Tuesday, 3 January 2017

World Of Sport

For those unfamiliar, either due to age or region, World Of Sport was a mainstay of British family programming for 20 years, showcasing a variety of sports from the hours of noon until 5pm every Saturday.

For those who lived during the era of 1965 to 1985, you'll no doubt have fond memories of that slot of time around four in the afternoon where everyone, from your little brother to your Granny, got together to cheer on the good guys and boo the villains, replicating moves and jumping off of couches.

Since the death of World Of Sport in the mid-80s, wrestling in Britain suffered a massive and sharp decline in popularity, mirroring the rise of American wrestling as the WWF, buoyed by Wrestlemania, and WCW fought to take over what little broadcasting time there was left on television, usually through broadcasters such as Sky which carried with them a hefty price tag to watch your favourite sport. The live scene, and spandex on free-to-view TV, disappeared.

But thanks to great promotions such as Insane Championship Wrestling, PROGRESS and countless others, the popularity of various documentaries and the rise of stars such as Grado, Drew Galloway, Noam Dar and many others making the leap across the pond to American shows, the time has seemingly come for ITV to dip their toes back into broadcasting British wrestling, and as such we were treated to a two-hour event this past weekend.

If you haven't checked it out yet, it is available to see on the ITV Player for a short period of time via http://www.itv.com/

The introductions are brought to us by our commentary team for the evening, the legendary Jim Ross and former wrestler and current promoter Alex Shane who, to put it briefly, has done a lot over the past decade to try to get, and keep, British wrestling on TV.

Whether you are a wrestling fan or not, everyone in Great Britain has heard the tales of the legendary rivalry between Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks. These two behemoths of men were never the greatest athletes within the rings, but they are a cultural phenomenon. Ironically or sincerely, whenever a non-wrestling fan encounters a wrestling fan in Britain you can bet money on the first question out of their mouths being, word for word, "What, like Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks?"

With that in mind, it was very fitting that the opening contest be between portly superstars Dave Mastiff (accompanied to the ring by villains Sha Samuels and Johnny Moss), and Grado. The match was set to be for the WOS Championship, and with Grado arguably the biggest crossover star in British wrestling today (his being at the forefront of several ICW documentaries, appearing on TNA and several mainstream shows such as Scot Squad is credited as a major factor in bringing casual fans into the British wrestling fold) it seemed a certainty that the fan favourite would win the title to start the show off with a bang.

Anybody expecting a plodding affair reminiscent of a bygone era were in for a bit of a shock as Grado, between his usual mugging for the crowd, showed his strength by taking Mastiff off his feet several times, and Dave himself even produced a senton from the second rope, albeit one that ultimately missed.

What really surprised me about the show in general was just how much the crowd were into it from the start. Making noise and chanting hard for Grado to win, the atmosphere was reminiscent of great family show mainstays like Gladiators, with foam fingers flying around and a chorus of cheers and boos at every moment. Grado was going up top, cheering on by the fans, when Johnny Moss managed to distract the referee long enough for Grado's long-term rival Sha Samuels to get involved and push him off, right into the path of a 300-pound Dave Mastiff somersaulting himself into the corner, getting the victory and the title by nefarious means.

We cut backstage to World Of Sport GM, Mr Beasley, being interviewed by Rachel. Mr Beasley is talking about how excited he is to have played a hand in wrestling being back on TV, with a new champion in Dave Mastiff, when an enraged Grado interrupts trying to call attention to the fact that Sha and Moss (referred to, in true Grado form, as a pair of dafties), when the new champion emerges hot on his tail, celebrating with his cohorts. Waving the title in Grado's face, things heat up to the point where security appear to try and drag them apart as Jim Ross takes us to our first commercial break.

Back to the show and in the interim Mr Beasley has had a chance to review the tape of the match and has determined that the title fight ending in such a manner is not only disrespectful to those that have came before them, but also setting a bad example to any young viewers watching, who should be taught the lesson that cheaters never prosper.

