British Wrestling: The Demise, The Few, The Revival
March 24, 2005 by Steven Richardson
I am a huge wrestling fan and have always been a fan of American wrestling; WWE, WCW, ECW and now NWA:TNA, and Ring Of Honor. But recently I have discovered wrestling closer to home where I live, the UK.
You've all heard the phrase "when I was a lad", well I have heard the same thing from my grandad and my dad and they both say "What's this rubbish you watch, you call that wrestling, you don't know the meaning of the word". And they're right, not that modern wrestling is rubbish, but that their era of wrestling was actually good.
At its peak in the 1970's British wrestling was drawing huge audiences every Saturday afternoon on World of Sport. After viewing World of Sport I have realized why the British audience liked it so much. Fine, these wrestlers weren't necessary good lookers, in fact a few of them were pretty ugly. But that didn't matter to the crowd, what mattered was two men telling a story of strength, and technical excellence.
Also the gimmicks were, although sometimes exaggerated, entertaining. We had the Borg Twins, face twins which were told apart with numbers on their chest, Alan Kilby, a nice clean fighter but in his gimmick he was deaf, Billy Two-Rivers, a native American, and Kendo Nagasaki, a masked wrestler who put his mask on the line each match. Even Dynamite Kid started off in World of Sport. One of the most famous British wrestlers also led to its downfall. Big Daddy, an obese patriot, was very over with the crowd and for a brief moment took the already popular sport to greater heights. His feud with Giant Haystacks (another obese superstar) drew record breaking figures in the TV ratings. But these two were very boring wrestlers, and when this combined with a lack of new stars coming through, it was no surprise that in 1988 after a 33 year run on TV, World of Sport was finally pulled from the schedules.
World of Sport never returned and this style of wrestling was gone forever.
Since 1988 there have been few British superstars make it big in America.
Obviously you have the British Bulldogs, which consisted of the Dynamite Kid Tom Billington and the late Davey Boy Smith. He was perhaps the greatest British wrestler, in the sense that he made it big in the WWF. Fit Finley also did all right for himself in America, winning the WCW TV title. The most popular British wrestler in America today is William Regal, winning titles in both WCW and WWE and is currently one half of the WWE tag team champs.
However over the past year I have discovered another British Promotion; FWA, Frontier Wrestling Alliance. FWA is the biggest British federation around at the moment and its popularity is only getting bigger, already with a TV deal. FWA also attracts huge stars from the USA and Japan. Low Ki, Raven, CM Punk, Steve Corino, D'Lo Brown and many more have travelled across the Atlantic to wrestle here in the UK.
And now finally more and more British wrestlers are graduating and making it to the FWA full roster. James Tighe, Steve Knight, Mark Sloan and Doug Williams all have the same in-ring chemistry as the wrestlers from the World of Sport. Exciting cruiserweights are being produced such as Jonny Storm and Jody Fliesch, and a reminder of the old gimmicks are still there with the Duke of Danger, a rich snob with his butler Simmons.
And what is even better news is that some of these superstars are getting some recognition in America. Jody Fleisch had participated in the rings all over the world making appearances for RoH and CZW. Jonny Storm along with Jody has appeared in RoH and CZW and also wrestled for NWA and TNA.
Doug Williams, a technical masterpiece, is not only a former RoH Pure Wrestling champion but he is also one half of the GHC Tag Team Titles with 2 Cold Scorpio and Paul Burchill, who has been given a development deal by the WWE.
After a long wait British wrestling looks to be on the up again. It may never hit the big time but it is good to know that an alternative is there for wrestling fans.
by Steven Richardson..
Roger OConnell wrote:
The Frontier Wrestling Alliance has a lot of great talent. Obviously some people in England dont even know of the FWA, which is quite sad. They have a lot of great talent there, such as Burchill (I keep wondering why he is listed as "Burchall"), Alex Shane, Doug Williams, Jack Xavier, and so on and so fourth. Alex Shane is the Triple H of FWA as Misawa is the Triple H of NOAH. If the FWA was shown in the US, it would draw a huge number.
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