JR World of Sport

World of Sport Wrestling returned to British television, for the first time in three decades, on New Year’s Eve.

In a special two-hour pilot on the UK’s second-largest channel ITV, history was remembered and new stars were established.

The show which improved as it went along, featured the great and the good of the current British scene. Underground stars, of the post-TV era, including Grado, Dave Mastiff and El Ligero shone on what was a colourful evening.

A world title match started out the event, an act of hotshotting with was a little too common on this broadcast. A broadcast, evidently, aimed at ITV’s regular demographic rather than a purist wrestling audience.

“Selected by a panel of experts” according to colour commentator Alex Shane, Dave Mastiff and Grado did battle, in what was to be the beginning of a night-long arc.

The aim of the choices was clear. To position Mastiff as the new generation Giant Haystacks and Grado as a sort of “Medium Daddy”.

Alex Shane, who seems to have had a hand in every British Wrestling project in living memory (for better or worse), was once a vocal opponent of attempts to relive the glory days of World of Sport, and an advocate for an Americanisation of the UK product. It’s hard to say whether this bizarre show was the antithesis of Shane’s vision or the realisation of it.

Shane was joined by major drawing card Jim Ross at the announce table. Ross immediately established Grado’s working class hero credentials, as the underdog fought off the un-nervingly balletic bigman Mastiff. JR’s presence lent a certain sense of WWF Attitude nostalgia to the proceedings.

The post-WWE sensibility continued, as did the hotshotting, with a multi-man Money In The Bank match, featuring veteran ring general CJ Banks and a clutch of young high-flyers. Ostensibly, the contents of the briefcase would earn the holder a spot in the battle royale to be held later in the night. A young man in pink, Kenny Williams, took the win in this one. Not the best of matches.

In tag team action, Scottish pair Mark & Joe Coffey greatly impressed, winning over the ubiquitous Rampage Brown and partner Ashton Smith. The Coffeys, clad in warpaint, showed fantastic character work and a hard hitting style. This all culminated in a beautiful combination lariat for the win.

The Coffey’s will join Kenny williams in the battle royale later.

In a match billed as the first ever all-women’s contest in WOS history. Viper defeated Alexis Rose. The rotund Viper was built up as the new Klondike Kate. The show had interviews with the original and; alongside Johhny Saint, Rollerbal Rocco and others; Kate was seen enjoying the action at ringside.

This match again did little to impress. Viper’s gimmick involves coming to the ring with a snake around her neck. Sadly, the snake is not a viper! Alexis Rose has a ‘Footballer’s Wives’ gimmick, which woud surely make both women heels. The psychology didn’t quite make sense and neither woman was really able to impress.

In the next contest, El Ligero, a British answer to El Generico, who has long been one of the more overlooked talents in the world, faced gifted old-fashioned brawler Zack Gibson.

Ligero’s cartoonish appeal fitted the ITV platform perfectly and the clash of styles between the pseudo-Mexican and the no-nonsense Liverpudlian Gibson made for the match of the night.

In victory, Ligero progressed to the battle royale.

This battle royale, which had been made as a result of Dave Mastiff cheating to win earlier in the night, would crown a new No. 1 Contender for the WOS title. Grado would also be in the running for a second shot at the belt, to be defended (already in the main event).

Grado, Williams, The Coffeys, Mastiff’s henchmen Sha Samuels and Johnny Moss, Ligero and a mystery participant were the full line up for the over-the-top-rope match.

In the course of the contest, the mystery entrant was revealed as Davey Boy Smith Jr. Presented as a huge star and significant babyface Smith mowed down the competition. Before, eventually, being screwed by Moss and Samuels. This left Grado up against two opponents.

Grado, miraculously, overcame the odds. Only to have them stacked against him even more greatly. Moss and Samuels conspired to injure Grado’s knee post-match.

We went to a break, with speculation as to whether Grado could compete in the main event.

Ultimately, he did, fighting off Manchester paramedics on the way back to the ring in a classic TV moment.

The former TNA star then proceeded to upset Mastiff, ending the show as the company’s new champion.

So there we have it, two World title matches, a ladder match and a battle royale crammed into one show. As I said earlier, there was an overwhelming amount of hotshotting. However, the episode told a sound story in the end, coming full circle and laid the table for a number of people to become the new generation of WOS stars.

It will be interesting to see how well the programme fairs when the ratings come out. That will be the ultimate gauge of its success or failure.


Full results:

  1. Dave Mastiff defeated Grado for the WOS title.
  2. Kenny Williams beat Sam Bailey, CJ Banks & Danny Hope in Ladder Match.
  3. Mark & Joe Coffey beat Rampage Brown & Ashton Smith.
  4. Viper beat Alexis Rose.
  5. El Ligero beat Zack Gibson.
  6. Eight-man “first time ever” Battle Royale won by Grado.
  7. Grado beat Dave Mastiff in a WOS title rematch.


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