“God save the Queen,
She ain’t no human being.
There is no future,
In England’s dreaming.”
It’s called the land of hope and glory. A lot of people reading this will have a ridiculous stereotype in their heads of bad teeth, cups of tea and the queen. This…..This is England. I call it home. So do these men:
World of sport
Shirley Crabtree doesn’t sound like a hard man, does he? Yet despite his mother being so desperate to have a little baby girl that she decided to name her child “Shirley” regardless of its sex, Crabtree became one of the most feared grapplers of the world of spot era. Big Daddy is one of the first names anybody over the age of 40 will mention of you tell them that you like wrestling. Wrestling from the late 50’s through until the 80’s Big Daddy was the grannies favourite of British wrestling, so much so that ex-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was openly a big admirer. A mammoth of a man at 6’6” Big Daddy was genuinely the first “legend” of British wrestling, thanks in no small part to his famous bouts with his lifelong nemesis:
If Daddy was big, then Giant Haystacks was a giant. Standing 6’11” and being billed as a preposterous 685lbs, Giant Haystacks dominated every babyface across the country, establishing himself as the most feared heel in England. Haystacks once cited his gargantuan size as being due to the fact that every morning he would eat 3lbs of bacon and 12 eggs – what a beast. Having dominated the UK throughout the 70’s and 80’s Haystacks started looking abroad to make his name, famously being brought to Stampede Wrestling in Canada thanks to Stu Hart. Haystacks would finally get his chance in the United States when he was brought into WCW as monster heel, (allegedly) from Scotland called Loch Ness, to take on their number one babyface – Hulk Hogan. Haystacks debut at the end of a Hogan vs The Giant (later known as The Big Show) steel cage match at SuperBrawl 1996, ultimately having feuds with both men during his short stint in World Championship Wrestling.
Johnny Saint, a true gentleman and founding father of the world of sport. Saint began his career way back in 1958 as a way to get out of the factory that he had worked in since he was 15 years old. From that day Saint wrestled literally all over the world, in places such as Zambia and New Zealand over 7 decades. You read that right, SEVEN DECADES, most recently wrestling for CHIKARA PRO with Colt Cabana at the tender age of 70 years old. Saint describes his style as technical escapology and, interestingly, based a lot of his in ring work and showmanship on that of magician/stuntman Harry Houdini in the process becoming the “master of the bridge” using the manoeuvre to escape his opponents.
The British Bulldogs-
-Davey Boy Smith
In arguably the most emotional WWF match to ever take place on British soil, over 80 thousand patriotic Brits jam packed Wembley Stadium to cheer on the most famous of British wrestlers in victory for the Intercontinental championship. After the team disbanded, Davey-Boy Smith was known around the world simply as The British Bulldog and held his head high when donning the union jack ring attire. Although never well known for it, Davey-Boy actually began his career on ITV’s world of sport aged just 15 before he followed in his cousin, and future tag partner, Tom Billington’s footsteps, heading for Canada to be trained in the legendary Hart Dungeon. Smith spent most of the early 80’s between Stampede Wrestling and All Japan wrestling before making the step up to his first of 4 separate stints with the World Wrestling Federation, broken up with 2 stints in WCW. Smith would transition from one half of the hugely successful tag team ‘The British Bulldogs’ into successful singles wrestler simply known as THE British Bulldog however he was never able to claim a world championship in either WWF or WCW. Although Davey-Boy tragically died almost 10 years ago, aged just 39, his legend has lived on to some degree, in the WWE, through his son Harry/David-Hart Smith.
The Dynamite Kid -Tom Billington
It has been said that since the death of his cousin, The Dynamite Kid hates Davey-Boy so much that he will not speak his name to this day. The animosity originally stemmed from Davey-Boy making a deal to return to the WWF without Billington, then copyrighting the name “The British Bulldog” without Billington’s approval. When looked at on his own merit however, Billington is regularly considered as the best wrestler ever to be exported from England and the man who inspired a teenage Chris Benoit (we can talk about him now, yeah?) to become a professional wrestler and according to Bret Hart is “pound for pound the best wrestler who ever lived”. The latter is a huge accolade when you consider that Bret is a true student of the game and has more respect for the business than most of his peers. Today, Billington is confined to a wheelchair with paralysis of the left leg and spine damage, something that is widely considered to be a result of not only years of crazy bumps, but from the top rope diving head butt that he so often executed. This is an interesting fact when you think that this is widely considered to be the move that ended up damaging the brain of a man who looked up to The Dynamite Kid – Chris Benoit.