As such, Mr Beasley has declared a Battle Royal to take place tonight, the winner of which will go on to face Dave Mastiff for his title. What followed this announcement was the first of many short vignettes of ex-wrestler talking heads such as Rollerball Rocco and Marty Jones discussing stars of yesteryear. These vignettes would continue throughout the show and gave a good boost of nostalgia for the older viewers, adding to the family entertainment feel of the whole show.

While fathers and grans were still explaining the mystery and intrigue of Kendo Nagasaki from decades ago, kids and young adults had the chance to explain about the current stars as a four-way ladder match to determine the first entrant into the Battle Royal got underway.

Featuring "Delicious" Danny Hope, Sam Bailey, CJ Banks and Kenny Williams, this was a fast-paced, high-flying extravaganza that perfectly complimented the big brutes of the opening contest. It was nice to see, with most of the usual wrestling chants being missing from the show, that Danny Hope got a huge "Tassle-mania" ovation. It was also lovely to see him sporting a Kris Travis armband in memory of the late British wrestler who sadly passed away in March 2016.

With his bright pink attire, athletic skills and undeniable charisma, Kenny Williams was a fan favourite from the start and, ascending two ladders and knocking CJ Banks down from the top, Williams was indeed able to reach up and remove the briefcase to earn his spot in the Battle Royal. This was not the first huge ladder match victory for Kenny this year, as he managed to win the ICW Zero G title at the Hydro this year, and hopefully this victory tonight will help his star shine bright for years to come. A phenomenal talent.

From one special event to another, the first ever female singles match in World Of Sport history would be up next. When it comes to women wrestlers in British history, the name that always comes to mind is Klondyke Kate, the large and intimidating woman who would fight with the men in decades past.

Channelling that intimidation factor was Viper, a fifteen stone brawler set to face ten stone Alexis Rose, as she came to right with a snake around her neck, kissing it for good luck before getting into the ring to take it to her opponent. A wrestler with little over a year's experience under her belt, Alexis Rose was one of the few competitors tonight who I knew nothing about beforehand, which is a shame as she appears to have a pretty sweet moonsault in her arsenal, as well as experience in fighting Viper in title fights to boot.

Still, it would be that moonsault that would ultimately be her undoing, as she missed, allowing Viper to get the victory.

Up next, a tag match featuring brothers Joe and Mark Coffey, versus Rampage Brown and Ashton Smith, with the winning team both going into the Battle Royal. Again, it was nice to hear the crowd chanting the Iron Man tune for "Iron Man" Joe Coffey, showing that the man who headlined the ICW Hydro show versus Kurt Angle is well known across the country. As he should be, as along with brother Mark, who is an exceptional talent as well, the pair looked a million bucks and were easily the standout talents on the show. If you check out one pair of wrestlers from this show, it would be Joe and Mark Coffey.

The crowd themselves got more lively during this contest, as several disparaging chants and taunts were directed towards Ashton Smith in particular. An incredibly well-worked match ended with the brothers prevailing, bringing our total entrants for the Battle Royal up to four (with Grado having been added too). This would be increased to seven as, during another backstage segment where Dave Mastiff tried to bully Mr Beasley into letting him away with not defending the belt, saw his pals Sha Samuels and Johnny Moss added into the mix, along with a "special guest" who had been personally invited to take part.

Next up the masked El Ligero took on submission specialist Zack Gibson. With the depth of experience between them, both worked a quick, smooth bout featuring a lot of great transitions. The crowd were on their feet behind El Ligero, who despite having his arm injured by Gibson during the match, managed to perform a springboard spinning DDT to seal his place in the number one contendership Battle Royal.

Backstage now with Rachel, to interview all of the entrants. It was pretty cool to see everyone retain their actual personas, with Ligero staying mute and Sha practically taking Rachel's head off. Great stuff.

The Battle Royal got under way and, as with most of these types of matches, the field was quickly whittled down to just villains Sha and Moss versus Grado. A face-off between the brothers Joe and Mark led to their elimination, which may spell trouble ahead for them if World Of Sport continues after this one-off special.

With the underdog cornered now, our special guest finally made his appearance - Davey Boy Smith Jr, taking on the moniker of his father, the "British Bulldog". Entering to an electric ovation, Davey Boy managed to wear down both Moss and Sha with some great suplexes and the trademark Running Powerslam of the original British Bulldog, but found himself eliminated due to the combined forces of Johnny Moss and Sha Samuels.

