Sunday, 1 January 2017

TV Review: World of Sport Wrestling

It was a part of our lives for decades, and gave us legends such as the Dynamite Kid, Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks and many more until ITV took it off our screens in the late eighties.

But this past New Year’s Eve saw the return of the prodigal son as World of Sport Wrestling returned to ITV’s screens with a new generation of stars, with the legendary Jim Ross handling commentary duties alongside British wrestling stalwart Alex Shane.

With the initial introductions over it was on to the first contest of the evening as Grado faced Dave Mastiff for the vacant World of Sport title. Oh, and let’s not forget that Mastiff had Sha Samuels and Johnny Moss with him for a but of moral support.

This was a great way to kick off British wrestling’s return to ITV. Grado was his usual self until Mastiff and his men arrived on the scene, and he controlled the early exchanges really well until the big man took control.

But when Grado managed to get back into his stride Mastiff’s allies came to the fore, and as Moss distracted the referee Samuels sent the Scotsman flying off the top rope, and one cannonball into the corner later and Mastiff was the new champion.

A trip backstage saw the lovely Rachel interviewing World of Sport GM Mr. Beasley, but before our new authority figure could say much Grado appeared on the scene to complain about his title loss. His mood wasn’t help much when new champion Mastiff and his boys turned up as well, with the confrontation broken up by security.

Back from the commercial break Rachel spoke to the boss man again, who revealed how unhappy he was with the manner of Mastiff’s win, and because of that he’d have to defend the title later in the show against the winner of a battle royal.

Then it was on to a four-way ladder match between Kenny Williams, Sam Bailey, C.J. Banks and Delicious Danny, with the winner getting a spot in the battle royal.

Plenty of high flying in this one, with all four men putting in good stints in their search for a title shot, although there were no real stand-out performances here. There weren’t any big holy you know what kind of spots, but that was to be expected given the time of day this show was on.

As expected the match drew to a close with all four men battling atop two ladders, with Bailey, Banks and the Delicious one crashing and burning before Williams grabbed the briefcase and a spot in the battle royal.

It was on to the women’s division next as Alexis Rose took on Viper.

The first women’s match in World of Sport history was a nice little speed versus power battling with both women putting in good performances. Rose looked great early on, but when Viper took control with a powerful high cross body it marked the start of a period of dominance for the more powerful snake-loving lady.

Rose looked good as she made her comeback, but when Rose went to the top rope Viper rolled out of the way and Rose crashed to the mat. A side-splitting senton followed to give Viper the three count and win.

Backstage Rachel tried to grab a few words with Dave Mastiff about his upcoming title match the new champion stormed off, unhappy with her line of questioning.

Tag team action followed as Joe and Mark Coffey took on Ashton Smith and Rampage Brown.

Nice work all round from all four men in this encounter. It was a great example of tag team wrestling, with the brothers putting in some good work before Mark took the punching bag treatment from the heels, with Rampage looking particularly brutal and particularly impressive.

Needless to say that the Coffey boy made it back to his own corner, and although Ashton and Smith managed to work their way back into the match a stray super kick from Smith sent Rampage crashing before a discus lariat took Smith out and earned the brothers a spot in the battle royal.

Backstage Rachel found Mastiff threatening GM Beasley, with the boss man revealing that Mastiff’s co-horts Moss and Samuels would be in the battle royal, as would a special mystery guest.

It was back to singles action for the next match with Mexican sensation El Ligero taking on Zack Gibson in the final battle royal qualifying match.

Now this was good. The distinct difference in styles, with Gibson’s no nonsense submission grappling going up against Ligero’s luchadore-inspired moves made this a very enjoyable encounter. Both guys looked in top form throughout.

Gibson’s best moments came after he threw the masked man into the commentary table, and as he worked over Ligero’s left arm it looked like his Shankly’s gate submission hold would take him on to victory.

But it was not to be. Ligero soon made his way back into the match, and even though Gibson came close to putting him away Ligero came back with his C4L DDT for the winning pin.

After Rachel managed to grab a few words with the qualifiers backstage it was on to the battle royal.

When the match began the mystery entrant was nowhere to be seen as Mastiff’s cronies Samuels and Moss basically cleaned house, eliminating all before them, and it was only after they’d eliminated the Coffey brothers that the mystery entrant was revealed as none other than Davey Boy Smith Junior, son of the legendary British Bulldog.

So as Grado, slumped in the corner, watched on Smith proceeded to take Moss and Samuels apart, but when Samuels and Moss combined forces they managed to eliminate the big man, leaving them alone with Grado.

Things didn’t look too good for the affable Scot, but when it looked like things were going against him a Grado cutter took care of Samuels before he pulled down the top rope to send the oncoming Moss flying out of the ring.

But as Grado began to celebrate his won Moss and Samuels attacked, chop-blocking him to the mat, and when it looked as if they were about to inflict further damage Smith returned to the ring for the save.

And so it was on to the main event, with Grado challenging Dave Mastiff for the World of Sport title.

Before the match began the referee made the brave call to banish Moss and Samuels from ringside. Then it looked like we weren’t going to get a match at all as paramedics tried to stop Grado from making his way to the ring.

Mastiff then attacked, delivering another chop block to Grado outside the ring before he slammed him onto the ramp, and when they eventually made it inside the ropes the champion dominated, making Grado look about as much use as a one legged man in an a**e kicking contest.

But when Mastiff took off one of the turnbuckle pads it proved to be the beginning of the end. As the now-distracted referee put the pad back on Mastiff’s attack failed when Grado moved out of the way and the big man went shoulder first into the ring post. The former Lost Scot then took his chance as he put Mastiff away with the Grado cutter for the title-winning three count, much to the delight of the fans in attendance.

In conclusion - if you were expecting an afternoon of good old fashioned British wrestling then you were probably a little disappointed. However, if you were expecting a lot of fun then this was the show for you.

This was a great showcase for British wrestling’s modern generation. All of the matches delivered, and the show-long storyline rivalry between Grado and Mastiff was well played out.

It was also nice to see the proverbial doff of the cap to the glory days of British wrestling. The features on the likes of Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks and their like brought back a lot of fond memories.

In reality though this special had more in common with the likes of TNA than with the World of Sport era. If it’s goal was to introduce a mainstream television audience to the current crop of British stars then it was mission accomplished. If a series is commissioned after this then it will certainly become a part of my regular viewing.

As for my match of the night no-prize this particular honour goes to El Ligero and Zack Gibson, two of the brightest stars on the British scene at the moment.

So with all of that out of the way there’s just one more thing left to do, and that’s to give World of Sport Wrestling the thumbs up.