonKramer

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 08:30 AM

Remember, Grandstand was on the BBC so the wrestling would be up against horseracing, boxing, football, or some other sport -- those guys would just switch over if they thought they were watching cartoon nonsense.


Like Big Daddy or Giant Haystacks or Kendo Nagasaki?


I think there's a big difference between a bit of pizzazz and character / charisma and, for example, Jimmy Hart vs. JYD in a waterslide race or Roddy Piper playing trick or treat on Halloween night.

Those were some of the more colourful characters, but the presentation was still largely realistic and as a legit sport.

#22 JerryvonKramer

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 08:33 AM

I should mention too, that Walton was ABSOLUTELY KEY in helping get the more pantomime-style acts like Catweazle over by playing it so absolutely straight as a sporting contest no matter what.

#23 Frankensteiner

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 08:53 AM

Any long-term rivalries that build from match to match? Any classic stories of someone chasing victory in a match or chasing a title for years before the big payoff? Is revenge a theme you see often?


I'm sure OJ could provide more detail and possibly other examples, but first thing that jumps to mind is the excellent Steve Grey/Johnny Saint series in late '79-early '80. They start off with non-title matches with Grey chasing Saint which then builds to a title match between the two. The problem is the entire series wasn't shown in the re-runs and some of the matches are only available in clipped form from the original airings.

#24 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 09:10 AM

I guess the best comparison I have to what I've seen of World of Sport is RINGS -- not so much in terms of style, but in terms of presentation. I enjoy RINGS. But I like UWFI more because it feels more like traditional pro wrestling.


I think RINGS was presented like Pancrase. WoS was out and out pro-wrestling to me. The pure sport aspect I think is overstated. UWF-i was worked like pro-wrestling so I can understand why that might appeal to you.

Are there any bloodbaths?


I can't remember ever seeing blood on WoS. I don't think it was allowed on TV.

Any long-term rivalries that build from match to match?


I don't know about building from match to match, but most of the long term rivalries revolved around title belts. I don't think there were a lack of feuds. There were plenty of reoccuring match-ups along with short term programs. The problem is that we don't have the complete picture in regards to footage.

Any classic stories of someone chasing victory in a match or chasing a title for years before the big payoff?


This tended to happen in the heavyweight ranks where the belt seledom changed hands. In the lighter classes the belts changed hands frequently. I can't think of any examples off hand as I've watched most out of it out of context and in nonsequential order. The lightweights certainly chased each other in terms of the belt.

Is revenge a theme you see often? Or does each match exist in its own little vacuum?


There were a lot of return matches. Revenge may have been a motivation in these bouts but not outwardly so because of the gentlemanly pretences. The heels tended to look for revenge more than the faces. If a heel lost, they'd often offer up a wager in order to get a return bout and things like that. I suppose there was an element of revenge in return title matches. Many of the matches existed in their own little vacuum because guys were making their first television appearance for a number of months, but in terms of the feuds Walton would always refer back to their previous match-ups. The catchweight bouts I like so much take place in their own little vacuum.

#25 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 09:17 AM

Remember, Grandstand was on the BBC so the wrestling would be up against horseracing, boxing, football, or some other sport -- those guys would just switch over if they thought they were watching cartoon nonsense.


Like Big Daddy or Giant Haystacks or Kendo Nagasaki?


I think there's a big difference between a bit of pizzazz and character / charisma and, for example, Jimmy Hart vs. JYD in a waterslide race or Roddy Piper playing trick or treat on Halloween night.

Those were some of the more colourful characters, but the presentation was still largely realistic and as a legit sport.


Well, ultimately they were matches filmed at halls around the country, but c'mon Big Daddy was not pure sport. Even huge stars like McManus, Pallo and Kellet who were great workers were entertainers first and foremost. There was a lot of technical wrestling, but I think the pure sport aspect gets overplayed because of how the matches were presented on TWC. Walton tried to sell something like Catweazle as seriously as he could, but the audience weren't under any illusion that it was anything other than comedy.

