Spandex, Screw Jobs and Cheap Pops
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A fun look at the thriving UK professional wrestling scene, and how it's reviving itself for a smart, sceptical 21st-century audience after the World of Sport glory days were tarnished when fans found out that “it's not real”. Carrie Dunn talks to some of the top British wrestlers, some of them now international stars, and finds out about their careers, what motivates them to risk their necks on a weekly basis, and their dreams of mainstream fame. They reveal what really happens behind the scenes at shows and training schools, and how they balance their dangerous part-time job with family life and – in most cases – a 9-to-5 job that pays the bills. She asks promoters what they believe their audiences want to see, about the sport's resurgence, uncertain finances and turf wars. And she talks to the scene's hardcore fans about wrestling's chances of a return to prime-time TV.



Publié par
Date de parution 20 juin 2013
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781909626027
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0500€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


About the author
Preface: The history
Chapter 1: The resurgence
Chapter 2: The training
Chapter 3: In the spotlight – the wrestlers
Chapter 4: In the spotlight – the women wrestlers
Chapter 5: The referees
Chapter 6: The ring announcers
Chapter 7: In the spotlight – the history of UK wrestling promotions
Chapter 8: Creating a promotion
Chapter 9: In the spotlight – the UK’s current promotions
Chapter 10: In the spotlight – London calling
Chapter 11: In the spotlight – heading north
Chapter 12: In the spotlight – looking west
Chapter 13: The marketing
Chapter 14: Brits abroad – the UK wrestlers travelling the world
Chapter 15: Outside wrestling
Chapter 16: The future
Epilogue: Recommendations
The promotions and their abbreviations
Pitch Publishing A2 Yeoman Gate Yeoman Way Durrington BN13 3QZ
© Carrie Dunn 2013
First published in eBook format in 2013
eISBN: 978-1-909626-02-7 (Printed edition: 978-1-909178-46-5)
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse-engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the Publisher.
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About the author
Carrie Dunn is a journalist. She is the founding editor of The Only Way Is Suplex ( ), a website dedicated to the wonderful sports entertainment form of professional wrestling.
She has also written for publications including The Times , The Guardian , The Independent , the Daily Express , Cosmopolitan and Psychologies .
She is the author of A Brand New Bright Tomorrow: A Hatter’s Promotion Diary (2002), Mothers In Fiction (2012), co-writer of From The Valleys To Verulamium (2011), and contributing author to Illuminating Torchwood: Essays on Narrative, Character and Sexuality in the BBC Series (2010) and The Light Bulb Moment (2011).
Her PhD examined the experience of sports fans in England – and if she is not at some kind of sporting event, she is likely to be at the theatre, in a karaoke bar or playing World of Warcraft.
To Mike, with all my love and gratitude for your support, your endless faith in me, and suggesting that I write this book.
Thank you to the in-ring talent and promoters who gave up their time to talk to me: Darrell Allen, Dean Allmark, Mark Andrews, Paul Ashe, Ben Auld, Sanjay Bagga, Nick Bakewell, Steve Biggs, Hannah Blossom, Holly Blossom, Nick Branch, Jon Briley, Matt Burden, Kasper Cornish, Dean Champion, Nathan Cruz, Harvey Dale, Mark Dallas, Noam Dar, Shaun ‘The Hammer’ Davis, Eddie Dennis, Prince Fergal Devitt, Luke Douton, Pete Dunne, Daniel Edler, El Ligero, Joey Fitzpatrick, Steven Fludder, Freya Frenzy, Danny Garnell, Mark Haskins, Jimmy Havoc, Mike Hitchman, Morgan Izzard, Lion Kid, Saraya Knight, Greg Lambert, Georgie Leggett, Lionheart, Steve Lytton, Magnus, Majik, Nigel McGuinness, James Meikle, Johnny Moss, Richard Parker, Rhia O’Reilly, Kasey Owens, Leah Owens, Marc Parry, Andy Quildan, Alan Ravenhill, Dann Read, Iestyn Rees, Douglas Rockefeller, Chris Roberts, Des Robinson, Jon Ryan, Zack Sabre Jr, Marty Scurll, Alex Shane, Mark Sloan, Jim Smallman, Dave Stewart, Nikki Storm, Kris Travis, and Phil Ward.
Thanks also to European Uppercut, Graham Beadle, Brian Elliott, Richard O’Hagan, Rob Pouillon, Sean Walford, Lyndsey Mackay, Findlay Martin, Luke Wykes, Chris Pilkington, Tom Smith, Andrew Southern, Lee Tyers, Ben Veal, Sean Walford and Craig Wilkins for their views.
Thank you particularly to Sarah Barraclough for her action shots from the British scene. Thanks to David Wilson for his photography. Thanks also to TNA for allowing me to use their images and artwork. Thank you to Clare Maddox for her invaluable assistance, and to Richard O’Hagan and Amy Hanson for their advice and comments on earlier drafts of the book. Any errors remaining are accidental and entirely my own fault.
The Wrestling reprinted by permission of United Agents (e-book edition) and Faber (print edition) on behalf of Simon Garfield.
The history
T HINK of British wrestling, and it’s likely you’ll think of Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks, the humongous hominids who strode across the small screen in the 1970s and 1980s when World of Sport was at its peak.