Back to being outnumbered, Grado dug deep and managed to find it within himself to win the Battle Royal, but it came at a hefty cost as Sha and Moss attacked him after the decision and caused injury to his left knee, before Davey Boy Smith Jr managed to run back in to save him.

Main event time now as it is Grado v Dave Mastiff for the second time for the WOS title. The referee decided that enough was enough and eliminated Sha Samuels and Johnny Moss from ringside, allowing Grado a level playing field.

With everyone looking on from the edge of their seats, Dave Masiff took it to the outside and attacked Grado before he even made it to the ring, trying to get him to quit before the match even officially started, slamming him again and again onto the entrance ramp.

Finally convinced to get things into the ring, Dave immediately went after the leg of Grado, as Mr Beasley, Rachel and various veterans looked on in horror and disgust. Dave looked into the book of dastardly tactics and took to the ring post, taking off the top padding and exposing the turnbuckle. As the referee worked diligently to fix the post, Dave Mastiff ran at Grado in the corner, looking to finish him off once and for all. But the distraction would prove to be his own undoing, as Grado managed to recover enough to slip out of the way and catch a dazed Mastiff with a Cutter to gain the victory and win the WOS championship belt.

The crowd went wild, the show ended, and everyone went home happy.

In terms of family friendly entertainment, this was perfect. Very British, very competitive, with plenty for everyone to cheer and boo. They did a cracking job of tying the history into the current product without relying too much on nostalgia. It was very matter-of-fact, which helped highlight the current crop of talent that we have. For, no doubt as great and entertaining British wrestling was in the 60s, 70s and 80s for its time, the current talent we have are not a throw-back act. They have done it their own way, dragging the British scene kicking and screaming out of obscurity and into the mainstream. Documentaries on the BBC, shows in multi-thousand capacity venues, and a UK tournament set to be held by the WWE, Great Britain is the place to be right now in terms of wrestling, and I think the World Of Sport special did a good job of highlighting that in a mainstream way.

Athletes like Joe Coffey, Mark Coffey and Kenny Williams were allowed to shine on their abilities, characters like El Ligero, Grado, Dave Mastiff and Sha Samuels had the crowd in the palm of their hands. Another thing I would say is that everyone looked great, being allowed to use their own characters and physically speaking, the likes of Johnny Moss and Viper looked the best I have ever seen them. The pacing was spot on too, with most matches lasting around ten minutes including entrances, and short vignettes in between. Jim Ross and Alex Shane were great on commentary, save from a few forced jokes. Overall it was an incredible show!

If you want to check out more from the talent featured you would do well to seek out a show near you as no doubt several of them will be featured all over the country, whether it be at family friendly shows or the more adult variety:

 - Grado, Kenny Williams, Viper, Joe Coffey and Mark Coffey can be found regularly on Insane Championship Wrestling shows;
 - Dave Mastif, Danny Hope andAshton Smith all feature on PCW;
 - Rampage Brown is also a PCW guy but is being featured on WCPW a lot too;
 - Futureshock seems to be the best place to catch Sam Bailey and Alexis Rose;
 - Davey Boy Smith Jr wrestlers for NOAH in Japan;
 - CJ Banks and Zack Gibson wrestle all over the place and, along the same vein,
 - with over 1,200 matches to his name, El Ligero is widely considered the hardest working wrestler today with a match at a different promotion seemingly every day.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Fierce Females - Rumble In The Jungle results

Disclaimer: I didn't take notes last night for a personal reason. So this will be a shorter review than usual. However, expect plenty more Fierce Females related articles in the near future! Here are the results from Rumble In The Jungle.

Fierce Females - Rumble In The Jungle
Walkabout, Glasgow - Friday 29th May 2015

Friday, 29 May 2015

Music Video - Fierce Females

Disclaimer - Earlier I ran down the win/loss record of the entire Fierce Females roster and top ten likely winners in anticipation of Rumble In The Jungle, the event to determine the Fierce Females champion.

Tonight I bring you A Wee Bit About's first ever full-length music video as a tribute to the hardworking wrestlers including Carmel, Sara, Kay Lee Ray, The Owens Twins, Nikki Storm and Courtney.

