Thursday, 12 July 2007

The Best of ITV Wrestling - DVD Review

With the popularity of the old World of Sport shows on The Wrestling Channel here in Britain, it seemed inevitable that a DVD, featuring some greats of the past few decades, would be released.

The Best of ITV Wrestling, introduced by former World of Sport front man Dickie Davies, is such a collection, and yours truly managed to get his hands on an advanced preview copy.

After an introduction from our host, it was into the action. First up, a look at Mr. TV himself, Jackie Pallo, with highlights of a bout against Ian Gilmore. Some good action from Pallo here, winning the bout with his head scissors submission.

Next up, one of the great villains, Mick McManus, takes on Catweazle. Some great comedy work from the oddball, but McManus shows just why he was one of the guys you just loved to hate, coming out on top with two single-leg Bostons. Then we see the man against Tony St. Clair, giving up a great deal of height and weight here, but he's still able to use all the old tricks. The old boy's tricks cause St. Clair to lose his rag, and this proves to be the downfall of both men. McManus is counted out in the ring while St. Clair is counted out outside, injuring himself after clotheslining McManus on the top rope while jumping over it.

Up next, the great Les Kellett, going up against Brian Glover, aka Leon Arras. Some good action from two of the great characters of the business, a real gem here. Of course, Kellett comes out on top after making Arras look a right fool.

Then we get a look at a man also known for his acting work, Pat Roach, going up against the Magnificent Maurice. For me, Roach was always underrated as a wrestler, and he showed that he certainly could move for such a big man. The Bomber came back from a fall down to defeat Maurice in this good bout. Then it was the Bomber versus Rex Strong, a guy I know very little about. Another good showing from Roach here, at a time when he was concentrating more on his acting career. It's amazing that Roach's finisher here is a massive body slam. You wouldn't see a wrestler use that move as a finisher today.

Mark-out time as we get a look at Kendo Nagasaki, firstly against Mike Marino. Marino really loses his temper here after some questionable tactics from Nagasaki. With the score one apiece, Nagasaki defeats Marino via count-out after Nagasaki throws him outside. We then see the unmasking ceremony, something that wasn't heard of back then, because the unmasking was voluntary. A truly elaborate ceremony here for the man who had wrestled for fifteen years under the hood.

Then it's on to a profile of one of the biggest wrestlers, literally, the forty stone Giant Haystacks, first taking on Japan's Kwik Kick Lee, a definite mismatch in size here, but Lee acquits himself well. But the size difference is too much, as Lee fails to beat the count after a Haystacks big splash. Then it's on to a bout with Johnny Wilson. The Tarzan boy tries his best, but he goes the same was as Lee.

Of course, you can't take a look at British wrestling without taking a look at Big Daddy. First up, it's his bout with Mighty John Quinn, perhaps one of the most highly anticipated bouts in British wrestling history. Say what you want about Daddy, but he was able to draw a crowd, especially for this bout, defeating Quinn after a backdrop. We then see Daddy go up against his perennial foe, Giant Haystacks, in another big grudge match. Some great drama here, which sees Daddy getting the win after Haystacks goes flying over the top rope.

Then it's on to the extras section of the DVD.

First up, the Big Daddy section starts with his bout against Anaconda. Not much to see here as Daddy spends most of his time beating the hell out of on of Anaconda's corner men, Banger Walsh. This is followed by a tag bout, where Daddy teams with a young Davey Boy Smith against Steve Logan and Mick McManus. Daddy finishes off both men with big splashes to win. Following this, Daddy teams with Bobby Bald Eagle to take on Wild Angus and Bull Pratt. After pinning Angus, Daddy takes out Pratt with his trademark backdrop. Finally, Daddy takes out a pre-Kamala Jim Harris in his Mississippi Mauler guise.

Nagasaki's turn next, as first he takes on Big Daddy, one of the big grudge matches of the 70's. Daddy spends a great deal of time trying to unmask Nagasaki before the great man gets the win. Then, Nagasaki takes on Lee Bronson, finishing Bronson off with his Kamikazee Crash, before we see a rematch with Daddy. This is the infamous bout where Daddy unmasks Nagasaki, but Daddy's celebrations prove to be his downfall.

Onto the Haystacks section next. As first we see him team with Big Daddy against Steve Viedor & Tibor Szack. Interesting to see Daddy as the heel here, and Haystacks is a lot lighter than he was a few years later. Needless to say the heels double-up to get the win. This is followed by another tag bout, with Haystacks teaming with Big Bruno to take on Daddy & Tony St. Clair. Despite working over St. Clair's legs, Haystacks loses after some timely interference from Daddy.

Tag-team time next, as we see Nagasaki team with his manager Gorgeous George against Logan & McManus. Kendo is hampered somewhat by his non-wrestling partner, but the great man is able to get the victory. Then it's Fit Finlay & Rocky Moran against Marty Jones & Vic Faulkner. Some good tag action here, as the English boys beat their Irish counterparts 2-0, thanks to Marty Jones' power lock. Finally, we see Big Daddy & Ringo Rigby take on John Quinn & Marc Rocco. The smaller Rigby takes a pasting until Daddy comes in to clean house.

The final section, Out of the Ring, sees Sir Jimmy Saville talk briefly about his wrestling career, and several stars, including Jackie Pallo & Marc Rocco, talk about the great Les Kellett, with a few words from the man himself.

In conclusion - this certainly is a nostalgia trip for those of us who were brought up on a staple diet of Saturday afternoon wrestling. There's some great moments here, but if I must fault this DVD on anything, it's that we don't get to see entire matches. While the action is good, some fans may find the highlights disappointing. But overall, a good little collection here, and hopefully if sales go well, we could see other volumes in this series. There's certainly a ton of footage from the archives they could use.