Saturday afternoons were synonymous with wrestling, with families around the country sitting down to watch British stars on national television – including the very famous family living in Buckingham Palace, who were also reported to be fans.
Imagine one of those typical shows, and you’ll doubtless envisage those hulking giants rolling around the ring, with little old ladies queuing up to hurl shoes at the heels, the baddies, and kids screaming to cheer on the faces, the good guys, our heroes. It’s a very peculiarly and particularly British leisure pursuit, coloured with the haze of nostalgia.
Legendary bad guy Mick McManus, in Simon Garfield’s eloquent eulogy to the era, The Wrestling , reminisced: "It was a sport which was entirely different. It was what I call a low-budget sport, not terribly expensive and quite within the bounds of people, whatever they earned...Wrestling was also something at which you could really let yourself go. You could scream and shout. No one ever took any notice, because it was the norm."
It was a golden age, with hundreds and hundreds of live shows booked all over the country every year, and thousands of fans queuing to get in.
And of course, the television viewing figures were immense. Lew Grade, the executive in charge of ITV, had seen wrestling on television in the USA, he liked what he saw – and he was sure this success and popularity could be brought to the UK as well. The broadcasts would attract a family audience, just as the live shows did. Promoter Max Crabtree, the brother of Big Daddy, was the man who booked the wrestlers for the TV shows, enthused that the over-the-top and out-of-the-ordinary nature of wrestling meant it was perfect for mainstream televisual entertainment.
And so World of Sport was born – airing on ITV every Saturday afternoon, featuring various unusual games and pastimes, as a direct competitor to the BBC’s more mainstream Grandstand , and evolving into a programme that concentrated on showcasing British professional wrestling. The technical skills and the very British sense of humour and theatre on show made it a national institution.
"I got into wrestling like a lot of people from my generation – watching World of Sport on a Saturday afternoon with my family," says wrestler Steve ‘Samson’ Biggs. "We would literally stop everything and sit and watch the action. Then my stepdad started to take me to live UK events run by Joint Promotions. I have no idea why and still can’t explain it but I was hooked."
"I used to go along with my dad when I was the same age my kids are now," recalls fan Graham Beadle, now the owner of a comic book store. "I used to go along to Oakham Town Hall back in the days of Johnny Grey and Johnny Saint and the Windsor brothers and that sort of era."
"The local shows were pretty much as you saw them on the television," says Richard O’Hagan, now a solicitor, "although I was surprised at first just how long each bout could last – I didn’t realise that the fights they showed on television were edited down to fit the 40 minutes or so of air time that they had available."
O’Hagan grew up in Leamington Spa, and went along to local shows with school friends. He remembers seeing all the top stars in action.
"There was never any problem attracting the big names to Leamington. Banger Walsh only lived a street away from me and was always on the bill, and Black Belt Chris Adams usually was because he was a Warwickshire boy, too. We had everyone you could think of, though – Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks, Mick McManus, Kendo Nagasaki, Golden Boy John Naylor, Catweazle, The Royal Brothers, Rollerball Rocco, Jim Breaks...I could go on forever. I think the only big name I never saw was Jackie Pallo, who had retired before I began following."
The local crowd had a very British way of viewing as well – rowdy but respectful at the same time. "The arena was often noisy," says O’Hagan, "but only really became anything like a WWE audience if [Big] Daddy was fighting. They were on the whole quite knowledgeable and respectful, though. One of my most vivid memories is of Max Crabtree making an emotional address the week after Tornado Torontos had died following a bout and being listened to in absolute silence."
But after that, UK wrestling fell into the doldrums. Some blame Big Daddy’s dominance. That’s certainly what Adrian Street has claimed, telling a 2012 event about his disgust with the man he called "Big Fat Daddy" and declaring: "If they’d hanged him for being a wrestler, he’d have died an innocent man."
And Jackie Pallo agreed, telling Simon Garfield: "The young person wasn’t interested any more. We lost an audience, the younger element, because it was all big fat horrible men."
Richard O’Hagan is a little scornful of that suggestion. "Daddy was everyone’s favourite," he says. "Daddy and Haystacks were the big names. When they appeared against each other shows sold out and TV ratings soared. People wanted them on their bills because they made more money."
He admits, though, that there were problems with the ubiquity of the pair. "It became the beast that ate itself, though. Daddy could never lose, he was the hero. Hay

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