If you enjoyed the video please get along to Fierce Females at the Walkabout, Glasgow, 128 Renfield Street, G2 3AL to watch the ladies perform.

Tickets are £8 and the doors open at 7.30pm tonight! See you all there.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Rumble In The Jungle - Fierce Females

Disclaimer: I haven't wrote in a while. I do still have some things up my sleeve, so keep checking here, the Facebook and Twitter for updates. But for now, what could have dragged me out of my semi-retirement? Why, it must be time for another Fierce Females show!

Fierce Females presents "Rumble In The Jungle"
Back once again Walkabout Glasgow (128 Renfield Street, G2 3AL)
This time a new night (Friday 29th May) and new price (only £8!)

So far only one thing for this show has been announced, a 20 woman rumble match, so I have frankly held off on writing about it as there wasn't much to write. But now thanks to new General Manager Christopher Saynt, I have something to write about:

Friday, 3 April 2015

Video Friday - New Recruit

Disclaimer: So last week we saw Wolfgang try to find a new character for himself. But have you ever wondered what he would be like portraying a completely new character? In this week's video we see Wolfgang stretch his acting chops, in a video featuring a previous Video Friday featured wrestler Grado.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Video Friday: Finding Wolfgang

Disclaimer: Last week, we saw Wolfgang have a bit of a laugh, a song and a dance, for the camera. But was that the real Wolfgang? This week, Video Friday looks set to delve deep as we go Finding Wolfgang.

As raved about last week, K2FilmsScotland have many great videos worth checking out. My favourites however are the "Finding Wolfgang" series. These 6-7 minute shorts featured hyper-reality as Wolfie and his pals sit around first a pub, then a kerb and finally a tree, discussing the wrestler and a potential character-shift. What follows are some surreal imaginings of what a new Wolfie would look like.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Video Friday: Wolfgang

Disclaimer: The last three VFs focused on Grado - his tussle with Jackie Polo, the mockumentary that brought him to the attention of ICW fans, and finally the Vice documentary "The British Wrestler" that brought him to mainstream attention and is surely the spiritual precursor the the wildly successful "Insane Fight Club" pair of documentaries on the BBC.

You could be forgiven for thinking that Grado is the only wrestler to have displayed his comedic chops in such a fashion, but indeed one unsung hero of ICW has also had a fair few videos appear online to shed a different light on his personality. That man, is Wolfgang.

Friday, 13 March 2015

SWA in Cumbernauld - Saturday 7th March

Disclaimer: I haven't wrote here for a while. If you're wanting to read more of my writing see Read My Words, Please for short stories and more. But I had such a great time at Scottish Wrestling Alliance's show last Saturday I just had to write about it.

Scottish Wrestling Alliance
Live in Cumbernauld
Saturday 7th March, 2015

Hosted once again at the Link Community Facility, this is a venue I enjoyed both times SWA have been here. It's spacious, so even with a large crowd there is still plenty of room to move about. Tickets were the usual £10 each or £35 for a family of four, very reasonable. The toilets are right next to the main hall so you don't miss too much of the action travelling to and fro, a huge bonus if you're attending with kids like I do.

To top it all off, both this time and last we were allowed into the main building and given respite from the weather while awaiting the inner doors opening for the start of the show, a very appreciated gesture.

I don't know the official attendance, but a quick headcount seemed to indicate around 150 as people were still coming through the doors as the show was about to begin. It was a great atmosphere, everyone was buzzing, and from what I understand the show the night before in Govan was pretty similar - SWA are sure going from strength to strength lately.

Mikey Whiplash vs DCT
After a well-received introduction from Junior Vice-President of SWA Jam O'Malley, it was time for our opening bout which featured one half of the SWA tag team champions DCT facing off against Mikey Whiplash.

I loved this match. I think Whiplash is an extraordinary talent, an absolute genius in the ring in any promotion, but his work in SWA holds something special for me. The way he interacts with the crowd is the best bar none, nailing that sweet spot between being menacing but not terrifying. Our kids have started going through a phase of not wanting to go to certain shows due to the actions of certain heels on the card, so it is a credit to Whiplash that I have never heard any complaints about him.

