Saturday, 5 January 2013

Holy Grail: The True Story of British Wrestling's Revival - Book Review

If you talk to British wrestling fans of a certain age they’ll get all misty-eyed while remembering the likes of Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks, Kendo Nagasaki, Rollerball Rocco and Mick McManus. They’ll also tell you that British wrestling isn’t as good today as it was back then.

There are some who would disagree with that, and one of them is Greg Lambert, author of a new book that looks at what British wrestling has accomplished in the 21st century.

Holy Grail: The True Story of British Wrestling’s Revival tells the story of how the British wrestling scene has recovered since those heady days when tens of millions would tune in to the regular weekly spot on World of Sport.

The story looks at the ups and downs of one promotion in particular, the Frontier Wrestling Alliance. Formed in 1999, the FWA was at the forefront of British wrestling for a number of years.

So why did Lambert look at the FWA, I hear you ask? Because he was there, first as a fan, then as a loathsome heel manager, and then as the main man, the head honcho.

Lambert, a local newspaper reporter in his hometown of Morecombe and a regular contributor for Powerslam magazine discovered this new world of British professional wrestling when he accidentally stumbled on the WrestleTalk radio show on Talk Sport one Saturday night. To cut a long story short, Lambert went on to attend a show called Revival, one of the biggest shows in British wrestling in the past few years, co-promoted by the FWA and Talk Sport’s own Tommy Boyd.

The man who would later dub himself “The Truth” was enthralled by his new surroundings, and in a relatively short space of time he found himself working for the FWA.

Although this book looks at the fortunes of the British wrestling business it’s really more of an autobiographical piece. Lambert tells of his adventures in the somewhat perilous world of British professional wrestling, of the ups and downs he faced.

Urged to take a more active role by the FWA’s charismatic front man Alex Shane, it’s interesting to read how this long-time fan became one of the most recognisable names in the business over the past decade or so.

It’s also interesting to read what the FWA was really like, how it was a company of polar opposites, with shows that garnered five star reviews but was run so poorly behind the scenes.

Lambert tells of his various dealings with those who would go on to feature on professional wrestling’s main stage. Leading this revival on the home front were the likes of Doug Williams, Paul Burchill and his future storyline sister Nikita, and with a little help from their overseas friends like C.M. Punk, Steve Corino, Raven, A.J. Styles and Colt Cabana.

Ultimately this is the story of how a critically acclaimed company over-extended itself, of how it literally had no money, of how the cult of personality of it’s front man kept the company going, and how it’s biggest show ever was really the beginning of the end.

In short, this really is a tremendous read, especially for those who either witnessed these events as they happened or who followed them closely from afar. Yours truly falls into both of those categories.

Lambert comes across as someone truly passionate about the wrestling business. As I read his words it really seemed as if he was in the room telling me his story himself. Although if that really had happened I’d be worried, mainly because I do most of my book reading sitting in bed.

Joking aside though, if you’ve followed the British scene over the past decade or so then you need to read this book, and that’s why I’m giving this the big thumbs up.

With thanks to the esteemed Mr. Lambert for providing a copy of this release (even though I never got a mention! Only kidding!) Holy Grail: The True Story of British Wrestling’s Revival is available to buy online in all the usual places, in print and electronic form.

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