IT’S Saturday and the clock is ticking. We’d dash around finishing the chores in order to hit the 4pm slot. It’s the calm before the storm as Dickie Davies introduced an hour of swinging fists, head butt’s and illegal blows. The dominant force of World of Sport, Wrestling, was about to begin.
Cheering, booing, chanting, shouting, swearing, fuming – the living room is now brimming with energy as emotions run riot. Inside in ring, the referee attempts to keep order between the good, bad, the pretty and the ugly. The wrestlers entered the ring to a chorus of cheers or boos. The people’s favourite would stride into the ring to a chorus of cheers whilst the ring walk of a villain was greeted with boo’s and verbal abuse. Wrestling was about crowd interaction, causing a stir, pulling viewers and filling the halls – skills inside the ring came second.
The female attraction
Wrestling was popular with the women. The wrestling halls were packed with women chanting, cheering and getting wound up. The female wrestler, Klondyke Kate, always got 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 was only doing her job by playing the part in the wrestling pantomime.
Heavyweight status & decline
In its heyday, wrestling would draw in TV audiences of up to 16 million! Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks were crowd pullers and facing each other smashed audience figures. Big Daddy weighed in at 23 Stone (146 kg) whilst Giant Haystacks was a whopping 40 Stone (254 kg).
Funnily enough, the decline of Wrestling on a Saturday afternoon was partly to attributed to the clash between Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks in 1981. After the marathon build up, the bout between the two heavies lasted less than 3 minutes! Along with the aura of predictability and the shift towards a pantomime, ITV pulled the plug in 1988. The Saturday afternoon silence in our living rooms signalled the end to the golden age of wrestling.
10 memorable wrestlers from the golden age
- Kendo Nagasaki
- Jim Brakes
- Mick McManus
- Johnny Saint
- Mark ‘Rollerball’ Rocco
- Pat Roach
- Kung Fu
- The man from Paris
- King Kong Kirk