A perfect example of the balance Mikey strikes came at one point during this match, as he began mounting the barrier to threaten some kids. On of the children's Dads stood up and told him to back off, and Whiplash managed to do so in such a way as to maintain his aura of credibility in a tricky situation that left everyone still in fear of him without him looking like an asshole.

Tom Hanks once said it is a lot harder to do comedic acting than it is to do dramatic. I'm not sure how well that translates into the wrestling ring, but Whiplash tripping himself on the ropes was perfectly timed and showed a willingness to not hold back from a man who is very capable in both technical and violent matches.

But it takes two to turn a good performance into a great match, and DCT more than held his own last Saturday. This was easily the best match I have seen from DCT. There were the comedy elements, and DCT certainly possesses incredible comic timing of his own. A few aside glances and references to the fact that he is aligned with Jackie Polo in another universe went over well with the adults, but what really struck me was how the wrestling flowed between both DCT and Whiplash.

It all combined to tell a great story, one which came to a satisfyingly natural conclusion with Whiplash getting victory following a spin-out powerbomb.

With some tension mouting within the ranks of Muay Tache, and DCT failing to get the singles victory here, I wonder if Adam Carrel will look at the results here and begin questioning the future of the SWA tag team champions?

Kieran McColm vs Matt Daly
Billed as a special Source school showcase, this was a great advert for the school. I've seen both guys wrestle before and they each have a bit of the "it factor" that makes you think they will go places in the future.

Matt Daly came out spouting his "MATT..... DALY!" routing, which got great heckles from the crowd. An instant connection was made. Kieran McColm then came out and, being a native of Cumbernauld, he had the support of the crowd from the get-go and that carried throughout the match whenever Kieran looked to be flagging.

Although Matt had the considerable size advantage, Kieran deftly utilised his speed and resilience to maintain the upper hand through most of the contest. If I can offer one piece of constructive criticism to the graduates, I would say that I felt there were too many moves used that would be considered "finishers" in other promotions. It wasn't necessarily overdone (at no point did I feel I was watching a Grado-esque homage routine, for example) but at one point Matt Daly executed his version of the Skull Crushing Finale on Kieran that I felt should have ended him, but I was left scratching my own skull when Kieran kicked out.

That minor thought aside, I was fully gripped by the match and enjoying it thoroughly as it seemed Kieran was ready to put Matt away, but then in entered Jack Jester. Jester grabbed young Kieran by the throat and started attacking him. This lead to a disqualification victory for Kieran, but Matt Daly left looking like the cat that got the cream. He has since been seen declaring himself "undefeated" as he has not technically been pinned or submitted, despite his factual record showing 1-2 and Kieran McColm getting that solo pin for the team in a six-man tag match. But hey, details details.....

Jack Jester showdown
Flying Ryan Griffin ran out to the ring to try and save Kieran, and suggested that if Jack Jester was so eager for a fight maybe he should take on Griffin right there and then. The bell rung for a match, but Jester instead took exception to a ran in the audience and left to challenge him to a fight instead. The impromptu contest was called off, but Jam O'Malley declared that it would happen tonight, as the Main Event of the evening!

Scott McManus vs Deviation
The masked Deviation came to the ring with incredible presence, but McManus (another recent Source graduate) made his own entrance seemingly unfazed by the imposing masked man. Something happened between McManus reaching the ring and the start of the match, as straight away it became clear there was something wrong with Scott's right knee.

He valiantly tried to get into the bout, but the ref signaled for the match to be stopped and ruled it a No Contest due to McManus being unable to compete. This was clearly the right decision, but as Scott was being helped to the back, Deviation decided to take out some of his aggression and try to kick at his would-be opponent anyway. This devious behaviour got a ton of boos from the crowd, and I for one wish Scott a speedy and full recovery so he can get back in the ring and make Deviation pay for his heinous actions.

Solar vs Massimo Italiano
The first half main event featured an interesting mix of sizes and styles, as Solar (the newly crowned Scottish Junior Heavyweight Champion) came to the ring sporting his new belt. What a belt it is by the way! Hands down my favourite looking belt in wrestling today, its nearly the size of Solar himself!

