World of Sport was a daytime ITV sports series that ran from 1965-1985. With a hefty 4+ hour run time, it focussed on football, horse racing and, of course, wrestling, amongst other less popular sports. British wrestling’s main platform for popularity was World of Sport and every Saturday was hugely popular with millions of viewers tuning in every week and continued to do so until 1988 (85-88 wrestling had a dedicated show on ITV) due to declining ratings.
World of Sport Wrestling had become largely forgotten by young British audiences and the British style had also lost popularity by the late 90’s. Also in the late 90’s, British wrestling promotion Ultimate Wrestling Alliance debuted a television show on the now defunct, super low budget cable TV station Live TV. It didn’t last but did showcase some of the best British talent including Jonny Storm, Jody Fleisch and Doug Williams.
For the longest time it felt that British wrestling would never achieve the level that it once did. However, since the invention of something called YouTube, World of Sport Wrestling found a whole new audience and with the rise of technical based wrestlers such as Daniel Bryan and Cesaro in the WWE, it has grown the desire to watch old school style mat based wrestling. Many modern wrestlers watch these matches, which in some cases are very old school in style, in attempts to rediscover old styles that have been forgotten by time.
There have been rumblings of new British wrestling coming to a major channel for a few years now, but it seems that ITV are willing to take a chance and are producing a pilot of all-new World of Sport Wrestling. Expect to see some of the best UK talent to be on the show with CJ Bank, Alexis Rose and El Ligero already signed to appear at the pilot due to be recorded on November 1st at Media City.
It should be pointed out that while this news is being shared by a number of reliable sources over social media it has not been formally confirmed by ITV. Also, while I hate to be a naysayer, this is the second wrestling pilot ITV has produced, the first being in 2013 and they sat on it for two years before they decided not to broadcast it. It was then released unofficially on YouTube (although this has since been removed) but sadly, the show was less than impressive.
I hope this doesn’t turn out to be a hoax and that it turns out well. British wrestling deserves to have its product shown, but I can’t help but feel sceptical about mainstream channels attempting wrestling. We all remember ITV’s Celebrity Wrestling with D’Lo Brown and Joe E Legend. I don’t see wrestling going over with a mainstream British audience, who seem to simply ‘not get’ wrestling, but we’ll see what happens shall we? All we can do is tune in and support our guys.
UPDATE: ITV have now confirmed that the World of Sport Wrestling is legitimate and the pilot will be shot at Media City on November 1st. So far confirmed by the channel are Dave Mastiff, Sha Samuels and Kimberly Benson, also they’ve confirmed that the show will be commentated by none other than former WWE Raw announcer Jim Ross. ITV Creative Director Tom Mclennan commented; “World of Sport Wrestling was a major event for millions of families every Saturday afternoon for over 20 years. I’m excited about bringing back this iconic brand and celebrating the best British wrestlers in the country.” The full article can be read here.