I rather enjoyed the World of Sport wrestling revival the other night. I used to sit and watch the old programme religiously every Saturday afternoon so it was nice to be able to see British wrestlers on British TV working for a British company. Thankfully nobody involved in the godawful Celebrity Wrestling was allowed anywhere near World of Sport so the result was pretty good. There were a few snags that could do with being worked out - cutting away to the crowd just as a big spot happened was a bit dumb - but I liked the matches and the variety on offer.
It would be nice if WOS Wrestling became a regular thing but ITV can't make money off it through phonelines so I won't hold my breath.
Congratulations are in order for the two young ladies who had the very first women's match on World Of Sport.
Sadly British women wrestlers were banned from TV and although the ban was lifted in the Mid-80s that was only in Wales. S4C used the likes of Nicky Monroe and Klondyke Kate on their Reslo programme while the rest of us got the odd valet appearance from Princess Paula.
Or to put it another way, I think you could put every single bit of existing 1970s/80s footage on to one Youtube playlist and watch it while waiting for the Sunday joint to cook. Depressing or what?
Luckily there are slightly more photos around so I thought I'd share some that I found over the years.
I don't remember where I got them all, so if I don't cite references it's more incompetence than deliberate malice. I'm pretty certain I found some on Sabreblade's various sites so if you want to see more, go check out his blog which is very, very cool.
Jean Hackenschmidt - probably no relation to the more famous George - toured the UK with a troupe of Lady Wrestlers in the 1930s. This may have been one of the reasons why so many town councils banned Pro Wrestling. (British wrestling was always a lot more rowdy than World of Sport would have you believe.) The GLC didn't allow women wrestlers to perform again until decades later.
Sue Brittain twists her unknown opponents foot (1970s)
British girl grapplers were lumbered with some horrible, horrible outfits over the years.
Baggy leotards, unflattering tights and generally looking like something a middleaged housewife would wear to keep-fit. Ugh.
There were a few exceptions. Step forward "Leather" Lena Blair.
That actually looks like something American or Japanese wrestlers would wear but then again, Lena did work in both countries. I wonder if somebody puller her aside on her first day on tour and told her to ditch the granny gear? That's Rusty Blair hurriedly moving out of the way.
Fun fact: If you watch early trailers for women's wrestling movie All The Marbles Rusty can briefly be spotted in one shot.
Apparently her and Mitzi Mueller filmed some stuff which was cut out of the final movie.
That's a young Nicky Monroe getting choked by a young Leather Lena.
Viv Martell was one of British wrestling's great pinups in the 1970s.
This pic is from her interview in Mayfair magazine.
I have this forlorn hope that there's a small stack of film cannisters somewhere that has action footage of Viv,
Mitzi Mueller, Akala Jan, Leather Lena and Blackfoot Sue. There's plenty of footage around for American and Japanese women
so wouldn't it be nice if the Brits had the same archive?
It was nice to see Klondyke Kate getting some respect on the World Of Sport Special.
I got to see her in action a few times and she was a fantastic heel.
Two British legends get ready to duke it out. Rusty Blair and Mitzi Mueller were both champions at the time: Rusty the World champ and Mitzi was British & European champion.
I can remember Mitzi doing a few TV programmes back in the day - quiz & talk shows - but I never got to see her wrestle.
What the hell. Let's finish with a brace of clips.
Mitzi on a TV talk show.
And four of the top women stars in a tag match.
That's all folks.