British/UK wrestling has been through a lot since the “glory days” of Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks. Kids and parents alike tuned in to see grappling action on ITV’s World Of Sport. Sadly times changed and our once great sport was plagued by ridicule as it became stale and predictable due to Big Daddy winning constantly and bad short term booking. Diminishing TV coverage lead to falling audience figures and people tuning into stars such as, Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, in WWF’s brand of wrestling instead. A resurgence of the sport in the early to mid 2000s fell flat due to poor management decisions and bad investments.
All that happened in the past has lead to the scene in 2015 primed and ready to progress to the next level, with promotions such as PCW, Progress and ICW to name but a few. UK wrestling stars are making waves across the pond with Magnus, becoming the first Brit to hold a major belt in one of the “big two” by holding the TNA Heavyweight belt, Drew Galloway leaving WWE and hitting the Indy’s, becoming Evolve Champ in the process and more recently joining TNA and Grado, who could forgot him? He was also involved in Boot Camp currently touring the States appearing in various Indy promotions.
Is this the start of a new “golden age”? With Adrian Neville riding high in NXT, Spud and Mark Andrews in TNA, I’d bet on yes. There’s such a wealth of events to pick from most weekends across the UK. Promotions such as PCW, ICW, PROGRESS, IPW-UK, Revolution Pro, All Star Promotions and many more putting on events of a consistently high standard. Promotions that use a mix of well known overseas stars like, Chris Masters, Uhaa Nation and Colt Cabana alongside home grown talent like Kay Lee Ray, Zack Sabre Jr and Marty Scurl, have all helped make the scene grow massively. Alex Shane’s fabled FWA may have kick-started the recent boom but it has gone way beyond anything he could possibly have imagined.
BWC – British Wrestling Round Up airing monthly on Challenge is a great snapshot for the scene but they only seem to cover old shows or NGW and PCW. There’s nothing wrong with that in my opinion but it doesn’t represent the UK scene as a whole. This is where the low rated Sky channels and YouTube/Vimeo/Dailymotion come in.
I’ve heard people argue that a mainstream TV deal is needed these days but I’d argue not. For the promoters the costs would be lower to produce a quality show for YouTube rather than a budget show for Challenge or Sky Sports. With entertainment being at the touch of a button on a wide array of smart devices, there surely must be more scope to reach a vast audience without the added cost of terrestrial TV. It’s incredibly easy to find and view UK wrestling on YouTube these days. ICW has a shed load of their Worldwide show available to watch, Progress have a couple of events on there also. As if to add even more weight to my argument Ricky Knight’s WAW and Saraya Knight’s Bellatrix have found a home on Sky’s My Channel and without missing a trick they too upload the same shows to YouTube a few days after. Target Wrestling will begin to air on Ben TV from March and you can also stream from the Ben TV site. Seems promoters are very aware of the power of the online audience these days.
All in all I feel a new age of UK wrestling is rising and I for one hope it’s here to stay.
I’m on twitter @clarkson_matt