Massimo is certainly no Junior so I believe this was a non-title match, but despite his considerable size and strength advantage, Solar put up the true fight of a champion.

I am a fan of Massimo Italiano, having seen him live twice now. A lot of guys his size go for the "strong, silent type" routine, but Massimo I find is always very expressive, even given his apparently restricted English.

While Solar sought to get the Scottish crowd on his side, Massimo seemed quite content in himself and his power, chanting Italiano while powering up for some strong strikes on Solar.

A great mash-up of styles I would gladly watch again, Solar eventually prevailed with a top-rope frogsplash getting him the victory.

Jackie Polo vs Lewis Girvan
The second half looked to start off with the same ethos as the first - entertaining matches! I thoroughly enjoyed this once again, but had to miss a lot of the action unfortunately. Still, these things happen at family shows and I am reliably informed that Lewis put Jackie away with the Futureshock DDT.

Considering the last time we were in this venue, it was Jackie Polo facing Grado in the main event, for Lewis to get the victory here surely strengthens the case that he might be the current Junior Heavyweight Champion if he was given the one-on-one shot for the title earlier in the year. With momentum on both Solar and Girvan's side, I for one am hoping we see a meeting between the two before too long.

Sammii Jayne vs Nikki Storm
An excellent encounter between the two, I was enthralled for the entirety. These are two of the best wrestlers around right now, you need to look no further than the fact that Nikki has been invited to wrestle for the "Stardom!" company in Japan this summer for proof of that.

Sammii was accompanied to the ring by Debbie Sharpe, and both women wore matching outfits while retaining their own styles. Debbie would interfere throughout the match as well as offering support to Sammii, With her friend by her side, Sammii managed to cinch the victory by holding a German suplex for the pin. Another match I would pay money to see again.

Celtic Arrow vs Glen Dunbar
The one mis-step on the show for me, Celtic Arrow looked shaky throughout the match. The kids love him because hey, who doesn't love a masked high-flier, but there were a couple of moments that made others cringe. Most of all there was a top-rope crossbody to Glen on the outside that seemed to clatter Dunbar's head off the unforgiving floor in a manner that gained him more sympathy than anything else.

The ending came with Dunbar hitting almost like a running-Sister Abigail type DDT maneuver. I don't know the name of it to be honest, but it looked good and the match was over. Glen then took to the microphone to call out his brother Grado and declared that "this is what will happen every show until I get what I want - a match with Grado". Dunbar then picked Arrow up on his shoulder and slammed him forcefully into the mat, taking whatever wind he had left right out of him. Grado v Glen, the brothers colliding - that is once again a match I am incredibly excited to see.

Flying Ryan Griffin vs Jack Jester
Main event time and a stellar match from two guys who truly know what they are doing in the ring. Ryan had the crowd fully behind him and left us all on a high when he managed to put Jester away with a cracking superkick for the pinfall victory.

I've seen Griffin live a few times and he is truly a main event talent. He deserved the victory here, and you deserve to go see him live at the earliest opportunity.

Jack Jester then proceeded to resume his issues with the fan in the crowd, goading him to push past security and take a swing or step into the ring to prove his worth. I honestly am at a loss for words as to these events and wonder what will become of it as Jack Jester increasingly seems more unhinged with every appearance.

Overall this was an incredibly enjoyable night out. A few mis-steps aside, there were plenty of stellar matches that more than made the £10 worth spending. Plenty of great potential for future feuds, you can join in the action tonight and tomorrow as SWA head to Ardrossan and Beith respectively. Tickets as always are £10 and the big highlights for me tonight will be Joe Hendry & Sammii Jayne taking on Scott Renwick & Courtney, while tomorrow in Beith keep an eye out for Mikey Whiplash vs Kenny Williams.  You owe it to yourself to get to one of these shows.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Video Friday: The British Wrestler

Disclaimer: After "Response to Jackie Polo" and "Trials & Tribulations", this is what I call the finale of the "Grado Trilogy". The British Wrestler was a documentary made by VICE back in 2012 and shone a huge light on the British wrestling scene in general, specifically ICW and Grado.