#26 Herodes

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 10:38 AM

I think the comparison between British wrestling and RINGS, and the suggestion that it was presented as a 'legit sport' is way off. It was very much centered in the British traditions of pantomime and especially has a huge amount of parallels with the British institution of Music Hall / Variety (most similar to vaudeville in the US) where there were hundreds of shows a week in almost every town featuring comedians, music acts, magic, ventriloquists, animal acts, strongmen etc on bills structured like a wrestling show. When TV kicked in they created 'main event' variety stars like Max Miller and Tommy Cooper who would then appear in the halls all over the country supplemented by the other 'gimmick' acts (e.g. the snake charmers, acrobats etc), many of whom would could TV exposure every now and then. It is important to remember the whole model of the business was completely different, it wasn't a single touring company with a stable of performers - there were literally hundreds of shows per week all over the UK. The purpose of TV was to showcase wrestlers from all over the country (many of whom would only appear once or have years between TV appearances due to the huge number of wrestlers) and create flamboyant 'TV stars' - the likes of Les Kellett, gimmicks like Nagasaki and panto villains like Pallo, McManus and Breaks - to draw on the cards across the country. There was no real model for the TV to be used for any week-to-week narratives or to build to any specific card or super show, they had 45 minutes a week in a very good time slot before the football results (in the era of only 3 TV channels nationally and no cable or other alternatives) to put on 2 matches, show some of the wrestlers from the thousands out there and feature a 'TV star' like a McManus to make nationally-known star performers with the intention of driving the hundreds of weekly live shows. One last thing - while World of Sport was ITV's version of BBC's Grandstand, unlike Grandstand which had a Saturday afternoon of 'proper sport', World of Sport was always the less serious version and mostly featured minority and niche sports they could find like ten pin bowling, darts, stock car racing, show jumping, lacrosse etc so wrestling fit into the spirit of the show. 'The wrestling' was always viewed very much as entertainment not sport with the cheeky panto villains getting attacked by handbag-wielding grannies and the gimmicks like Kendo, Adrian Street, Catweasle, Daddy, Haystacks et al...and those were the most popular wrestlers more comparable to what was shown on ITV's Sunday night at the Palladium than any 'real' sportsmen. It's place in the culture was as very popular light-hearted and affordable weekly live entertainment for the working classes totally in line with the Variety tradition that brought a little glitz and glamour to thousand of halls across the country featuring stars that had been seen on the telly.

#27 FLIK

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 01:25 PM

Part of it is atmosphere and has nothing to do with what is happening in the ring. Excited announcers and screaming crowd.


WoS crowds could get quite into it, they'd cheer loudly for a really good fast exchange of high spots and boo the shit out of some of the more hated heels. Watch something like Steve Veidor vs Al Hayes whear the crowd is so pissed at Hayes they're near ready to riot.

Are there any bloodbaths?

I generally do like the Jim Breaks and Johnny Saint matches I've seen. I just haven't seen one that I've loved yet.


No true bloodbaths, no. Given how they sold things, if someone donned a Ric Flair lvl crimson mask the match would imediatly be stoped, multiple ambulances called, the heel who busted him open would be murdered by the angry mob of fans and the guy who got busted open would be out for months :)

Have you watched the Breaks vs Saint matches? Those are maybe the closest thing i've seen as the over riding theme of them is "fuck you you prick i'm gonna break your fuckin nose in a really violent manner"

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There were a lot of angles and gimmickry on top involving Big Daddy that nobody watches because Big Daddy sucks.


I like Big Daddy myself, no he's not someone you're gonna recomend in a thread talking about the best of British wrestling and I don't go out of my way to track him down but when I ocasionally run across a match of his I usually think his act is fun and come away entertained. It helps that he's usually teamed up with and or facing a really absurdly weird cast of characters.

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One of the more amusing things i've seen in WoS is Finlay coming down to the ring with a giant picture of Big Daddy. His Indian Princess wife Paula scribbles all over Daddy's face then Finlay dropkicks a giant hole in it

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There was also a bunch of gimmickry with Kendo Nagasaki and workers of his ilk. The heavyweights would occasionally call each other out as well. I've seen Tony St. Clair come to the ring in street clothes on more than one occasion, as well as angles involving Bomber Pat Roach and others. There was the occasional gimmick match too such as the handicap matches or the money per round or fall bouts. There was also the arm wrestling shtick that Myers used to do,


One example I always liked was the Mask vs Undefeated Streak match between Kung Fu vs Mick McManus

and of course tag matches were British wrestling's version of a cage match or some other type of rare stipulation bout.


