It’s Saturday! It’s a race against time and the clock is ticking along faster than usual. Time check … it’s 3pm … You need to be in front on the TV at 4pm. You dash around finishing off the chores. Chores finished! Time check … 3.55pm. You get to the living room and flick on the TV … another time check … 3.59pm. It’s the calm before the storm as you watch Dickie Davies introduce what you’ve been looking forward to … an hour filled of fists swinging, head butt’s and illegal blows. You’ve made it … the dominant force of World of Sport is about to begin … hang onto your seat and enjoy the Wrestling!
Cheering, Booing, Chanting, Shouting, Swearing, Fuming, Kicking, Throwing things across the room … your living room is now brimming with energy as your emotions run riot.
Inside in Ring, the Referee attempts to keep order between the good and bad, the pretty and the ugly, the favourites and the unfavourable. The opponents enter the ring to a chorus of cheers or boos. It’s not just about what the Wrestlers did in the ring … it’s the whole package … there may be a mysterious side to them … their face kept covered so viewers only know someone with a mask. A Wrestler may be the people’s favourite and stride into the ring blowing kisses whilst holding a child in their arms. Worse still is a Wrestler whose hated … their ring walk is greeted not only with Boo’s but with chants of fury and verbal abuse. Wrestling was about crowd interaction, causing a stir, pulling viewers and filling arena’s … skill in the ring came 2nd.
Wrestling was popular with the Women. The arena’s were packed with women chanting, cheering and getting wound up. I recall the female wrestler (who played the ‘baddie’ role), Klondyke Kate, getting a mouthful of abuse from women in the audience. ‘She needs shooting because she’s dirty!’ was the response of an infuriated lady in the audience when asked about Klondyke Kate. Poor Klondyke Kate … she was only doing her job!
Wrestlers of all shapes and sizes stepped into the ring to do battle. The Heavyweights were heavy! Big Daddy weighed in at 23 Stone (146 kg) whilst Giant Haystacks was a whopping 40 Stone (254 kg).
Once in the ring all sorts went on … Slams, Big Daddy Splashes, Jim Brakes Specials, illegal moves, padding removed from the posts to create more of an impact, sneaky punches when the referee was distracted, Kicks, Haystacks Specials, Kung Fu moves, Strangulation, climbing and the diving off the ropes, objects used as weapons finding a way into the ring. All in a typical Saturday afternoon of Wrestling.
Wrestling provoked a huge range of emotions on a Saturday afternoon. Even after Saturday afternoon the debates would carry on well into the working week as many continued to fume about decisions made in the ring. In its heyday, Wrestling it would draw in TV audiences of up to 16 million! Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks were crowd pullers … facing each other they smashed audience figures.
The decline of Wrestling on a Saturday afternoon funnily enough could partly to attributed to the clash between Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks in 1981. After a marathon of a build up, bout between these Two giants lasted less than 3 minutes! Along with the aura of predictability and Wrestling moving more towards a pantomime, ITV pulled the plug in 1988. Wrestling on TV was put to rest.
In the 70s and early 80s Wrestling was huge. It’s something we should look back on with joy and pride. Saturday afternoons at 4pm has never been the same and will never be the same again. I hope you feel blessed for remembering the golden era of British Wrestling.