It's a new year, and there's sure to be something to blog about every day, right? I haven't deluged the internet with my long-winded thoughts nearly enough these last couple of years.
So let's start by talking about World of Sport Wrestling, the one-off special from last night! As I've mentioned before, I quite like watching American wrestling now and then (although I've gone off WWE since they sacked Damien Sandow...), but the old British World of Sport was before my time - according to the internet it ended in 1985, when I was eight, but I don't recall ever really watching it. I knew Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks, because they were household names, but that was as far as it went.
This new series (because they obviously want to sell it as a regular series, which would be awesome) is entirely modern in tone (looking very much like the WWE but in a slightly smaller-scale way), just interspersed with a few old clips of the original series and reminiscences from minor wrestlers who are still alive and remember it. It was really really good! I was pleasantly surprised, and now I want to see more! It's available on ITV player for the next 30 days, I'd recommend that you check it out. With that in mind, I won't spoil the results (although if you've ever watched any wrestling before, or even heard of the concept, you can probably guess the plotline and winners), just a few thoughts about the wrestlers and the show...
Dave Mastiff is definitely the biggest star, in every way. Amazing physique (how do you pin the shoulders of someone who hasn't got any, the commentator wonders - he's basically a ball), great moves and agility for someone shaped like that, great personality. Everyone loves the bad guy, although the crowd were very obedient in cheering the goodies and booing the baddies. He's not that great an actor, but all he needs to do is look fierce, and he does that really well!
Grado, the plucky underdog hero, is a great actor as well as a great wrestler, so you can see why he got the main hero role. He's very loveable.
Johnny Moss and Sha Samuels are Mastiff's evil henchmen, and they play the part well, especially Samuels, who's got a brilliant costume and personality. We definitely need to see more of him.
The smaller guys - Kenny Williams, Sam Bailey, CJ Banks and Delicious Danny - had the misfortune to be put in a ladder match, something that really never works in wrestling (the winner is the first one to climb up a ladder and grab the prize dangling above the ring - in practice that means a lot of silly scenes of a wrestler very slowly climbing up, looking over his shoulder to make sure the opponent who's supposed to stop him is close enough) but they do a good job anyway. Delicious Danny has the most stylish appearance, CJ Banks is scowly and evil in a very cool way, Kenny Williams is the young hot newcomer and looks great - pink works well on wrestlers, I've never known why, Sam Bailey is sort of lost in the crowd. But they all perform really well, and I definitely want to see more of them all on a regular basis!
There's a women's match, which apparently they never did in the old days, between the really great Viper and the less impressive Alexis Rose, but it's treated like a bit of an afterthought. With that and the rest of the night's lineup consisting almost entirely of white guys, it's not what you'd call inclusive. I'm not sure what they'd do if it becomes a weekly thing; Viper looks like she'd be fine wrestling with the men, but maybe there's a load of female superstars in Britain who we just haven't seen yet...
Tag team action with Ashton Smith and Rampage Brown against Mark and Joe Coffey is a lot of fun too - Rampage is the real character of the foursome who gets all the best moments. To keep it interesting going forwards, I hope there's more tag team stuff, just because it helps develop the characters of the wrestlers.
Then there's Zack Gibson, who's perhaps a bit too similar in appearance and character to CJ Banks, but has the advantage of apparently having a degree in accountancy and finance from Liverpool John Moores University. I like that a lot - we need more wrestling accountants! He wrestles El Ligero, masked Mexican wrestler with a very cool mask, horns and everything, and they both show some cool moves.
The last wrestler to show up is Davey Boy Smith Junior, The British Bulldog, who looks like the traditional square-jawed hero that's otherwise lacking from the show, but since he doesn't do very much I assume he's just there for the olden-days nostalgia. But that's seventeen genuinely good wrestlers in a really really well-designed and written show. It could definitely make an ongoing series, and I'm all in favour!