Professional wrestling is returning to mainstream British TV for the first time in over 30 years. That’s right, British TV channel ITV have recently made an announcement that they are reviving the World of Sport for a one-off wrestling special filming in early November. It’s not difficult to see why the decision has been made to bring wrestling back to the mainstream, wrestling is the most popular it has been in Britain for a long time. Looking at figures for WWE you can see that Britain is their second biggest market and looking closer to home, independent promotions like PCW and ICW are thriving with the host of talent on offer around the country. This wrestling special, currently titled WOS Wrestling could act as a pilot for a new long running weekly wrestling show, which is something the British scene could benefit from in a big way and although shows like NGW (check it out) already exist, WOS has the name value and the right platform to do the scene the justice it deserves. That being said there is a lot on the line and if the special doesn’t go well that’s it for World of Sport for another 30 years. With that in mind I’ve created a list of 6 things WOS needs to do in order to succeed.
1: Make it a Wrestling Show.
Now this might sound obvious. Of course World of Sport Wrestling is going to be a wrestling show, what else would it be? What I mean is ITV needs to limit the amount of people from other shows being included. Day time TV presenters, although they may be recognised, do not know the wrestling industry and would only serve to take away from the product. We don’t need Ben Shepherd or Keith Lemon presiding over things they really don’t know anything about and trying to steal the limelight.
Of course the use of established presenters could help the show tremendously, but it’s about knowing how to implement them properly. Backstage interviews are a common part of professional wrestling and taking a page out of WWE’s book, ITV could hire a “real” sports commentator or interviewer to add some legitimacy to proceedings, perhaps Ian Wright or Chris Kamara.
In short WOS needs to be careful choosing who they have appear on the show to make sure the focus is on the wrestling and not the people presenting.
2: Don’t make it WWE 2.0.
Now of course it’s going to be difficult re-establishing a show like World of Sport to a modern audience, and to help things they might look to the WWE on how to do things, after all they are the most popular and emulating them could create success. Of course any wrestling fan could tell you that would be a huge mistake. Countless shows have tried to copy WWE in the past in order to build its fan base and while it may get an initial boost it ultimately always ends the same way.
TNA, a show that is notorious from cribbing from WWE, has almost folded several times. They have used former WWE superstars, writers, management and even copied angles and it never worked out. Sure there are exceptions to the rule with Kurt Angle and the Hardys being successful in the company but for the most part it hasn’t worked and is responsible for the decline of the company. The TNA product is improving in a big way but that’s because they are now trying to forge their own identity, not copy from the big dog.
If WOS wants to succeed, it needs to forge its own Identity and stand out in the wrestling landscape.
3: Focus on the future.
Since the revival of World of Sport was announced two names have been mentioned over and over. Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks. Of course it’s understandable why, these two men were legendary British wrestlers back in the day and talking about them brings back fond memories for people who used to watch the show. The problem is however, that wrestling has changed so much since then. WOS won’t be the same show and if they keep bringing up Daddy and Haystacks it’s only going to hurt the product.
Now I’m not saying to disregard the legends, these men did a huge amount for British wrestling and as such deserve the respect that goes with that. To neglect them completely would be disrespectful and would ignore part of the foundations of British wrestling. As with the crossover presenters, things need to be done is a tasteful way. There are any umber of ways to honour the big men while keeping the focus on the new stars from a Giant Haystacks Memorial match or even a vignette at the beginning of the show honouring the days of old and how without those two men British wrestling wouldn’t be where it is today, but now we need to look to the future and new stars of World of Sport wrestling. It’s an easy thing to do but also and easy thing to mess up so ITV need to be on the ball.
4: Get the Right Roster.
As with any wrestling promotion the key to success is a diverse roster of big characters that can influence the product. You need your big men, your high flyers, your charismatic faces and despicable heels. You need big characters that people can relate to. The trouble with producing a show like World of Sport is that there are so many wrestles out there it can be hard to pick the right guys. Wrestlers like Prince Ameen, although they have their place they don’t display the standard of wrestling needed to draw an audience, maybe in the future there would be a place for him but for the first show you need the biggest most charismatic men you can get. You can never know until the night if the roster will work but I have some suggestions that will be a guaranteed draw or illicit a reaction for WOS.
Joe Hendry, the local hero, has been described to me before as a Scottish Rock, he is the kind of man you can build a show around because he has the right energy and charisma to pull it off. Another guy that would thrive in this environment would be Grado, the lovable buffoon, he is a great comedy wrestler with real heart, he’s the kind of guy that you can get behind immediately you have yourself a fan favourite underdog. Your big heel though, he needs to have presence, and he needs to be able to illicit a reaction from the crowd in the worst way, you need to hate this man, it just so happens there are a ton of men suitable for this role, Bubblegum, Rampage, Marty Scurll (if he’s available) and so on. There are so many guys on offer in Britain but you need the right balance.
5: Ensure Effective Commentary.
WOS have already taken a step in the right direction with this by hiring the legend that is good ol JR Jim Ross. The man is a legend and is responsible for making some of the biggest moments in wrestling history so memorable. But JR might not be around if the shows get picked up full time so whoever is with him at the show needs to be good and needs to be able to carry the show when JR is gone because commentary can make or break a wrestling show.
Good commentary is vital for a show to work and there is no shortage of examples of poor commentary to show you just how important it is. Recently you have had shows like WCPW ditch their original commentary team because of how poorly people were reacting to the show as a result of them. Since the removal of the team the reviews have steadily gotten better. That being said WCPW isn’t the only company that has suffered from this problem as WWE often receives criticism geared towards its Commentary team. The important things to remember when picking your commentators is knowing when to talk, when to stay quiet and showing the right amount of emotion. Having JR starting things of could be a great learning opportunity for whoever ITV have lined up to sit beside him. Personally I think former professional Wrestler Stu Bennet (formerly known as Wade/Bad News/King Barrett) would be a great choice. He has often said he is good on a microphone and expressed interest in punditry since leaving the WWE, being that he is back in England also means keeping him around for filming wouldn’t be all that difficult.
6:Engage with Social Media
The world is a different place than it was 30 years ago. The rise of the internet has given everybody a voice and new ways to reach one another. Business are now engaged in social media and online promotion is often more influential than traditional media. The internet has also made wrestling more accessible than it’s ever been, with people from all over the world being able to enjoy what each country has to offer. Just a few years ago you couldn’t dream of seeing a New Japan Match without extreme difficulty. If World of Sport Wrestling wants to succeed it needs to get on board with social media, tweeting, facebooking, sharing all things WOS related and getting the name out there. They can engage with the internet wrestling community through Reddit or perhaps set up a Youtube channel to attract an international audience. If done correctly WOS could build it self up as a legitimate promotion with real promise.
There you go, that’s my list. If WOS wants to succeed it needs to accomplish everything on this list, some things are more obvious than others, some are easier than other but all are vital for British wrestling to be welcomed back into the mainstream. What do you think? Do you agree with me? Disagree? What would you suggest ITV need to do to ensure WOS is a Success, tweet me @Jabroni_Josh or comment below I’d love to see what you have to say.