I wouldn't quite say that. Early on they were pretty rare but they became pretty common place after a while with their being tons of regular tag teams by the end.

#28 Bix

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 02:09 PM

Part of it is atmosphere and has nothing to do with what is happening in the ring. Excited announcers and screaming crowd.


WoS crowds could get quite into it, they'd cheer loudly for a really good fast exchange of high spots and boo the shit out of some of the more hated heels. Watch something like Steve Veidor vs Al Hayes whear the crowd is so pissed at Hayes they're near ready to riot.

That match has possibly my favorite thing from any available WOS match:

- Veidor covers Hayes.
- Ref starts count standing several feed away.
- Hayes screams something like "SURELY YOU CAHN'T SEE MY SHOULDERS FROM THERE!" and the crowds ROARS with boos.

#29 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 04:58 PM

That was a hell of a post, Herodes.

#30 PeteF3

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 06:41 PM

With the '70s Breaks/Saint match above being a notable exception, you're not going to find much in the way of blood on TV. ITV had strict rules for what was allowed. House shows allowed for more leeway in terms of blood, brawling, and occasional gimmick matches, and their own card-to-card storylines. Of course, there's not much to be done from our end for enjoying any of that. The only bladejob I've seen was by Wayne Bridges in his title match against John Quinn and that resulted in an immediate stoppage. (Quinn wasn't a great worker but he was a heat magnet--one of my favorite WOS spots ever is him charging across the ring at the first round break to clobber Bridges with a big boot, which was totally awesome and unexpected after seeing countless matches with even the heels respecting the bell). In terms of TV storylines there's the Pete Roberts vs. Wayne Bridges feud from the early '80s when Bridges was Joint's "World Heavyweight Champion." Bridges got DQ'd in a non-title match while heeling it up for most of it, then got beat 2-0 in a rematch to set up a title bout at the Royal Albert Hall, with Bridges working heel for probably the only time in his career. The copy of the Albert Hall match that I have is missing the first few rounds (no falls) but would be my #1 if I had to turn in an '80s ballot for Europe tomorrow, and is one of the 3 or 4 best WOS matches I've seen. Roberts was hit or miss in Japan with more misses than hits but I've yet to see a bad performance out of him in England. Steve Veidor vs. Gwyn Davies for the British Heavyweight title from 1976 is still my favorite WOS match that I've seen. No blood but plenty of heel vs. babyface hate, actual near-falls, and neat psychology with finishes and spots building off each other throughout each decision.

#31 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 07:20 PM

I was trying to remember if I'd ever seen anyone bleed hardway in WoS. Veidor/Davies is definitely a match that I think Loss would enjoy.

#32 Al

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 08:30 PM

Big Daddy's an awful wrestler. But weirdly I can also buy him as credible. A man of his stature would be awfully difficult to tackle in a legitimate wrestling match or fight. Particularly in a style such as WOS that eschews brawling. I mean, Daddy just looks immovable.

#33 Jingus

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 02:54 PM

Problem is, he's as immobile as he is immovable. And how can you seriously talk about "credibility" when the majority of his offense was just having the heels bounce themselves off his belly?

#34 FLIK

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 03:36 PM

Well, hey, if you ran into a dude that fat you'd be more likely to get knocked down then him :)

#35 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 10:30 PM

Updated my list with some of my recent picks:

Steve Grey vs. Keith Haward (2/5/85)
Jon Cortez vs. Keith Haward (1/13/87)
Keith Haward vs. Chic Cullen (3/5/84)

I really like Keith Haward. He had no personality whatsoever but he was a wrestling machine. The Cortez bout is the least problematic as the booking holds back the other two matches, but I really liked how Grey was forced to bring the physical side of his game to a catchweight contest with Haward and the Cullen bout was really solid wrestling with a really shitty finish.

