The British Wrestling boom continues, as hot on the heels of WWE’s announcement of another United Kingdom Championship Tournament, ITV has bounced back and announced World of Sport will be returning this year for a full series of shows.
“Gimme another series!” the fans demanded on social media, and today, ITV have answered those cries. A full series of World of Sport Wrestling has been commissioned and will be back on ITV screens later this year, with tickets being available now for the tapings in May.
World of Sport was a staple of British television viewing from 1965 to the late 1980s, bringing household names to light such as Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks, Kendo Nagasaki and Johnny Saint. It would continue until 1988 when ratings declined and ITV wanted to take their coverage of sport in a new direction. Sky Television launched in 1989, bringing with it a flashy product from the United States in the World Wrestling Federation, which became massively popular. For this reason, ITV never renewed World of Sport, and capitalising on the boom of American Wrestling, instead began to air episodes of WCW Worldwide, a production from WWF’s rival, World Championship Wrestling from 1992 to 1995.
A full British Wrestling national revival looked to be on the cards in October 2016, when ITV announced a one-off event celebrating almost 30 years since the end of the original show. The show was filmed at the high-tech MediaCityUK in Salford in November 2016. It was screened on New Year’s Eve, featuring the biggest talent from the revitalised UK scene such as El Ligero, Sha Samuels and Dave Mastiff. ITV stated if the airing was a success, they would consider bringing wrestling back full-time.
They made a pretty big statement of intent, signing legendary WWE announcer Jim Ross to call the show. Unfortunately, the extremely cheesy and over-the-top nature of the show, and the “X-Factor style” production meant that the show was not what modern British wrestling fans anticipated, and critical reception was certainly not what ITV expected. When the ratings came in at just over 1.25 million (almost half the anticipated figures), the consensus was that ITV wouldn’t press forward with any further plans to renew the show.
Immediately following the announcement from ITV, WWE themselves announced a British-only product, in the form of the United Kingdom Championship Tournament, to air in the summer of 2016. Featuring more names from the UK scene such as Pete Dunne, Tyler Bate, T-Bone, Mark Andrews and Trent Seven, WWE’s version was far better received critically.
In March 2017, ITV announced they would be bringing back the show as a ten episode series, in partnership with TNA Wrestling, with Jeff Jarrett serving as an executive producer. The show was expected to emanate from the 3,000-seater Guild Hall in Preston, however, the shows shortly after were indefinitely postponed, and the reason given to the media was “prolonged contract negotiations”.
In April 2018, WWE announced a second edition of the United Kingdom Championship Tournament, which is rumoured to feature many more UK stars signed up to their division, including the newly signed Zack Gibson and “much more unseen UK talent”. In a case of, seemingly, “If we don’t do it, WWE will”, ITV decided to get back in the British Wrestling game.
No details have been revealed as to what names will be on the shows, what format the shows will take place in, or if anybody from a US promotion is involved, but what we do know is the shows are taking place at Epic Studios in Norwich, a place covered in wrestling history – home of the Knight family and WWE Superstar Paige, and where just last year WWE held a one-off United Kingdom special show.
Tickets are FREE via Lost In TV, an audience ticketing distributor for many UK television shows. It’s unclear if ITV will keep the same format that drew much criticism from fans, but keep with TWM news for more details as we get them.
The shows are taping on the following days & times:
Thursday 10th May – shows at 6:30pm
Friday 11th May – shows at 2:00pm, 6:30pm
Saturday 12th May – shows at 2:00pm, 6:30pm
To book, go to https://goo.gl/M5upyf