In 1988 World of Sport Wrestling was cancelled, British wrestling disappeared from national television and so began the dark ages of a form of entertainment that had been a mainstay of British culture for decades. The years that followed were tough on British wrestling and in his 2012 book Holy Grail: The True Story of British Wrestling’s Revival, Greg Lambert identifies its ‘holy grail’ as a return to national television and the millions of viewers British wrestling captivated in the past.
In the years since British wrestling has come closer than ever to realising that dream and British wrestlers are now more in-demand across the globe than ever before, so Lambert returns once again with this follow-up to his original hit – Ropes And Glory: The Emotional Rise of British Wrestling.
Much like Holy Grail, Ropes And Glory is a heavily autobiographical work. This is the trials and tribulations of British wrestling as told through the experiences of Greg Lambert, and as such focuses heavily on the promotions he was most involved in. Namely, FWA, XWA, PCW and the North-West wrestling scene at large. While Lambert touches in later chapters upon other promotions such as Revolution Pro-Wrestling, Insane Championship Wrestling and PROGRESS Wrestling that have been instrumental in revitalising the scene, because of its primary focus the book sometimes feels like it lacks a grander picture of how the British wrestling scene as a whole was evolving over the course of the decade covered.
That’s not to say that the content on offer is in any way lacking, but rather that fans unfamiliar with the pre-2012 era of British wrestling may not find it immediately enticing. Lambert is a journalist by trade, however, and his writing style helps a good deal in keeping things interesting, even when the promotions and events involved may not be entirely familiar to the reader. The book itself moves along at a good pace and some of the information contained within is invaluable, Lambert (having worn many hats in his time involved with wrestling) is uniquely placed to give some great insight into the inner workings of the wrestling business, the headaches of promoting professional wrestling and the politics that pervade the scene.
Lambert paints a picture of a scene that had all the tools for success, but was crying out for the right platforms to put those tools to use. At the outset it’s a picture of a scene still trying to find its place after some bitter failures and struggling against the general perception of professional wrestling in the mainstream, but by the book’s close things look much more positive and Lambert does a good job of capturing the sense of excitement that has been building around British wrestling these past few years. The final chapter is a fitting one, focusing on ICW’s record-setting Fear & Loathing show at the Glasgow SECC in 2015 that drew a sell-out crowd of 4,500 and the biggest gate seen by a British promotion in decades.
Overall Ropes And Glory is an interesting read, providing good insight into how British wrestling got to where it is today and a worthy follow-up to Holy Grail. There’s some great interviews with numerous wrestlers and promoters involved in the scene, including the likes of El Ligero, Nathan Cruz, Andy Quildan, Alex Shane, Noam Dar, Drew Galloway, Dann Read, Grado and (in particular) Rockstar Spud, who also provides the book’s foreword and is central to much of the story. Whether you’re a fan of British wrestling of old or a more recent follower, you’ll likely find something here to give you a greater appreciation of the scene’s remarkable rise back to prominence.
Ropes And Glory: The Emotional Rise of British Wrestling is available now in paperback and on Kindle.