When people talk about professional wresting in the UK there is always one name that crops up instantly – Big Daddy.
The man christened Shirley Crabtree dominated the sport along with his arch nemesis Giant Haystacks and was a regular fixture on ITV Sport on a Saturday afternoon.
However, once it was lost from the screens, British wrestling took a nosedive and punters could only watch a live version as the stars continued to battle it out in the ring around the country.
Future WWE star Davey Boy Smith – aka The British Bulldog – was part of the roadshow but it never again reached the levels of its weekend TV slot.
WWE’s SummerSlam ventured across the Atlantic in 1992 for a sell-out show in front of 80,000 fans at London’s Wembley Stadium but, despite the interest at the time, pro wrestling has never ignited into the phenomenon it is stateside.
There has been talk that WWE’s flagship event Wrestlemania might make an appearance in the UK and there is no doubt that it would attract vast numbers of fans but it is open to debate as to whether it will ever be that popular domestically.
It remains a popular sport to bet on and Bethut has all the best sites available offering free bets and all the information you need.
Britain is obsessed with competitive sport and soccer in particular, and has, to a certain extent, always viewed wresting as something of gimmick.
The days of Big Daddy et al are remembered with fondness but more for the spectacle of seeing huge ageing huge man bumping their bellies into each other than any notion that it bears a resemblance to competitive sport.
The American version is of course very different, with superb athletes performing dangerous moves and, while it remains tongue in cheek, the continuing story lines and hammed up feuds between the participants improves the overall spectacle.
The huge baying crowds add to the atmosphere and that is another drawback to the London wrestling scene as events are generally held at small venues where the fans often have to stand ringside.
However for ‘grappling’ fans in the capital, there is Progress – a company that runs regular shows at places such as Alexandra Palace.
It follows the US blueprint of evolving stories between the protagonists and also travels around the country to some of the larger arenas.
Women’s wrestling has undergone something of a renaissance in recent years, with Pro Wrestling EVE at the forefront.
Shows take place in the Resistance Gallery in Bethnal Green, with the audience so close to the action that it adds to the atmosphere of battles between the likes of Session Moth Martina and the Vixen of Violence.
Bethnal Green’s York Hall is famous for boxing but also holds wrestling matches as Revolution Pro Wrestling takes place at the venue.
While British wrestlers can be seen, there are also top stars from America, Japan and Mexico and events are usually packed out.
There is wresting out there in London for the diehard fan but it seems unlikely that the sport will ever take off as it has across the pond, and the fact that Big Daddy is still the most recognisable UK wrestler, despite sadly passing away in 1997, speaks volumes.
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