This Saturday night will see the return of professional wrestling to mainstream UK television.
This is yet another fantastic development in a 5 year span that has seen grappling in the United Kingdom erupt on the global scene. It cannot be understated how the likes of PROGRESS, Rev Pro, ICW, Attack! Pro, Fight Club: Pro, IPW:UK and Pro Wrestling: EVE have shaped the incredible talent pool that we have in the British Isles and a ‘bubble’ which many predicted would burst years ago has turned into a seismic shift.
Just a decade ago wrestling in the United Kingdom was essentially built on the use of ex-WWE/TNA talent, this is not a knock on those performers however it was evident that the cost of bringing over stars from the United States was not cost effective and extremely limiting when attempting to build domestic names and have enduring storylines that fans could cling to. Fast forward to 2018 and we have an abundance of UK bred stars that are breaking boundaries on home soil as well as Japan, Europe and the States.
The announcement of WoS’ return in a 10-part series did initially spark some controversy from fans of the UK scene, the original New Year’s Eve special and subsequent collaboration with Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force promotion killed off any initial buzz that the brand had generated and it appeared as though the story had ended…yet here we are with a 10 part series set to run as of this Saturday with a brand new roster of extremely talented UK stars.
The return of WoS to mainstream UK television really is a big, big deal. Viewing habits in the UK have tended to label Saturday night as a family orientated block with the likes of X Factor, Ninja Warrior UK and (in times past) Gladiators being featured programming, all on the ITV channel. With young wrestling fans expecting a presentation quality akin to WWE and an older demographic just wanting to relive the years of Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks it cannot be understated that WoS has a challenge to be ‘all things to all people.’
When you consider the potential outreach of WoS compared to say NXT UK it isn’t even in the same ballpark. World of Sport will be broadcast on ITV/STV which is available in every single television set in the United Kingdom, with the ITV family of channels reaching 38.4 million viewers a week…WWE Network isn’t close to that, but you wouldn’t expect them to be.
You do have to remember that the NXT UK brand will be geared towards an already established professional wrestling fanbase whereas the aformentioned family audience for WoS will be more casual, so again WoS will have the challenge of branching out and essentially creating it’s own audience to attract the sort of viewership that ITV will be expecting when their ratings figures appear later in the week.
In terms of pro wrestling being on one of the ‘big four’ British channels (BBC 1 & 2, ITV and Channel 4) you have to go back to the Attitude Era when Channel 4 would air WWE PPVs such as the Royal Rumble 2000, this created a huge buzz for the product in the UK and defined a generation of wrestling fans…in more recent times TNA/IMPACT has been extremely successful with a respectable following in the UK through their ties to The Wrestling Channel, Challenge and 5Spike.
With WoS being broadcast for 10 episodes with the potential of a touring brand and mainstream publicity many more younger fans would be exposed to the likes of Grado, Viper, Rampage and Will Ospreay, this will be huge for the ongoing British wrestling revolution and could help the grassroots of the scene.
This Saturday night will see the return of professional wrestling to mainstream UK television, this a really big deal.
Will you be watching WoS on Saturday night? Let us know your thoughts in the comments
— WOS Wrestling (@WOSWrestling) July 22, 2018