by Billy Strachan.
After a 30 year absence from our tv screens, ITV brought back World of Sport Wrestling for a one off event on New Year’s Eve. The hope being if the show was a success it would get the wheels in motion to get a series on ITV in the near future.
A large drawing point was who was on commentary, WWE Hall of Famer ‘JR’ Jim Ross, a Legend who is a familiar voice to the casual fan or who was a fan during the Attitude Era and had fallen away.
The fear from many was how the show would be presented, a jokey affair akin of ITV’s failed Celebrity Wrestling which bombed incredibly or if it would treated like an actual wrestling show.
The ever popular Grado opened the show following a quick welcome by Jim Ross and Alex Shane. Grado was chosen by the World of Sport committee to fight for the World of Sport Championship, JR compared Grado to Dusty Rhodes and Big Daddy, a great analogy to sum up ‘The Chubby Wee Chancer’. He faced Dave Mastiff who entered flanked by Johnny Moss and Sha Samuels which created a terrifying visual, three big brutes.
The match itself wasn’t anything spectacular but it introduced Grado and Mastiff as the, almost reincarnation, Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks of the feature. Samuels and Moss interference saw Dave Mastiff pick up the win and become the first World of Sport Champion.
The show was scattered with recaps of the old school World of Sport including Marty Jones, Klondyke Kate, Johnny Saint and Rollerball Rocco in the crowd.
After the shenanigans of the opening contest, the authority figure Mr Beesley announced a battle royale to determine who will face Mastiff in the main event for the WOS Championship. The winners of the upcoming matches would be entered, Grado was automatically included.
Next up was a four way ladder match, Sam Bailey, Danny Hope, CJ Banks and the star of the match, Kenny Williams. All four put on a fast and furious showing. CJ Banks looked aggressive, foiling just about every attempt at grabbing the briefcase. It wasn’t enough though as the enigmatic Kenny Williams outlasted the other three to grab the case and book his place into the battle royale. Certainly a big change from the World of Sport days but a good slice of the modern athleticism that can be seen around the country.
A World of Sport Wrestling first with Viper facing Alexis Rose in the first women’s match in World of Sport history. The camera switched to Klondyke Kate throughout as she beamed from ear to ear as these two ladies put on a fantastic showing, Viper was impressive as always and Alexis was no slouch. Viper put Rose away but both certainly left an impression. Not just Kate looking impressed but also the little girls in the crowd seeing that women CAN wrestle and they are damn good at it!
The only tag team match of the evening was The Coffey Brothers, Mark and Joe, against the team of Rampage Brown and Ashton Smith, or Rampage Junior as the crowd took to calling him. The match of the night for many with The Coffey Brothers looking especially brilliant, working together with cohesion. Not to say that Rampage and Ashton didn’t put in a shift, they dominated the majority of the match cornering Mark Coffey and cutting off the ring. It soon got out of control but an Aw Ra Best Fur Da Bells discus lariat from Joe gave The Coffey’s the win and entry into the battle royale.
Mr Beesley announced backstage that he has organised a special guest for the battle royale that we’d find out during the match.
The final qualifying match was between two wrestlers that had a scurmish on Good Morning Britain which saw El Ligero leave Zack Gibson knocked loopy underneath a Christmas tree. Gibson targeted Ligero’s arm throughout looking to lock in the Shankly Gates submission. A slower paced contest which made Gibson look very aggressive but it turned out the quickness of Ligero that was the difference maker as he squeezed in the pinfall after a springboard DDT.
The battle royale included the winners from the previous matches plus Sha Samuels and Johnny Moss to determine who would face Dave Mastiff in the main event.
It was soon down to Grado, Samuels and Moss with no appearance from the special guest…until some very British music hit and out entered ‘The British Bulldog’ Davey Boy Smith Jr, the former WWE Tag Team Champion who came out like a house on fire to save Grado from a two on one mugging. It wasn’t enough as after flurry, Samuels and Moss soon got rid of the second generation wrestler. Grado rallied back managing to eliminate both Sha and Johnny to leave it down to him versus Mastiff in a rematch of the opening contest.
Before Mastiff entered Samuels and Moss put the boots to Grado and attached his knee in particular. Smith re-entered to chase off the duo so that Grado could receive medical attention. Leaving him getting helped to the back before the final ad break.
Once we returned Mastiff entered with his Championship looking rather smug seeing as his opponent wasn’t in any condition to compete. The referee sent Samuels and Moss to the back to keep the main event as fair as possible.
Grado was soon making his way to the ring trying to get past the medical crew. To the chagrin of Mastiff who went into attack mode, leathering Grado on the ramp then continued to batter him for the majority of the match.
The match was all about the crowd rallying behind the challenger as the offence was Mastiffs as he picked Grado apart. After a long beat down a momentary distraction saw Mastiff collide with the ring post and an R-Grado later Grado became the second World of Sport Champion to round off the two hour event.
Overall I really enjoyed this show, there were some negatives which I won’t discard. I found Alex Shane irritating on commentary, easily outclassed by Jim Ross who, when he wasn’t on screen reading from a script, sounded knowledgeable with a reminiscent smattering of classic BAH GAWD JR. The camera cuts were a bit too much, there was no need to cut to the crowd as often as they did unless a lot was cut from the show and cutting to JR while he was reading from the script was sloppy. It missed the finish of the tag match, just barely cutting back to see Joe hit his lariat. The matches were all solid affairs, they aren’t going to set the world on fire but each wrestler gave a good account of themselves. I wasn’t a fan of the backstage reporter Rachel, especially when she barged past Samuels and Moss to get to Mr Beesley’s office, two big dudes getting pushed aside with ease didn’t support an aura of fear that they should have created.
On the flip side, I loved seeing Kenny Williams and The Coffey’s picking up wins and there was no ‘joke’ or silly bits that would detract from the achievement of British wrestling being on TV with plenty reminders of the Golden Age with talking heads like Jones, Rocco and Saint. The ratings was a 1.25 with, I think, 7% share. Over a million homes watched this event, sure it’s not the 2 million views that the programs that sandwiched the show got but I want to look at the positive.
There was a story throughout the show which opened and closed the program to a satisfactory conclusion, the bully getting his comeuppance. A great message to give to those kids whose parents are looking for an excuse to moan about it.
There are plenty of kinks that would need to be ironed out but I would hope that we would see a series in the very near future, a solid roster with possibly a few more additions required male and certainly female but for two hours I had that warm glow that comes when you’re a proud parent watching your baby on stage.
- World of Sport Championship: Dave Mastiff defeated Grado by Pinfall to win the World of Sport Championship.
- Ladder Match for a Place in the Battle Royale: Kenny Williams defeated ‘Delicious’ Danny Hope, CJ Banks and Sam Bailey by Retrieving the Briefcase to advance to the ‘Battle Royale’.
- Viper defeated Alexis Rose by Pinfall.
- The Coffey Brothers (Joe & Mark Coffey) defeated Ashton Smith & Rampage Brown by Pinfall.
- El Ligero defeated Zack Gibson by Pinfall.
- #1 Contender ‘Battle Royale’: Grado won by eliminating Johnny Moss to become the #1 Contender for the World of Sport Championship.
- World of Sport Championship: Grado defeated Dave Mastiff by Pinfall to win the World of Sport Championship.