And one of Flik's picks, which I wrote about at Wrestling KO:

Abe Ginsberg vs. Pete Curry (10/23/74)

This ruled. It was one of Flik's choices over at PWO for the best WoS bouts. And a good thing he mentioned it too as I would've never watched it on name value alone. Ginsberg seemed like an interesting character. He wore a black leather helmet to the ring and Walton commented about how he often had a go at Kent through the ropes. He was all business here, however. He went up a class to take on a heavyweight in Curry and for a heavyweight match this was peppered with awesome looking holds, stiff moves and smash mouth wrestling. Sadly, as with a couple of other great looking workers this is the only Ginsberg match on tape. Gutted.

Speaking of Wrestling KO, here is my monstrous European wrestling thread -- http://z11.invisionf...i...c=2555&st=0

#36 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 08:56 PM

Added -- Chic Cullen vs. Rocky Moran (5/2/84) One guy who was on TV a lot in the 80s was Chic Cullen. He was an average looking Scottish bloke with a bad hair cut who was a fairly decent worker that they put some stock in. The more I watch of him, the more I'm starting to like him or at least acknowledge him as a mainstay. This was an outstanding title match for Cullen's British Heavy-Middleweight belt. Moran was from the same stable of workers as Finlay and a cheat basically. Usually, the heels shelf that type of work in a title match in similiar fashion to lucha, but not this time. Moran was being badly outwrestled at the beginning of this match (in fact, at first I couldn't figure out why Cullen was getting all the offense) until he finally began a barrage of illegal moves. There was an awesome spot where Moran pleaded with the ref not to give him a public warning and as the ref gave it went straight back to attacking Cullen. Cullen sold all this big time and the crowd was heavily into it. Alan Kilby was sitting at ringside waiting to see who he would challenge for the title and opening rooting for Cullen. Great match.

#37 FLIK

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 09:41 AM

11/21/1987 (World Heavyweight Title) Wayne Bridges © vs Kendo Nagasaki I know this is supposed to be a best of thread but this was so bad I had to bring it up. Maybe i've just been lucky but one of the things I like about WoS is that I rarely run into crap matches. Not that all of them are good of course but most will atleast qualify as average, with enough good parts to make them watchable and not a complete waste of time. This, was awful though, scared the crap out of me to know it was scheduled for 15 rounds as I was sick of it by the 3rd and wanting to gouge my eyes out by the 5th or 6th. They're full on 100% into the entertainment era by now and the most amusing highlights of this were Kendo & his manager George Cullen calling out Hulk Hogan in a pre match promo backstage and the match ending in a freakin ref bump (first time i've ever seen one in a WoS match) allowing Kendo to get the win by attacking Bridges from behind as he was helping the ref up. Post match is insane with Kendo, a small kid about 7 or 8 yrs old dressed up like Kendo that he brought to the ring with him, his manager and Kendo's fan club which mainly seemed to consist of dirty hippies and ppl that looked like Manson family rejects all having a giant celebration in the ring while the rest of the crowd pelts them with garbage. All poor Kent Walton can do utter "well that was certainly diffrent" as they go off the air. Top 10 worst WoS match i've seen easy. On a more positive note, the same episode had a Marty Jones vs Cas Martin match from 3/27/1982 that was damn good. It ended way too early when Martin too a sick bump over the top for the KO finish in the 5th or so round but up until then it was great action. Reminds me that I really need to see more Cas Martin matches as he's been really impressive in the few i've seen so far and looked like he was prob one of the better guys of his era.

#38 Mad Dog

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 04:56 PM

Problem is, he's as immobile as he is immovable. And how can you seriously talk about "credibility" when the majority of his offense was just having the heels bounce themselves off his belly?


I watched two Big Daddy matches and that was enough for a lifetime.

#39 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 07:16 PM

I remember liking that Kendo Nagasaki/Wayne Bridges match and Bridges is one of the WoS guys I dislike the most along with Mal Sanders and John fucking Naylor. I take it you haven't watched the Nagasaki/Myers match or any of the Screen Sport stuff?

#40 MJH

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 08:10 PM

I don't remember having seen that Kendo/Bridges match, but the one in which he hypnotises Robbie Brookside is enough to put anyone off the guy for good.




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