The announcement in 2016 that World of Sport would be returning to TV screens elicited a great deal of exciting from British wrestling fans.
WOS had, for a generation, defined wrestling in the UK - the home of Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks, Kendo Nagasaki and so many other beloved veterans of the game, as well as the breeding ground for emerging UK talents such as 'The Dynamite Kid' Tom Billington and 'The British Bulldog' Davey Boy Smith - was a mainstay of Saturday afternoons in homes across Great Britain during the 1960s and 1970s.
Canned by ITV in 1985, the WOS brand had retained a cherished space in the hearts and memories of fans who were first introduced to the world of wrestling via its programming - many of whom never would make the transition towards the American, sports entertainment product offered by WCW and the then-WWF.
So when the announcement was made that WOS would be returning to UK screens, first as a one-off pilot episode in 2016 and then as a fully-fledged series in 2018, the news was met with great excitement. On offer to modern wrestling fans would be a much faster-paced, contemporary style of in-ring storytelling than past World of Sport fans would have been accustomed to; WOS would be re-introduced to a brand new audience.
"Mixed, frustrating and rewarding" is how British wrestling veteran Nathan Cruz, one of the competitors selected as part of the rebooted WOS roster, describes his memories of the show, in conversation with Wrestling Life Online on the #WrestlingLifePod.
Despite a truly stacked talent roster and the legendary Jim Ross on commentary, WOS failed to live up to expectations, according to Cruz, not because of any lack of desire from those involved in its production - but from a lack of understanding of the nuances of professional wrestling from those responsible for the final cut of the TV show itself.
"The editors sat with me [after cutting out key elements of one of my matches] and asked me: what do you think? And I replied, do you want my honest answer or do you want me to tell you that it was good? I said: you've just butchered that match. You've made the referee look stupid, you've made me look stupid, you've made the good guy look stupid, all because you didn't think."
"Originally [with WOS], people involved with wrestling wanted to be involved with the editing," adds Cruz, "at the very least, in the cutting room or assisting with [making] editing [recommendations]. ITV knew what they wanted it to be. ITV ran away with what they wanted to do with it, and it was a mess - an editing nightmare."
Episode 001 of Wrestling Life with Ben Veal featuring NATHAN CRUZ s out now: real talk from real talent.
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