It’s the return of World of Sport: Wrestling. It’s been over 30 years since this show was seen on television. Over the last few years though there’s been a boom in UK wrestling not just in the amount of incredible talent coming out of it, such as Will Ospreay and Marty Scurll, but in the promotions within it. PROGRESS, ICW, RevPro and NGW are attracting regular large live audiences. Even internet ‘clickbait’ company What Culture have started their own ‘WCPW’ promotion, which is attracting a lot of attention from the use of big name imports from America. All the while highlighting more local talent like El Ligero and Rampage Brown.
Now television channel ITV are looking to revive the old WOS brand to take advantage in the rise in popularity. It’s not just ITV who are attempting to break into the British wrestling market. WWE have created a new United Kingdom Championship to try get a foot in the door as well!
So what did I think of the show?
The first impressions are immediately positive. The production is slick and the arena looks great. It has a half NXT Full Sail/half ITV game show kinda vibe. The whole show has that weird mixture actually. Keeping with the WWE comparisons and the whole WWE ‘lite’ feel is that there are too many camera cuts. Kevin Dunn who let you into the editors room!? I do understand the edits though. The cuts mask the impacts so its more of a child friendly show but it does ruin the flow and drama of certain spots and moves. Plus it always sucks to miss a table spot because they’ve cut to the crowd. However, there were also no mid-match commercials (at least in the VOD on the ITV website) so that was a lovely change from WWE.
I enjoyed Jim Ross and Alex Shane on commentary as well. JR’s voice alone brings that extra something that no one else can. It’s iconic. I know Alex Shane has his detractors, but from limited amount of his work I’ve heard in WCPW, NGW and now this I have to say I like his style. Even if he does say ridiculous lines from time to time.
The crowd were loud and fun throughout. Although they weren’t the ‘usual’ UK crowd. Gone are the rabid, sarcastic, obnoxious wrestling fans (that I love). This is a more family friendly, everyone has foam fingers. There were clearly independent wrestling fans in attendance. Grado was super over and the crowd sang ‘Iron Man’ for Joe Coffey too. Like I’ve mentioned before the whole show did feel less like a ‘sporting event’ and more like an ITV Saturday Night Gameshow (if you’ve seen any ITV programming on a Saturday night you know exactly what I mean). I can’t really complain too much though, mainly because it didn’t annoy me but also because that’s the target audience they are going for! I heard rumours that the crowd were specifically told not to do some of the classic wrestling chants such as ‘One Fall!’ so instead they sat on their hands. Not sure that’s better than a loud crowd to be honest. Other noticeable chants are missing too, we still got those annoying ‘What?!’ chants though. Can’t escape them, unfortunately.
Again, this WOS event was family friendly TV intended to hit as many markets as possible. That’s why the show as a whole has that cartoony, pantomime style. It’s kind of a throwback. Some people will love the style, others won’t but it’s important to note once again that this show isn’t for ‘smart marks’ or die-hard fans. It’s for the casual audience.
As for the wrestling itself that was fine, good even but rather unremarkable. However a nice, simple story was told throughout the show. The opening match was for the vacant WOS Championship. In which Dave Mastiff defeated Grado via nefarious means. So he is going to be forced to defend that title later on again in the main event. The rest of the matches for the show then act as qualification matches to a battle royal. The winner of that would get the title shot. It’s simple, its easy to follow and the bad guy got his comeuppance. If this pilot never gets turned into a series then it can still stand alone in a tidy little package.
The show also did a decent job in highlighting the heel and babyface divide from the outset for anyone tuning in on the off-chance. There’s honestly more character shown in the first 11 minutes between Mastiff and Grado than the Cruiserweights got on Raw in 4 months. That continued throughout the entire show for everyone else as well. Not a bad effort for a 90 minute show.
Overall I enjoyed the show. Yes it was silly and cartoony but it was also fun. A nice change of pace from the usual stuff I view from America. 1.25 million people tuned into watch this pilot, is that enough for a series? I’m not so sure in honesty. Would I like it to be made into a series? Yeah of course, not necessarily because this is the type of wrestling I want to watch. I just think it would be good for the business as a whole. UK wrestling is huge right now, but is it this style that is popular? I would definitely prefer a show on later and slightly grittier. Would that get the views? Maybe, maybe not. Hopefully this can be the starting point either way.