Famously fighting out of Blackpool England, Regal is a proud Englishman who has had a very successful career across the pond in the United States since 1991. His career however started much earlier than that however with regal accepting open challenges at Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, at the age of just 15, where he could win £100 by lasting 3 rounds with a professional. Regal’s career began to pick up momentum and he ended up wrestling in 24 countries before he was offered a WCW contract where he would wrestle as Lord Steven Regal. Regal had a typically WCW midcard run during his 2 stints and 9 years with the company before heading to the WWF, originally billed a “real man’s man”. The gimmick didn’t get over with the crowd (although when Regal was ribbed on a recent UK tour, with his old entrance theme played, he seemed rather tickled by it) so it was dropped and regal was eventually re-debut as his most famous gimmick – the English snob William Regal. Regal has undoubtedly seen his most success in WWE. During his 12 years with the company he has won numerous championships but was never able to break into the main event scene as he seemed so destined for, although that is not to say that it was never on the cards. In 2008, while in the role of Raw general manager, he beat CM Punk in the finals of the King of the Ring tournament. Regal would go on a run as an evil tyrant, obsessed with his new found power, while pushing further than over before up the card. Rumour has it that he was told by Triple H to “get into world champion shape” shortly before failing a drug test and being suspended under the WWE wellness policy. Regal has never recovered from this, returning to his enhancement role and more recently donning the headset as NXT colour commentator.
The winds of change blew through the WWE and in blew Wade Barrett, all the way from Manchester. After winning season 1 of NXT Wade infamously debut on Monday Night Raw as the leader of The Nexus, a stable who were about to rage war on the entire roster. The Nexus angle could, and arguably should, have been the catalyst for Wade to establish himself in the main event scene for a long time to come from the get-go, but was not to be. Once John Cena had his way with the Nexus, Wade was ousted by CM Punk as the leader of The Nexus and Wade would set up a new faction – The Corre. The Corre was ill-fated from thae start, consisting of just a handful of Nexus members fighting in the mid-card, where Wade would win his first singles title in WWE, the Intercontinental championship. The future does however look very, very bright for Wade and rumour has it that had he not suffered an unfortunate injury before Wrestlemania 28 he would have been in line to win a Money in the Bank match and, no doubt, go on to win his first World Championship.
Nigel is man who has physically paid the price of working a strong style of wrestling and giving his body to the business he loved. Known mostly for his career in Ring of Honor, McGuiness had some epic matches during his run as RoH champion from 2007 to 2009 before departing for TNA. Debuting as Desmond Wolfe, McGuiness would go straight into a high profile feud with Olympic gold medal winner Kurt Angle. Unfortunately Nigel suffered a somewhat mystery illness that has legitimately forced him to retire early at the age of just 33. Since his retirement McGuiness has embarked on a fan-funded project to make a documentary to tell his story.
The man that gravity forgot is one of the most apt nicknames in professional wrestling. If you haven’t seen a PAC match I recommend you check some out after reading this as he really is a special talent. Hailing from Gateshead, just outside of Newcastle upon Tyne, PAC is an admitted Newcastle United Fan and a Geordie, even if he doesn’t like Newcastle Brown Ale. Being from Newcastle myself, I have had the pleasure of seeing PAC wrestle on multiple occasions and you can tell the boy is destined for big things. PAC has had some success on the independent scene in the US with RoH, PWG and Evolve, however it is his work in Japan as a DragonGate main stay that he is most renowned for. PAC is naturally a quiet and even shy man who likes to keep himself to himself. He is very committed to mastering his craft and is no doubt in the right place for that in the land of the rising sun. Anybody who has been keeping tabs on PAC’s career will have noticed the physical changes in PAC’s look, putting on significant muscle mass in recent years. Hopefully this will be the final piece of the puzzle for PAC and the WWE will start taking notice.
Doug Williams – Current TNA wrestler from Reading. Has wrestled in almost every town in the UK and all over the world.
Magnus – Another current TNA wrestler and UK Gladiator. Part of the British Invasion.
Jimmy Saville – Yup, the bloke from Jim’ll fix it who looked like Wrozel Gummidge actually used to wrestle in the world of sport days.
Alex Shane – Show stealer, Wrestler, Promoter, Author, Philosopher. Has helped promote major shows in the UK such as TNA and has some very interesting outlooks on life.
Paul Burchill – Turned up in WWE as a pirate.
Jonny Storm – The wonderkid is a legend on the British wrestling Scene. Has wrestled anyone who is anyone in wrestling.
Lord Alfred Hayes – Legendary WW F commentator from 82-95. Had a successful wrestling career in the UK in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.
Hope you enjoyed that peeps. As always, drop me a line on Twitter @CallingSpots, leave your comments below and tell me what you loved or hated and keep your eyes open for our new Fanzine that we are putting together just for you COMING SOON.